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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Almost Home/Two Souls

Hey guys, I'm coming home in a few days! Today is September 1st!

Lately I've been sick and lonely - I was out in the rain about a week ago and got bronchitis or something, but it's almost gone, so hooray!

Not much to say about my time in Beijing other than that it's had it's ups and downs. I've been to see some cool places like the Temple of Heaven and the Summer Palace, among others, I've eaten some great food (and some American food!!), and had some laughs with Guang Lin, the guy who I've been staying with.

I've also been lonely, homesick, and sick. It sucks being in a city where you don't know anybody and your only friend is at work all day 5 days a week and you've got nothing to do. Just gotta remember to keep it in perspective. There are a lot worse places than Beijing to be stuck for a couple of weeks.

The French have a phrase, "The man who possesses two languages possesses two souls."

I've had a lot of time to just sit back and think - maybe too much. I've been in China for 6 months and 9 days (I think), but it feels like I've been here forever. I've really made so much progress in my language and because of my language, I've really been able to fit into the Chinese culture and environment with few difficulties. When I think about home, I can remember every place with photographic clarity, but I can't remember the feelings I had - I can't remember a lot of the more personal stuff, the everyday activities. I've been really disconnected from America and I feel like I've sort of lost touch with my American side, my American 'soul'.

Until I heard that phrase, I never really thought about that before. Also because I never really pursued a language before until now. I just learned enough Spanish to pass Spanish classes. And speak bad Spanish on purpose to make my Spanish-loving sister angry.

But when you're in another language environment and you need to speak a different language all the time, the way you think changes. You stop thinking about translation and all idea of your native language goes out the window. You enter the mindset of another language, which is impossible to really articulate. The way you think about the way words are put together changes. The way you view words in your own language changes. The way you define words in your own language changes. You start to define English words using Chinese because it just makes more sense. The two languages and mindsets swirl together and, in some way, live in harmony with each other.

All the time, I am, in some way, thinking in that way. Even when I watch the English language CCTV channel or watching one of my American DVDs, I am thinking about how strange a language English is and why we say things the way we do and why are English and Chinese so different. How would the Chinese say these things and other questions are always on my mind. It makes my brain super tired....

I don't know if it makes any sense to anyone else, but to me it's very real and it's every single day's reality.

See you guys soon,


Don't worry about me - although things get rough sometimes, I'm trying to stay positive.

1 comment:

  1. I'm really sorry you've had a rough few day. I got sick my last week too! Maybe it has something to do with stress/strain/nerves of being unsure of how you're now going to fit back into a life that until 6 months ago was the only one you knew...but maybe that's just what I went through. It is tough to keep perspective sometimes when you feel so disconnected. But I think that French quote about language is brilliant. It is really amazing how much insight you can gain about a culture just by knowing their language or even understanding the linguistic structure.

    I hope you're feeling better and really enjoy your last few days. (well, your last few days of this trip, you'll be back!) Can't wait to catch up with ya! :)


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