In Italy both as a religious and cultural tradition, on the 8th of December students and most workers, apart from retailers, get to spend the day home with their families to set up Christmas decorations. It has always been one of my favourite Christmas traditions, one of those very happy family moments that managed to remind me what Christmas is all about and that kind of initiated the ‘Christmas season’.

In the UK instead there isn’t a specific day in which people can get together, decorate the Christmas tree and get into the Christmas spirit. This year I noticed – working in a shoe shop as sales assistant- that only two weeks after putting away the little plastic spiders and bats after Halloween, my managers were already setting up the Christmas lights, Costa coffee across the street had a little tree on and the poor barman was already wearing a Santa hat in the weekends. I am one of those people absolutely obsessed with festivities in general, I love the atmosphere the decorations and the different kind of traditional food that comes with each festivity. Of course, Christmas is my favourite. The fairy lights, the sparkly decorations, the stockings, the Christmas markets and why not, the cold outside, a nice Christmas movie – one of those that you watch every year knowing that you will watch it next year again and it makes total sense because it’s Christmas – and a cup of hot chocolate.

I wouldn’t really mind starting all of this in advance if it wasn’t for the fact that, as many out there, I am a third-year university student. December for students isn’t all about Christmas. When you have two essays to submit on the same day and exams the week after, Christmas is like water in the desert, impossible to reach, a mirage. The Christmas holidays are like the Holy ground that you cannot wait to get to and rest. I know it might sound as an exaggeration but I promise is not easy to stay focused when even Spotify, that you put on while writing an essay, adds a ‘happy holidays’ playlist to its browser. When people don’t stop asking you ‘have you started doing your Christmas presents? I am nearly done!’ and you feel like an awful person because you managed to forget to buy Christmas cards.

So to all students out there I just want to say: YOU ARE NOT ALONE, stay strong, avoid Netflix suggestions of the ‘Grinch’ and ‘home alone’, avoid those friends who – not having exams and having already submitted their course work – try to drag you to the Christmas markets. Instead, surround yourself with people that are on your same boat, that will be happy to meet you in the university library and that will bring snacks to share during those intense 10 hours studying sessions.  And yes, prepare yourself to queue hours outside the shops the 3 days before Christmas to get all your presents done. They say it will all be worth it and we will miss these years as students. Will we really though? I wonder…

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