SLEEPLESS IN KUNMING
Granted it's not even eleven o'clock and I probably shouldn't be sleeping yet, but with my early class schedule each morning, I've been trying to go to bed by ten or a little after each night. Generally, I get up around six thirty with the intention of finishing the homework I didn't do the day before. It's been awhile since I've been on such a regimented schedule. Anyway, I can't seem to fall asleep so I thought I would blog a bit. There's not a lot to say so I apologize if everything sounds mundane; it pretty much is...
We've found ourselves recently addicted to watching 80 minutes of The Office each evening after dinner. It's taking away from our study time (which proves brutal in the mornings when we're tested over the things we were supposed to be working on the night before), but Canadian research shows that relaxing by watching The Office before studying can greatly improve the absorption rate of the material studied, or so we like to tell ourselves.
Last Saturday evening most, or maybe all, of the students at Keats Language School were taken to a nice restaurant for dinner (care of Keats herself). The students here have varied backgrounds, as one might expect, and come from many different parts of the world. The dinner was quite enjoyable as it's been awhile since we've socialized with other non-Chinese people. Since that dinner, however, we seldom run into the ones we conversed with that evening, with the exception of Susanna, a girl from Canada who is ever ready to provide us with the latest research in learning methods (hence, the aforementioned The Office statement).
It was hard for me to get into studying this week. Monday was killer, and Tuesday took some serious pep talks to get me focusing. Today went well, though, and I'm looking forward to tomorrow's class. There are twelve lessons in my textbook, and Huang Laoshi seems confident that we'll get through them all. We're averaging about one lesson every two days. By the end of this month, I think we'll have crammed an entire semester's worth of material into four weeks (or less, actually, because we're meeting six days a week instead of five). My reading and writing of Chinese have both improved dramatically, but my grammar and oral Chinese are pathetic at best.
Huang Laoshi has been great. She's really patient with me and seems to know what she's doing. She does have these little quirks, however, that make me understand what it must be like to be a Chinese student. Nearly every day she corrects something about the way I do certain things which are seemingly (at least to me) insignificant. For example, in the last week and a half, she has repeatedly forced me to place my writing tablet perpendicular to my body (rather than slanting it at a forty five degree angle which provides a more natural writing position for my hand). She also has corrected the way I write my "4"s, my "t"s, my "F"s and has told me that I recently picked up the bad habit of putting my head too close to my paper when I write. I didn't tell her that I've had that habit all my life. She probably would have replied that this is the reason I'm wearing glasses today. Nevertheless, I appreciate her attention and dedication to instilling in me the "best" way to do things (whether I agree with these ways or not). I merely hope that when I leave, I will take away what I learned about Chinese and not what she tried to change about my performance techniques.
Well, I should probably try to get some sleep. I've got another fun day of learning ahead of me!