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Almost the end of the semester

grawrt

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(Sorry this is super long and incredibly overdue)

It was a challenging semester with a lot of ups and downs. I think I should reflect on a few questions before I begin.

1)      Did I learn anything? Yes. I think I did. For a long time I felt like I wasn’t learning anything, just stress and homework. But I had the opportunity to interpret officially for my school three times this semester. The first time was at the very beginning of the term before I even had any interpretation practice, the next two were just recently (last week and the week before). Based on the experience, I can see a big difference, the crowd was more receptive, my interpretation wasn’t as dry, I had a better sense of constructing sentences, and I even made people laugh (not at me haha but at the speakers joke). I also got a lot of positive feedback from people afterwards. I know it wasn’t perfect but no one seemed to notice or lose any of the information.

2)      Will I pass? Probably. But not because I’m a great student but because I’m not Chinese. This is kind of a bittersweet victory. The teachers have already made it clear that they’ll be easier on us 3 foreign students, though sometimes it comes off a little condescending. Our teacher for oral class basically told us that we should sit next to a Chinese classmate and copy from them because we probably wouldn’t be able to read the Chinese exam.  

3)      Will I continue? Of course.

 

There are some teachers who are a waste of time. The teacher who gives us weekly translations (E-C) is probably one of my least favorite teachers. Her idea of teaching is to sit in the class every week and tear apart the next person’s translation. She never reads them or reviews them in advance even though we’re required to submit our translations to her 2 days before. Her lectures tend to lead to rants about how all of us are horrible translators and that google translate and baidu translate does a better job than any of us. Sometimes she gives contradictory statements like “If you don’t want to do the HW or come to my class that’s fine it’s okay, just know that your grade will rely on the one you get in the final”, but when she realized people weren’t coming to class she got angry one day and called in what I’d call the ‘attendance police’, which is a person from the office who comes and takes attendance, if you’re not there when he’s there you’re late, if you get there 5 minutes after you’re ‘absent’. This attendance police entered quite a bit of our classrooms at one point. It’s a ridiculous waste of time. This same teacher then went on to say that the only way to pass was to do the homework. So as you can see she doesn’t make much sense.

Sometimes in class she gets angry and starts to say “minus one point minus three, oh look here you would have failed with this many mistakes”. By the middle of the term she decided to ask for feedback from us about her teaching and things we’d like her to do different. I was surprised at how direct my classmates were and vicious lol. Some commented on how she just sat all the time and spoke. But the most important was that the translations were too long. At that point she was giving us translations that were nearing 2000 characters (from The Economist) due every week (roughly 4 days to complete). She agreed and decided to go with shorter passages. Nothing too short but nothing as long as those 2000 characters. I think this was pretty good of her despite my hatred for her. Also, she never enlarges the screen. Nearly 90% of the class wears glasses but for some reason she thinks it’s appropriate to keep the screen at its tiniest font, and never turns off the light. My vision has gotten so much worse than at the start of the term.  

Another class that is a waste of time is the one taught by our department head (Translation C-E). I think she has a lot of knowledge but honestly has no time to teach. Our classes with her are either cancelled or half assed. Or she just talks about translation phenomenon or stories. Also one of her biggest and most frustrating faults is her last minute assignments. For example, She’ll send something on Sunday 10 or 11 PM, and require it to be due on Tuesday 8 PM, but then sometime on Monday afternoon a thought will occur to her and she’ll add an entire extra part, deadline remains as is Tuesday 8pm. Then for class she doesn’t go over it, weeks later finally goes over it but never looks at it beforehand. She just takes a look during the class and makes comments. I don’t find this helpful at all. Plus we missed a lot of classes to go to mandatory lectures.

