|9:08, 31 C|
My classes go from 10 AM-12 PM and then again from 2-3 PM. I am studying radio plays (to help with spoken language) and Talks on Chinese Culture. The latter appear to be a series of rather outdated lectures, with a dialogue between a Westerner and a Taiwan person on either side of each lecture. The radio plays are fun and not especially easy. Lots of new vocabulary and idiomatic expressions. The Talks textbook is on the easy side, and over the course of the week I discussed with the placement people whether I might not switch to something harder. But in the end, it seems not. It's not actually that the Talks themselves are too easy--it is the kind of formal and elegant Chinese I ought to be practicing. It's just that the class moves a bit too slowly.
The third class period is a full hour of one-on-one conversation. This of course is far more challenging. Typically this class would also be devoted to Talks, but by the end of the week it was decided that starting from next week we'll talk about other materials. That will add a bit more difficulty to the schedule. The class size is only four, except my individual class which is of course just me!
|RL at La Boheme|
From there it turned out to be a very short walk to where I'm staying. I think I may have finally found the shortest, most efficient route!
On Wednesday at lunchtime there was a meeting for the school's electronic newsletter. It is very cute and very serious, sort of like doing the school newspaper but no need to deal with advertising or anything. I originally wasn't going to participate, but I decided it would be good for my writing skills. Plus I never did stuff like that back when I was actually in high school (or college). I was too timid and antisocial. It's fun to see in some way what it would have been like.
After school I dashed over to Academia Sinica to go hear a lecture. There is a big conference going on and I can make it to almost none of it. I still find Chinese-style conferences kind of alienating though, still too low in the hierarchy I guess. It was linguistically interesting, reminding me that even though I'm doing well in comparison to my classmates, I still have a long way to go before I can really talk--or even understand!--Chinese at a professional level.
Thursday after school I ran into RL and ended up going to her place. That was *really* like being a little kid again. We sat at her dining room table and did our homework together. Her place is very much nicer than mine, but of course she is staying with family friends so they have a real home.
|Fruit and Flowers|
In this picture, the red one is a Fire Dragon fruit. In Beijing these were always white inside, but here there seem also to be red ones. They are as intense a red as beets are but taste better. They seem sweeter than the Beijing ones. For a picture, see my old post on that subject here.
Thursday night I stayed up very late writing an essay, and then doing the workbook exercises. Friday morning I overslept just a bit and, I guess because I was a bit flustered, I also forgot my homework! I was halfway to school when I remembered. Fortunately, I have cultivated the habit of trying to arrive at school 20-30 minutes early. That left me just barely enough time to go back to my room, get my homework, and jump in a taxi. It was such an adolescent moment. But neither showing up without my homework, nor being late, seemed like a live option; I have a reputation to maintain. In my classes, they don't call me by my name, but call me boshi 博士, which means PhD. It's sort of like if they called me "doc." It is really funny. My classmates are all undergrads.
During the Friday Talks class, we had to read our essays out loud. It's fun being a grown up, and learning to find all kinds of things interesting. After each essay, we had to ask questions, but I did not have to work at all hard to think up questions. It was fun and challenging to try to frame them in nice sounding Chinese. One essay was about the power structure of a university, one was about Western attitudes toward child-rearing, and one was about Mormon attitudes toward marriage and children. These were all very amusing things to discuss in Chinese. Mine was about how making big generalizations about 2000 years of Chinese history is not very productive--basically a critique of the first chapter in our text book from a sinological point of view. I was apprehensive about reading it to the class because I was worried about boring them, but happily we ran out of time so mine got put off til Monday. Saved by the bell!