Where Is The Time Going?

I’ve suddenly realised I only have 6 weeks left of studying! Time is flying by at an amazing rate! When I was in Ireland my Dad would say to me ‘When you get to my age, a week just feels like one day’. And the more I get older, the more this is starting to apply to me.

So anyway, we have two months of holiday until we start back to our next semester in September… and we’ve no idea what are plans are.

As my fiancés sister and boyfriend were coming to China for one month, this time last year we were busy planning our travels around China.  So we knew we would be busy during the summer… but for this coming one, we really have no plans.

My fiancé may have a job opportunity during the summer, so we may travel to a city nearby for work… but pretty much that’s it. With our lack of income, we can’t exactly plan on doing anything too exciting or expensive!

I’d have liked to have gone home for the holidays, but it’s just too expensive. So I guess we are stuck in Chengdu for a while! Maybe when we get jobs we might visit a city in China…Qingdao perhaps? My private Chinese teacher is from there so I’d like to visit it, plus it’s supposed to be a nice city!

But anyway, the weather here has been fantastic, so both of us don’t mind staying here for a bit!

再见

爱玲

 

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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

 

Recap Of My First Day Of Semester 5

Tiredness has befallen me! With our rude and disrespectful neighbours listening to loud loud music until 1:45am last night…. I was not exactly hopping with energy this morning only having gotten 5 hours sleep.

All this crap is just making want to leave  China as soon as possible.

But anyway, I managed to make it to class on time and not fall asleep! And I tell you, I definitely won’t be able to day-dream this semester!

Reading and writing is our first class, and in comes the teacher. I was expecting her to greet us and then start with the story and grammar… but no…. she doesn’t touch the book but instead starts to read a passage from a book about Chinese culture and what gifts you should give your friends/ girlfriends/ boyfriends/ friends girlfriend and so on.

She told us to listen to her and then she will ask us questions based on the passage. What?? No easy class of reading??!! This is not a speaking and listening class teacher!!

And she meant it…. asking each student a question about the passage… most of us didn’t understand all of the passage or didn’t understand what she was asking…. but we all got through it in the end! PHEW!

After the break it was then that she started the book… but oh no… it wasn’t all that easy. Once she finished going over some of the words, she asked each of us to make a sentence with one. (we didn’t even get to pick the words we wanted to use aka the easiest!)  With me, my problem with new vocab is that I don’t know how to use it in a sentence properly, so I didn’t really know if I would say my sentence correctly. Thankfully though I did!

So that wasn’t exactly a relaxing class. My last semesters reading and writing class was much much easier! Oh the memories!

Onto the next class: Listening and Speaking. And I really don’t like this class. My weakness is speaking… I don’t particularly enjoy speaking Chinese ( I know, that’s a bad sign when I want to learn it!) but I need to get over my fear of speaking!

Our next teacher seems nice, but she spoke quite fast for me and used too many new words… so it was difficult to keep up with her sometimes.

In this class we had to introduce ourselves, where we are from, our hobbies, and what we want to learn/ achieve in the class.

So when she got to me I said I don’t have a lot of confidence so I want to gain more confidence in speaking and listening. She then replied in Chinese “Oh come up and stand in front of the class and speak…that will help your confidence!”

Haha funny joke teacher.

The rest of the class went smoothly enough. At one point she unexpectedly said “aì líng, nǐ kěyǐ dú dì èr gè wèntí ma?”

“Aisling, can you read question two?”.

What??? Did I just hear my Chinese name being called out?? I definitely wasn’t expecting this! Calling on me to read??? That’s a first! Thankfully though I was sort of paying attention so I figured out what she wanted of me… but yeah, I definitely can’t switch off in class now.

The good old days of Level 5 is definitely over!

And then…..I heard my listening and speaking teacher mention the dreaded word presentations and getting up in front of the class and speaking about a topic. 

Oh no, I definitely don’t want to do either of those…. No no…

Teachers…just let me sit quietly and ignore me please! I’ll be a good student and won’t disturb you while you are attacking the other students with your gibberish….I promise!

再见

爱玲

Back To School Tomorrow! 我不要去! (I don’t want to go!!)

AAAGGHH….School.Tomorrow! Forget.Everything!

My Chinese has literally disappeared since not attending University. Today was the first time that I opened my books which we will use from tomorrow onwards. . and the first two characters are 从前 and I forgot what they meant. The first two characters!

So that’s definitely not a great start, plus it’s not even a difficult word! It means ‘previously;formerly;once upon a time’ by the way.

Also, getting up earlier than 9am has been a struggle for me lately… never mind having to get up at 7am! I think once this week is done I’ll be used to the early morning… it will also be good to get into a routine again!

Usually I’m really excited to be going back. But this time around not so much. I think it’s due to the fact that my last semesters teachers didn’t put too much pressure on us in class. My reading and writing teacher just went through the story, grammar and vocab, while I listened and took notes. It was an easy class and I knew she wouldn’t ask us anything.

Then my listening and speaking teacher spent most of the time chatting to us, so I wasn’t too worried about having to speak. Good for my listening though!

