Language Pledge Shmanglage Shmedge
I’m sick and decided to take some time to update my blog. It’s been around a month since I arrived in Hangzhou and started my program. Surprisingly, the language pledge is by far not the biggest challenge. It’s true that due to the language barrier, there are many missed opportunities to say something sassy under my breath, but other than that and how gross my Chinese sounds, it really isn’t a problem. The most frustrating thing is how much work we have each week. I understand having some busy weeks, but everyday it’s the same: spending all our time in class and scrambling to get homework done. I know it’s what we signed up for, but I also feel like we are not given much choice in how studious we want to be during our semester abroad. For instance, we cannot take any time off to travel, even, as one student found out, to see our parents.
Anyway, enough complaining, I’m in China! So here are my classes: Everyday Chinese, which is pretty basic and a good review, Business Chinese, which is pretty boring, but kind of useful I guess, Hangzhou studies, which is divided into terms, this term my focus is Hangzhou art, and finally my One on One course is Traditional Chinese Medicine. All of the courses with the exception of my one on one require you to go out and survey random Chinese people, which I find really awkward and tedious. I find it an ineffective method of improving my Chinese and having to do so at least once a week to be quite excessive. However, I think my Chinese has gotten a lot better partially from classes, but mostly from the pledge.
My living situation is pretty nice…a two person bedroom with a bathroom. My roommate, named Xiao Ba, is even taller and skinnier than me and also likes to play basketball. She is from Xinjiang province in northwestern China, is Kazakh minority and can speak Kazakh and basically is really cool. What else….The food situation is pretty good, but not great. We have no meal plan, so we either pay for the dining hall or eat out. There are three other vegetarians, however the vegetarian options are rather lacking. There are a few token veggie dishes that we end up eating most of the time. They are really good, but even eating my favorite eggplant dish everyday can be tiring. Since the school is not in the center of the city, and public transportation require at least 45 minutes of leeway, we really don't have time to explore new locations during the week.
To change subjects again, Hangzhou is gorgeous. It rains here a lot but when it is nice out, it is beautiful. I think it is the best location out of what CET and Middlebury offer.
Oh, also I've managed to pretty much single-handedly get all the Chinese roommates obsessed with Settlers of Catan.