Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Dad's in town and learning Chinese

Been pretty busy the last few weeks, but busy in a good/ productive way. First off I started Chinese classes about 2 weeks ago. I go from 12 till 2 everyday then continue my regular routine of teaching from 4 until 10. The place where my classes are is called the Mandarin Training Center and if you can imagine what a factory of language learning looks like..that's the best way to describe it. There are about 4 floors all overlooking a central rotunda and so looking up from the bottom you can see all the windows of the classes and all the hard-working Chinese langauge students. It's like a bee hive...kind of. Anyway it's great because there are tons of "foreigners" there from all over the place. I was so shocked to hear someone speaking in Spanish next to me (I was excited also so I started a conversation with myreally awful Spanish)
The learning itself is difficult but I'm getting better. Today for instance I was able to read and translate an entire sentence from just the character. Not only that but I was able to switch the characters and put them in the correct grammactical order. Satisfying feeling.
But it's a lot of work, between memorizing character, I have to memorize about ten new ones everyday, and writing and working on my pronounciation I spend about 2.5 hours a day working on it. BUT I can now recognize some basic characters, and instead of ignoring every Chinese sign that I see (as I've done for the past 6 months.....yes it's true I've been here for a full 6 months! I actually look at every sign to try and decipher some of the words.
Usually though, when you study a language you just see the word, then know what the word means in English and that's all. But with Chinese I see the character, then I have to remember the sound the charcter makes, then I have to translate that into the sound, then remember what that sound means.........so it's an extra step in the process. The key as I see it is memorizing as many characters as I can...easier said then done though.

Writing is fun though and it's easy to gauge progress. I like a good challenge (obviously ) and wether it's a marathon, living abroad or anything else I want to challenge myself at every oppurtunity. Learning Chinese from srcatch is right up my alley. It' s rewarding when you can see an entirely new alphabet and be able to even read a simple sentence. So I'm really excited, even though I'm crazy busy...

There's no way to smoothly segway, but my Dad is coming here tomorrow. He'll be here until the 26th and we're gonna hit up Haulien this weekend and tour around Taipei doing touristy stuff. I think saying it'll be good to see him is a tremendous understatment. It's bee so long since I've seen any familly and especially around Christmas when I'm already feeling a bit homesick, having him here will be great. PLus it'll be cool to show him all the things I experienced and also interesting to see his perspective on Taipei (I've gotten so used to it here that listening to things he sees as weird or different will make me remember how strange it was for me when I first gt here...
It's safe to say I'm very lucky...always have been in pretty much every aspect of my life...family especially. I just hope I can keep my Dad from getting lost or in any kind of trouble...

Then it's time to get ready for my brotehr and sister's visit in January. I'm sure it'll be just like my Dad's but with more parties and clubs...



Daniel said...

awesome analogy with the chinese vrio, i like where your heads at.

last night i ran, with no warm up, 2nd run of the day - 1.5 miles in 13 minutes.

and btw, as there was not with your dad story above there was no segue.

have fun, blog more and say hi to Viani Sr.

wish i could come

Brian said...

Thanks Danny..wish you could come out here too. Been lacking with the blog updates but more will come for sure.

Nice job on the run, that's a solid time keep it up...5K next?