19 July 2010

Chinese Class: Day 1

Well, the first day was a half day. We usually have two classes of grammar and two classes of speaking but today we just had two oral classes.

I haven't met my first teacher yet but my oral teacher is Ms. Gao. She seems really sweet and patient.

So I walked into the class and like I thought, all Koreans and some Japanese. Shockingly, after a while, two Spanish people walk in. They were a little shy so I didn't talk too much to them. There was a Japanese girl behind me that was a lot more interesting and we talked for a while. Her Mandarin was impressive but I felt we were at similar levels. Then I talked to the Korean guy next to me for a while who has a really cool deep voice.

Then another Korean girl sat to the right of me and I couldn't really communicate with her well. It appeared she hardly could speak Mandarin or she was shy. I really don't think she should be at this level. I feel bad for her because later I realized she didn't understand the teacher's directions since the teacher only speaks Chinese.

I find that a lot of my classmates are about my level or below. I guess they all have their strengths and weaknesses just like me.

I also found out that there are two divisions: Beginner and Advanced but that there are little levels in both of them. So I'm in the Advanced class Level 1 if that makes any sense. lol. There are still classes above mine. I looked at one of the girls' books and I felt I could handle the Advanced Level 2 class alright. In fact, I feel like the class I'm in was a little easy but I think maybe it's just the first day. But, I'm happy to be on top of the class instead of at the bottom. A lot of people were impressed by my self introduction because I could speak fast, but that's really because I've talked about myself a lot in Chinese already.

I have become very popular it appears. People from out of nowhere know my name and wave wildly at me in the halls. I feel so bad, but all these Koreans have similar faces and hairstyles. They seem more alike than the Chinese. And when they tell me their names, there's no way my mind can remember so I have to write them down. Well they all love me and want to take pictures with me.

What's so funny is that when I said I was from America they all gasped in pleasure and then when I said I was from Los Angeles, they all squealed and wanted to hold my hand. I have become somewhat of a little doll or plaything for them.

After class, I was paying tuition for my culture class and I met that Indian girl again. I don't know her name either and I've asked so many times and couldn't understand her that I'm afraid to ask again, so let's call her R because her name starts with the letter R. Anyway R and I bought cafeteria cards and ended up eating lunch together. The lunch at Donghua University is pretty nasty and R is a vegetarian so it made it especially difficult to find some dishes. Thankfully I helped her find some potato and beans dish and I ate some egg and tomato dish. R is in the beginner class and so we can't be in the same class but at least we're all in the culture class together.

For culture class today, we learned Chinese calligraphy. I've practiced Chinese calligraphy before so I really just wanted to dive in and do it, but instead I have to listen to like a half an hour history lesson of all the different styles. Finally we get to try and she only lets us do two characters: 有 and 法. After perfecting those I got so bored, so I started practicing my Chinese name: 杜婉莎 over and over again and I think I've finally mastered it. I love the smell of the brushes like horse hair I think, and the scroll paper, and even the ink. I really wish I could go crazy with the brush but I had to hold back. Apparently, a girl went a little crazy with the brush and drew a lot of butterflies.

I think I'm the type of person that likes to do things quickly. Once, we do one character I want to do the next. I don't want to keep writing the same character over and over again. I don't think it improves. I think it gets worst. The first time I try really hard and each time, I get lazier and lazier, while getting more and more bored. This is who I am. I need to be constantly invigorated.

After class, I showed R how to use the metro and showed her how to get a transportation card. I have the metro system memorized and the bus routes down pat, so a lot of people come to me and ask me how to get home and I help them. It's kind of funny that they all started asking me. I felt like a Shanghainese. In fact, I know the transportation system better than a lot of my Shanghainese friends.

By the end of the day, my mouth was so dry because I spoke so much Mandarin and made so many friends. It's a little overwhelming how fast I'm making friends. Student life is great!


  1. aww it sounds like you are having a blast! Look at you miss popular! I liked the part where they all wanted to hold your hand...did it kinda freak you out or are you use to that?

  2. You're so popular! I'm privileged to know you.

    I talked to a Chinese friend who said she hated drawing the characters in school because it was so repetitive. But I guess you get a lot of good theory on why you do the strokes in certain orders.

    The Korean folks I know all go by two-letter abbreviations. Korean names are like Chinese names, all 3-syllable names, with a two-syllable given name and a one-syllable family name, but I think Koreans write the given name first and family name last.

    That's super cool you're having an intensely cultural experience while learning Chinese.