I realize that despite the fact that I titled last month’s post “Friends, Classes, Hot Boys, and Hot Boy Concerts...,” I forgot to actually talk about my classes. The language program is broken up into 5 different classes, which are 精读课(jing1 du2 ke4 – Reading and Grammar), 听力课(ting1 li4 ke4 – Listening), 口语课(kou3 yu3 ke4 – Speaking), 写作课(xie3 zuo4 ke4 – Writing), and 泛读课(fan4 du2 ke4 – Intensive Reading). 精读 meets the most frequently, with 10 40-minute periods a week, 听力 and 口语 meet 4 periods each, and 泛读 and 写作 meet 2 periods a week each (good thing, because they are my least favorite classes).
The grammar I am learning is pretty easy, and a lot of it is review, which at first made me think I should go into a level higher (there are 9 levels; I am in level 4), but I decided to stay because I figured I could concentrate more on building my vocabulary. Also, I didn’t feel ready to jump into a much harder class after not being in school for over 6 months. Another factor in my decision was that I like a lot of my classmates and teachers =)
My 精读 (reading and grammar) teacher is planning to teach Chinese in England in a few months and wants to polish up her English, so she proposed that she and I meet separately outside of class for a language exchange – we would speak Chinese for an hour and then speak English for an hour. We have been meeting for a few weeks now and it’s been great so far. We have similar dispositions; we are both very open-minded, optimistic, and kind. I am also very happy to get extra tutoring every week free of charge.
I love my 口语 (speaking) teacher. He is my only male teacher, and he is very handsome. I like him because he has his own personal style when he teaches the class, playful but serious at the same time. For example, he doesn’t like it when students arrive late to class, so once he locked the door and didn’t let the latecomers in for ten minutes. However, once he opened the door, he was not mad at them, just addressed the class with a devilish smile and said, “Students, do you know why I locked the door? It is 10 o’clock. Please don’t be late next time.” Him, and all of our teachers, speak Chinese most of the time, but occasionally they use English to clarify words or grammar, which I usually find to be unnecessary and annoying. However, 口语 teacher will sometimes speak English with an adorable accent, such as “[when you use this word, it is] so nature (so natural)” or “This student is so humor.” He told us that before he was a teacher, he worked as a model for CCTV 4. He also told us that when he was in college, he often spent whole days in the library. Brains and good looks! On days when I have 口语课, I am sure to never be late =)
听力(listening) is one of the harder classes because my listening skills have always progressed slower than my other skills. 泛读(intensive reading) is also hard, but I’ve found that doing the homework before class makes it a lot easier, hehe. 写作(writing) is my least favorite class, partially because it is not very interesting (we just write things and then discuss them – like an essay class but in Chinese), but also because the teacher is too 严肃 (yan2 su4 – serious, solemn). She doesn’t smile often and her disposition affects the atmosphere of the class.
Guang Hua Towers, where I go to class every day.
I am definitely having a very international experience in China, to the extent that it is somewhat at the expense of having a Chinese experience. Obviously, there are no Chinese students in my classes, and since I live in the foreign students’ dormitory, I don’t live with any Chinese students either. The result is that even though I am living in China, I don’t have a lot of opportunity to meet with Chinese people. However, I am trying to remedy this by joining student clubs and meeting with Chinese language partners. Knowing English is a huge advantage because so many Chinese students want to practice their English. It’s a lot harder for my Korean and Japanese friends, who have yet to find Chinese students interested in a Korean- or Japanese-Chinese language exchange. So many Chinese students have asked to be my language partner. I’ve had dinner or lunch with so many different Chinese students that it feels like I’m speed dating. I wish getting dates with guys were this easy! However, the meetings are a little strange because they aren’t how one usually makes friends. But gradually, I am meeting more and more people who I genuinely feel comfortable hanging around with.
As long as I don’t think about New York that much, I don’t miss it too much. Although I lived in Washington Heights for over 6 months before I came to China, I never felt entrenched in the neighborhood, and my memories of it are fuzzy now that I’ve been away for a while. However, there are some American foods I have been craving lately, like chicken salad and sandwiches (especially salami and roast beef sandwiches). Once, I went to a semi-western restaurant, and on the menu saw “Ice Cream Chicken Salad” … I declined to try it. Asian people have interesting conceptions about Western food. A lot of people ask me if Westerners eat like how Asians eat rice or noodles (a serving at every meal). A Korean friend once asked me if hamburgers are a staple food in the US.
There are a lot of Koreans here. According to my roommate, you can always tell who is Korean by what they wear: Major League Baseball caps and Adidas clothes (plastic black-rimmed glasses are popular too). And it’s surprisingly accurate: the majority of Koreans do wear MLB caps at some point, especially the guys. My roommate has a New York Yankees cap. My Korean classmate has a Boston Red Sox cap. My roommate says they only dress this way in China – back in Korea girls make themselves up more, she assured me.
With the multitude of Koreans here it makes sense that they would also be the most available in the guy department. I like the idea of getting a Korean boyfriend – it would even out my string of “boy firsts” – first guy I went out on a date with: Japanese; first kiss: Chinese; and potentially, first boyfriend: Korean. I wasted the better part of this month worrying about the boy I met in the elevator, whom I nicknamed “电梯帅哥” (dian4 ti1 shuai4 ge1 – Literally, “Elevator Hot Boy”), and who unfortunately lived up to his nickname in more ways than one – he sent me on an elevator ride of ups and downs.
First, I finally saw him again in the lobby, and we had a good conversation for 10 minutes, with the end result of him asking for my phone number and saying that we should meet up together. I was on Cloud 9 for a few days before I realized that he didn’t seem to plan on calling me for a while. I made up my mind to ask him out on a study date, but as it turned out, he had lost his phone and I was unable to contact him for nearly a week. Then, he agreed to the study date, but brought his two female classmates along with him, but was still quite friendly, leaving me very confused. Finally, the nail in the coffin came when we became friends on facebook and I learned that he did indeed already have a girlfriend. Grr. I am a little mad about it because it’s not very nice to ask a girl for her phone number and then never attempt to contact her, regardless of whether one is interested in just being friends or something more.
However, I quickly moved on to pursue the Korean boy that I met at a friend’s birthday party a little over a month ago. He seems like a much more likely candidate, since we have been txting back and forth a little bit over the past month. I told him that we hadn’t seen each other in a while and that we should meet up, and he responded very enthusiastically. Prior to our study date he called me “pretty girl” and after our study date he told me that he felt very happy. He is not as handsome as some other boys here, but he is pleasant enough to look at and plus he seems like he has a very warm personality, very “亲切” (qin1 qie4). I hope something works out between us.
my bike, about a week before it was stolen =(
Nanjing East Road on a Sunday.
Nanjing East Road at night.
on the Bund with Pudong as the backdrop... inevitably, there is always some stranger in your China sightseeing pictures.
Yu Gardens at night.