It’s the end-of-year break. A respite where the continuous rhythm of work takes a back seat for two weeks to family, friends and sharing. For expatriates, the end-of-year celebrations are an opportunity to leave their host country and go home to their families. For others, immersed in the local culture, spending Christmas somewhere else is out of the question. Gisèle, Jonathan and Sarah would like to share their holiday season 2021 with you.
When you hear the word “Christmas”, what immediately comes to mind? Christmas tree, family, reunion, gifts, snow, human warmth? For the more than 60 million expatriates in the world, the holiday season can be summed up in three options:
- For the lucky ones, returning home to their family and their country of origin for one or two weeks.
- Inviting your family to spend the holidays abroad!
- Staying nice and warm in your country of expatriation with your friends or as a couple.
As it so happens, we have three expats who fit each of these options.
At 55, Gisèle is the mother of three children, two of whom have chosen to live in the land of maple syrup and the Great White North. After years of going back and forth to visit her children, in early 2021 she chose expatriation, sold her clothing store, her villa and even took her husband along with her in her suitcase!
Jonathan is 37 years old, he left for New Zealand on a whim. After a complicated romantic break-up, troubled career prospects and few ties to France, he traded his apartment in the south of France for a backpack and a tourist visa to a country with fantastic landscapes. He has been living there for more than three years.
We will finish the profile of our expatriates with the youngest: Sarah. She is 27 years old, and she discovered the United Arab Emirates by chance after completing her studies in banking insurance. Through a real stroke of luck, her internship company in Lyon offered her to continue her professional career in the Persian Gulf in Dubai. She has now been living there for more than five years.
Long-term expatriation: “Covid pushed me to pack my bags for good”
With the health crisis that ruined the winter vacations in 2020, forcing almost the entire planet to spend them in small groups or making it impossible to return to their country of origin, the year 2021 will give these holidays a little more meaning again for expatriates.
Gisèle is adamant, not one more Christmas without her two sons. “When I realized I wouldn’t be able to spend the holidays with them, I said to myself: 2021, I’m leaving!“. She confides with a little chuckle that she would have liked the help of Santa’s sleigh because having gifts delivered to Quebec “costs a fortune!“. But this year, from the other side of the Atlantic, she got a head start by planning her schedule: the Great Christmas Market at the Quartiers des Spectacles as well as the Montreal Christmas Village. A family New Year’s Eve by the fireplace that will make you forget last year’s. And then, as a cliché, rent a chalet in the heart of the forest on Mont-Tremblant, an hour and a half from Montreal, with sled dogs, snowmobiles and snowshoes. Even though this year, Gisèle, her husband and her two sons will be reunited in Montreal, this is not the case for Jonathan, who will spend Christmas without his family.
Even though he will certainly miss the warmth of his family, Jonathan will feel nice and warm when the temperature hits nearly 20 degrees, which is expected at this time of year. Living in Wellington, he has planned a gourmet Christmas on his terrace with his girlfriend and a New Year’s Eve rock-climbing trip on the steep cliffs in Tongariro National Park. “I would have liked for my family to come and visit me on the 25th, but the flights are way too expensive at the end of December. We had to make other arrangements. Jonathan will definitely receive his gifts from the hands of his parents and his brother, he will just have to wait a few more days. As of January 3rd, he will be reunited with his family for a week!
The price of flights did not stop Sarah from offering her whole family a ticket for the holidays. A wonderful Christmas present! On the agenda is a whole day trip to the Dubai Mall on the 23rd, to finish the last-minute shopping, and a dinner for six on the evening of the 24th. “We don’t celebrate Christmas in our family, but it’s a good opportunity to get away from all the worries of the last year.” She can’t wait to see them again and hug them on December 31st, under the luminous sky of the fireworks of the Burj Khalifa, the highest tower in the world.