The transition to studying abroad is often accompanied by a myriad of emotions, with international students experiencing culture shock that manifests as a mixture of excitement, uncertainty, anxiety, and stress. However, research indicates that this journey can be mediated by the support provided by organisations and the experiences of cultural festivals. Festivals, as universal social phenomena, are dynamic events where individuals participate in diverse ways, contributing uniquely to the broader societal fabric. Their purposes range from reinforcing social norms to expressing solidarity and even resolving conflicts.
The upcoming Chinese New Year is celebrated globally with great enthusiasm and holds profound significance for Chinese and other Asian international students studying far from their homelands. Comparable to the cultural weight of Christmas in the West, the Chinese New Year, also known as Spring Festival, Lunar new year, stands out as the most significant cultural and familial event in Chinese and Asian traditions. It serves as an occasion for families to come together, share blessings, and engage in age-old customs symbolising renewal and prosperity.
Recognising the potential challenges faced by Asian international students, celebrations of cultural activities become essential not only for fostering a sense of belonging but also for alleviating homesickness. In a city as diverse as London, Chinese cultural festivals extend their impact beyond the international student community, contributing to the rich tapestry of London's cultural diversity.
The 2024 King’s New Year Gala
Adding to London's cultural vibrancy, the 2024 King’s Chinese New Year Gala, hosted on February 11 at the Guy’s Campus of KCL in the Greenwood Theatre and organised by KCL CSSA, exemplifies the fusion of Chinese and Western cultures. The Gala includes traditional performances like Peking opera and Xiangsheng (crosstalk), creative programs like magic show and captivating medley of excerpts from famous musicals. Additionally, cross-cultural elements such as the rendition of Croatian Rhapsody on the guzheng, a renowned Chinese musical instrument, further enrich the event. This harmonious blending not only celebrates cultural diversity but also promotes a message of unity and mutual understanding.
In essence, the celebration of the Chinese New Year in London, through both grassroots cultural activities and grand galas, becomes a transformative experience for Asian international students. It not only serves as a comforting reminder of their cultural heritage but also contributes to the cultural mosaic of London, exemplifying how festivals and cultural events play a pivotal role in bridging cultural gaps and fostering a sense of home away from home.