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  • A computer graphic of an Asian family sitting around a table and eating dumplings. There is a red background with Chinese lanterns.

    A Sneak Peek into Lunar New Year

    Alice Li

    Coming from a family of Chinese immigrants, Lunar New Year has always been one of the most prominent holidays my family celebrated. As a child, all I really knew about the holiday was that I would meet up with relatives, eat good food, and receive a bunch of red envelopes—a very shallow interpretation I must admit.

    As I grew older, I learned there is so much more to the holiday that illustrates how sophisticated the Chinese culture is. It also heightened my appreciation for my heritage and sparked my desire to visit China to see firsthand how they celebrate.

    And now I want to share my learnings about the different aspects to celebrating this holiday:

    The History

    There are many different stories about how this holiday came to be. The version I know centers around the monster "Nian", which translates to “year” in Chinese. Allegedly, Nian was a beast that came down to eat humans with the coming of each new year. To scare it away, citizens would use what it feared most: the color red and loud noises. This is why many Chinese communities would set off firecrackers for Lunar New Year and why you would often see the color red all over the place.

    The Food

    Many families would eat "auspicious" foods for the holidays that often has a phrase and play-on word tied to it. For instance, 年年有餘 (nian nian you yu) is a Chinese saying that basically means to have abundance and surplus each year. Fish is often served on Lunar New Year because the work 餘 sounds the same as the word 魚, which means fish. Interestingly enough, this is one of the dishes my family would have on the table, but not eat until a later day because finishing it is a sign of eating away your surplus too soon and is thus seen as unlucky.

    Some other common foods include:

    1. Dumplings because it is shaped like a coin bag
    2. Noodles symbolizing longevity and thus should not be cut
    3. Nian gao representing prosperity as a play-on word to "tall" so reaching new heights each year

    The Celebrations

    Lunar New Year is traditionally a 15-day festival where many Chinese people would get an entire week off work to celebrate. There are many different traditions people may partake in.

    One of the most renowned is red envelopes. During this holiday, many adults would give red envelopes with money inside to children or as long as an individual is unmarried. It symbolizes a blessing for safety and peace.

    When meeting others during this celebration, it is polite to greet others with various auspicious sayings. In fact, most people would greet with more than one phrase which is why it is important to know multiple which may include:

    1. 新年快樂 (xin nian kuai le) - happy new year
    2. 恭喜發財 (gong xi fa cai) - may you be blessed with prosperity
    3. 身體健康 (shen ti jian kang) - may you be blessed with health
    4. 年年有餘 (nian nian you yu) - may you be blessed with abundance each year

    This is merely a fragment of the traditions associated with the holiday and how my family has celebration Lunar New Year. Traditions vary depending on what region of China or even Asia individuals are from. In 2024, Lunar New Year starts Saturday, February 10th. Explore the traditions and celebrations local to you this year and learn more about this international holiday.

    Do you have a compelling story or student success tips you’d like to see published on the Pearson Students blog?  If you are a college student and interested in writing for us – click here to pitch your idea and get started! 


  • A young college student visiting an historical area featuring stone statues. She is looking over a stone railing.

    The Travelling World of Little Einsteins – College Student Edition

    Alice Li

    "We're going on a trip on our favorite rocket ship, soaring through the sky." - Little Einsteins

    Many college students today remember the animated series, Little Einsteins. In each episode, four children travel to different parts of the world in their personal rocket ship. College is a time when many students get their first taste of freedom, including traveling with friends for the first time without a chaperone. However, we cannot simply just up and go whenever and wherever we want. For starters, many of us do not have the resources or planning expertise that the Little Einsteins had. And, we most certainly don't have our own rocket to conveniently go places!

    But a little creativity and planning can make student travel more manageable. Here are four tips based on some of my experiences in travelling as a broke college student.

    1. Factor in transportation costs

    When it comes to travelling, two of the most important things to figure out upon determining a location are (1) how to get there and get around and (2) where to stay. Transportation adds up, especially if you plan to drive. You often need to not only pay for gas (think about the rising gas prices!) but also parking.

    Even if you plan to use public transportation, it is just as important to consider location as there are limitations to the time schedule for when bus or rail lines are running. For example, when I went to England, because the bus lines were not running at the time I needed to head out, I ended up walking around two miles just to get to the rail station while carrying all my luggage and carry-ons. Not fun, I tell you, but quite an experience anyway. Overall, if the distance between your housing and chosen visiting destinations are close, you can get to places faster and easier, thus maximizing the time you’ll have to explore.

    2. Consider where to stay and how to get around

    Book housing at least a few months in advance for cost savings. (Yay, price discrimination!) Airbnbs are great for medium-sized parties (3-10 people) and can help save money if your party is willing to cook at least a few meals, as dining out can be costly.

    Look into the safety of the area you are staying in and visiting, as well. Do your research ahead of time as to how to access public transportation and whether you need a certain app to ride the bus/train/etc.

    3. Plan ahead for places to go explore AND eat

    New place. I get it. You want to explore. But you’ll get exhausted if you have TOO much planned on your daily itinerary. Have no more than 3 activities/locations planned, depending on the length of each activity. You’re honestly better off giving yourself more time in one place than less. Also, having less planned allows you flexibility in your schedule. You may discover a place you didn’t really know about when you researched but are interested in, so leaving some room in your schedule gives you the opportunity to explore. Having some dining options in mind ahead of time can prevent frustration when you’re tired and hungry and not sure where to eat.

    4. Take note of any important regulations and customs, especially if you plan to go out of country

    Did you know that chewing gum in Singapore is illegal? Singapore values keeping their city clean and thus has a lot of different fines and regulations. Check out regulations and customs in your destination ahead of time. The last thing you want is to visit another country and suddenly find yourself in trouble with the law enforcement agency.

    Travelling can be stressful and even tiring but it is also very rewarding. So, if you want to go on a trip in the near future, what better time than now to begin planning and thinking about it? Even without the Little Einsteins’ resources, college student travel is within your reach!

    Do you have a compelling story or student success tips you’d like to see published on the Pearson Students blog?  If you are a college student and interested in writing for us – click here to pitch your idea and get started!