That’s Pinyin for “the Chinese language is hard.” After completing my first week of classes, I have realized that Chinese is indisputably the hardest language I have attempted to learn. As of now, the grammar seems fairly simplistic. But aside from that, speaking the language, writing the characters, and memorizing their meaning is no easy task. My one Chinese teacher speaks both English and Chinese in the classroom, but unfortunately the other two seem to prefer the Chinese language with an occasional reference to an English word, which makes those classes a bear to understand. Oh yes, and I have the privilege of having to memorize about 16 new characters each day. All that to say I am enjoying the challenge, but it will most likely be a continual arduous learning process for me.
Besides school, I have wholly embraced the bus transportation system here. Here’s a typical school day so far. Wake up around 6:00 am. Make my hair look pretty in front of the mirror. Dress for school, and arrive at the bus stop around 6:20 am. Take Bus 31 to the tunnel connecting Huangdao with Qingdao. Switch to Bus 4 for the ride through the tunnel to the bus station in Qingdao. Hop off Bus 4 and take Bus 126 to a stop near my university at about 7:50 am. I forgot to add the part where you’re crammed like a sardine into the bus with no seats open and barely any standing room and holding onto one of the yellow bars affixed to the roof or sides of the bus. Then there’s the multiple stops along the route where you’re body sways back and forth kind of like it would when a beginning driver overuses the brake on the road, but to a more exaggerated effect. Oh yes, and you have to quite literally push yourself through the mass of people to depart from the bus. So I think I have become quite indoctrinated into the Chinese version of bus transportation.
I almost forgot about my classmates, quite the diverse group. 6 of them are Russians who live north of Harbin, 2 of them are South Koreans, and one is an Italian. I would say that, as a whole, their English is excellent, which is nice for me. We have already eaten together several times and chilled at their apartment. Most are around my age, give or take a few years, and they all seem to enjoy learning Chinese. I’ve picked up some Russian words here and there, and sometimes I’m their unofficial English translator. So far, we all seem to get along fairly well during class and after it too. We are all excited about next week, because there are no classes. I believe it’s the Chinese celebration of the 1911 revolution. Hence we have a free week to do as we please. I’m thinking of traveling to Confucius’ hometown or Tai-shan Mt. We’ll see. Well, I have clearly rambled on much too long. So without anymore ado, I say Zaijian (Goodbye) to all.