上课!

Hello Lovely Friends and Family,

It has been a busy month. Sorry that it has been awhile!  In any case, it dawned on me that I’ve been keeping this blog for a few months now and have still neglected to mention anything much about the entire reason for my coming to Shanghai in the first place – school!

 

-Chinese Lessons!-

上 – shàng – upper part, go up, go to, make an entrance, fill, serve, apply, reach, on, in, begin

课 – kè  – subject, class, lesson

上 + 课 = Go to class / Start class!  I say this a lot, but Chinese is seriously cool.

 

Class started about a month and a half ago (maybe two months?) We took a brief exam at the beginning of classes to determine our Chinese proficiency levels and which classes we would be taking. The exam consisted of sitting with a teacher or 老师(lǎoshī- teacher) and reading from different passages with different levels of difficulty out loud. The classes are categorized alphabetically into increasing levels of complexity- A, B, C, D, and E – A class being the class for students with no Chinese experience and E class being for students approaching complete fluency. I tested into C class, which is exactly where I should be with my level of previous Chinese experience for this year! Woo!

However, just because technically speaking I should be in this class, does not by any means mean that I was prepared for it. In the beginning, my class was way over my head…I could only understand about 50% of the teachers speech and homework assignments that should have taken 1 or 2 hours took 6. The classes are taught entirely in Chinese, and only 2 of our 4 textbooks have any English definitions or explanations. Phew! Luckily I am a firm believer in immersion being the only way to successfully learn a language, especially one so different than English. I remember those first few weeks clearly – they were so hard! I would look around anxiously to other students in the room and ask, “What did she say?” “What is going on?” “HELP!” I would wonder how I would progress – if the intensity of the class would prove to be too much for me and ultimately push me back or if I would ever overcome the seemingly impossible and actually learn Chinese. I would wonder how much I will have progressed in a year, 6 months, even just two.

Here I am, two months later! And YES! I am learning Chinese! Raise the flags! Cue the parades! Bust out the Vuvuzelas! I am learning Chinese. I speak up in my class, my teacher uses sentences I wrote for homework as examples for the class, and have even received multiple compliments and shout outs for the neatness and meticulousness of my hanzi (汉字 - written Chinese characters). I take my schoolwork very seriously and spend hours every day studying after class. I enjoy hanging out with the Korean and Japanese students at the Foreign Students dorm because our only common language is Chinese. And not to mention all of the Chinese friends I have made!

Obviously I am no where near where I need to be to accomplish my goal of comfortably speaking Chinese. But, as hoped, I am making forward steps. Its fun, taking your dreams by the handle and carrying them around, working as hard as you can until the load gets light enough to throw joyously into the air like a graduation cap. Did that even make sense? I completely made that up. I should really get back to earth, here. Maybe more like back to the books, what with midterms happening next week.

I took this picture of a lesson in my textbook to give you all a more visual example of just what I spend so much time with everyday. Yes, that is how many notes and colors it takes to comprehend what is in front of me, but what I do know is that with time they become less and less. The picture got cut off a little strangely but if you find yourself compelled to see that last 15% hanging off the side, simply click the picture to make larger!

Much more difficult than my Chinese lessons at home. But now, comprehensible!

Thanks for reading, everyone, and until next time.

Namaste,

Hallie

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