Today marks the first day of the Lunar New Year, and some UC students currently studying abroad may feel that distance from their homes and families may make it harder to celebrate. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to participate in festivities while abroad! Here are our tips for making the most of your Lunar New Year:
Share a Great Dinner With Friends
One of the core activities of Lunar New Year is sharing a large, delicious meal with your family members—often, this meal is considered one of the most important of the year, as it is to not only spend with loved ones, but to celebrate a year of hard work and to help usher in a new year of prosperity. What better way to both cure homesickness and teach your new friends about traditional customs by inviting them to dine with you on Lunar New Year? There are plenty of great Asian restaurants in the U.K., ranging from Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Malaysian and Thai to take the guesswork out of what’s for dinner. In addition to eating a great meal, you’ll also be surrounded by other patrons who are there to eat and be merry; a celebratory environment like that makes it hard to feel like you’re missing out from festivities at home.
Look for Cultural Gatherings Around the City
It is likely that your host university has several cultural societies that will be putting on some kind of celebration for Lunar New Year. Do a little research and ask around as to when they may happen, then tag along and partake in the fun! There’s bound to be food, music, new people to make friends with, and perhaps even a traditional performance or two.
Keep Some Traditions Alive
Being away from home doesn’t mean that you can’t partake in traditional practices; you can definitely adapt them to suit you this year while abroad. You can wear red to class, get a haircut on New Year’s Eve, hand out lucky red envelopes to your new friends, find a temple to go and pay respects to your ancestors, and wish people a Happy Lunar New Year when you see them—an infectiously cheery attitude is bound to get you and everyone else in the mood to celebrate.
Spend a Little Time With Your Family
Of course, a time like this is meant to be spent with your closest loved ones, so a Skype call back home is nothing to be afraid of. If you find yourself sorely missing being at home to celebrate, remember the amazing and brave journey you have decided to take on by studying abroad, and reaffirm your family’s support and love for you by wishing them a Happy New Year and sending them warm wishes. You’re already off to quite a good start on having a prosperous year by being abroad.
A warm and happy Lunar New Year from all of us at UKIUCEAP!