Thursday, July 22, 2010

Life Developments

A few general updates on my life here, as I think of them. Caution: This post will be devoid of all insight on the country, the language, etc.; I'll save some observations for the weekend.
  • I need to stop bringing up my frustration with my Chinese ability and the way the curriculum is arranged. A few days ago it won me a long explanation by the director, also the writer of our textbook (oops) of why his curriculum is so awesome, and then an overly sympathetic e-mail from a teacher. My semi-native-speaking friend, upon discovering my obsessive concern with my Chinese ability, has also taken to telling me that my Chinese is really good; but all that is quite the opposite of what I need. What I need is people to correct my errors. That said, what I've been dreading for a long time finally happened: a visiting professor publicly called me out for mispronouncing my own name. It's an awesome name, but the last character (龙) happens to include one of the two Chinese sounds that I find hardest to pronounce, and it's a continual source of embarrassment for me.
  • College-age girls are ridiculous. Or maybe it's just the Harvard kids. Out of our friend group (2 Yale guys, 2 Harvard girls), the one girl just broke up with her boyfriend of two years (a process that's been hinted at for weeks) and I'm suspecting more and more that the other has an eating disorder. Only Quan De and I seem to be living relatively placid, reasonable lives at this point.
  • At this point, I'm pretty sure I'm dating that girl I met in Vics. It's no big thing and it's markedly different from dating someone who fluently speaks the same language as you, but I'm quite happy about it and the way our relationship has progressed. I think she's a lovely girl and I need to stop telling her (albeit mostly truthfully) that I'm studying when she calls.
  • I am trying, belatedly, to further cut down on my communications with people, particularly in English. I still send and receive way too many e-mails on a daily basis.
  • My visa situation has worsened. ACC, the fall Chinese program here in Beijing, is switching campuses; their office is still at the old campus, and the people at the new campus have already gone on break. This means that I can't get a reprint of my invitation to attend as a foreign student. The reason I'd need it reprinted is that they used my American name, whereas it ended up that I got my Chinese visa on my Spanish passport. Basically it's a huge mess and I have to spend all afternoon trekking to the opposite side of Beijing to sort it out. (Un?)fortunately the worst-case, and most likely, scenario is that I'll have to cut short my inter-program break because my visa is set to expire about a week before ACC starts. I guess it's not as bad as having to leave the country, but I'm particularly annoyed because I have/had some vague but wonderful plans to be on the other side of the country at that time.
  • After a week of largely eating lamb and packaged, sweet-ish bread in Inner Mongolia, I am now back to eating like a healthy human being. This includes a glass or two of milk and a few fruits a day, bought specially to balance my diet.
  • A few teachers and students are going to "Taiwantown" on Saturday! I'm super excited because 1) I like all of the people who are going, especially the teachers, and 2) it's been almost a year since I've eaten 刈包  (guabao)
  • I found a few MP3s from Firefly recently and I've been listening to them over and over. I really need to watch some episodes, posthaste. If all goes as planned, I think the four of us here are going to watch the pilot in my room on Saturday night. I've also been listening to a lot of the Star Wars soundtrack, which I just discovered I have (it's in WMA format so it never showed up in iTunes). John Williams... what a man.

And now for bed. I've barely studied for tomorrow's test, as one of the teachers took a liking to my report on Inner Mongolia and decided to re-correct it to a level that would pass for a real Chinese university essay. This involved fixing about something like 50 errors or strange constructions/diction that the previous teacher to correct my report had decided not to deal with. Then the "McDonald's is half-price between 10 and 12!" midnight snack run, and now all of a sudden it's time for bed.

Advice from Mao Zedong that I should probably heed a bit more closely: 好好学习,天天上上。"Study well, improve every day."



  1. Does the young lady have a name?

  2. "What I need is people to correct my errors."

    Yes, one of my bits of advice to Light Fellows is: Make mistakes. Hurry!

    Honestly, that's so critical on so many levels (starting with embracing the mistake process). Right not, don't focus on Perfection or Self Projection. Focus on Production - mistake ridden production in mass quantities until before you know it those mistakes become vague memories.

    Good luck with the visa stuff. Never fun.