'The clean atmosphere, the friendly people, the gentle pace of living and the closeness to nature all fascinate me,' says Li Yunlian, who was born and brought up in the city. 'I really enjoy the pastoral pleasures of the country,' the Guangzhou University student says. Students in Guangzhou - who play computer games all day long in their dorms, when their eyes are not focused on television soap operas, or heavy traffic as they navigate busy roads - feel lucky when they get the chance to experience life in the countryside. 'My classmate Huang Youbing's father owns a piece of land where they look after hundreds of chickens which produce eggs for sale, and he often talks about the fun he had in the countryside,' says Chen Xiao, one of Li's classmates. 'The freedom and quiet life of the countryside has always appealed to me. We happily accepted his invitation to visit his chicken farm.' The group of college students saw this as a rare chance to get away from the hustle and bustle of life in a big city. 'The air is so fresh and the twittering of birds so amazing!' Li says. 'I also experienced so many 'first times'. It was the first time I learned how hens lay eggs. It was the first time I picked up eggs from the nests.' Yan Yu, a student at the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts, had a similarly eye-opening experience during the winter holiday. 'Thanks to an activity organised by my roommate, I had the opportunity to paint in the countryside of Qingyuan ,' Yan said with a smile. 'What surprised me was that we had the chance to work on the farmland with local farmers, and I deeply tasted the hardship as well as the satisfaction of work in the field,' she says.