I have been talking Chinese all day, since I arrived on campus at 7:45am until I left at 5pm… what a long day, I can hardly remember how to construct a sentence in English as my brain has been in full Mandarin mode since yesterday!
I’m really happy because after a few false starts I have found the perfect class. I love the teacher, the book, the other students… I feel like the level is perfect (312! I am a high intermediate student! YEAAAAAAAH!!!!) as everyone is similar to me and I’m neither showing off nor struggling. The earlier classes I audited had nothing like the friendly, chatty atmosphere that ours does. The other books were extremely dull and unchallenging and I was quite desperate before getting to this class, but we are studying a book called “Mini Radio Plays”, which instead of having a traditional layout — boring dialogue about some american topic, vocab list translated into english, grammar patterns explained in english, some ridiculous “play” section which nobody ever does — contains a transcript of a radio drama and NO english anywhere. In fact, there is a huge warning on the cover: THIS BOOK DOES NOT CONTAIN ANY ENGLISH INSIDE!! All the vocabulary is defined in Chinese and the focus is on discussion and interpretation. It’s challenging but in the best way.
Today was very rewarding. I particularly liked that the 311 level teacher discretely took me aside this morning and told me to get out of the class as I was wasting my time. I was so relieved — I was hating the whole thing and as each class is 3 hours long, I did feel like I was wasting precious time. I am never sure quite how good my Mandarin is, but for the last week everyone I meet has been telling me it’s amazing and it’s been so good for my self-esteem to realize that once I have managed to get back on track I will be in one of the highest levels at school: there are over 20 classes below me and only two above.
In fact I have turned into one of those annoying people who just assume everyone speaks Mandarin. Several times today I started a conversation with another foreigner and was blathering away for a while before they interrupted, saying they don’t speak Chinese. At which news I would stare at them blankly, wondering how on earth we would communicate, and then shrug and give up. English? Who talks English?
But waaaaah tomorrow I have my first tingxie aka dictation of the last 4 years. I am unfortunately aware of just how much work is involved in getting the high marks I require in order to apply for a scholarship next term… Looks like I will be getting up early again tomorrow. I’m sure that in a few weeks from now I will be complaining about how much work I have and how hard it is but right now I am so glad to be back at Chinese school.