Love, actually is all around us

By Zoraya Yanar, Global Officer, studying Classics and an exchange student from New Mexico State University

Zoraya shares with us her Christmas traditions and what this time of year means to her

Christmas, for me, as for so many others, is my favourite time of the year. It is a time to relax and be with family, I feel that I can be a kid again and forget about any worries I may have at the moment. The comfort and love that the holiday brings helps me to remember that things will be alright, because I have friends, family, and love.

As time passes and one grows older, it is easy to feel that the magic of Christmas has begun to dwindle away– which is why I believe it is important to have at least one Christmas tradition to keep you excited for the holiday and to keep reminding about what it is that you love so much about the season.

My own personal Christmas tradition is to pop a bag of popcorn, make hot chocolate, wear fuzzy socks and a warm blanket, and put on one of my favourite movies: Love Actually. The movie, which takes place during the Christmas season, follows eight London couples who are trying to navigate their relationships– it’s funny, but sad; wholesome, but vulgar, and everything in between. It shows love in all its forms and variations– romantic, familial, platonic, while also tackling love in the face of death and heartbreak. I personally relate to death and familial love because the same year that I first watched this film my grandfather passed away on the morning of Christmas Eve. It was a very hard time for my family, but I felt God was looking over us and chose the most appropriate time for us. It happened on a day that my entire family was already going to be together. What we all needed most in that moment was each other, and luckily we had it.

I usually spend Christmas in Mexico with family, or we, on occasion, spend it in Ruidoso, New Mexico — a cute, quaint village only a few hours from home which usually gets snow during the holidays. I am at Kent this term as an international student and this will be the first Christmas away from my extended family. I will, however, be spending it with my sisters and parents as they are coming to visit– I’m very excited to see them again and to get to spend it here. My love and nostalgia for Love Actually played a surprisingly big part in my decision to study abroad here during the winter term, so I’m very grateful for this time and opportunity. I get to see my family arrive at Heathrow Airport just as they do in the movie, and I’ll get to show them what Christmas in the UK is like. This term studying abroad has been the happiest I have ever been in my life and as sad as I am to see it come to an end, I know that good things are to come, and I think that Christmas and the New Year here will be a wonderful way to end my time here, at least for the time being.