Experiencing Christmas for the first time

Christmas is a globally well known festival, as well as in China. We see Christmas celebrated by a lot of companies as well as some celebrations in colleges and universities. But we don’t see it as a very important festival because it’s not our traditional one. All you can feel is just a kind of curiosity and interest of an exotic culture.

Fortunately, my roommates here in UL gave me the opportunity to experience another kind of Christmas.

A month before Christmas, we started to think about how we celebrate the holiday. One of my French roommates suggested Christmas dinner and Secret Santa. Iballa, a Spanish girl, borrowed a Christmas tree and decorated it with shining lights and small cards. She also drew a painting of Frozen and put it under the Christmas tree with two boxes of chocolates.

On 9th December, the day near exams, everyone gathered in the kitchen. We were excited and each one of us cooked a lovely traditional dish to share during our meal.

Michael, a boy who was born in the Philippines and grew up in France, made a big dish of spring rolls. He has always been good at cooking, his spring rolls were perfect with sweet chilli sauce.

Muriel and May are two girls from France, they are good at cooking bread. Muriel made a chocolate bread and May offered a delicious apple pie. So I’m still wondering if the French have a talent for cooking bread.

Wendy is a girl from Kenya, she made a pot of beef. Iballa introduced us a special way of eating cookies. I forgot the name but the cookies were tasty with cheese and a range of sauces.

According to Chinese convention, I made a pot of beef ball soup. There is a Chinese tradition that we must have soup during a momentous occasion and the soup is always put into the biggest bowl and placed in the centre of the table.

After dinner was the most exciting part of the night. We sat down on the couch and shared gifts one by one. I got a mug for Iballa, it was a blue mug that once filled with hot water, showed a picture from Frozen.

I received a small memento from Muriel. She wrote “Happy Christmas” in several different languages on a card, and even included my Chinese name! It must have been difficult for her.

Then we took a group photo. We look like a family in the photo. We are from different countries, we speak different languages, we have different habits, we have different skin colours, we grew up with different situations, but up to now we live harmoniously in Ireland.

Life is a journey with occasional surprises, I want to say thanks to my roommates. I couldn’t have had such a good time coming up to the end of my first semester in UL without these friends!

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