Celebrating the start of the Year of the Ox is something that Sandhu Muhammad Abdullah had longed for a while.
The 28-year-old, a master's degree student with a major in international law at Northwest University in Xi'an, capital city of Northwest China's Shaanxi province, had spent most of his time last year in a dormitory due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"This is not my first Chinese Spring Festival, and is almost my seventh,"Abdullah said. "I still remember when I was working with a Chinese company.We'd decorate with red lanterns."
To celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year this year, he said he planned to learn to cook some traditional Chinese food with his family members in Xi'an, to stay put and celebrate the new year together.
Unlike Abdullah, Maulen Meras was not that excited about Spring Festival. The 23-year-old, who has lived in Xi'an for a year and half, also spent most of his time in his apartment last year.
He likes to cook and sometimes did some exercise at his room. But what ignited his interest most is learning Chinese.
With an inborn talent for languages, Meras is able to speak six languages. Before beginning studying for his bachelor's degree at Northwest University in Xi'an, the sophomore from Alma-Atain, Kazakhstan said he wants to speak like a Chinese native by the time he graduates.
He practiced how to write Chinese characters nearly everyday and he now owns eight notebooks that are filled with his Chinese handwriting.
"I sometimes write some of my own thoughts in Chinese and will hand them over to my Chinese friends for review," said Meras. "Every time, their feedback will give me lots of confidence."
During his time at the university, Meras participated in multiple competitions and activities for Chinese learning. He is a frequent patron of a nearby food market and made homemade hot pot, something he's missed for a long time.
He also loves to play with a Rubik's cube and he can complete one within one minute.
"I miss our Spring Festival in Kazakhstan, which is usually in March, more," he said.