Day 11: Am I A Local Yet?

I saw a tour group of Americans and stared at them for about five minutes… Am I a local yet?

First class assignment: deliver a letter.

Every student in my class of 12 was grouped into pairs and shoved out of the room with a task of finding the person addressed on a letter. “They’re on the campus somewhere,” said our Mandarin teacher.

With my partner, we asked the security guard at the front desk if they knew the person, which he did not. After asking multiple workers, we found out that the woman on the envelope was the other Mandarin teacher. I stepped tentatively into the classroom towards the front and asked “Are you…?” in Chinese (in front of the rest of my friends in the other class).

We found the mystery person!

But of course she was going to say a bunch of random Chinese phrases because I was a student.

So I just kept nodding and smiling until she paused and my classmates’ heads swiveled in my direction, waiting for my response. “Hm? Oh, right, no problem.” I said quickly, and practically ran out the door.

Nailed it.

Another random thing happened today. I honestly don’t remember why we did this, but our class decided to march into the other class’s room during a lesson, say the Pledge of Allegiance, and then walk out chanting “Mei guo, mei guo, mei guo” (America). Great video.

We also met our peer partners today. Well, we picked them anyway. A girl by the American name of Susie snatched me up, and was rather amazed by my ability to ask for her name… We’ll get along just fine if she’s already impressed by my Mandarin abilities. Her fiancé and another friend were peer partners with two of my friends, so the six of us trekked into the city to “order food the way you actually want it prepared” (this was the task given to us by our RD, and was rather difficult. Usually, we just point to something and the waiter gives it to us… asking for food and specifying our needs was much more difficult). Also, we all ate lunch only an hour before learning of this task, so none of us were hungry.

Anyway, after taking a solid half an hour to order food, we all sat down and discussed politics. Sorry, but this is another topic that I should probably not mention. It’s touchy in every country, and differences in culture can lead to a lot of curiosity… so a lot was said.

Basically, just know that everyone is trying, and it takes a lot of trial and error.

(If that went over your head, then ignore it).

So, I decided that tonight would be the night that I make my family proud and eat a lot. I didn’t eat much lunch and didn’t eat when I got home, so when 7 o’clock rolled around, I was pretty hungry.

Yuan Yuan called me to the table and…

Only two places were set. Just Yuan Yuan and I. I couldn’t prove my worth to my grandparents… I did have two bowls of rice, though, which impressed my mom.

Our Chinese teachers have been encouraging our families to speak more Mandarin with us and increase our comprehension abilities at home. Considering Yuan Yuan and I pretty much only speak English, I figured it was a good time to start actually learning her language. She warned me of this, and as we went on our evening excursion she talked frequently in Chinese.

Here’s the weird/awesome thing.

I understood everything.

Booyah, I’m learning.

She was rather impressed, too. I learned a lot of new words and picked up on lots of pronunciation issues. In the end, I had a very successful day.

Oh, quick little thing. I was taking a stroll with Yuan Yuan around Bell Tower today, and suddenly a little girl wearing a bright pink shirt raced up behind me and tugged on the end of my dress, yelling “hello!”

Her mother stood behind her, and quickly said something in Mandarin to Yuan Yuan. “This girl’s homework is to speak with a foreigner. Would you like to be in a video of her having a conversation with you?” she translated.

Heck yeah I do.

I asked the girl what her name was, introduced myself and asked what grade she was in (this she didn’t know how to answer). Her high-pitched voice squeaked out little English syllables that took me a moment to comprehend, but she was the sweetest little thing. At the end, she said “glad to see you” instead of “glad to meet you” which almost killed me ’cause I’m such a language nerd (agh she was so adorable).

Anyway, not really an eventful post. I had a long conversation with my parents today, so I’m out of description juice. It’s midnight. Going to bed.

More later,


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