Students from Freie Universität Berlin sent holiday greetings from abroad
Dec 18, 2019
Freie Universität Berlin has had a strong commitment to internationalization ever since its founding in 1948, whether in research, education, or as part of everyday life on campus. Individuals from more than 100 countries study and work at Freie Universität Berlin. Global perspectives enrich both the teaching and research, while students and researchers learn, teach, and do research all over the world.
Every year, well over 1,000 students from Freie Universität go abroad in Europe and beyond to study or do an internship through Erasmus + or one of the numerous direct exchange programs at Freie Universität. More than 2,500 exchange places are available at the partner universities.
Eleven students who are currently abroad for a semester or two have been regularly writing for the “Post aus …” series in Freie Universität’s campus.leben online magazine. We have been translating them for you, and you can read them in Featured Stories. From eleven countries and six continents, they are reporting on their experiences abroad at their host universities, in everyday life, and with the people they meet.
We asked them to send a holiday season’s greeting: How are they experiencing the weeks before Christmas, hundreds or thousands of kilometers away from home? Which customs and traditions are they learning about their host country? Do they get a sense of Christmas cheer when it’s 40 degrees Celsius in the shade surrounded by palm trees instead of fir trees? We received greetings from all over the world: from Estonia to French Guiana, from Russia to Australia.
No matter where you are celebrating this time of year, dear readers, we wish you all the best this holiday season and a happy new year!
Merry Christmas from Nashville!
Christmas is a big deal in the United States. The first decorations go up by mid-November at the latest. You see them around in malls and on people’s houses.
But Thanksgiving and Christmas are not that far apart, so you will also see turkeys sitting next to Santa Claus in some front yards. In fact, some families have turkey for both holidays.
Madeline Thomas, 3rd semester, master’s program in English studies
The Christmas market in Tallinn starts early – in mid-November! It makes sense though. Otherwise, the short, cold days would be really unbearable.
Estonians associate Christmas with “Glögi,” a kind of Scandinavian mulled wine, and a hearty meal of sauerkraut, potatoes, and English blood sausage.
Elena Schulz-Ruthenberg, 5th semester, political science
Cayenne (French Guiana)
Greetings from French Guiana: Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! I am really looking forward to chanté nwel, a typical Christmas tradition here.
People get together in all sorts of places and sing – at home, in shopping centers, or on the street. It is a very special experience!
Davia Rosenbaum, 5th semester, political science and language and society
Christians celebrate the birth of their Messiah in December, and Jews celebrate the re-inauguration of the Second Jerusalem Temple. Christmas and Hanukkah are two holidays that have nothing to do with each other theologically, but are similar in the way they are celebrated: with Advent calendars and Hanukkah candlesticks, sweet foods, gifts, and secular tendencies. Some people even refer to the season as “Weihnukka.”
Julian Jestadt, 3rd semester, master’s program in philosophy
The Hercules fountain disappears – like so many things at Christmas time – under a thick bobble hat. Festive lights by the artist Zmago Modic adorn the riverside of the Ljubljanica and tell about the universe. Visitors from all over the world flock to the Slovenian capital.
Hurray, December is here!
Sonja Poschenrieder, 4th semester, psychology
Birmingham (United Kingdom)
Even though Brits love Christmas and can barely wait until the last Jack-o-lantern in Birmingham has been cleared away after Halloween before they start getting into the holiday spirit, the big Christmas attraction here is German:
The Frankfurt Christmas Market is located right in the middle of town!
It’s huge with mulled wine, roasted almonds, and Bratwursts to help stave off homesickness.
Ben Heiden, 5th semester, economics
Saint-Denis (La Réunion)
Christmas is also celebrated in the European tropics – but the plastic firs do not really put me in the Christmas spirit. I miss the cold weather, the early dusk, and the candles in my room.
But in spite of that, I am looking forward to a quiet, warm Christmas celebration with my friends!
Elias Aguigah, 5th semester, social and cultural anthropology and political science
When it’s 40° Celsius in the shade, Christmas songs have to be given a summery touch. So “Jingle Bells” was rewritten by Australians. Here, Santa is driving an off-road vehicle to the beach. There are also original Australian Christmas songs about sparkling stars in the skies and bush birds that announce the coming celebration.
The Christmas concert by the Sydney University Musical Society had a wonderful atmosphere – and I sang in the choir!
Jennifer Gaschler, 3rd semester, master’s program in theater studies
St. Petersburg (Russia)
In Russia, Christmas is celebrated on January 7. So there won’t be any presents here on December 24. Instead, New Year’s Day is the special day for gifts. On New Year’s Eve, Grandfather Frost goes around with his granddaughter Snegurochka delivering presents to children.
People fast during the forty days leading up to Christmas. S Rozhdestvom Khristovym – Merry Christmas!
Lilia Becker, 3rd semester, master’s program in art history
Merry Christmas from Shanghai!
Since Christmas isn’t traditionally celebrated in China, you have to really go looking for it if you want to get into the holiday spirit. But if you go by the Christmas market at the Paulaner brewery or see advent calendars for sale at Aldi supermarkets here, you can feel a spark of Christmas cheer!
Vivi Feng, 4th semester, biochemistry