Monday, September 6, 2010

school of wok

Today I had my first class in the free Chinese course I’m taking at the university—a nice bonus for teaching English here. The course is pretty intensive, with three-and-a-half hours of class time every weekday morning, leaving me the afternoons to teach my own units. Those don’t begin for another two weeks, though, so I have plenty of time to adjust to the multiple portions of the Chinese course, which include listening, conversation, and even writing (what I’m most looking forward to, considering how little I’ve had a chance to practice it). This morning’s lesson, however, was a breeze; we mainly practiced pronouncing the "pinyin" system and identifying tones, both of which I was already introduced to last summer thanks to the help of my good friend Fei in Indianapolis. When the teacher called me up to the board to identify ten consonants by the sound of her voice, I even scored a perfect 100!

The makeup of my class is a mix of foreign students from Japan, Mongolia, German, Denmark, and a few other countries. I find the easiest way to make conversation with my classmates is to mention film directors that I know from their nations, although I notice that most people tend to react with either embarrassment or irritation by the filmmakers I cite. (The guy from Denmark rolled his eyes when I mentioned Lars von Trier and muttered, “That guy is crazy,” whereas a woman from Germany told me she wished her country was more well-known for filmmakers aside from Fassbinder and Herzog. I agreed with her in the latter case.) The class is generally a nice group of people, though, and it will be fun getting to know them better over the course of the next few months.

Well, it’s about time for me to battle the mosquitoes in my bedroom so I can sleep in peace tonight. They want my blood, but all I want is a little rest.

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