This year, due to the ongoing pandemic, Chinese New Year celebrations in Shenzhen have been subdued. However, Yasin Muhammad, a Pakistani optical engineering Ph.D. student in Shenzhen University, deeply immersed himself into a variety of Chinese New Year customs and traditions as well as other activities arranged by the university.
“Our campus used to be very quiet during the Chinese New Year, but this year the school was full of excitement as most of my Chinese schoolmates chose to stay put. My university prepared many activities to keep us entertained during the Spring Festival,” he said.
Yasin Muhammad. Photos courtesy of the interviewee
A fluent Chinese speaker, Muhammad is a big fan of Chinese culture and would experience any chance he gets.
On Feb. 10, he participated in the university’s Chinese New Year celebrations and tried his hand on writing the Chinese character fu (meaning blessing or happiness) with brush and Chinese paper cutting.
Muhammad said Shenzhen University has organized plenty of activities throughout the weeklong holiday, including giving out lucky money, watching the Spring Festival gala on Chinese New Year’s Eve, free movie screenings, visiting museums and scenic spots and climbing mountains.
Muhammad poses for a photo at Dapeng Fortress in Dapeng New Area during the Chinese New Year.
When talking about his campus life, Muhammad told Shenzhen Daily that his fellow students and teachers are very friendly and helpful. He also mentioned that his Chinese improves fast when he helps other overseas students communicate in Chinese.
As a second-year Ph.D. student, Muhammad said he often spends time in labs or reading research papers. In his spare time, he always loves taking part in Chinese cultural activities organized by the school or cultural exchange centers across the city. “I enjoy making dumplings, learning Chinese calligraphy and paper cutting. I’m happy that I can make new friends at such events.” When he feels homesick though, Muhammad often cooks Pakistani dishes to make him feel good.
Muhammad makes a Chinese character "春” (meaning "Spring") at a paper-cutting activity held at Shenzhen University on Feb. 10.
Before the pandemic, Muhammad has traveled to other Chinese cities such as Nanjing, Hangzhou and Xi’an. These cities have a long history and a rich culture to learn from.
In 2018, Muhammad graduated from Shandong University of Science and Technology in Qingdao, Shandong Province, with a master’s degree in information communications.
Before coming to Shenzhen, Muhammad knew little about the city. He learned that Shenzhen is a fast-developing and prosperous city with generous investments in education. He often shares his life in Shenzhen with his family back home.
Muhammad (in red jacket) and his schoolmates pose for a photo at the final of the 11th Shenzhen Expats Chinese Talent Competition last December.
Muhammad said that after obtaining his doctoral degree, he plans to find a job in Shenzhen. “Shenzhen offers huge job opportunities. The city is very open and offers great services to foreigners,” he explained.