The “meh” classes have got to be the three courses on translation theory. One professor just reads the textbook. I think he has a lot of knowledge but he mostly just stands there and reads the text in weird English that’s difficult to follow or understand. He’s really boring though and as a result I can only remember his name as ‘boring guy’. The other teacher I have that teaches two theory courses is a bit more interesting but I don’t find the class to be a help at all. We usually spend time watching whitehouse.gov or random video clips or translating random clips, bits of history etc. The other class is on presentations that the class has on each topic. At the beginning of the term we were divided up in groups and chose our day to present. This teacher used to be really weird around me, like he was scared of me… it’s hard to explain. But anyway since my presentation he’s taken a fondness to me so I feel a bit better. It used to feel really awkward when he’d literally jump when I’d come up to him to ask a question (nothing weird or sudden just normal).

I have another class that’s on speaking. At the beginning of the term the focus was on English pronunciation and stuff but later became a more useful class for me but at the same time not really lol. Actually I’m not sure how I feel about the class. The teacher gives us really good resources but doesn’t really teach. We have interpretation exercises, then we go through random topics (medical, science, technology, terrorism, holidays, etc.) Lol. Also he has a very sarcastic/joking attitude that I’m okay with because I don’t get offended easily but sometimes it gets to my friends. Like for example, once we had to translate this very poetic text, and he told us in class “You two are about the level of a HS senior” and of course hearing that I’m a HS senior level I’m like YAAAAAAAAY and he’s like “no that wasn’t a compliment” and I’m like It is to me lmfao. And he went on to say that we would pass, but that our other classmate had no chance. But since day one he’s taken more of a fondness for me and that guy, he has a lot of fun joking with the classmate he said would fail.

Then that leaves three classes. The two consecutive interpreting classes (E-C and C-E) are taught by really great teachers. They’re patient, helpful, and have really good exercises for developing interpretation skills. Plus I think their best trait is that they don’t try and destroy a student’s self-esteem. I have a lot of fun in these classes and the teachers really make an effort to include us foreign students in class. Exercises we had were on memory, note taking, taking down numbers (big numbers, think million, billion, trillion, etc.), organizing cohesive sentences, etc.
 

The other class that I like and don’t like is Sight translation. The teacher is amazing, great, whatever but she has really high standards. One day I came into class and she was like ‘you’re late’ and I was like “huh really? “ I looked at the time and it was 7:50 so I was like “actually I’m early its only 7:50” and she was like “not in my class” and then proceeded to tell everyone that as a professional we had to get to the class a minimum of 30 minutes early. So every morning I rushed into class by 7:20 or 7:25. She also doesn’t take a break and goes over class time. We can’t eat or drink in her class which okay is reasonable. If your phone goes off she’ll lose it. Sounds make her neurotic and if she hears the classroom across from us she’ll storm outside and slam the door shut and then return back to rant about how annoying they are. Lol. Besides these quirks we’re also required to prepare a piece of news each week as well as memorizing vocabulary (countries names and their capitals, important organizations, technical vocab) and preparing our background knowledge on topics of her choice. Our recent stuff has been speeches, so we have to prepare the materials like vocabulary and what have you. If you don’t have these things she’ll lose it. I’m actually really scared of this teacher lol. She’s cool to talk with but extremely strict. She studied at the Monterey institute and is a professional simultaneous interpreter. She knows her stuff but honestly speaking I sit in that class and pray she doesn’t notice me.

Oh and that just leaves my Spanish class. It’s going goodish lol. I found that I have great listening skills. Probably the best in the class. My classmates have no idea most of the time what the audio is saying.

I took a look at my ‘first impressions’ so I wanted to point out changes from my first impressions

1)      “Chinese students are insanely gifted. “ After a whole semester getting to know my classmates I can say most are quite average, there are about 3-4 that are really impressive but the majority are average and about the same level as me. They might be good at memorization but sometimes their translations suffer from lack of knowledge or misunderstanding. A lot of my classmates don’t really know much about the world. Actually one of the shocking things I found out was that no one in my class knew anything about the assassination of Kim Jung Un’s halfbrother in Malaysia.

