My brain is a little tangled, possibly because I have slept about eighty percent less than I normally do over the summer. This week has certainly been busy:
It might not seem too crazy on paper, but really I feel every other minute I spend sleeping or reviewing vocabulary. Each day we have about 50 words to memorize, which is sometimes up to 70 characters. There is a 听写 every day – a sort of quiz. Then workbook homework, a weekly essay, a Friday presentation, the language pledge…
“I hereby pledge to use no language other than Mandarin Chinese during my entire stay with the program, in all situations and on all occasions except for emergencies…”
So, yes, I’m a little tired.
However busy, this week has been truly amazing. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this summer program, here’s a brief description:
The Flagship Chinese Institute of Indiana University (June 3 – July 28, 2012) is a language immersion program in Bloomington. Several of my WKU classmates and I were accepted to participate this year, so, yes. Here I am!
Naturally, everyone was a bit anxious about going – no English? For two months?
It’s a lot to adjust to, but we are very quickly getting the hang of things! Just the other day my friends and I were walking to class when we passed a group of IU freshman playing volleyball and listening to music. I know English; I still think in English because it is so engrained.
But that time, I heard English…interpreted through Chinese sounds, I guess.
It’s the only time in my life that I can remember hearing long, clearly spoken English sentences and not immediately comprehended the meaning. It was only a few seconds. But now I can’t help but think of how ridiculous English must sound to a lot of people.
Chinese is often labeled as a really hard language, and in a lot of ways it is – but already, speaking such new sounds has become more natural. It is exciting when you accidentally tell the waiter “谢谢” instead of “thank you” simply because you forget that, to a lot of people, they aren’t the same thing.