Re-watching KungFu Panda 3 In Chinese: 1 Year On

Re-watching KungFu Panda 3 In Chinese: 1 Year On

About a year ago, I wrote a blog post about our experience going to the cinema and watching Kung Fu Panda 3… all in Chinese. We didn’t realise it was the Chinese version of the film until it started! You can check out my blog about it here:A Cinematic Surprise

Anyway, I said in my post that I would try and watch it again in one year and see how much more I could understand of it. So we successfully found the film on a Chinese website and we decided to watch it. And low and behold, I could understand about 60% of it!!!

This time round, I understood the storyline, most of the conversations and pretty much all of the jokes! The first time, I really had no idea what the storyline was about, and why the antagonist was so obsessed with finding Po. I didn’t understand pretty much any jokes, and I could only understand the gist of a sentence by a word I knew, such as ‘food’.

During the second time I watched it, I realised there were quite a few words which came up in the film were words that I have just learned in this semester of class!

The film also had Chinese subtitles so we can read the Chinese characters as we listen. I think pretty much every TV programme, film or drama will have Chinese subtitles. I think it’s because some older people actually have never learned the common Chinese language Mandarin; they have just been brought up learning their local dialect. So it makes it easier for them to understand what’s going on in the show. (I think this is the reason why, but I’m not 100% of it!)

But anyway, it was great seeing how much Chinese I’ve picked up in a year, and how I can actually understand the story! Now my speaking is still atrocious, but at least this shows me I’m improving in some area at least!

So I have to say I’m very proud of myself that I can understand this film now. It’s not a very difficult film with regards to the conversations and the words in it, but it’s a stepping stone at least.

I’ll have to find something else to watch and then in another year I’ll re-watch it and see how much I’ve improved.

再见

爱玲

My Class Routine In Uni

With having such a strict teacher teaching me, I stress out a lot over my reading and writing class. You need to preview, you need to review, and you need to listen to the teacher in class.

I hate stress in my life, and with your teacher asking you questions and surrounded by other students… I definitely don’t enjoy the attention!

So with our strict teacher, our class routine usually goes like this:

Monday: She usually reads a short story to everyone. After this, she asks every student a question about the story, like “Where were the people?’ ‘How were they feeling?’ Was it A or B that said blah blah blah?” I try my best; listening and writing as she reads. But there gets to a point where she is just talking too fast, and I don’t understand all the words, so then I become lost!

After this, she spends the rest of the class on doing exercises from the previous chapter in our book. If you don’t know the answer, she will wait until you figure it out. She doesn’t let you off! For me, I need to prepare this in advance; usually by having it already done. There are words I don’t know so I need to look them up. Then I need time to analyse the sentence and pick the right word. During this whole class she spends the time doing every single exercise in the book! So that’s usually our Monday class!

On Tuesday, again she reads a short story, however this time it’s usually one found in our book. Again, I prepare the night before; reading the story, writing down the new words, and even copying key points from the story into my notebook. (She makes us close our books when she is reading out loud). Then she asks us questions about the story. Thankfully I’ve already prepared so I’m a little more confident about this listening task!

Finally she starts on a new chapter of our book. This contains 40 new words and a long story with the new words in it. Before, she used to go through each word and tell us the meaning and how to use it. (All this in Chinese I might add). However now, she makes US tell her the meaning! I mean it’s so difficult, sometimes the word is quite tricky to explain it’s meaning. So a lot of times people don’t explain it right.

After this, we have a quick review and then she makes us close the books and she asks us to make a sentence out of a word she gives us. She gives it to us in Chinese, so you need to try and remember what it means! Our secret is to take a picture of all the words and we can secretly look through the list while she is asking the other students! Shhh!

Finishing this, she starts analysing the story, sentence by sentence. She asks us to shorten the sentence to it’s basic core. Like ‘There is a young man called LinWei and he is looking for a sales job in the city’ The answer she would want is ‘ a man, looking for a job.’ We usually get half the story done on this day!

Wednesday is the same as Tuesday, however we then start on the next set of 20 words and the next part of the story.

Thursday: She begins by reading the whole story which we have been studying, and she reads out a sentence with a words that’s missing. We then need to shout out the word that needs to be inserted, like ‘Before he felt confident, but now he began to ….. his ability.’ We would need to shout out the Chinese word ‘huaiyi’ which means ‘doubt’ At the same time she is keeping an eye on everybody in the classroom! If she doesn’t see anyone answering her, she will say ‘Oh I see Nangong hasn’t answered any yet!’ When she sees someone not answering, she actually moves closer to them, to put more pressure for an answer from them!!

