I’d spent the night before finding tones in my dictionary for every individual character in the essay (not a minor task), so this morning we spent a half hour translating it together, determining the difference between ‘scene’ and ‘landscape’ in English, and bearing with my ‘slower-than-Tutor-Eric-can-talk-in-his-announcer-voice-speed’ reading of an article about the design of a notable Chinese garden park. When I do my Chinese homework, I worry that I’m investing so much of my time discerning the structural and phonetic meanings of characters that I don’t bother learning the semantic values of the words themselves; this leads to the disheartening feeling that the information itself might not ever be salient if I’m not really understanding it but learning it for the purpose of getting by in class- memorizing how to say something for the short term versus how to say it and know what you mean (and that you meant it that way) are very different.
“Give this to your TA Echar.”
“I bet you she will say it very differently.”
“What, like she can’t read it as fluently as you do?”
“She won’t read it melodiously. She will read it with no tones. The majority of Chinese people do not read things properly.”
“So what am I learning?”
“How to speak melodiously.”
“So you want me to learn to speak Chinese better than the Chinese.”
“Yes. You already are learning.”
Even just in the last few days, both Professor Yue and Eric have noted that my tones are getting much better. Even though I’m feeling like I’m not really giving the language my everything- it’s just so overwhelming and I don’t feel confident in my abilities at all anymore- the fact that the bar is being set so high for me means that even when I feel like I’m just going through the motions and not really progressing, I’m doing more than I think I am. I give it my all in class, always, but it’s hard to motivate yourself! I speak Chinese with people when I have the option though, because this really is an amazing opportunity for me to finally get ‘flucent’- I should want to be able to look back on these four months and really know that I tried. And I know I’m trying, because words I ‘knew’ before are much more concrete in my mind now- I really know them and their tones, the last part of the puzzle. I used to just say stuff and hope it came out right- now I know when it’s right (or more right than it used to be- just because I know how to do something right doesn’t mean my voice box does what I intend for it to do).
The more advanced you get, the more intricate the language becomes, the more you realize how much left there is to learn- but knowing that you’re intending to learn the language better than most people makes it feel like even if you have trouble, you’re still pushing yourself relative to the rest of the population.
I’m not particularly fond. Janice with our new friend, Mary Up down, front back, yin yang Sarah! My trapeze skills come in handy Muffin Smoldering For the Scrapbook: Baby’s First Pork Look at that! We really appreciate old culture, but after, can we go drink our bottled drinks and return to our […]
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I jacked 4 of these photos from friends’ albums, namely, the ones wherein I’m visibly not taking the picture.
Caught an insect in the air with my fingers and wiped its guts on a table, cuz I’m gross like that now and bugs don’t bug me anymore. Proclaimed the remains the ‘fruit fly of my labor.’ I still have friends here.
NOTE: I CAN’T READ ANYTHING THAT HAS TO DO WITH FACEBOOK. I set my blog up to post to Facebook before I left the country. My ma, who frequents my page anyways, says some of y’all be postin’. Send me emails or texts (even though I can’t return texts) instead because I really do want to hear from you: email@example.com, (216) 543-2390. Also, I just got my Xiamen Address! If you would like to honor my study abroad registry requests, I want some of these: http://www.worldwildlife.org/species/finder/giantpanda/panda.html
Hannah Weinberger, Room 1004, Caiqing Jie Building, Xiamen University, 3610050 Fujian Province, P.R. China
As I navigate the ethernet cable collection of variable length decorating my floor at 4 am, I feel a rare spurt of altruism. How have I managed to persist thus far in these conditions? What can I do to ensure that others evade death likewise? If you plan to study at Xiamen Daxue, the survival skills I have gleaned in only a week’s time are necessary informations for your street smarts arsenal.
1. Make Money on The Side
While it’s less than a hassle to live on less than $10 a day, having a cache of surplus funds is excellent insurance in the event that you lose your wallet/student card/mind. Interestingly, the same skills that assist one as a student can be construed as money-making talents with minimal adjustment. Por ejemplo/for example/如,
Xiamen Daxue is not a small campus, and one tends to ambulate. If you have an advantageous composition of muscle and your stature can support that of another’s, consider marketing yourself as a foot taxi. Even with both their book bags and yours on, the Chinese tend not to be a hefty lot, and actively pursue opportunities in which they interact with foreigners. Charge by the half minute.
The Chinese government’s minor level of xenophobia affects the public’s fascination with the English language by approxiamately zero degrees. In China, it is not unusual to see words and phrases that defy good sense and grammar like ‘syphilis’ and ‘gastric bypass’ and ‘you raik the heart sheep’ bedazzled across a tee shirt simply because English is cool- pop culture presents people who speak English as intelligent people who lead fascinating lives and can support themselves financially. If you’re not one to invest yourself too heavily in a job well done (English speakers don’t need to invest themselves too much because life’s good anyways), consider taking on translation projects on the side- if you can write English letters, it doesn’t matter what you have them mean. Just give your employer some a’s and z’s and ‘giving an innovation unripe birth to your business group’ to emblazon about their business cards. If you’re not particularly verbal right off the bat, try thesauri roulette.
For those students for whom even half-assed translation is too taxing, try charging others for appreciating your existence. If having someone look you up and down, announce, ‘So beautiful!’ and beg to have their picture taken with you isn’t enough to convert you to the practice of pimping yourself out photographically, consider the number of pictures one could take in a minute if you wear an American flag, have a friend serve as a photographer who can take people’s pictures for them, and practically ‘conveyer belt’ Chinese people by you while holding up a peace sign. It’s efficient and practically foolproof.