Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Caught up in week one

Beyond reach?

School is on again and I am finding myself lost for words. The first week of Chinese (no matter what level) is always a bit of a struggle for me: I forget characters, I stumble on words, I forget characters, I pronounce things wrong, I forget characters and oh.. did I say I forget characters? Characters are the biggest struggle in my learning process.

The class, at level 3, is as expected: me, and loads of Koreans and Japanese. Oh, and one Brazilian girl. We have already teamed up.

The teachers are lovely; all helpful and smiley and patient. But this is week one. Or O-week (O for Orientation) as they call it at Australian universities (they might call it that at other places too, I have no idea). Everything is a bit sugar coated and wrapped. I know that as soon as this week is over, reality will kick in and we won’t be spending two whole lessons (come on!) on one chapter. We will then have to learn about 50 characters a day and there will be a lot of reading, as well as painful writing, and we are also expected to hold presentations on different topics in Chinese. And then there will be exams. That you have to pass in order to continue on level 4. Which I really want so I have to pass. I have to pass. Have to. Pass.

At this moment, when I am still at the ‘hang-on-a-minute-what-am-I-doing-again-here?-Oh-yeah-that’s-right-I-am-learning-Chinese!’ –stage, things feel a bit blurry and overwhelming. But I suppose it is just a phase. And I have to remind my self of the reward at the end of the tunnel: I’ll be able to speak Chinese fluently. I’ll be able to write and read. I’ll be able to order the best dishes at the Chinese restaurants. And… hopefully I’ll also be able to land my dream job.

But at this moment –all of that seems beyond reach.

Now I better go and learn some characters.

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