2)      I don’t think that foreigners were supposed to be in this major. “ I still feel this way. Actually the worst part about being in this major is that I have to deal with the bitchiest secretary ever. Every time I’ve gone into that office she gives so much sass and attitude I can just tell how much she despises foreign students. I thought it was just the first time I went to the office but later I found out that’s just her state of mind. My friend said he gets the same attitude from her lol. She’s a ‘secretary’ but think ‘secretary general’ instead of office secretary. She’s got a lot of power which is unfortunate.

3)      “The Chinese classmates think all 3 of us foreigners are stupid and can’t speak Chinese.” Pretty much feel the same. Just wanted to add that they think that all the teachers love us. Which is so insane. I just think the teachers tolerate us. I also had one of my partners get really cold on me out of the blue. We correct each other’s translations for the economist teacher, but one day I had more time than most to really look at her translation carefully. I noticed quite a bit of clumsy mistakes. Like for instance, she began a sentence with ‘亦或是甚至可能’ so I just told her to pick one not use all of them because it wasn’t grammatically correct. Since then she’s been more distant but still wants me to go over her translations. Her new thing is to tell me that my Chinese sucks. I think that it makes her feel better. So whatever. Lol.

4)      “Students get to class something like 15-30 minutes before class begins. “ Hahaha. No. After the first few weeks wore down so did the Chinese ability to get to class super early.

 

Final thoughts:

I feel a lot better now than I did that first month. Especially after I began to realize that my classmates are not as good as I imagined and that in reality we’re pretty much the same level. Yeah their Chinese might be better than mine but my English is so much better than theirs hahaha. I think our level in foreign language is roughly on par so I don’t feel nearly as bad. They also don’t speak any other languages than English. I’m more impressed with my foreign classmates who can speak 3-5 languages.

I know it’s bad to admit but I’m really glad there are two other non-Chinese students in the class. We have so much fun laughing at each other and it’s not even in a condescending way. We also try and brain storm together or reconfirm translations with each other. And most important we’re always there for each other for support. All of us at one point during this semester hit a low point where we were discouraged or depressed. It’s really good to have a friend there for you who can relate with the problems and get you out of a funk.

I’d still like to get close with my classmates but I’m not making it a priority anymore. I’ll let it happen naturally if it doesn’t then it just wasn’t meant to be. Actually today I helped out my classmate with knitting. So maybe we’ll become knitting buddies.

What’s left?

3 weeks, 3 papers, and the rest are just exams. I’m a bit pressed because 2 of our papers are due by Christmas. The other paper has a research part, and that’s due in the middle of January. Actually if anyone has any free time to spare and would like to take part let me know. It’s a short study on translation protocols, think process rather than translation accuracy. Actually what you translate doesn’t really matter for the study but rather which approach you take and your methods for deciding it. I chose translating ‘slang’ J hinty hint hint. Haha. Sorry for being shameless.

I’m looking forward to going back home for winter break to relax, and give myself some time to go over all the vocabulary that I’ve been meaning to memorize. Also to read through all of those lovely resources that my tea



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Thanks for the time and effort to share your experiences here, makes great reading, almost as having been there though more relaxed and enjoyable. Goodness, you have some really creepy teachers! 

If you want some inspiration on translating slang, Nicky Harman did a very good job translating Jia Pingwa's (贾平凹)  高兴. 

Here's a sample from Chapter 1 from The Guardian - if you can get it, if not have a look at the Kindle sample from Amazon

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2008/aug/08/jiapingwa

and here an article by the translator:

http://bookanista.com/never-happier/

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Thanks for putting in the effort writing this, really interesting to read about your experiences. I am hoping to be starting an interpretation postgrad next year and am constantly in fear of the insanely gifted Chinese students that are bound to destroy my confidence haha :shock:

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Thanks a lot for the update. It sounds like you're very busy!

Do you have an idea about how much studying you do in a week?

Do you have time for some extracurricular activities?

