19.07.2010 - 19.07.2010 24 °C
Whew! I just spent the last hour explaining to my Chinese tutor why the US supports Taiwan's independence, starting with the American revolution. (Mostly in Chinese!) Just three weeks out of the US and already I'm spreading peace and understanding throughout the globe. :P
My tutor, Zhou Qiong, (pronounced like "Joe Chyong") is a grad student in Chinese Lit at BNU, who meets with me for two hours a week so I can practice turning my usual incoherent blatherings into grammatically correct Chinese sentences. She's talkative, likes sports, speaks better-than-passable English and, most importantly, is patient enough to repeat a new word for me four or five times in three or four minutes. All in all I feel pretty lucky, as I wasn't able to get that kind of conversation practice in the states and that alone makes coming here worth the trip.
That's not all, In addition to Zhou Qiong I've made no less than _four_ local friends since arriving! As I've said before, Beijingers in general seem pretty friendly, though I'm starting to get the impression it's because I'm a white guy from California. (No joke! It's actually pretty obvious that my Asian-American classmates don't get the same treatment, which weirds me out sometimes.)
Talking to the locals has also brought the differences between education here and in the US into a new light for me. The students living on campus are on their summer break now, but when the school year starts they get _serious,_ by which I mean forty hours of class time a week, plus homework and occasional military training. When I told one of my friends I was accustomed to twelve or thirteen hours of class a week, I felt more keenly than ever the similarity between my own DNA and that of a potato.
On the bright side of all this, my language skills are improving exponentially and I'm having even more fun than I thought I would. I've even met more than one person in the elevator who said my Chinese wasn't bad, though they were probably just being nice. :P