Day Five – Tuesday, June 27
Today felt like my first “normal” day that I have had in China. It felt very similar to my school days in the US, but with Chinese culture and language instead. I can already tell that I am becoming accustomed to the Chinese way of doing things and many of their customs have already become my second nature (for example, eating manners and wearing slippers). I honestly think that I am going to have way worse reverse culture shock (differences in culture coming from China back to the US) than regular culture shock (US to China).
I am so happy with the class I was placed in. First off, it is a good fit for my Chinese speaking ability, and the other students in the class are at very similar levels to myself. Secondly, my teacher is the most fun teacher out of the three classes. Our schedule is broken up into 4 morning classes with a 10-minute break between each, a 2-hour lunch break, and then 3 afternoon classes with the same 10-minute break. Literally during each class session, our teacher comes up with some sort of game or competition for us to play – not only are these fun and engaging but help us learn in a way that doesn’t feel boring like school. Tomorrow, students can request to change classes (either level up or down), and most people are trying to change to be in my class (because it is so much more fun than the others!)
As I learn more and more Chinese, I can tell that my speaking ability is skyrocketing! I really like chatting with my language partner because she is studying to teach students like me, and is very patient with me. She corrects me with my tones, yet isn’t pushy about it. Rather, she explains things simply to me in Chinese, and if I still don’t get it she translates to English. I enjoy eating lunch with her (today we went to the canteen/cafeteria) because we have time to just chat, and if I want to talk to my American friends she has her language partner friends she can talk to so it isn’t awkward. I hope that this weekend we can spend some time together outside of class; this week is very busy as it is my first with my host family and she has final exams.
Today’s major accomplishment = I joined a gym! I know this sounds little but there are two parts to my success. The first is that I need to exercise and outside Zhuhai is so damn hot (feels like 110º+ each day) that there is no way I can workout outside. This gym is actually incredibly nice (similar to elite gyms in major US cities) and has free lockers, (nice) showers, spin and yoga classes, and most importantly, air conditioning! Compared to one-month gym memberships in the USA, this was also incredibly cheap for the services I am receiving. But the major part of my accomplishment is that Katie and I went into the gym, asked for a tour in Chinese, and figured out the payment and membership all in Chinese. This was one of my first full conversations I’ve held in Chinese with someone outside of my school and family. I can’t wait to try it out tomorrow!
This afternoon and evening were basically the same as Monday’s except for the gym. I once again went to Maan Coffee just to chill, then went home and ate some delicious Chinese food my aunt cooked. I’m starting to develop my own schedule, where I go out after class (4:30-about 6 or 7) and then go home for the rest of the night.
So far, this program/trip has been one of the best experiences of my life, and it is only day 5!!