A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
We have said “Happy New Year” a few weeks ago but now I need to say it again, because for Chinese students, the “real” new year has just begun.
This year February 9th was the Chinese New Year’s Eve, from which started the most important holiday in China — the Spring Festival. It is usually THE time that all families get together and celebrate. But for oversea students like us, whose school breaks almost never overlap with the Spring Festival, going back home is not really an option. We have a saying that people especially feel homesick during holidays. But no worries, because it is still possible to get the feeling of being home even when you’re far away from it.
Someone might not know, but in the entire Chinese culture, food is one of the most essential parts. Dinner together may be the most typical Chinese way of “hanging out”. So for this important holiday, a good friends & family gathering dinner is definitely indispensable. It has been the second far-away-from-home Spring Festival for me. I still remember that last year we only had 5 people together to celebrate this holiday. After one year of getting to know more people, this time we gathered 15 Chinese students that study different subjects in Leiden, celebrating this special holiday together. Even though the house was a bit too small for all the people, we were somewhat enjoying the moment — you don’t really get this type of “crowdedness” here in the Netherlands every day, it kind of remind me of being home in China. Everybody was contributing to the cooking and sharing stories of how they improved their cooking skills after coming to Leiden. And after hours of hard work, here is what we came up with:
Obviously we were quite satisfied with what we made. Maybe they don’t look so much perfect, they did taste pretty good! I felt so excited that I got to taste some food that I could only dream ever since I was here. The moment when everybody sat down around the table, raising the glasses and saying happy new year, I felt that this was it, this was how a Chinese New Year’s Eve should be. And it doesn’t really make a big difference of being far away from home, because here we also have friends sharing the same feeling, and celebrating the same holiday in the same way just like at home. I heard there were other big Chinese people celebrations going on in other cities, but I prefer cozier and smaller gathering with friends nearby like this. Staying in Leiden you can also feel like home.
It was also very heart-warming in this cold winter that I received many new year’s wishes from friends and classmates from all different countries. Thanks and wish you all a lucky “year of snake”!