Tue 11 Dec 2007
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i know, i know, i’m a bad blogger. i’m just not cut out for it. november was a busy month, and blogging takes quite a bit of time, believe it or not. i go for days without turning on my computer, so obviously no blogging occurs. the strange thing is, as i’m biking home from school every night, i think of many interesting things to blog about, but by the time i get home, sleep is pretty much the only thing happening.
speaking of biking, i am finally putting my bike to rest for the winter. i was biking home tonight and the temperature was in the 20s, with a wind chill of 18. i was just too cold, and it is not nearly as fun when you’re in a rush to get home. believe it or not, i actually really enjoy biking. i’m awake and refreshed, albeit a bit sweaty, when i get to class, and i really love the view. biking through the city makes me feel like i belong here, and it’s amazing the things i see. and it really is quite convenient, it takes about as much time as the bus, but the bus only drops me off on the far side of campus. thus i leave a good 10-15 minutes later than i would if i was riding the bus. sometimes i try to race the buses; i play a game of catch up with the bus i would be taking. i pass it at red lights, stops and traffic jams, than it passes me entirely to quickly. but it’s fun. so i will be quite sad not to be biking any more. but when the bus is only 5 cents per ride, the bus suddenly looks a lot more appealing.
yesterday was the first snowfall of the season. i actually didn’t bike through it, i figured it would turn to a sleety mix and that is just no fun. campus was quite pretty, and it was fun to hang out with the california kids that had never been in falling snow. it wasn’t a lot of snow, just a dusting really, and thankfully it melted before it could get too dirty.
in 10ish days we head off to Xiamen in Fujian Province, which is on the mainland across from Taiwan. i’m pretty excited to get out of the cold, plus we get to miss the last week of classes. only 3 more 8ams left! i’m not entirely sure what we’ll be doing there, but i suppose it’s like a christmas vacation. we’ll be there dec. 23-jan.1. maybe i’ll even get a tan.
speaking of classes, i suppose they are going well but i’m getting increasingly frustrated with my inability to speak chinese. everyone assumes that because i’ve been over here for three months, i must speak chinese fluently, and nothing could be further from the truth. i only had 8 months of chinese in the states, which compared to here was not intensive at all, and then i had almost 4 months of summer vacation to forget everything i had learned. additionally, although i have 22 hours of chinese class a week, i don’t actually speak a lot of chinese here. there are plenty of people doing master’s degrees in english, not studying any chinese, and doing just fine. you don’t have to speak chinese to live in beijing. most of my friends are foreigners, and almost all foreign students study english, so we naturally speak english. i have a lot of class every week, but i don’t do a lot of talking in class, mostly listening. so my spoken chinese is still pretty weak.
as such, i asked my chinese speaking friends to help me find a language partner, and i now have 2 language partners. well three actually, plus my tutor. the idea is that we just sit and speak chinese so that i get a chance to practice my speaking. we talk about everyday things, movies, the weather, classes, exams, etc. so i’m really hoping after a couple months of this, everything will really start to click. if i can’t speak chinese by the time classes end, i’ll stay for the summer and olympics so i can continue to work on it.
that’s pretty much it. i’m looking for an internship for next semester, but i don’t think people in the states can really grasp how much this country doesn’t plan. one of my friends taking actual classes in chinese will not know his exam dates until dec. 15th. the exam period is set to begin dec. 31st. coming from the states, where you know your exam date on your first day of class, this is sort of unbelievable to all of us. furthermore, i cannot predict what my chinese level will be two months from now, so i can’t really work in a job requiring chinese. i also don’t know my schedule or how often i’d be able to work. all of this makes finding an internship quite difficult. but i’ll keep working at it.
enjoy the holiday season! i’m actually kind of missing christmas carols…