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@luxi thanks so much. I’ll take a look at it this weekend. Sounds like a great resource for my study. 
@Tomsima where are you planning to study? 
You might have your confidence destroyed in the beginning. Chinese students are insanely competitive. Especially at the beginning of the term because they all want to get a scholarship from the school. But I wouldn’t worry so much about it. Nobody is perfect. And I’ll let you know that many of my classmates had their Chinese critiqued for nearly half the year either based on pronunciation, grammatical inconsistencies, or in ‘not sounding like Chinese at all’. Just do your best. 

@edelweis
Do you have an idea about how much studying you do in a week?
I’m embarrassed to admit that it’s not much at all. At the start of the term I was putting in about 1-2 hours per day, but at this point Sunday-Wednesday I’m busy doing homework and preparing for class, I’d be lucky to even get an hour in. Usually Thursday-Saturday I have a bit more time for downtime, so I can go through my vocabulary, sentence structures, read Chinese books, etc. I’d say in a week I actively study for 3-4 hours total which is really nothing in comparison to what I should be studying but some days I’m so exhausted it really pains me to even look at characters. 

Do you have time for some extracurricular activities?
No not at all. I’m surprised I’m able to continue regularly practicing yoga. I went to a few language partner events at my school but now I don’t really have time. 
 

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3 hours ago, grawrt said:

I’m busy doing homework and preparing for class

but this counts as studying doesn't it?

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2 hours ago, edelweis said:

but this counts as studying doesn't it?

 

That's a good point... okay I'm going to keep count this week and let you know

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btw small update because I didn't realize the severity of it until now but. 

 

Basically my entire class had a discussion among themselves and they all decided to go on the internet, copy a paper, and just switch out the examples and a few words and submit it for our teacher. (for two papers, mind you) 

 

When I asked if they thought the prof wouldn't find out they were like "no way., there are 100 of us. "

 

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Just discovered your blog series! It's very interesting comparing this end-of-semester post with the "First Impressions"-post. I've got some questions now:

 

How many years do you have left of your programme?

 

What happened with the Democrat guy? He reminds me of a guy I met while I was in China on a summer programme, a Chinese guy specifically who was partnered up with some foreigners. He was really strange and said and did a lot of weird stuff. It was obvious that he had signed up to hang out with us foreigners just to make himself look cool, and in particular wanted to make moves on my female classmates (except he completely lacked any game). I have African heritage but have some slightly "non-stereotypical" features (e.g. aquiline nose), so one day he asked me "HH you are African but why you do not look African?". In the end it turned out that even many of the other Chinese partners found him a little weird. Go figure.

 

Are people still intimidated by you? And what's the deal with your hair?

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Great article and thanks for sharing (I've also just blasted through your other posts so I'll be summing it all up here).

 

I can really empathise with you on the studying issue. I'm on exchange in China, and while my classmates and I are taking an "advanced chinese" course back home, we're basically at primary school level here (in some ways more advanced but obviously in terms of spontaneity and fluency it's not great). It's a super kick in the self esteem and it had me down for ages. If you're interpreting then your Chinese must be pretty darn good. It's really mean of people to criticise you considering the fact they would have just as hard a time if the situation was reversed.

 

As for the Chinese uni not being prepared for foreign students, we also had a similar situation. Chinese universities are used to foreigners coming to study Chinese, but outside of those language learning majors foriegn students are so rare that they're simply not ready for us apparently. Some of my classmates were on the system, some weren't, our campus cards didn't work at all and a lot of the administrative staff had no idea what to do with us. Don't even get me started on the ridiculous amount of bureaucracy. Go to building C  to set up wifi access and internet fees, then the library to pay a deposit and activate the card for library access, then go to office Z to confirm that you're living off campus blah blah blah. So tiresome.

