Monday, September 7, 2009
Today is going much better than yesterday, although I'm tired from staying up late talking with Sophie on Skype and getting up around 6:45 a.m. for...
CHINESE CLASS! There are fifteen of us in the class, hailing from: America (me and Sebastian, a college student from Clemson), Canada (Tae!), Belarus, Mexico, Thailand, Japan, Italy, Nigeria, and Sweden. It's pretty cool to have such an international group. The class itself is sort of odd: the lessons we're doing are very basic - however, the teachers speak solely in Chinese and sometimes quickly, so in that aspect it's challenging. To move up a level would definitely be too hard for me, so for now I'm staying put. The teacher asked us if we had Chinese names, and I told her I did, but I didn't like mine. So she gave me a new one that is much prettier: Ma Mei Li.
After class I went to hunt down my ATM card, which was surprisingly successful. I had a nice experience taking care of it, because I realized I am slowly losing my terror of conversation. Usually the second I hear a word I don't understand, I freeze up and the interaction is done for. But actually being in China is so different than learning Chinese in the States. Living here is not like taking a pop quiz every day. There is context. The postal worker isn't going ask me what my temperature is and the waitress isn't going to ask me what my mother does for a living. So when I went to the bank in Wu Si Square and some dude asked me: "Something-something-something zai shenme difang?" I actually didn't panic. I know that zai shenme difang means "in what place" so I figured he was asking me where I lost my card. I told him the University and he seemed satisfied. So while for every answer I get right, I know I'll get a million wrong, I think this context stuff is a sign that I am heading in the right direction.
While I was riding the bus home, happily clutching my ATM card, I again felt so lucky to be in this colorful, awesome, vibrant city. It's a really great match for me. The bus system is fantastic and there are all kinds of interesting neighborhoods to ride through. My whole life here is walkable, and I can see blue skies and the stars at night. (Rare in many polluted Chinese cities). I am very grateful for all these things, because while I definitely enjoy dancing and drinking and going out (Gayle + Aebra: "Let's go to Rick's!!#$@"), I can't deny that my heart is closer to this: