A Journey To The East... Pt. 2

Exactly two months ago, on the 27-02-2011 (coincidentally this is my dad's birthday) I posted a blog post I affectionately titled "A Journey To The East..." which Iconsider to be slightly embarrassing (for a large number of reasons) when reading back over it.

It is therefore only fitting that I mark this two month anniversary by following up with another blog post. You are by now probably aware that I'm studying Mandarin Chinese with a private teacher...I've been doing that for a little over two months now and despite all I'm still massively excited about it. I actually really enjoy studying. Practising the writing of the characters has resulted in the most uncomfortable wrist pain (my tendinitis just loves stopping by for a visit when it's most inappropriate!) ever but I resolutely suffered through it. Actually writing down the words I'm learning, along with the matching characters as well as the Pinyin seems to help me remember them which just goes to show that for me studying the "old-fashioned" way seems to work. Thanks to Chinese Hacks I've dabbled in creating mind maps and I'm truly in love with them. I was amazed to see how easily some of words connected with each other as well as very amused by the fact that a mind map for the word (zhōng, meaning centre) ended up connected to 四川 (Sichuan Province, China) and 熊猫 (xióngmāo, meaning Panda) prior to the obvious  (xīn, meaning heart) and  (ài, meaning love).

In the last two months I've learned some really interesting things about China, laughed at some of the hilarious stories my teacher shared with me and almost pulled out my hair trying to learn an evil tongue twister (绕口令) which I'm by the way still struggling with and will continue to struggle with for a while. Nevertheless it's a lot of fun. I read Chinese texts (with the Pinyin below the Chinese character) like I've only just learned how to read which I suppose I have in a way. It's most amusing - to me anyway. I've argued with my dad, who refuses to allow me to call him  (bà ba, meaning dad) because it sounds funny (and by funny I mean 'baby language' funny) to his ears and gives me endless opportunities to tease him when we talk on the phone. According to him my entire family is mighty proud of me learning Mandarin Chinese which just amuses me (and encourages me if I am honest). I'm sure dad has probably told a million and one people at this stage...

Even though I've only just started and probably know next to nothing, I truly appreciate the sound of Mandarin Chinese when I listen to it and I smile every time I recognise a word I know (spoken Chinese) or a character I've seen before (written Chinese) - it's the little things!  I feel ridiculously encouraged whenever my teacher says  (duì, meaning correct / right). I almost set fire to my 'homework' at some stage when it turned out to be completely wrong which was just frustrating so I ripped out the five pages and spend two hours on redoing everything. Needless to say I won't be forgetting those words any time soon! Instead of doodling mindless patterns while on the phone, I tentatively attempt to write some of the few characters I know which is fun.

I try to keep things reasonable and don't set myself ridiculous, unachievable targets but I do try to revise a lot. One day I'll hopefully be able to walk into a Chinese restaurant and order in Chinese / confidently ask for directions while on holiday in China and/or successfully haggle the price at an open market. I may even be able to pick up my favourite Agatha Christie novel and attempt to read it in Chinese...the possibilities are endless ;-) I cannot wait to be able to truly appreciate the beauty of Chinese poetry - there's some truly amazing stuff out there, just waiting to be discovered...all in good time though. At the moment I'm trying not to worry too much about having to self-study until June as my teacher is on holiday...I'm hoping my enthusiasm will stop me from becoming lazy!

For now I will continue to be mesmerised by the blogs on Transparent Chinese as well as the the utterly amazing things Shanghai Novice shares with the world and when I'm not doing any of that I'm probably getting lost in the world of Social Mandarin, sleeping, drinking coffee or actually trying to stay on top of what's happening around me (read: Ireland, my friends, the world) or what's going on in Germany (read: family, friends, general updates).

I'm going to finish this blog post with a little Chinese text I put together. It's an introduction of myself (primary school style) utilising the things I've learned. I've no doubt that there are probably a few mistakes in the text but if even Google Translate got the gist of what I mean I can't have done too badly...if you read this and happen to speak Chinese your advice is most welcome and appreciated and will be honoured.

Dàjiā hǎo!

Hǎojiǔ bùjiàn le.

Wǒde míngzì jiào shā lā. Wǒ shì déguórén.

Wǒ zài àiěrlándūbólín jūzhù.

Wǒ huì shuō déyǔ, yīngyǔ, yīdiǎn zhōngwén hé bōlányǔ.

Wǒde shēngrì shì liù yuè shísān hào.

Wǒ xǐhuan mòlìhuā chá. Wǒ xǐhuan qiǎokèlì, yīngtáo, míhóutáo, bōluó hé píngguǒ.

Xióngmāo hé hǎitún shì wǒ zuì xǐài de dòngwù.

Wǒ xǐhuan hē kāfēi. Kāfēi shì wǒ xǐài de rèyǐn.

Wǒ bù xǐhuan zhūròu, zhāngyú hé juǎnxīncài. Wǒ hái yě bù xǐhuan ràokǒulìng.