 

Classes have been extremely hit and miss depending on the format. The "easier" classes have a teacher who sits up front and drones on for three hours while using a powerpoint which I dutifully take pictures of for future study. The hard classes, like the very first one I had on Republican Era History, consisted of an old guy with a super thick accent talking about himself and cracking jokes for 2 hours, and then an hour of presentations by students, no accent but super fast. I didn't even bother to pretend I was going to sit the exam. There are good days and bad days and the teachers do go easy sometimes, but it's also annoying to be frequently underestimated. I mean I sit through my class on comparative literature (the books are in English so that's a god send) and l understand basically everything that's said, my problem is I can't formulate responses quick enough to really add to the discussion. Apparently though this has been taken as indication that I don't understand much of anything, so when I do chime in on occassion I'm frequently met with literal exclamations of "Oh you understand that?" Yes I do, I'm here because I speak Chinese! And to something you said in another post the rude assumption that I don't understand Chinese becomes very annoying when people feel the need to just talk about you as if you aren't there. I hate confrontation and of course my Chinese isn't great so I seldom have the chance to put someone in their place with a witty tongue lashing, but man I can't wait for the day when I can.

 

You definitely study way more than me. I'm having such a hard time studying Chinese now that I'm in China haha. So ironic. Being forced to use it in daily life can take the fun out of it.

Regarding classmates fear and the teacher's too, I suspect you would have brought this up before if it was relevant, but are you visibly non-White/African American? I'm a black guy in China and I'm quite familiar with the fear my very presence can illicit (I'm tall but also super slim, so not really that imposing). I've seen people crossing the street when they see me and then crossing back once I've passed, people visibly flinching away from me to hide behind their boyfriends as they see me on the street etc. (come to think of it it's only really girls and young women that I've seen act like this). I don't jump to conclusions and I always give the benefit of the doubt, but I checked with my classmates and they've never experienced stuff like that, sometime's there's no other conclusion to come to. 

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4 hours ago, LiMo said:

Regarding classmates fear and the teacher's too, I suspect you would have brought this up before if it was relevant, but are you visibly non-White/African American? I'm a black guy in China and I'm quite familiar with the fear my very presence can illicit (I'm tall but also super slim, so not really that imposing). I've seen people crossing the street when they see me and then crossing back once I've passed, people visibly flinching away from me to hide behind their boyfriends as they see me on the street etc. (come to think of it it's only really girls and young women that I've seen act like this). I don't jump to conclusions and I always give the benefit of the doubt, but I checked with my classmates and they've never experienced stuff like that, sometime's there's no other conclusion to come to. 

 

Yea I always wondered if OP was a PoC by the hair comment and this. I've made babies cry in the subway by smiling at them, and had kids run away in fright at the sight of me :lol: Never had such bad reactions from adults though, but I probably just didn't notice.

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6 hours ago, LiMo said:

while my classmates and I are taking an "advanced chinese" course back home, we're basically at primary school level here (in some ways more advanced but obviously in terms of spontaneity and fluency it's not great). It's a super kick in the self esteem and it had me down for ages

The way I got around that was realising that everyone is basically lying when they talk about "advanced" classes or "advanced" books or whatever.   And they do it because people like to feel that they are advanced even when they are not, and stroking their ego makes it easier to sell things.

 

The reality is that when a school or course or test talks about being 'advanced' what it really means is 'advanced.... for a foreigner, and we don't really expect too much of foreigners anyway' rather than being an actual measure of advanced usage.

 

At some point, reality sets in because no matter how "advanced" you are told you are, you won't feel very advanced if you have trouble reading a newspaper, following what's going on on the TV or still have problems making decent conversation. 

 

Accepting that I wasn't advanced was the first step in changing that.  The next step was deciding to use reality as yardstick to measure progress rather than artificial and/or arbitrary measures of skills.

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36 minutes ago, imron said:

The way I got around that was realising that everyone is basically lying when they talk about "advanced" classes or "advanced" books or whatever.   And they do it because people like to feel that they are advanced even when they are not, and stroking their ego makes it easier to sell things.

 

The reality is that when a school or course or test talks about being 'advanced' what it really means is 'advanced.... for a foreigner, and we don't really expect too much of foreigners anyway' rather than being an actual measure of advanced usage.