So today, I actually did a good job with this part! I was able to answer some, while others weren’t able to. I read the story about 6/7 times before hand so I suppose that helped a lot!

After reading the story, she moves onto teaching some words which may be more difficult, and then doing the grammar. We then need to give her a sentence with the grammar. She wants to make sure that we know how to use the grammar correctly.

So my whole semester goes like this with her! I really feel like I’m learning things with her, but I just get so stressed. So my way of trying to tackle the stress is to prepare. Prepare prepare and prepare even more! I feel like I’m ready for the class now, instead of going with absolutely nothing done. I like the feeling of knowing that this is done, I know these words.  I don’t need to worry as much!

With our second teacher, it’s time to relax! She is a much easier teacher, and the classroom is much more upbeat! What I like about this teacher is that she gives each of us a word/ sentence and we need to explain what it is to the other students. For example one time I was given ‘build a snowman’ and I said ‘When it’s snowing, you make this thing….’ People have to guess what is on your card. I enjoy this because it gets you talking and you have to make it up on the spot.

We usually do some listening and some discussions on different topics. One time we discussed ‘Is it better to have a stable job or a non-stable job when you are 30?’ She puts us into groups and we should discuss why it’s good/bad.

So I work hard in the first class and then I’m rewarded by having a relaxing class afterwards!

再见

爱玲

 

Just About Coping

After 3 weeks of returning to Chinese class… I’m still very stressed with my class. My listening teacher is fine (she talks far too quickly and basically speaks to us like we are Chinese; so she’s just too fast for us) but it’s my first teacher where I’m struggling.

Every week she reads a story to us and we have to listen to her. Then she asks each and everyone of us to answer a question about the story.  Because she’s talking for like 3/4 minutes, I get the beginning bit… but after that it’s just gibberish. She speaks very fast and I just can’t grasp what she’s saying quick enough.

So I’ve realised my listening is quite poor in comparison to some others, so I really need to improve my listening ability.

Today, she asked me 3 questions about the story and I didn’t know the answer to any of them. So that wasn’t good!

She’s a great teacher though. She puts you on the spot and you have to answer. So you need to pay attention. I just feel my Chinese isn’t high enough for her class.

But I’ll stick with it though. I realise I remember the grammar and vocab more though compared to my last semesters classes. I actually can’t remember much of anything from that book! So that’s something anyway!

再见

爱玲

I Hate Visa Time

Time has again rolled by for having to apply for a new visa. I don’t particularly enjoy having to renew my visa; nothing ever goes to plan. I don’t think we have ever successfully applied for ours in one day. You always hear:

“You don’t have this document.”

“You need the original copy of this”

“Where is blah blah blah copy?”

But our 1 year study visa has nearly run out, so it is a must!

Having to sort out visa things a few times now, we sort of know what exactly we need to bring. We were pretty sure that everything would go smoothly!

Wrong!

One by one, each person is called to a desk and the officer looks through our papers and what not. This is the bit that I dread. They could ask you nothing, and simply carry out checking you have the correct documents, or they could bombard you with questions! This time one year ago I was bombarded with questions about working and studying.

So this time round I was a little nervous. I don’t want to say something wrong or stupid and then have them cancel my visa!

I’ve been hearing lately that the visa officers are becoming more and more strict with visas and who they give them out to. In China, the people who cannot get a work visa, decide to enrol with a university and get a student one, but then never come to class and just work 30-40 hours a week. So now officers are checking random foreigners to see if they have the right visa.

But thankfully with my visa everything was going ok… until he said “Today you will have to pay 800yuan for your visa”

What??? I was only prepared to pay 400yuan… If I was staying for less a year, or even just 364 days, then I only need to pay 400yuan.  I thought all my documents said that I wasn’t applying for a year visa.

I started blubbering and saying that I wasn’t applying for the year one, in which he replied “Do you see here on your passport visa, it says this name, but on your work contract there is another name, so I can’t give you an extension because they are different. I know they are the same company, but they gave you a different name of the company on your work contract then whats on your passport visa.”

He carried on telling us that we could either wait until the current visa is about to expire and then apply, or pay the 800yuan. We told him we couldn’t wait; we would be leaving China only a few days after they expire, so it was impossible.

