I’ve been going on lots of adventures! Most notably, I visited a portion of the great wall in Tsingdao. People were shocked when I told them I had never been to the great wall, considering I’ve been here for eight months now. The reason is actually deliberate. In general I don’t enjoy tourist attractions, especially those set up for foreigners. I think in order to experience the real China your time is better spent elsewhere. I am saving the touristy part of the great wall for when my girlfriend comes to visit me, but this part was actually just a small, restored part by the beach.
A Russian Dinner
This week I had a lot of midterms. I added up how many words I actually needed to study and it amounted to somewhere around 2000 not even including grammar and all the words I have just learned on my own time. When it was all over and done, Oleg and the other members of Beida’s “Russian mafia” decided to reserve some tables at a restaurant that serves Russian cuisine.
Results Driven Speech
When I first came to China, it was really frustrating being unable to say what I wanted to say in the same way I would say it in English. I think sometimes we don’t realize how complex our thoughts are until we have to say it or understand someone explaining them in another language. I give the example of getting a haircut. In English, I would sit down in the chair and give the specifics of everything I wanted. In Chinese, that can be a bit more complex. I mean, how often are you going to refer to the different parts of your hair in daily speech (how the heck do I say widows peak)? Sometimes it’s just easier to say “I haven’t been here for X amount of months. This is rather long for me”. By telling them how long it has been since you last got a haircut, it is not only assumed you don’t want anything changed, you have sidestepped the majority of questions regarding your haircut.
I do this on a consistent basis and it makes my conversations much more efficient regarding topics that I already know my vocabulary is not prepared for. When I’m asked for “directions” to my dorm, I simply tell the driver my dorm is across the street from Peking University’s east gate. Everybody knows where Peking University is and thus I avoid actually having to give directions and know all the street names involved. When I ran out of data on my phone and wanted to add more, I didn’t necessarily need to explain that I knew my phone was out of data to the guys at China Mobile. I felt uncomfortable with the vocabulary I may encounter explaining my data plan and wanted to avoid questions about it. Thus, I started the conversation off with “I have your phone card, but recently have been unable to use the internet. What should I do?” This resulted in the employee checking my balance and sure enough asking me how much RMB I wanted to pay. I made an arbitrary guess of how much would last me that month, paid and left. Forward thinking can drastically limit the variability in responses you will receive to your questions, which in turn cuts down on the amount of strange vocabulary you will encounter.