Saturday, March 12, 2011
Anyways, I have a French roommate at the moment. I asked for a Korean but they must have been out. So instead, I got Florian. From what I’ve seen, he’s a great guy. He also speaks fluent English which is a huge perk in a place where my language is a minority.
He’s also in my Chinese class. We are taking four hours of Chinese a day, five days a week. It’s okay for the first two hours but by the third hour my brain flat lines. We have two teachers, or Laoshi’s teaching our class. My favorite is Ma Laoshi (Laoshi means teacher and Ma is his last name. It’s translated as horse. So, in an exact translation, we are calling him Horse teacher). The other is Cheng Laoshi. She is an ever-smiling woman who always tells me to learn Chinese by listening to my heart. But my heart only speaks English.
Still though, through so much practice, I can already order food, ask prices, talk about my family, and put together small sentences. What’s hard about Chinese is that you can’t just learn the translation. Chinese uses Characters instead of letters. So a sentence like “I love Chicken,” looks like this; 我爱鸡. The problem with this is that you have to worry about the pronunciation of the characters. We have to say the words phonetically. So 我爱鸡 sounds like Wǒ ài jī.
As a beginner, we have to learn to pronounce the words first, and then learn the characters. Basically, it’s like you’re studying two languages at the same time. I asked Ma laoshi how many characters there were and he said more than he could count. He added that he knew about six thousand though. Right now I know fifteen. Only five thousand, nine hundred and eight-five to go.
While I’m not studying, I usually spend my time eating, working, and exploring. The food in this town is good but full of oil. Everything we eat is dripping with the stuff and we eat so much of it. Someone told me that it’s custom to have more food than is necessary at a meal. If your guest or your customer eats it all, it’s insulting. So they cover the tables with as much food as possible.
I remember when I was eating meals as a child, adults used to bring up the starving kids in China. “Eat your broccoli. There are starving kids in China.” But this was a lie. No, there are only fat kids in China. I have never seen so many fat Asian babies in my life. And their parents dress them up in fluffy body coats that make them look even bigger. So pick another country to make your children feel guilty about. Or maybe you should say, “Don’t eat that ice cream. There are obese children in China. “
Haha, oh and the Chinese love putting on clothing with English writing. This poor little boy had no idea what his hat said. I imagine it’s about the same as American’s getting tattoos in Chinese.
I am also working at a children’s preschool in Qingdao. The school focuses on English skills for Chinese children. It’s perfect because everyone has to speak English while we’re working and playing. Our language has become a very valuable skill in China. I love the job and the kids are great. And fat.
And like I said, I enjoy exploring this great city. Qingdao is surrounded by mountains on one side and a sea on the other. Also, there is so much culture. At one spot you can find technology that looks like it should come out of Star Trek. But if you walk 100 meters in any direction the landscape may look like it did a hundred, or in some cases, a thousand years ago. It’s all very beautiful.
Well, this is where I will leave you for now. I will try to write more frequently now that I am able to post messages. I hope you all are well.
Until next time,