Chinese New Year in San Francisco

Study History in San Francisco

While you’re in San Francisco, add an impact by participating in a beach cleanup. Or help the city’s LGBTQ Center stuff envelopes to send out important communications to the LGBTQ+ population in the city.

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Sojourn – Gain a better understanding of the community you’re visiting. Learn about different religions or spiritual practices. How do these impact the communities? How does religion or spirituality influence local traditions?

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Savor – Will you choose sweet or savory? Take the time to visit local markets and discover unique local ingredients. Learn how to prepare traditional meals & local favorites.

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Tip of the Tongue – Each morning, take the time to learn a few basic greetings and phrases in the local language. Learn how to write greetings & your name in the local script.

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A Wrinkle in Time – History influences our present. Discover the history of the country you visit. Hear the stories of your guides & their family history. Where do they come from?

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Journal Journeys – Take some time to reflect on the day’s events and document your journey. Spend a moment journaling about the day had & day ahead. These are memories for a lifetime!

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Culture – From local dances, festivals, or simple gestures to communicate – all of these make up a country’s culture. Learn and practice cultural norms & how to show respect in the culture you visit.

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Your first day in San Francisco will probably be overwhelming. It’s a huge city! Take some time to find a great Chinese restaurant and enjoy some noodles. In China, these are one of the foods most commonly eaten during New Year’s celebrations.

You’ll start today out with a tea tasting. You’ll get to try a variety of traditional Chinese teas, and your server will tell you more about each of them and their origins. Next, you’ll watch the Miss Chinatown USA Pageant. Young women from all around the United States come to compete, and you’ll get to find out who wins the crown!

Today you’ll have a proper tour of Chinatown. As you walk, your tour guide will point out important structures and interesting architecture and tell you about their history. Your first stop is the Dragon’s Gate, the iconic entrance to Chinatown, so make sure to take some photos!

Next, you’ll visit the Chinese Historical Society of America. This museum will teach you all about the history of Chinese people in America, and specifically in California. You’ll get a glimpse into the Chinese-American immigrant experience.

Your last activity today is a fun one: the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory! This shop has been making their cookies by hand for decades. But they’re not just the usual fortune cookie you’d get with your takeout. They come in flavors like strawberry and green tea, or you can get chocolate-dipped with rainbow sprinkles. You’ll take a tour of the factory, where they make over 10,000 cookies per day!

You’ll be taking a break from Chinatown today, instead heading to Castro Street. Castro is a historically LGBTQ-friendly district in the city, and it has a vibrant nightlife. You’ll get a tour of the area, including historic sites related to Harvey Milk.

Now it’s time to volunteer. HIV/AIDS is still a huge problem, especially for LGBTQ+ people and intravenous drug users. You’ll be helping the San Francisco AIDS Foundation with their syringe access & disposal service. This service provides clean syringes to these drug users, significantly reducing disease transmission. You’ll work at a drop-off and pick-up site with another volunteer who will tell you more about the program and what you can do to help stop HIV/AIDS.

It’s time for the parade! Make sure to get there early so you can get a great spot. The parade takes place at night, so it’s illuminated by the vibrant entries. One of these entries is a 28-foot-long golden dragon that takes over 100 people to operate! There will be elaborate costumes, beautiful floats, and exploding firecrackers.

Feel free to get up a little late today before you head to the Chinese Community Street Fair. There will be over 120 booths to shop at, but definitely more exciting are traditional dancing, drumming, acrobats, Chinese calligraphy, fortune telling, and lion dancing! 

Once the fair has wound down, head to your dim sum-making class. It’s tradition in Chinese culture, for families get together on New Year’s Eve to make dumplings. Now it’s your chance! You’ll be taught to pinch, roll, and stuff dumplings by a chef, and then you’ll get to eat some, too.

Chinatown in San Francisco transports you around the globe, and there’s no way you’re ready to leave it behind. But don’t forget that you can celebrate the Chinese New Year every year, now that you’ve learned how!

Gong Xi Fa Cai, or Happy New Year! It’s time to see San Francisco’s Chinese New Year celebration during your USA student travel! The city’s parade is one of the largest in the world and the largest outside Asia; more than three million people watch every year. You’ll participate in the festivities and learn more about San Francisco’s Chinatown.


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7-14 Day
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