The River Thames outside DLD College London

Christmas in Boarding

5th January 21

Undeniably, 2020 was a special year for all of us. We faced a lot of difficulties — but the biggest of all was that some international students like myself could not go back to their home country to gather with their family during the holidays; it was my first time spending Christmas in the UK.

We were under Tier 4 lockdown during Christmas, which could easily have caused some anxiety. However, what was good about staying in the boarding house was that we had a variety of activities every day to take our minds off of things. We learned and took part in all of the traditional customs in England: Secret Santa, where everybody received a present from Irfan and the Houseparents; eating mince pies; pulling crackers during Christmas lunch; and playing monopoly for nearly five hours – which I’m pleased to say I won! I received a basketball T-shirt, which I really loved as it was personal to me.

I love basketball and so luckily, we have a small sport court in the Wellbeing Garden and a few of us have been out there pretty much every day since it was created. Other activities I really enjoyed during the Christmas holidays were making Christmas cards for the local hospital, playing Basketball 2k21 on the PS4, playing cards with houseparents, making a clock from scratch and baking brownies and cookies, which all my friends enjoyed eating!

It was a memorable and special experience for me – what started out as a bit of concern at the uncertainty ended up being a great three weeks filled with new memories!

Botao Zhou, international IFP student boarder