I just finished by second week of classes and the time has flown by. I’ve been very busy with classes and schoolwork. Everyday I have two hours of Chinese discussion, in which four other students and myself meet with a teacher and speak Chinese. The following two hours are spent in Chinese lecture, which is completely in Chinese. It really is complete immersion. The time moves so quickly at school and we get a break every hour signaled by a high pitched “Silent Night,” similar to an ice cream truck’s jingle. I don’t know if they realize that one, it’s a Western Christmas song and two, that it has a religious meaning. This is one of many instances that things have gotten a little lost in translation. Turning Chinese sentences into English isn’t easy for non-native speakers. I often see grammatical and spelling mistakes. The grocery store has a “prmtion” going on instead of a “promotion” and I just recently saw a knockoff wallet with a “carefully made in the USA” tag. Back to my school day; after I finish my four hours of school I head to lunch at a fantastic restaurant we’ve named “The Red Shed.”
Three people can leave stuffed, paying only about 50 cents a piece. I leave lunch everyday and head back to my room for tutor time. Everyone in the program has their own tutor that they meet with for a least an hour a day. Again, I have to speak to my tutor mostly in Chinese, even though she is fluent in English. We go over my homework and grammar points and spend the rest of time chatting in Chinese. Every night I spend a lot of time studying because we have a daily vocabulary quiz, but we find plenty of time to hang out and see the city. Friday’s are my favorite day of the week though. I don’t have any class on that day, just a weekly test. Later in the day though, I have a Chinese culture class. On Fridays I take a Chinese painting and calligraphy class and I also take tai chi on Wednesday mornings. After culture class we have “Chinese Table,” which is a fancy way of saying I get free food! All of the students and teachers get together and eat lunch, more like a feast, together. We have yet to finish all of the food we are served. This is an awesome way to wrap up the week. We talk, eat, relax, and get ready for the weekend. So far things have been going great! I love it here and the cheap prices of everything make it easy to have a good time.