I cannot believe I am here. It feels like a crazy dream.
It's been nearly 4 weeks and yet I still feel like I'm adjusting. It's been a crazy roller coaster. Full of super high highs and incredibly low lows. Luckily, I am currently (and finally) in a more neutral place. I have found some sort of direction and yet again, without fail, my Chinese classes have been my saving grace. I swear I must have been Chinese in a previous life. Otherwise, I really can't understand why I would ever be so in love with this crazy difficult language.
Anyway, above, is a picture of the beautiful moment where I was reunited with my beautiful Benny. If you remember, Benny (or Benicio as we now call him) is the sweet kitten that I adopted right before I left Taiwan last year. This picture needs no words. It shows my utter joy and love for my kittens and the complete happiness I felt to be back in my old place again. So many great memories here. And hopefully many more to come in good old Taipei, Taiwan.
We went to Daiso the other day, which is the Japanese version of a dollar store, and picked up a few random household items. The dry erase board, which hangs right at our entrance, is by far my favorite purchase of the day. Because I am Manuel's Chinese teacher, I decided to write him a little love note in Chinese (as a quiz of sorts). Even though it's very basic Chinese, I still managed to make a grammatical mistake. Luckily, Manuel didn't notice. :)
Today, I am in good spirits and happy that it's Friday. I wanted to go run errands this afternoon but I think the typhoon has other plans for me. It seems that I'll be indoors for the rest of the afternoon cuddled with the kitten while watching (very cheesy) Taiwanese soap operas. As you can see, I'll do whatever it takes to improve my Chinese, even it means subjecting myself to geeky TV. Happy Friday!
I know the Alexandra Wallace video is old news, but I have had this song stuck in my head for days. I even woke up this morning singing it - it's super catchy and makes me giggle every time.
Don't get me wrong - I think what Alexandra Wallace did was incredibly wrong and pretty stupid as well. But I can't help but love it when funny things come out of bad situations.
Plus, I've really been into this song too. It's a bunch of foreigners here in Taiwan who made a song about speaking Chinese. It's probably not funny to the average person, but for me, it just reminds me of all the struggles (and laughs) I had while studying Chinese in the first few months. It's also quite catchy and I find myself singing it at random moments in time.
Wow, what a difference a weekend makes! It was such a rainy weekend, but I had so much fun anyway. I had awesome talks with great friends and super fun random group dinners with my boys. Can you believe four of the five of us in the picture can speak Spanish? How random (yet awesome) to find these kinds of friends in Taiwan. I dont even have that many Spanish speaking friends back home.
On Saturday, Manuel and I were randomly stopped and interviewed for the local Taiwanese news. I was asked about my experiences learning Chinese in Taiwan and asked to comment on American universities with Chinese language programs. My interview was Chinese (which was both exciting and nervewrecking) and Manuel spoke in English. Fast forward the video to second 0:55 if you just want to watch me in action. Because of my eye surgery, I am back to wearing glasses full time, which really put a damper on my 5 seconds of fame. Hopefully next time they stop me for an interview I will be all glammed up and fashionable and not geeky and tired. Here's hoping.
I had one of those "moments" today. Actually, two moments.
The first came this morning as I was scooting to the gym at 8am during rush hour traffic. I was weaving in and out of buses, cars, taxis, and hundreds of scooters when it just hit me: I wish my parents could see me right now. They would not only feel terrified for me (cause driving here is quite dangerous), but I think they would just say to themselves: "there goes our crazy natalie." I started laughing out loud just thinking of my parents reaction to my scoot scootin'.
The second moment happened about 3 minutes ago. I was sitting in the computer lab again (my home away from home) and I needed a break so I started reading my advanced Chinese book. I opened the book to page 1 and read an entire paragraph without any pauses and then it hit me: holy shit I can read Chinese. Mind you, yes I kinda knew this already. BUT, I haven't picked up a Chinese book in about 5 months or more. I was just amazed that I remembered how to read. Yes, I have to read on a daily basis, but it's mostly words like "chicken or pork" and "tea or coffee" and "rice or noodles." It was nice knowing that I could still pick up a book and read things such as "united nations" and "buddhism" and other difficult characters.