But then, thankfully he said “well if you want to go to your work company and ask them to change the name, then come back tomorrow and we can process your visa then.”

Oh I was so happy when he said that! I really didn’t want to pay an extra 400yuan.

We didn’t want to have to go the next day to sort it out so we decided to go straight after, get it all over and done with in a day.

We went to our work headquarters half an hour away and they filled in another contract for us. We travelled back to the PSB office and the man was surprised when he saw us “Oh you have the correct one now?”

We both successfully paid and we were finished, having to collect our passports in three weeks, then it’s over! No more worrying!

再见

爱玲

Working, Studying & Living: Sorting It Out

For the past few weeks, we’ve been discussing what to do with our lives for the next year… and finally we’ve come up with a plan.

Working: Because I’m making hardly any money at the moment… although I do love the free time that I have, I’ve resorted having to go back to full time, well 15 working hours a week. This in my company is ‘full-time’.  I’ve managed to keep only working 3 days a week which is just great. I will dread the day when I have to work 7 hours 5 days a week. I’m really being spoilt here.

So working full time means I will be guaranteed my wage every month, whereas right now I’m paid by the amount of hours I teach.. so during the summer time I hardly get paid anything because students go on holidays.

Studying: We’ve also decided that this semester will be our last in our current Uni. I’ve really grown fond of it, plus I enjoy classroom based teaching. But every semester we are finding it harder and harder to get up in the morning. And at the end of the day I still have to pay 1 year tuition. We will miss everyone that we have met, even my teachers. All of them are so nice.

Instead of learning at the Uni, I will continue going to my private lessons in a private language school. It’s only 15 minutes walk from my apartment so it’s very convenient.

And as for Living: Unfortunately due to the enormous cost of rent in Xiamen, we decided to stay in Chengdu. It’s just too expensive. I really love the place, but I don’t want to be worrying about bills and rent just because I want to live somewhere sunny and pretty. I’d rather save my money and go travelling. Instead, when our apartment contract is finished, we will look at some apartments in the community that we already live in. We like where we live and we don’t want to have to lug our things miles away. Because we are going to be earning more, we want to upgrade to a bigger apartment… haha we might even get a balcony, and even a door for our bedroom!!

So right now, we are sorting out my boyfriends Mum and Dad’s visa to come to visit here, let our company know that in December I will be able to teach more students (they will surely be delighted with this), and begin to sort out the dreaded work visa for next year.

Every foreigner in Chengdu dreads that time of year when their visa expires. Enrolling in Uni is the easiest way to get one… but because we will be getting a work visa, we will need to go to Hong Kong on a ‘visa run’ as people say, plus we will get a medical certificate done.

I’m not too fond of going to Hong Kong. It’s expensive and crowded. However maybe this time round it might be different with my boyfriend being with me.

I hate having to sort visa stuff out. The people working there are not at all friendly and they can deny you a visa without giving any explanation whatsoever. Plus if you don’t have 1 piece of paper, that’s it: go home and come back when you get it. Oh and they need like 10 photocopies of every piece of paper you have. Oh they are very picky!

So, we’ve managed to sort out our plan for next year…. ha I won’t think too much ahead just right now or I’ll panic again!

再见!

爱玲

University Time Once More

With summer flying by, I’m once again back at Uni. One of the reasons why it seems that it went so fast is because here I don’t finish until the end of June… whereas at home, colleges finish the end of May. So we got an extra month of holidays in Ireland. Here however, Chinese people get more holidays during Chinese New Year, and two months off during summer.

Having come back from travelling, studying Chinese had taken a break. Since Monday I’ve been back to Uni, so my studying is back underway again.

This semester we have decided to skip a level and move up to Level 5. Every level I’ve been in wasn’t exactly a struggle. I’d go in, learn and come back out. I knew I wasn’t really pushing myself.

That’s one of the reasons why I wanted to try 5. Plus doing all 10 levels would take 5 years….. so no thank you.

I’ve only had 2 days of class, but I know already It will be more difficult than before. Before, I understood everything that the teacher said and the Chinese she wrote on the board, and the grammar wasn’t too difficult either.

This time round, I don’t understand everything the teacher says… there are plenty of Chinese characters I don’t know…. oh and the grammar is tougher. Even the book content has jumped up a notch… with more difficult sentences and Chinese characters. I really need to preview everything before class now.

