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Learn Chinese in China
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all you need to know about my journey trying to stay afloat. 

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week two

All foreign students in the class are technically not even part of the system yet. What does this mean? I'm guessing it means we could literally not attend classes and no one would notice because we're not even technically registered in the course.


It's a bit strange. But I suppose I can understand. There are some classes that we 3 foreign students are not required to take. Such as the 政治 politics course, and the 中国语言文化 class. I also feel like I shouldn't even be in the 口译 class because it’s basically an English class, but I'm still attending these and just act as the teacher’s assistant when needed.


The Chinese democrat I mentioned last week has been telling everyone how stupid I am and picking apart my pronunciation. I don't care at all. It just makes it easier for me to ignore him because I didn't like him very much the first time I met him or any other occasion that follows. It bothered my friend a lot because she's in a group with him and she was like "OH next time I'm going to pick apart his English and make him feel stupid". I'm like It’s okayy I don't like him either. At least now I know the feelings mutual so I don't have to bother talking with him. haha.


I finally attended my other consecutive interpreting class last week (English-Chinese). It's quite different from the Chinese-English one because the professor doesn't want us to take notes at all. She wants us to focus on 1) presentation skills and 2) memorization. Some of the exercises in class consisted of having one student go up to the front and make a speech their own and present to the class. Afterwards, everyone had to record their own recitation of it. For now the professor said we should translate into our most comfortable language so naturally the Chinese used Chinese and I used English. But it's not as easy as you'd imagine. I found it quite hard to relay my translation of the speech while 30 other students were at the same time. I think this is good practice for more 'real life' interpreting. I also really liked the teacher who also seems quite 'western'. One of her requirements for the students is 'speak English', unless you're the 3 foreign students, in which case we all must speak Chinese. I think this is a little bit unfair on part of the other foreign students because their mother tongue isn’t even English.  


My other consecutive interpreting class (Chinese-English) has so far taught us short-hand. I find these a bit harder to remember, because I think short hand is a personal thing and some of the symbols don't feel personal to me at all. I included a picture under the description to give a small example of shorthand. I love the teacher though, he's very talkative and very cool kind of guy. Putting it to use is just as hard but the professor goes over it during class when we have translation exercises.


The homework this week was quite normal until my professor sent us a translation hw Friday night, due Tuesday night. Which is kind of stressful because she had a total of 3 days to assign us homework and waited until the weekend to give it to us. I caught a cold for the weekend so you can imagine I did not spend a single second on Saturday studying (mostly sleeping and mulling about miserably), Sunday was beautiful and I'm a bad student so I just went out for the pizza festival. I can see now how Chinese students have no life outside of school. D:


When I went into the office today I found out that we only need to take our foreign language class (I chose Spanish) for one semester. I find it a bit strange. It seems almost useless to bother taking it for one semester but that’s the schools requirements. Learning another language is hard enough as it is but learning it in Chinese is soo weird. My professor was going over this grammar point and I honestly understood nothing of it, I just looked at what she was writing and the pairings and figured out the grammar structure somehow by my own genius, but I can’t for the life explain the reason to you. 


Other than that the homework for most classes is pretty much the same. It’s something like 1) watch the news 2) prepare to present 3) prepare to translate. In about 3 or 4 of my classes it’s like this. I just have one teacher that prefers us to prepare different (not news) material to translate. I watch the news anyway but it's a bit more difficult to anticipate what your classmate will find as "the most important news of the week" is. Last week I prepared to talk about Irma only to find that was not the "most important" of the week.


Our first translation homework (a lengthy article on the housing bubble crisis) was put on the board for everyone to follow and discuss one student’s translation. It was one of the foreign students translation who was put up and I'm glad it was because she had told me before that instead of just having one person correct her translation, a total of 4 people decided to 'fix' it and they absolutely destroyed it and said everything she wrote was basically shit. When the professor went over the translation I was happy to find that the professor actually critiqued alot of the Chinese students 'fixes' and at the end advised everyone to not go into corrections as a mission to completely destroy the original, instead to just focus on one or two mistakes because a lot of the time the corrections were actually not correct at all. My friend has found a different partner to work on corrections so hopefully next time will be better.


Things I find confusing so far is that I have so many wechat groups that keep getting created that no one talks in. I'm not really sure what group I’m in most of the time and the banzhang is always pissed to have to answer. I just found out from one of my classmates that I was supposedly in their group and I felt so bad because a week or so ago he added me into a group but i wasn't sure what that group was for and the banzhang just put me into an entirely different group. I also feel bad because (and not to sound mean) but I really find it difficult to remember who my classmates are. Nobody uses their picture on wechat and they don't even use their names so I don't really know anyone even though many people have added me. I'm making an effort now to put a face to the name.


