I also somehow got placed into my school's version of fourth-year Chinese (Modern Readings in Chinese) which is actually hard, meaning I actually have to study and try in the class. O_o I never noticed how straightforward and relatively simple Chinese class was for me until now. I still think it doesn't quite matter that I took third-year Chinese in China. I still skipped second-year Chinese and completed third-"year" Chinese in four months. I mean, the class is even difficult for some of the people in my class that went through all the classes! I find myself spending a good amount of time looking up EVERY word I don't know. On the plus side, I'm learning, never mind the fact that it's hard and killing me as well as my free time. It's actually similar to my Chinese class back in Beijing where we'd have four straight hours of Chinese from 8 to 12:10 except most of the work now is done out of class.
Other things have also come to my attention. I don't think I'll get over China very soon. I still talk to my good friends I had made there via Google Talk, MSN, or even Skype regularly and we all send mass emails to each other when we have the time. I find that a majority of the food I cook now are Asian-inspired. I had a couple of Japanese-inspired days last week with okonomiyaki, miso soup, yakisoba, and cold soba noodles. I also had a good amount of noodle soup, steamed veggies, stir-fry, and my Americanised version of Fried Eggs and Tomatoes (西紅柿雞蛋) - Americanised meaning the fact that I made it here and though it still tastes good, something's different. My usual fare of Italian consisting of a variation of pasta, speggheti, lasagna, and orzo has dwindled magnificently - not to say that I don't like it. :) My English has died drastically and I find the idea that I forget English words rather common now. In fact, it happened thrice in my interview today and even while I'm supposed to be translating my Chinese passage to English during Chinese class. It doesn't help that I know what it is in Chinese when the passage is ALREADY in Chinese.
Half of my clothes that I brought up here were bought in China and I still listen to Asian music and watch Asian dramas and movies. I have, however, been further delving into the world of Korean entertainment. I've also been wondering what East Asian language I should tackle next: Korean or Japanese. :) I also figured out how to type in Korean (well... my name, at least) yesterday while procrastinating from writing my movie critique for Chinese class. I also am trying to learn how to read in Cantonese - those KTV videos are really helpful.
Some of the more neat skills that I've developed is that I'm a little more open to speaking in Mandarin to others - but since I'm someone who rarely talks (especially before others), it doesn't happen all that often. If it does, though, it tends to be rather automatic, which makes sense as it usually happens after I find myself thinking in Chinese, if someone's speaking to me in Chinese, or I hear others speak Chinese. I'm also much more cost-conscious than before. I'm not sure if this is a good thing since I was nowhere near a spender then, but I'll count it as a good thing. I mean seriously - everything here's expensive if you compare it with China!! I actually have a healthy loathing for how much clothes cost over here now and you can't even bargain!!! If you want a good set of examples... (and keep in mind that there are 6.8 kuai/yuan (RMB/塊/元) to one USD:
- A pair of Chinese pants (~29 kuai) vs. a pair of relatively cheap American pants (~ $12)
- A rather filling meal at the school cafeteria (4 - 7 kuai) vs. a meal at the cafeteria here (~ $4 - $8)
- Food from a road-side stall (~1 - 3 kuai) vs. American fast food ($1 - $6)
- A cute watch (~20 kuai) vs. a watch bought in America (~$13 and up)
- A large cup of yoghurt with fruit chunks (~4 - 7 kuai) vs. a cup of yoghurt in America that is 1/3 or 1/2 the size of the large yoghurt (~$0.65) to a pack of four or six (~$3 - $6)
All in all, I still miss Beijing, and China, in general, and I think about it everyday. I think the funnest thing that I miss was having somewhere to go when you walk everywhere. You know what, though? I found out last night that there's an 8-time felon living in the apartment below mines. Even before that, I've been told by many friends not to go wandering in my neighborhood at night. -_-"