And then it hit me...I'm really going to miss Chinese. I truly LOVE this language. And one of the biggest reasons that I don't want to go back to the States after graduation is that I don't want to lose everything I've already learned. But then again, I'm not sure I can live a solitary life in Asia much longer either. Ahhh, decisions decisions. Regardless of what I decide, I love the fact that I can put a third language on my resume. I'm proud that I speak Chinese. I'm proud of all that I've sacrified to know this language. I'm proud to be a big eyed foreigner who shocks people every time I open my mouth. I love that shit. And I hope that no matter where life takes me that Chinese will still be a part of my life, because if you love something, you should never let it go. Right?
I wore a suit today, for the first time in nearly 2 years. Its crazy to think that dressing up like this was a part of my monday-friday routine back in the days of cubicle life. I wore the suit today because I had my very first interview in Taipei today. It was nerve wrecking, and exciting, and a really great learning experience. I'm 110% sure I didn't get the job, but it was a job I didn't really want anyways. I just did it to practice my Chinese interviewing skills, which after today, I've realized need a lot of work! I wonder if I'll ever master this crazy hard language.
For the last 13 months, chinese has been life. But next week, this will all change. As my last day nears, I'm finding it really hard to let go of a daily routine that is now such a part of me. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't study. Some days I study as much as 6-7 hours. And even though I'm not going to completely stop studying, its just never going be like it is right now. Chinese has been my number one priority and everything else in my life, including my boy and our wedding, has taken a back seat to my schooling. When you pay as much tuition as I do, and you put your career on hold, it becomes an obsession more than just an interest. A total and complete obsession to conquer a language that is difficult beyond words. But also a language that I hope will open doors and bring new opportunities. So cheers to you, Chinese. Thank you for the joy ride.
When you don't seem Peeps and pastel-colored candy in every store front, don't have your parents constantly reminding you about going to church, and live in a country where the predominant religions are Buddhism and Taoism, it is REALLY easy to forget about Easter. So, today, I spent my day unlike most Easters...at home all by myself. I've been glued to my computer all day, first writing more grad school essays, and now writing an essay (in Chinese) about the causes of the current Credit Crisis. Last week for class, I wrote about the economic and social hierarchical classes found in Bolivian society. Saying that I feel overwhelmed as to how fast I am learning Chinese is truly an understatement. 9 months ago I couldn't even count to ten without messing up my tones. Now look at me go! As soon I finish my essays, which could take me a while, I plan to curl up with a glass of wine and my new book. Happy Easter to all!
It looks like I'm pretending to be Spiderman (insert cool swoosh web-coming-out-of-hand sound), but in fact, i was just asking for my camera back. After what felt like 60 pictures of the same pose, I just wanted the blinding-flash-in-my-eyes to stop. For some reason taiwanese girls, after just briefly meeting me, want to take a picture with me. It kinda makes me feel like a celebrity. But I think they just want to post it on facebook with the caption "hey look, i have a foreigner friend."
In other exciting news, I shocked a few people last night with my Chinese speaking skills. I hadn't seen some friends since last year and their mouths hit the floor when they heard how much I had improved. Seeing and hearing their reactions was something I will never forget. It made me feel like it's finally all coming together. And that, my friends, is an awesome feeling.
I lack free time for creative endeavors. These flash cards might not be "creative" per se, but i swear they are the next best thing to mini-books. Making them tricks my mind in believing that when I'm using scissors, that I am being crafty. They might not be colorful, or pretty to look at, but they are an excellent study tool. And this will have to do until I can make time to get the glue stick out again.
ok, so my teacher decided to tape our final presentations. i was so pissed she didn't tell us before hand, as i probably would have worn makeup, or perhaps combed my hair. But I am so happy she did it. Now I have a video of all 6 of us speaking Chinese and I can't wait to show my friends and family. I know they will be so proud.
I have it in DVD format. Does anyone know how I can convert it so that I can post it on here?? If so, please help.