Holidays as an International
By Hannah Hank
On New Year’s Eve one of my teammates asked me “how do you cope with living overseas so far away from family?” Caught off guard, I fumbled for something to say with lack luster success. So when I was posed the prompt “Holidays as an International” by the Roar it felt like the opportunity to run it back.
I imagine the people I love as lights, and if I looked at a map I’d see the glowing, no matter the distance between me and them. The world feels kinder that way. A little softer. Less like it’s trying to hurt you. Someone somewhere feels something when they hear your name. Love is everywhere around us even when we don’t know it. I promise. When someone you love ends up far away from you, the love they have for you is brightening up wherever they are in the world. And somewhere deep down, you feel it. Even miles away. Even time zones away”
-An anonymous Instagram post
This quote found its way to my Instagram feed and is something I’ve held onto ever since. I read it before I got on the plane in June to return to Clemson for my senior year with the Tigers. I read it whenever I need the reminder to embrace being where my feet are.
If I’m honest, holidays as an international can be tough. At the end of the day, it’s part of the gig. With a lot of things that come with moving to a different country, not knowing what the things you used to take for granted will now look like—you hunt the good that can come from the change.
You learn to look forward to Christmas care packages arriving from loved ones in the mail to revert to that childlike Christmas morning urgency as you drop everything to run and collect it. Courtenay Etheredge, Assistant Director of Operations at Clemson Women’s Basketball will leave you smiling and shaking your head because the MVP covered up the contents of the package with a sticky note. On Christmas morning you’ll unwrap all your favorite sweets and snacks from home (spoiler of what the package held avoided thanks to Court) and try to have your voice heard to thank family over the commotion at the other end of the facetime call.
You get to see new cities over the break instead of heading home and trade that Aussie summer heat for the romanticized white Christmas—confirming to your family back home “Yes! Yes, it is just like the movies!” Somehow, when you go to visit your brother, you’ll convince him to build a snowman outside even though he acts like the grinch at the mention of snow after spending 4 years in Albany winters. A feat only achievable with the help of his other Aussie teammates making for four Australian basketballers verses the snow. The boys teach you how to make a home away from home for the holidays and that the holiday spirit of giving does not waver.
Hannah Hank- 6’2
Brent Hank- 6’10
Cameron Healy- 6’3
Adam Lulka- 6’8
You will make new friends who’ll join the Aussies abroad meet ups when your brother graduates and heads back to Australia. After taking over the responsibility as one of the upperclassmen of the Aussie’s abroad Christmas, the caption to your new friend’s Instagram post updating their family “…spending Christmas with people who made Tennessee feel like home” will make your day. You looked after the youngins like the boys had done for you your first couple years away in the States.
My Christmas travels have taken me to New York, Charleston, and Nashville. Embracing them has made for some of my favorite memories in the States. As you get older you come to know the holiday season can be a tough for people for different reasons. Maybe they’re financially struggling to afford a holiday celebration, grieving the loss of a loved one or feeling lonely over the holidays.
I’d encourage you to be the light that brightens up someone’s holiday, the warmth, the love.
To all my internationals I see you xx