Only 6 of us moved to level 5 from our level 3 class, with some moving to 4. I’ve been with them since Level 2, so it’s a bit weird not being in the same class as them now.

And with every semester it seems as if my standard of Chinese is getting lower and lower. Level 2 my Chinese was better than most, 3… it was average… this time round… I feel it’s lower than a lot of peoples. But I suppose that just makes me realise that I need to continue learning.

I feel like my Chinese hasn’t improved at all, especially my speaking…. but then I remembered the first day we came to the school… we ended up going to the Level 5 classroom by accident. We asked the lady next to us what book she was using, as hers was different to ours.. and she showed us. Seeing all these Chinese characters made us quickly jump out of our chairs and head to our correct Level 1 classroom. At that time I knew zero characters… absolutely none.

Now, the teachers fills the whole board with characters which we have to read. Most of them I can read no problem… but it showed me that this time 1 year and a half ago, there was no way I could read them. . . so I suppose I did learn a lot since the time I started.

I’m just hoping in a few weeks time I’m not crying about how difficult this semester is!

再见

爱玲

 

 

Exploring Western Sichuan: Part 2

Onto my next 2 days in Western Sichuan. On Wednesday we got up at 8am for breakfast and on we went. We had organised the day before to go horse-riding, but found it was too expensive. We decided to leave it until the next day. So after breakfast our driver located a group of Tibetan people who brought tourists up a mountain to take some pictures. Of course we had to pay for going up the mountain and the horses, but it was worth it.

The weather was great that morning and we were able to take some close up photos of their beautiful tibetan writing on a rock on the mountain.

The ride on the horse up was a little daunting; it was quite steep and I was afraid in case the horse would struggle. But thankfully they were fine and we reached the top no problem.

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Horses trying to run away from their owner

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Found an old house at the stop of the mountain

After our morning outing,  we headed back to Kangding. It took around 3 hours, and before we knew it we were back in the small city. Along the way we met 3 accidents! The first car accident was between a small van and a car, I’m guessing the van hit the car while going round a bend in the road.

The next accident we saw was a lorry had turned on its side, again it was navigating a corner.

Finally we saw a white car in a ditch at the side of the road. Drivers here drive far too fast, so I’m not surprised most of these were because of going too fast. But I don’t think anyone was injured in the accidents.

Our driver was driving pretty fast too but thankfully we made it safely back!

So we arrived in Kangding and our driver brought us to some hot springs. I was a bit hesitant; I hate people looking at me, especially when I have a bikini on… but when we arrived we realised he had booked us a private hot spring area just for the 4 of us!

The last time we went to a hot springs it was more like a pool with different temperatures. this was rather different! First of all the whole place smelled like eggs. So we realised this must be the real deal.

Before this, we finished what we had left of our picnic the day before, drank some Chinese tea… then when we were rested we decided to head in. Our driver told us that the hottest hot spring might be too hot for us so he recommend we should go to a cooler one.

We were really surprised at how hot it was! My god! I could only stay in it for 10 minutes at a time then I had to get out. Everyone did. The place is quite old but it was great to actually be in a proper hot springs and not a man made one. Was really authentic.

Plus it was deep, reaching my neck! Although we realised there were big rocks at the bottom of the pool, so we had to be very careful or else we would crack our toes off them.

We were booked for 2 hours there, but after 1 hour we were done. It was just too hot for us.

After this we headed to a small temple in a mountain side and took a few photos.

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In the evening, we accompanied our driver to our favourite Tibetan restaurant and then had 1 beer with him in the hostel until it was time for bed.

Thursday: Our final day consisted of us travelling back to Chengdu. Our journey coming to Kanding took hours because of traffic…. so we were worrying this time it would be the same again.

After breakfast, which consisted of the worst tasting pancakes in the whole world, we left the hostel at 9am.

Thinking we would be back to Chengdu at around 5/6pm, we were pleasantly surprised to arrive home at 3pm! We had no traffic along the way so it was much quicker this time. We said thank you to our driver for driving us everywhere and we headed to our apartment.

In a way we were sad we couldn’t talk our driver more; our Chinese isn’t very good and he knew zero English… but we tried anyway and did our best.  I’m sure he was very tired after driving such a long way!

Our visitors were leaving the day after so we just relaxed and went to another tea house, drank tea and chatted. It was a great trip and I’m very glad we did it.

Although It feels like I need another holiday after that holiday!

再见

爱玲