Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Day 8, #zhongwen

What a beautiful morning! I had a lovely Chinese “breakfast burrito” (jianbing) for $0.65. It’s an egg, hash browns, sauce, youtiao (crunchy) in a crepe-like pancake. There’s also a soft donut you can get instead. I’ll try that tomorrow. I’m honestly really excited for tomorrow morning because it was really good. But this was the first time I paid more for my coffee than my food…

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Day two of language class! I’m starting at the lowest level, and I have three other students from Waterloo University (Canada) in my class. It’s nice and cozy. Our teachers are patient and encourage lots of speaking, which is great. We’re spending 4 hours of every day in class, so I’m glad it’s so much fun. It’s a challenge for all of us, but I think we’re all enjoying it. “I feel enlightened” says Michelle, who learned to say her name today. Description: D:\BLOG Post\class.jpg

Today was the first day of our language pledge (8 am – 6 pm only Chinese) and was very quiet for me. I don’t usually just sit and listen—it was kind of nice. There was a lot of listening and gesturing. Having had 8 hours total of formal training, I was pretty excited to pick out phrases I knew when my friends were speaking at lunch, and even more excited when I found a word to throw in wherever I could. In purely classroom-based language classes you can only measure how much of the given material you master, but with immersion, the whole language is the curriculum. Every day here we’ll have a consistent measure of our Chinese—not just of how many words we recognize from a vocabulary list, but of how many thoughts we can actually communicate with the language. I can’t wait to see what my conversations over lunch are like a week from today.

Today was also the first day of language partner time. We spend two hours every afternoon practicing what we learn with students from both Nanjing University and Nanjing Normal University. They’re studying to teach Chinese as a second language, so it’s a great deal for them too! (Just kidding, we’re definitely the lucky ones). We met them on Sunday and they showed us around campus, but today we saw how patient they could be. We’re all at different levels with different sticking points, and one-on-one tutoring really helps address them and keep us on track. It wasn’t as intimidating as I expected, but I have a pretty good idea of what I need to practice on my own now. After that, I was put to the ultimate test of using what I learned with Dong Laoshi. It was pretty funny. Maybe this language pledge won’t be so hard after all. Look how much fun everyone is having! 

Nanjing University (Nan Da) is a pretty interesting place. We’re studying in the cafe downstairs and in the lobby right outside there are students practicing Tai Chi. Definitely something we should start at Northeastern. We’re pretty lucky to be set up with everything we could have here—intense classes, private tutoring, and language immersion throughout Nanjing and even with friends. 

Jared O.

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