Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Spring Festival Holiday and Celebrating Chinese New Year

Current student, Amanda Bogan, MAIS '18, shares her experience of celebrating Chinese New Year in Shanxi province and also taking some of the holiday to do her thesis research. 

After the Chinese New Year holiday, many HNC students returned from trips to exotic locales both inside and outside of China. Students will often use the long winter holiday to travel around Asia; some went to Korea for the Olympics, while others explored nearby Taiwan, Vietnam, and Thailand. Still other students took advantage of the break to conduct valuable field research on their thesis topics.

HNC student Su Mengfei (MAIS ‘18), for example, spent several weeks working at an NGO in rural Cambodia, doing research on ecotourism while learning about local social issues and how a grassroots organization is operated. While traveling throughout Vietnam and Cambodia, Margie Tanner (MAIS ’18) conducted interviews with human rights NGOs which provide legal assistance to victims of trafficking who are awaiting repatriation and upon return to their home countries.

I decided to spend most of my holiday within the PRC, wanting to both make progress on some academic research for my Master’s topic, and to experience the holiday here in China with my Chinese friends. During the first half of my vacation, I caught up on readings and online research, while also doing some preliminary writing for my thesis. After spending several afternoons working in coffee shops around Nanjing, I was excited to travel outside of the city and participate in some of the New Year festivities.

New Year's Eve dinner (年夜饭)
Traveling in China is one of my favorite ways to experience Chinese society and culture. Although Chinese New Year can be notorious for big crowds and sold-out tickets, I’ve learned that planning ahead and reserving tickets as far in advance as possible can help ensure relatively stress-free travel experience, even during the holidays. What’s more, finding myself sitting next to a stranger on a plane or in a crowded train car has often led to some interesting conversations with locals, while also allowing me to reflect on my improved ability to discuss a wide range of current issues in Chinese.

I passed the New Year’s holiday in Shanxi province with some of my close Chinese friends. Having lived in Shanxi for a year before coming to the HNC, coming back feels like returning to my 老家; this trip was particularly special as it was my first chance to spend the Chinese New Year in China with a Chinese family. It was a very traditional celebration, much of our time was spent making countless dumplings from scratch, watching the New Year’s Eve variety show (春晚),and walking around outside looking at the holiday lanterns and fireworks. I also had to opportunity to discuss my thesis research with a close friend of mine who is a Chinese professor, giving me some new perspectives on my topic.

南大‘s East Gate at night
Although the holiday seemed to pass by faster than expected, I now feel rejuvenated and excited to return to classes and get back to working on my thesis writing. I’m happy to be back to Nanjing, reunite with friends and classmates, and start preparing for the coming semester. 祝大家狗年快乐!

Written by Amanda Bogan, MAIS '18