I have now been in China for about a month, and have already taken a final and completed my fifth semester of Chinese and earned 4 credits. That is crazy.
This summer has been flying by, and I am starting to feel like just 3 months here is not long enough. If you asked me that in May though, I would’ve said 3 months is plenty. There is always so much to do, and with class and tutoring taking up a good 5 hours a day, time is limited. I want to travel all around China, but there just isn’t enough time. I still have yet to travel all around 天津 (Tianjin), the city I’ve been living in, and find the Tianjin eye Ferris wheel, explore the water park area, and visit the zoo.
Classes are very fast paced and hard. Since we have a test every Friday, a quiz every day, and a good amount of homework every night, I feel like I am always cramming for whatever comes next. I’ve gotten to know my tutor better though, and we’ve now been spending our hour together practicing speaking Chinese once she answers any questions I might have. Having a conversation is the most helpful for me because speaking and communicating to others is what improves my Chinese. It is what you actually use when living in another country. Helping with homework is great, but it is much more beneficial to speak.
I didn’t realize I’m getting better at Chinese and communicating with people until a couple days ago where I was able to speak a lot about various trips or experiences I’ve had since being in China with my tutor. I told her about my experience with a taxi driver on my way back from the Italian concession (A tourist area in Tianjin with Italian architecture, restaurants, and shops). Taxi drivers are usually Tianjin locals, so they have a slightly different accent and don’t know English. I understood about 75% of this conversation. The other 25% I just smiled and nodded. It’s a classic occurrence here. Anyways, the driver asked me where I was from, and we talked about foreigners for a bit. He really likes Americans and explained to me how they’re really pretty (it was a bit creepy). Blah blah blah the conversation went on. My point is that I actually felt like I’ve learned a lot since being here. One month ago, my cab ride would have been silent.
Anyways, it’s finally the weekend! I can’t wait to see what Tianjin has to offer next.