Chinese New Year Away from Home

long distance reunion dinnerAuthor: Jaycie

My name is Jaycie Chan and I’m from Malaysia. I am currently a second year LLB Law student at King’s College London. Chinese New Year is always the most important festival of the year for the Chinese. In Malaysia, we usually have the school holidays for a week and this is the opportunity for everyone to go back to their hometown to visit their friends and family. I must admit that Chinese New Year is a homesick season for the Chinese students who are studying abroad because we don’t have school holiday, firecrackers celebration, and sometimes we may even have examinations! But this year, I decided to make my Chinese New Year in London extraordinary and trying to make the most out of my student life at King’s!

Here are the highlights of my Chinese New Year this year:

Long-distance family reunion dinner

Thanks to the technological advancement today, I was able to have a ‘reunion dinner’ with my family during the Chinese New Year Eve even though we are 10,539 km apart from each other. Due to the 8 hours time difference between Malaysia and the UK, we have to arrange the Skype call in advance so that the timing suits everyone. Fortunately, I didn’t have morning class on that day and was able to video call my family from the beginning of the dinner till the end. Although I did not get the chance to greet them in person, at least I got to be part of the dinner and share the happiness with them as if I was with them physically.

Yuan Bao dumpling
Homemade ‘Yuan Bao’ Dumpling

Good Chinese Food

The best part of the Chinese New Year is always the food! The reason that London is my favourite city is because of its diversity. I always manage to get very good Chinese food or Malaysian food from Chinatown whenever I crave for a taste of home. However, we have a limited budget as overseas students. So, I decided to celebrate my Chinese New Year by cooking homemade food with my friends. Instead of eating Chinese Hotpot in a restaurant, we bought ingredients from the Oriental Supermarket and created our own Hotpot by using our rice cooker and saucepan. I also managed to make several traditional Chinese dishes and desserts from scratch such as “Tang Yuan” (Glutinous rice dumplings in sweet soup), Red Bean Soup, Chinese Marbled Tea Egg, “Char Siu” (barbeque pork ) and “Lo Mai Gai” (steamed sticky rice with chicken).

Tang Yuan
Homemade Tang Yuan

 

Chinese new year flat dinner

Friends Gathering

The essence of Chinese New Year is about spending quality time with your beloved one. This principle will not change, no matter where you are. Therefore, I also use this opportunity to have gatherings with my friends that I haven’t seen for a long time and I am lucky enough to have the chance to meet with my distant relatives this year. Besides, as a committee member of the King’s College London Malaysian Society, we hosted a Chinese New Year dinner at a Chinese restaurant in Chinatown with our members in conjunction with this festival season. This event was successful and 40 students turned up on that day. We had 10 main courses such as lobster noodle, roasted duck, steamed fish, etc. But, more importantly, we enjoyed the great company on that night.

KCL Malaysian society chinese new year dinner
KCL Malaysian Society Chinese New Year dinner

 

Chinatown with flatmates

A visit to London Chinatown

Last but not least, Chinese New Year is never complete without a visit to Chinatown. I went to Chinatown with my flatmates on the first day of Chinese New Year. Chinatown has a strong festival atmosphere because of the street’s decoration with the red ‘tang lung’, the busy Chinese restaurants and the traditional Lion Dance performances. The annual Chinese New Year parade held in Chinatown is considered the biggest of the new year celebrations held outside Asia. The colorful celebration of Chinese music, dance and acrobatics in the parade is definitely worth visiting!

There is no grandma’s cook, no firecracker, no ‘ang pau’(the red packet) in this Chinese New Year. But as long as our heart is closely connected with our dearest friends and family, Chinese New Year in London can be an awesome and a special one too!