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HOME - an amazingly beautiful wake up wall to what our planet is facing

HOME - an amazingly beautiful wake up wall to what our planet is facing

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Student Life...

We're 3 weeks into a 3-month semester of
Beginner Mandarin.

7am starts to our days have been a bit challenging... but the course is great. We have 2 teachers, one for the first 2 hours and a second for a 1-hour review and extra vocab session. They're both very nice Taiwanese ladies with a lot of patience. Our classmates are four smiley Indonesians and one each of American, Japanese, Vietnamese and British.

Here we are, bleary-eyed in front of our weirdo-looking branch campus of the Tamkang University.From the second week, we've started writing Chinese (traditional) characters. After a bit of research on the web, I found that the only other countries who still use traditional rather than simplified writing are Macau and Hong Kong... and they speak Cantonese, pronouncing that same writing in a very different way. So we're in a pocket of classical Chinese culture that's become obsolete on the mainland. I feel like we're part of a preservation of the beauty and style of old... Simplified characters are much more utilitarian and (subjectively?) less graceful plus I've been told it's reasonably easy to read simplified if you've learned traditional, but very difficult to go the other way. Here's a sample of my week 2 practice scribbling.As we're still teaching in the afternoons and evenings, our schedules have become pretty tight... I now have an excuse to be a regular coffee drinker (although still highly devoted to the local art of brewing and enjoying high quality oolong teas). All in all, slowly, some meaning in the mysterious language surrounding us is emerging for the senses. My eyes hunt for recognizable squiggles on shop signs and I dream of holding conversations in Mandarin about the latest nebula discovered in space. For now, I'm content to be more verbose in my food-ordering interactions.

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