Ahead of a Christmas like no other, University of Canberra student Sam Egan is spreading Christmas cheer to his fellow students.
Sam is studying a double degree, a Bachelor of Science in Psychology/Bachelor of Creative Writing. He lives on campus at Weeden Lodge and – like many other students in 2020 – has chosen to stay in on-campus accommodation over the Christmas break.
Although many of Sam’s family members reside in the Canberra region, his choice to stay means he will be able to also spend time with international students – who don’t have the option of going home this Christmas.
“A few of my neighbours here at Weeden are from overseas, and because of the pandemic, can’t get home,” Sam says.
“They would love to be able to go and visit their families, but instead we’ve organised to get together to celebrate and make sure nobody feels left out.”
Sam and his neighbours plan to share a meal and exchange gifts to see out 2020.
“My closest neighbour is from Malaysia and a lot of her close friends recently moved out of student accommodation, leaving her feeling even more isolated,” says Sam.
“I asked my Mum if she [my neighbour] might be able come and spend Christmas with our family in Queanbeyan this year.”
“I want to make sure she isn’t feeling alone on Christmas Day.”
And for those who don’t have neighbours as thoughtful as Sam, the Summer at UC program will be ensuring that they stay connected and supported during the upcoming Christmas holidays. The program consists of a jam-packed calendar of events and activities, open to all students who will be in Canberra over summer.
Summer at UC will include a sausage sizzle and the UCX Food Pantry, as well as a host of fun activities and support services and a range of social sporting competitions. A Christmas Day ressie lunch for all on-campus residents and international students will be hosted by UniLodge at UC Lodge.
With his second semester wrapped up for 2020, Sam has turned his focus from assignments to more festive projects.
He is combining his love for art and interior decore with a dash of Christmas spirit. When making a wreath for his own room, he realised many of his friends were without Christmas decorations in their rooms, so he set about making a plan to add some Christmas sparkle in Weeden Lodge.
“I’ve actually started making Christmas wreaths so my friends can decorate their places – it also means I can fulfil my passion for creating things,” he says.
“A lot of them have full-time jobs and haven’t had the time to make anything – I know they were stressed about decorations – so at least if I can give them a wreath it spreads a bit of cheer and brightens up their space.”
Although Sam is one of the lucky ones who will be able to visit his family over Christmas, he doesn’t regret his decision to stay on in student accommodation.
“I’m glad that I’ll be here and able to say Merry Christmas to my neighbours.”
Words and photo by Elly Mackay.
We understand this time of year can be challenging. Should you need any help, a 24-hour UC Crisis Line is available for all students. The University Crisis Line is operated by Lifeline. The service is available 24 hours a day, including weekends and public holidays.
Students seeking support can free call 1300 271 790, or text 0488 884 227.