I made some friends with some girls who roll in about the same time as me to class all the time, we laughed about how we always seems to be late when we're actually early (1-5 minutes before class). And slowly but surely my classmates have been talking with me. :)


Oh if you thought foreign students were the minority in this class, you could also say guys are. I think there are only 3-4 male students in the interpreting class of mine, and the translation section might have about the same amount.  They're a bit odd but I liked the guy who studied simultaneous translation into japanese and english. He's a bit strange but very sweet.


Last thing:

Complaint of the day:

My teacher had a last minute thing so she wants us all to do a makeup class and miss another professors class to go to a lecture. I'm going to the lecture but not class. I wish I could say "I hope the professor doesn't notice" but being the only three foreigners in class means the professor is always going to notice when any one of us is missing. I signed up for an event at the embassy two weeks ago and I don't raell ywanna miss it but I'm torn. To follow my western virtues or go Chinese.

Any thoughts? haha.



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First impressions...

Okay so I just decided to put up a blog because I saw someone else put up one for their studies. Small background information: I'm a master’s degree student studying Interpretation (Chinese-English English-Chinese) at Beijing international studies university. I first started learning Chinese in 2011 in the USA and have studied in china before, first in Harbin in 2014 for 5 months and then at BLCU from 2014-2015. I took a year language prep courses at my current university from 2016-2017.  There are a total of 3 non-Chinese students (including me) in the course. 


My first week was a pretty rough start. I flew back into Beijing on the 2nd of September and went to register for classes that following Monday only to find out that registration was on the 1st. Okaaaaay. I tried to find out my schedule but the department head was gone, office locked, and thus no one knew the schedule. The lady I spoke with (who turned out to be one of my teachers) was nice enough to put me into contact with a second year student, who later put me into my classes wechat group and gave me the schedule. It also turned out that I missed the first day of class (Monday) sigh. Lol.

(my schedule is under attachments)

The politics class isn’t necessary to take, and neither is the Wednesday morning class. Those classes are just for Chinese students to take.

The classes are a lot of fun. Many of my teachers seem to have more of a ‘western’ approach to teaching so I get the impression they’ve had experience living or studying abroad. They love to use English in class. Its really quite normal to hear a teacher switch from speaking Chinese one second then English the next. Then there are some teachers who speak exclusively in English. Which is fine by me as a native speaker, but my other foreign classmates find it a bit hard to keep up because English isn’t their mother tongue.

One of my favorite classes thus far has been the 视译 (sight translation) class. It’s a mix between simultaneous translation and written translation. One of our first classes the teacher had us translate a sentence that she would delete as time passed.

Wednesdays last class (口译理论与技巧) is quite a useless class for me. It’s about improving spoken English.  I’m trying to see if I can just take a Chinese language course in place of this class as it won’t benefit me at all. Even the teacher was confused why I was even in the class.

There was one class I went into (one minute late) that was completely filled. My vision is bad so I thought I saw a seat available up at the front of the room (toward the window), but that wasn’t a seat. I stood in the middle of the room struggling to find an available seat and the whole while the professor kept lecturing without a notice in the world at the strange foreign girl just standing in the middle of the class, even my classmates seemed unphased.

I have a few impressions so far based on my (almost) first two weeks of class.

1)      Chinese students are insanely gifted. They’re very talented and I was so amazed after todays class that many could memorize the short hand the teacher taught (same day) in less than ten minutes). I’m also impressed every day by their abilities in the classes. I don’t think I will ever be as good as any of them but I think I could learn a lot by the end of the program.

2)      I don’t think that foreigners were supposed to be in this major. Actually it seems at times that they aren’t really sure what to do with us. There are only 3 of us and yet none of us have been on the roster. When I spoke to the office about it I got a very sassy reply that went something like ‘OF COURSE you’re not on the list. You guys didn’t take the test that the Chinese students took’. The fact that we have essentially a spoken English course also notes that perhaps they weren’t prepared for foreign students. There was even one teacher that asked if we needed a grade for the class. It can be bit discouraging, but I’m not the type to get hung up on trivialities.

3)      The Chinese classmates think all 3 of us foreigners are stupid and can’t speak Chinese. Maybe we are stupid, but we’re all in this class because we CAN speak Chinese. It really baffles me when I have classmates ask me if I can speak Chinese, or worse, the one guy who turned around to face me and instead of just asking me if I understood, he decided to ask the girl NEXT to him ‘you think she understands?’  uh? What? Excuse me? That’s just rude AF. If you wanna ask something ask me to my face, don’t ask about me like I’m not even there, or do it when you’re not facing me. That’s just obnoxious. I was so cold to him you have no idea.

4)      Students get to class something like 15-30 minutes before class begins. I normally get to class just in time and end up in the last seat available or at the very back. One day I managed to get to class early by 15 minutes and most of the room was filled, I got a seat on the side which was okay by me.

That’s about it.

Oh and my classmates fear me. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s my hair style? At first I thought I was imagining it. But then my friend also noticed the same. Noones ever feared me before. It’s kind of empowering but I wonder what I can do to fix that.   



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