But now I’ll be having new teachers… and they might actually expect me to do some work in class!  Oh and talk Chinese!

Oh and I also have to laugh at our Chinese books sometimes. Some of the stories in them are quite strange! For previewing my text for tomorrows class, I found out that this weeks lesson is about a donkey which fell into a well…. obviously the owner has no idea how to get it out…. so he decides (because the donkey is old) that he’ll abandon it…. and fill the well with soil.

So he’s going to kill the donkey!!??!!

To me that’s an awful way to deal with this situation! haha I have no idea who came up with this story.

img_0622

The story in question

Thankfully though, the donkey found out what the owner was doing, and was clever enough to stand on the soil as they threw it in, so finally there would put enough soil in the well so that the donkey will be able to escape.

So, it ends well at least!

But I’d definitely find a new owner If I was the donkey!

img_0623

Poor donkey, nobody wants him

But anyway…. that’s the sort of thing we learn in Chinese class!

I wonder what other weird and wonderful stories I’ll be learning in the next few week!

再见

爱玲

 

My Dwindling Lack Of Interest

From coming back from the Philippines, my interest in learning Chinese has dropped considerably. Before, I was reading my Chinese books, reviewing the grammar, and generally I enjoyed doing these things. My private language tutor also mentioned to me that my Chinese had improved a lot, which made me quite puzzled at the fact that apparently it had indeed improved… but never the less it gave me a little boost of confidence.

Now it’s a different story. I haven’t opened a book in about over 2 week or watched my daily Chinese TV series. When I look at my pile of school books I think “No… no today” I think this lack of interest is due to the fact that we are leaving in the summer. We have a few things to sort out first, but we are 90% sure we will leave. So that in an extent has influenced it.

Second, all this stuff with work has sort of preoccupied me. I think once my 30 days notice is finished I’ll stick my head back in the books. Until then I’ll continue to wallow in pity that I still have (at the moment) 14 more work days! I’m actually counting down the days until I say 再见!!Goodbye!!

Then, with our intention of going to Mexico has really just made me mad to start learning Spanish. I’ve tried a few times to start….but not being surrounded by speakers and not really having the need to speak it here…. it’s sort of difficult to get going.

Hopefully when I return to Ireland and however long I stay there for, I hope I’ll be able to start getting Spanish lessons. Maybe I might even try and get some Chinese ones too, try and not let that disappear on me!

再见

爱玲

 

Tackling Spanish

Tackling Spanish

For the past 1.5 years my head has been tortured with learning Chinese… now I’m not saying I don’t enjoy learning it, of course I do… just sometimes you need a break from all those thousands of characters once in a while!

Since meeting my boyfriend and visiting Mexico and his family, I’ve become more and more interested in learning Spanish. In Secondary school and Uni I chose to study French instead of Spanish, so I’ve literally had to start from the basics with Spanish. haha now that my French has completely disappeared, (not that there was much in the first place) I don’t think I’ll have any trouble mixing the two languages up!

I’ve started using an application called Anki, where it makes flashcards and what not for you… I’ve been using it for my Chinese also, but to be honest it’s very hard to use,for me anyway, it’s a bit too technical! I’ve ended up having to delete my whole Spanish deck of words and download it again, as I messed with the cards and didn’t know how to rectify it. So it does take some time to get used to and know how to use it properly.

In comparison to Chinese… I must say I remember the vocab much easier in Spanish. No characters to learn, no tones… just a straight up spanish word and thats it!

My pronunciation needs work on though, as I still pronounce letters like in English.. oh and the ‘r’ sound still annoys me.

And because my head is also in ‘Chinese mode’, whenever I see a Spanish phrase like ‘Does he want a t-shirt?’ and I need to think a second for the answer, instinctively the Chinese translation of it will enter my head.

But I have to say, when comparing the two languages.. I really do appreciate some things about Chinese. The grammar isn’t as tricky as say English or Spanish. There are no conjugations or gender specific words. The language is also a bit more concise.

What I also enjoy about Chinese are how words are literally translated:

fridge = ice box (bing  xiang/冰箱)

computer = electric brain (dian nao/ 电脑)

yogurt = sour milk (suan nai/酸奶)

And don’t get me started on the literal translations of animals!

dolphin = sea piglet (hai tun/海豚)

kangaroo= bag mouse (dai shu/ 袋鼠)

giraffe= long neck deer ( chang jing lu/ 长颈鹿)

These are just a few of the interesting translations!

I think every person studying Chinese gets a laugh when they find out the translation of different things in Chinese!

But anyway, back to Spanish!

As I’ve only been studying for about a week now, I know I’ve only barely touched the surface of this language. When I start to learn the grammar properly and the conjugations is when I might begin to tear my hair out!

Having had a week off from Uni, I’ve been studying more Spanish recently, so I’ll have to try and stick with it when Monday comes.

It’s nice though to be able to switch with the two languages…. I can have a break with Chinese but not feel bad, because I’ll be learning Spanish… I won’t feel lazy because I’m still technically learning!

So I suppose Chinese and Spanish has their own merits and why I like them!

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