Cao Yujie, a senior student of Chinese language and literature at Fudan University, speaks during a birthday celebration in his class in November. CHINA DAILY With the delayed commencement of the new semester and students being forced to embark on learning at home instead of in the classroom, university life was significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in China last year. Despite the inconveniences and challenges, many students from Fudan University in Shanghai managed to make the most of the unusual year. For Cao Yujie, a final year undergraduate in Chinese language and literature, being cooped up at home was initially a painful experience for the outgoing young man, who would normally spend his winter break playing basketball and visiting galleries. "It was dull at first, but eventually I made a plan to make the period as meaningful as possible," says Cao, who is the recipient of a national scholarship by the Chinese government. When he wasn't working on his academic essay, Cao would immerse himself in books from a list of 60 recommended masterpieces that was provided by his teacher.