It’s fun living abroad, until you’re facing yet another expat Christmas alone. A lot of expats go home for Christmas, but many can’t or don’t. Others come from cultures that either don’t celebrate Christmas on the 24th and 25th or don’t celebrate at all. So for many expats, one of the most looked forward to times of the year can feel isolating and depressing.
While Danes celebrate Christmas on the 24th, Robert and I are used to the main festivities taking place on the 25th starting early in the morning. With his kids celebrating Danishly with their Danish family on the 24th, our Christmases together have mostly consisted of an early afternoon gift grab immediately followed by dinner on the 25th.
Basically facing another expat Christmas alone, I asked in a local Facebook group if any other expats were going to be alone in Aarhus for Christmas. I quickly found a small group of people who were looking for something to do, and someone was even offering to host a Christmas dinner at their apartment! City living being what it is, the apartment could only fit eleven at a push, so it wasn’t long before I was looking for a bigger space.
One thing led to another and a couple of weeks later I was having a coffee at Hallo Hostel and talking to the owners about the possibility of using their café space for our gathering. They thought it was a wonderful idea and didn’t take any convincing. They’ve been extremely welcoming and this is why the hostel has become a social hub for the Aarhus international community. It’s a cool place to be and their café serves very reasonably priced coffee, tea, soft drinks, and beer, which is hard to find in Denmark, let alone in Aarhus.
A Hyggelig Christmas Eve Potluck Dinner
So, on December 24th, a group of internationals living in Aarhus, who otherwise would’ve been spending another expat Christmas alone, gathered at Hallo Hostel for our first annual (I hope) Christmas Eve potluck. We were a mix of people who celebrate Christmas and some who just wanted company. We represented many countries… Croatia, India, Italy, Macedonia, Philippines, Poland, Scotland, Turkey, Ukraine, USA, and maybe one or two others that I’m forgetting.
Everyone brought a dish to share… pierogi, a tapas plate, pasta al forno, vegetarian shepherd’s pie, paella, roasted vegetables, palak paneer, various cakes and other sweets, lots of wine, and things I’ve forgotten to mention :)
There was never a lull in conversation and most of us continued on at an Irish Pub after we’d left Hallo. In wanting to do something different this year, I’d accidentally organized a hyggelig Christmas Eve dinner for people who would’ve otherwise been spending another expat Christmas alone and I couldn’t have been happier with how it turned out…
A Shout-Out to Hallo Hostel
I didn’t strike a deal with Hallo where they’d let me hold this event there in exchange for a mention on my blog. I just think that Hallo Hostel is a cool place and I like to stay at cool places when I travel, so I’m telling you about a cool place to stay in Aarhus :)
I won’t give you the rundown on their rooms, etc., you can find that on their website. But I will tell you that Hallo Hostel has one of the best locations in the city (it’s like a 3 minute walk from my apartment) and it’s smack bang in the middle of everything.
It’s laid back and fun, which is the vibe I think of when I think of a hostel, but without any of the sketchy restrooms and showers that you might also think of when you think of a hostel. It’s super clean and a great place to be.
I love these handwritten signs :)
Being a hub for the Aarhus international community, we have several informal get-togethers at Hallo Hostel most weeks. There’s a Sunday coffee drop-in event and there’s recently been a healthy living meet-up on Saturdays. There have also been game nights and movie nights. This means that hostel guests have a good chance of running into locals who can tell them the best places to eat, drink, shop, or hang out :)
See you in 2018!
If you celebrate, I hope that your Christmas was as hyggelig as mine. Here’s to trying new things and making new friends! It’s going to be quiet around here for the next few weeks, but check back in mid-January for many interesting happenings :)