University students are sanguine about spending the holiday on campus


University students are sanguine about spending the holiday on campus

International students at East China Normal University receive gift packs for the Spring Festival.

Rory O’Neill, an Irishman studying for a master’s degree in Chinese  philosophy at East China Normal University, went home to Ireland in 2019  to celebrate Christmas with his family. It was his last major trip  outside Shanghai. A few weeks later, coronavirus broke out.

With  the seven-day Lunar New Year holiday, or Spring Festival, looming next  week, he will be staying put in Shanghai. He said he will work on his  master’s dissertation and prepare an application to pursue a PhD at the  university.

Last summer the pandemic forced him to abandon plans  to visit his family in Ireland. And this year, a Chinese friend from  northeastern China had invited him to his hometown to spend Spring  Festival with his family. He had to sadly declined the invitation.

O’Neill  is not alone. Many students in Shanghai universities will be spending  the Spring Festival holiday in the city instead of heading out across  the country or indeed the world. Government authorities have been urging  people to forgo travel plans this year following clusters of  coronavirus in parts of China.

“I’m quite grounded here,” O’Neill said.

University students are sanguine about spending the holiday on campus

Rory O’Neill, an Irishman studying for a  master’s degree in Chinese philosophy at 

East China Normal University,  will stay in Shanghai during the winter vacation.

Spring Festival in China normally triggers the largest mass movement  of humans in the world as people return to hometowns across the country  for the traditional family reunions or head out on trips abroad.

This  year, travel plans have been dramatically scaled back. It’s estimated  that the largest-ever number of Chinese students will remain in Shanghai  during the coming holiday.

The Shanghai Lixin University of  Accounting and Finance said more than 1,300 students have chosen to stay  put. Some of them come from hometowns in China that are deemed  medium-to-high risk for the pandemic.

Seohui Baek, a South Korean  majoring in business at East China Normal University, said she isn’t  particularly bothered by having to stay in Shanghai.

Last year she was visiting her family in Seoul when the pandemic broke out. She ended up staying in South Korea until November.

“In  South Korea, the situation was very much like that in China,” she said.  “We also experienced shortages of protective gear like face masks, and  our streets were empty. I was hoping there would be a vaccine that would  allow me to return to Shanghai earlier. But there was none at that  time.”

When she did finally return, she had to undergo five  coronavirus nucleic acid tests and endure a 14-day quarantine. Even  today, her university requires students to wear masks and have their  temperatures checked before entering campus.

University students are sanguine about spending the holiday on campus

Seohui Baek, a South Korean majoring in business at East China Normal University, in traditional Korean clothes

“Things are similar in South Korea, so I don’t feel any  inconvenience,” said Baek. “I think all this is necessary for the safety  of everyone.”

She said she had planned to travel around China during the winter break. But those plans have been scuttled.

Staying put doesn’t need to equate with boredom.

“I  can participate in some charity activities organized by the South  Korean Chamber of Commerce during the Spring Festival holiday,” she  said.

Baek is the president of the Association of South Korean  Students in Shanghai. She said the organization has been promoting  exchanges between Chinese and Korean young people, including an eSports  game between Korean students in Shanghai and Chinese students at Korea  University in December.

The group also tries to help graduating  South Korean students find jobs with online symposiums on resume writing  and interview tips.

“We are following the advice from the local  government and not organizing large gatherings to avoid the risk of  infection,” she said.

To ensure that international students can  enjoy the festive atmosphere of the Chinese Lunar New Year, East China  Normal University is presenting them with gift packs that include  drinks, chips, cookies, cakes and candies, as well as a Year of the Ox  doll.

Zhou Guanlan, a freshman at Shanghai Lixin University of Accounting  and Finance, told Shanghai Daily that his hometown of Suihua in  Heilongjiang Province is marked as high-risk, so his family urged him  not to come home for the holiday.

“If I go back, I would be  quarantined for 14 days in Heilongjiang and another 14 days in Shanghai  upon my return,” he said. “So why bother traveling?”

Zhou said this is the first time he has spent Spring Festival away from his family.

“But  I won’t be lonely,” he said. “The university has prepared many  activities for us. For students remaining on campus, dorm buildings have  been made available. I will be able to make new friends.”

The  university has arranged a staggered timetable for students to sit down  for a specially prepared Spring Festival lunch. Students can also make  video calls home and take part in lucky draws at canteens during the  lunch.

Online activities are always a way of killing idle time.  Students can involve themselves in writing, photography, singing and  sports competitions. They can also attend online lectures on job  searches or starting up their own businesses.

University students are sanguine about spending the holiday on campus

Zhou Guanlan, a freshman at Shanghai Lixin  University of Accounting and Finance, 

poses for a photo in front of his  new dorm room.

To allay concerns of parents separated from their children during the  holiday, officials, teachers and tutors at Shanghai University of  International Business and Economics are making “home visits” via the  Internet and telephone to let parents know how their children are doing  at university.

To adhere to rules on sizes of gatherings, the  university will not organize the usual banquet for remaining students on  Chinese New Year’s Eve. Instead, free meal sets will be available in  the first three days of the new year.

The Shanghai University of  Finance and Economics is also organizing activities such as making  dumpling, cooking regional specialties from students' hometowns and  lantern-making.

                                                                                                   Source: SHINE


East China Normal University