 

At some point, reality sets in because no matter how "advanced" you are told you are, you won't feel very advanced if you have trouble reading a newspaper, following what's going on on the TV or still have problems making decent conversation. 

 

Accepting that I wasn't advanced was the first step in changing that.  The next step was deciding to use reality as yardstick to measure progress rather than artificial and/or arbitrary measures of skills.

 

Well, imagine if Western universities were honest about their China programmes:

"First Year: A1: Incredibly basic Chinese."

"Second Year:  A1-A2: Still Basic Chinese."

"Third Year:  A2-B1: Upper Basic/Lower Intermediate Chinese."

"Fouth Year: B1+: Intermediate Chinese."


Meanwhile, the students of other "easier" language programmes like French/German/Spanish are actually getting really far in their studies, like into the C levels. It's really obvious when you look at the level of the Western students you meet in China who come over for their Chinese semester/year. They usually get placed with Koreans/Japanese who've been studying for like a semester or two. The really good Westerners typically took Chinese in high school so have more experience, or just studied their butts off outside of class.

 

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2 hours ago, happy_hyaena said:

Well, imagine if Western universities were honest about their China programmes:

Yep, and that's exactly my point.  Who would do a four year degree just to get intermediate Chinese?

 

And so people are sold on a situation that is different from reality, and eventually a reckoning is due between belief and reality that can cause a crisis of confidence.

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Oh, I heartily agree. Don't get me wrong, I haven't been labouring under the illusion that my Chinese is advanced in any way, but knowing it is one thing, feeling it is another! :P

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16 hours ago, edelweis said:

@grawrt I don't know if you have posted it already, but do you have a timetable of your courses?

 

I posted it in my first blog post but I'll post again here. The only classes that I'm exempt from taking are the politics course, and the Wednesday morning course. 

 

Morning classes are from 8-11:25, then we have lunch, our afternoon classes begin at 1:20 and the last one ends at 4:45 pm. The classes with the distinction of 'half 1 and half 2' is dependent on which section you're in. But I've alternated from section 2 and 1 all semester long, with the exception of Fridays, because I have a course to teach at 10:00.  

class schedule.jpg

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4 hours ago, edelweis said:

@grawrt thank you! so by my count you have about 22 class hours and about 28h homework.

 

No, I count roughly 16.5 hours of class (11 classes per week, at about 1 1/2 hours per class), and about 24 hours of homework (I never do homework on a Saturday, it's my principle. hahahahaa) 

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that's still impressive :wink: good luck with your studies in 2018!

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First of all, thanks so much @grawrt, for taking the time out of your crazy busy schedule to update us on what life is like as a TI grad student in China. It's been really fascinating and exciting for me to get the foreigner's perspective on Chinese MATI in China itself (since I did mine in the US).

 

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1)      “Chinese students are insanely gifted. “ After a whole semester getting to know my classmates I can say most are quite average, there are about 3-4 that are really impressive but the majority are average and about the same level as me. They might be good at memorization but sometimes their translations suffer from lack of knowledge or misunderstanding. A lot of my classmates don’t really know much about the world. Actually one of the shocking things I found out was that no one in my class knew anything about the assassination of Kim Jung Un’s halfbrother in Malaysia.

 

I really love this insight, and that you went back to your First Impressions post to see if they were true or not! I also labored under that first impression when I was in my MATI course, and came away with a similar take away towards the end of the first semester. One of my professors told me in a nutshell that in comparison to my Chinese classmates (who had across the board decent-to-good TI skills), my TI skills and background suffered, but that I had “内容和想法”, which my Chinese classmates lacked. I think this really feeds into your "a lot of my classmates don't really know much about the world" insight. I think it is especially worse for your classmates who are all in China. My classmates were doing their MATI outside of China, so I think that specific trait was at least alleviated, but there was still quite a lot of residual ignorance. To be fair, how could they be knowledgeable about the world when the typical life of a Chinese student is so narrow?

