Dear Friends and Family,
Whew, what a week. I feel like I’ve been here for a year, not a week. Chinese is much harder than I imagined, and I’m glad I’m learning it the way I am, intensively and all day. I feel like if I just had an hour class a few times a week, I would forget it as fast as I learned it. However, I love it to death, and I am getting the hang of it. Like all languages, you have to get into the groove, and then from there its just more hard study and work. In some ways, Chinese in infinitely more complicated than English, in other ways it is wonderfully simple and makes perfect sense.
I have four hours of classes each day, three one hour classes in the morning, with about 20 min in-between, and an hour class in the afternoon after lunch. After that I go home and study until midnight, with periodic breaks of course. I am studying almost every waking moment. I have to in order to keep up with the homework. The first two days I felt like I shouldn’t even sleep, but I did anyway (its hard to study when your eyelids won’t stay open).
Originally there were 8 people in the class. One dropped out after the first day, another after the third day, and two more are thinking about leaving. You can’t be doing anything else while you’re taking this class, not work, not other classes, nothing. I think the people who dropped it had some other stuff going on and they couldn’t keep up.
Grading: Because each day is equivalent to a week of Chinese in a regular year, we are graded on every moment we spend in class. From the call of “xianzia shangke le” from the teacher (class is now beginning), to the call of “xianzia xiake le” (class has now ended), we are graded on our performance and comprehention. The teachers are actually not really teaching us chinese. We are taught chinese by our text books and interactive practice DVD, and then we go to class to perform what we have learned and are graded on it. Twice a week we have a FACT class in which we have a written quiz, and the rest of the hour is spend explaining various cultural and grammatical things in English. Oh, did I mention, all the classes excepting the twice a week FACT class is completely in Chinese? Yep. Its a blast, and so hard.
I was actually worried before I started that I might have trouble staying awake in class, because when I sit down for too long my body wants to go to sleep. But in these classes I am concentrating so hard its like a mental marathon. I lean forward in my seat most of the time because I’m trying so hard to hear and comprehend what is going on. It is very intense. Not something for the feint of heart.
I feel like simultaneously crying and whooping for joy when I remember that I still have 8 weeks of this left.
I hope everybody is doing well. I do not think I will be coming home at all this summer. I’m sorry but I simply can’t justify the time it will take. I miss everybody and will continue to (hopefully) send out regular updates.
God Bless and be well.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
“Whatever you do, find the God-centered, Christ-exalting, Bible-saturated passion of your life, and find your way to say it and live for it and die for it. And you will make a difference that lasts. You will not waste your life.” — John Piper
“Age is foolish and forgetful when it underestimates youth”–Albus Dumbledore