Advice for Awkward People

Dear Michelle,

The holiday season is approaching, and I’m super excited! This has always been my favorite time of the year, mainly because my family and I have the best traditions. It’s a time when I genuinely feel at my happiest. I know that my holiday season experience might be a little different because I’m in college now, and honestly, I’m sort of worried about that. I really don’t want all the stress from school to ruin the holiday season for me. I want to be able to celebrate the holidays, while also finishing off my semester on a good note. Do you have any tips on how to do that?

Help On Living In Denial About Year-end Stress


The holiday season is also my favorite time of the year! And I understand that it’s difficult to have to find ways to keep up your family traditions and feel at home, especially when you’re so far from home. But over the past few years I’ve been in college, I’ve learned some good ways to do so.

The first thing you can do is make up your own traditions with friends! I’m sure during this time of the year, a lot of people, including your friends, are starting to feel homesick and miss their families. Since a lot of you are feeling the same way, this would create a good opportunity for you guys to find some fun activities to do together during your free time; to create spaces where you all can spend quality time with one another, and be like a family. Something nice you all could do is have a potluck dinner, where you all can bring dishes that you usually eat with your families during the holiday. Not only is this a great way to bond with your friends, but you can learn so much more about them and their cultural backgrounds.

Another thing you can do, if you feel like you’re missing out on the holiday celebration while being on campus, is decorate your dorm! Of course, ask your roommate (if you have any) if it’s okay to decorate the entire dorm, but it’s so easy to put up even a few decorations on your wall or door to help spread the holiday cheer.

And while it may not seem like campus is getting into the holiday spirit just yet, you can just take a twenty minute bus ride downtown this Friday for Pittsburgh’s annual Light Up Night event, or check out a fully-decorated Phipps Conservatory in about a week or two. These two events are all about celebrating the holiday season, and you’ll get to experience all the decorations, lights, music, and even fireworks! It might not be obvious, but Pittsburgh really does love the holidays as much as you and I do. And while it might be different from how you usually celebrate at home, making your own holiday traditions with a “second family” in Pittsburgh can be a really wonderful thing. It’ll take some time to get used to, but hopefully these will become experiences you can look forward to in your coming years of college. Hope this helps!