 

Quote

2)      I don’t think that foreigners were supposed to be in this major. “ I still feel this way. Actually the worst part about being in this major is that I have to deal with the bitchiest secretary ever. Every time I’ve gone into that office she gives so much sass and attitude I can just tell how much she despises foreign students. I thought it was just the first time I went to the office but later I found out that’s just her state of mind. My friend said he gets the same attitude from her lol. She’s a ‘secretary’ but think ‘secretary general’ instead of office secretary. She’s got a lot of power which is unfortunate.

 

I think it's unfortunate that you feel this way. If it makes you feel any better, I felt the same way at MIIS, and that school is based out of America! Due to the sheer volume of Chinese students, it's just annoying to be in courses a non-native Chinese speaker when 90% or more of your classmates don't speak English natively. I'm sure it's even worse for you in China since everything skews towards China and Chinese people, and there's this surprising lack of awareness of how differently foreigners have to handle administrative crap. I only had to deal with the academic bullshit in about 75% of my classes, but sounds like you're dealing with it both in and out of the classroom.

 

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3)      “The Chinese classmates think all 3 of us foreigners are stupid and can’t speak Chinese.” Pretty much feel the same. Just wanted to add that they think that all the teachers love us. Which is so insane. I just think the teachers tolerate us. I also had one of my partners get really cold on me out of the blue. We correct each other’s translations for the economist teacher, but one day I had more time than most to really look at her translation carefully. I noticed quite a bit of clumsy mistakes. Like for instance, she began a sentence with ‘亦或是甚至可能’ so I just told her to pick one not use all of them because it wasn’t grammatically correct. Since then she’s been more distant but still wants me to go over her translations. Her new thing is to tell me that my Chinese sucks. I think that it makes her feel better. So whatever. Lol.

 

I wonder if this is sort of part of the whole "Chinese people overwhelmingly adore foreigners for no good reason" mentality. Whereby your classamtes see 外国人 and immediately assume that your teachers automatically adore you and give you guys all the advantages because you are special. Also the fact that you are going to pass your classes just because you are foreigners I'm sure galls them as well, which is pretty shit not just for them, but for you as well I'm sure. I know if that happened to me, I'd be pissed, because I'd want to pass on my own merits, and not because I'm "different". 

 

I'm so glad to hear that you foreign students have become each other's support group, because that's so critical in a major like this, especially when there's a sense that the Chinese classmates are all pre-disposed against you. I remember early on in the program when I still didn't have any friends in the Chinese program, just going home every night and crying myself to sleep, because I was so depressed at how badly I was doing in class, and how horrible my Chinese was compared to my classmates' English. I found that making friends with my Chinese classmates did take a lot longer than making friends with other TI students in other programs (my first group of friends at MIIS were all non-Chinese TI students in the French, Spanish, German etc. programs), and I didn't really get close with any of my Chinese classmates until my second semester. I wonder if that will be the case with you as well.

 

Most of my friends from the TI program are the classmates who were my practice partners. I don't know if that's a thing at BISU or not, but every week, I would practice in 2 hour blocks with a variety of different classmates (I typically had about 6-10 classmates in a semester that I practiced with), and I was able to slowly build close or closer friendships with them. We still connect with each other occasionally. One of my colleagues who studied at both MIIS and 广外 told me that she's closer to her MIIS classmates than her 广外 classmates, and that friendships rarely last. I've noticed that with my Chinese classmates too, that about 25-50% of them don't really make the effort to make friends with you or keep you as a friend if they don't think they can get any advantage from you, and they're pretty transparent about it. So I'm not sure if that's just a "thing" with them.

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9 hours ago, yueni said:

I've noticed that with my Chinese classmates too, that about 25-50% of them don't really make the effort to make friends with you or keep you as a friend if they don't think they can get any advantage from you, and they're pretty transparent about it.

 

I found that true in Hong Kong on my part time Masters course.  We don't really keep in touch much and there are some I can't even remember.

 

however, it is the same for my undergrad degree in UK , so I am not sure if anything can be read into it...or I just am not very attractive...

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