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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Long Post, But Good (I Think)

Today has been a good day so far. The other two international students, Jack and Dinah, who are from America, were sick today, so I did not have to split the classes with them today, which was really good for me, I think. I got to spend more time with Mrs. Zhu, who is a fantastic teacher (she teaches my Comprehensive Chinese Class) and I got to work on my listening and speaking with her, which was great. As I was in class, I begun to realize just how much better my Chinese has gotten since I got here. I'm really beginning to pick it up - in Mrs. Zhu's class at least - I guess she annunciates better and speaks at just the right speed for me. We found out today that we have the same birthday - "你的生日是一月三十一日?真的吗?我跟你的生日一样!!"
Mr. Li and I had a good time as well talking about Chinese hospitality and banquet customs. He is really pleased at the progress I am making and I am getting much better at translating and reading the textbook for his class (Chinese Culture). Him and Mrs. Zhu are beginning to get a good feel of where I'm at and how best to talk with me. Mr. Shang (my Chinese Writing teacher) still seems nervous and fidgety - we both need to work on our language skills; it'll get better! I still am not a fan of my listening class because it's so difficult, but I don't feel like killing anybody when I leave the classroom anymore, so that's an improvement! Xie Mei is a good teacher, although her English is limited. The moments when we actually connect and understand what the other person is saying are great.
 It's an incredible moment when you realize the true depths of language and how it really is a bridge between cultures and lives. It's easy to take it for granted when everyone is comfortable in their native language and no other languages are around. I'm really glad that I had that realization
I have been spending more time with my radio lately - it's been helping little by little with my listening. There is a good bilingual station called CRI that I listen to - it's China's only bilingual station and it's out of Beijing. 
It's so strange how some days I can be so encouraged and some days I am just down in the dumps about my language. I really am having a good time overall!
Whoa….I just realized I've been in China for one month today! On the evening of the 26th, I will have been in Lanzhou for one month! The time just seems to have flown by - it's crazy….one month already….dang. In some ways it feels like a month and in others, it feels like I just got here.
I really love the students here - they are so amazing. I remember Robert saying "If you ever want to feel like you're famous - you should go to Lanzhou" - it's so true, man. When I'm at the West Campus, especially. There are no foreign teachers or foreign students there, so people get really excited to meet and talk to you if you are American or English-speaking. They have a genuine desire to learn English and to be friends. They always want to treat you to lunch/dinner/drinks, show you around, and just talk. It's great here.

I just want to say it again -  It's an incredible moment when you realize the true depths of language and how it really is a bridge between cultures and lives. It's a profound realization for me.


  1. What a neat blog. How exciting for YOU to live & study abroad! I'm fact checking my 5th grade daughter's speech about China and I came across your blog.

    Please tell me - is there any truth to The Little Emperor Syndrome some people thought China would experience because of so many only children? (or maybe it is too soon to tell...)


  2. Austin asked me to psot this for him :

    I don't think I can speak for the whole country, as I am living in Lanzhou and haven't been anywhere else except Beijing (and I'm a foreigner). From what I've seen here, I think there are definitely a few kids that are 'little emperors', but there are a lot of relatively normal kids. One of my teachers has a son who is completely spoiled and you can tell he is not used to other people having his mom's attention. He's definitely one of the little emperors at home, but at school (so I'm told) he behaves well and gets decent grades. Just about all the other people that I know, the various students at the University I am studying at (兰州理工大学)are completely normal and just like any other student you'd meet at any other university. The contradiction between the high expectations, hard work, and being spoiled at home seem to sort of balance out by the time they are in University. It's hard for me to really observe much outside of a University setting, although there are a lot of children that pass through here because of the primary school attached to the campus. I think we need some more credible longitudinal studies. It's hard to lay down a huge blanket statement and say China has Little Emperor Syndrome - there are so many factors to, where, and when (especially the Cultural Revolution) the parents themselves grew up, where they live now and how many playmates their children have, their income, their individual attitudes, and how the child responds to all of that. ------ did I really answer your question? If not, hit me up again!

  3. That was great. Thanks for the reply. Cheers!


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