Can I first say thank you to all the lovely people who either tweeted me about or commented on the last blog post; you’re all lovely and giving me far too much praise that I definitely don’t deserve – but thank you. … Apart from Dave who is, as ever, a sarcastic little git.
I would like to now talk about China, because the Internet has been unfairly left in the dark about this rather large aspect of my life for a while now. JazzainChina is being ever so slightly neglected and I don’t blog on here nearly often enough.
Classes have started again. 8am starts are once again the kryptonite to my Superman, although I am pretty sure I understand an awful lot more than I did last semester, which can only be a good thing. I did have a mild breakdown just after coming back from Japan. The “Oh good God my Chinese is shit” panic attacks seem to be a regular part of life here, but I’ve been lucky in that I’ve never got my knickers in such a twist that I have wanted to quit – it has only made me more determined to climb this bloody huge mountain. Learning Chinese is definitely the hardest challenge I have ever set myself.
After the last mini breakdown I dusted myself off and decided to do something about it. I am now working at a hostel a friend of mine manages. I am her token western barman. The pay is rubbish (the equivalent of £1/hour) and customers are thin on the ground, but I get to practice with my colleagues and it’s a few hours a week where I get to read something behind the bar – whether Chinese related or not.
I have also started meeting up with and spending time with people whose English is really shit, thus forcing me to speak Chinese. The way I have managed to wrangle my way into doing this, is by going on dates. A high point for me was when I had an hour and a half conversation on the topics of Taiwan, tennis, Tottenham Hotspurs and various other things that don’t begin with T. During this time, English was only spoken for about 10 minutes. Granted, a lot of what was said to me went over my head, and I was told that my Chinese was very bad, but this is leaps and bounds from where I was at the beginning of the year. I believe I have the right to be proud of myself. Obviously if I am actually interested in the person I am on a date with I will of course speak in English; speaking like a retarded five year old isn’t hot.
I’ve also started chatting to and hanging out with my flatmate a lot more. We get on very well I think, and it’s a shame we haven’t done this more often.
I’m trying to make more of an effort to talk with the guys who I box with. I have found myself saying 听不懂 a lot less. Today I had a turning point in this department. My teacher told me that I was boxing well. This is kinda a big deal; I have always been the weird skinny 老外 that was paired with either the girl or the fat guy in the class (no offence to fat guys or girls). He then sat me down and asked me if I would tutor one of his friends in English. It’s almost like I got a reward for not sucking. God knows I need the teaching money at the moment as well.
I am also pretty certain that I am going to come back here after summer to do another year. I think I am on track with my Chinese so that Manchester University would be more than happy to take me back, but I am not yet content with my level. This might seem a little radical for some people but here are my reasons. I have a chance of getting a first (the highest grade awarded for a Uni degree in the UK) but it is a very slim chance. I’ve decided that I want to give it a shot, and I don’t stand a chance unless I make my Chinese amazing. I also set the bar very high for myself. I want my Chinese to be at least as good as my Spanish by the time I graduate, at this rate I won’t make it by the end of 2011. I’m applying to defer a year at the moment, and looking into scholarships to fund it.
But all in all, morale in the camp is up. 慢慢来.