Monday, September 14, 2009

First day at the new uni

Today’s my first day at the new uni and I am actually feeling a little bit nervous. I went to the uni on Fiday in order to sign up and I was met by a very different sign-up-ceremony (if you can even call me that) than I’ve previously experienced at Jiaotong/Suzhou University. A teacher came and handed me my personal schedule… MY personal schedule, simply because it is only for me.

-What about the other girl that you mentioned? You said we were going to be 2 students?

-Yeah.. well, turns out her Mandarin wasn’t good enough. So it’s only you.

Only me, huh? For lessons, Mon-Thu, 9.30am-4pm (with a lunch break 12-2pm), sometimes 4.30pm? Right!

Well OK, one course I will take together with others: A brief introduction to Chinese Culture, on Mondays and Tuesdays. That’s apparently some kind of lecture that I will study together with students from Hong Kong and Taiwan?

-Might be a little bit hard for you! The teacher said.

Might? MIGHT!

But I am not complaining because I wanted this challenge. I just hope they don’t believe my Mandarin is better than it is. Because really, it’s not that great. Especially not when it comes to reading/writing.

Other courses I will take include: Intensive Chinese, Communication with Chinese students (2 hours of hanging out with Chinese students, haha! They have even assigned me a special contact person who’s supposed to take care of me and introduce me to new Chinese friends), Chinese speaking, Reading Chinese new online and Business Chinese. All within four days. I have every Friday off. Quite nice actually. They have also scheduled Taiji for me every Monday (7-6pm) and Kung Fu every Wed (5-6pm) but nah, I think I’ll skip all that and stick to my gym routine. I don’t really want to live on campus. And I do enjoy going to the gym where I hang out with my old friends; Rocky, Frank and the other trainers. They provide me with great moments of practicing my Chinese + a fair deal of laughter. Plus, as soon as I have gotten rid of this flu I want to start my running 3 times/week and bodypump 2 times/week routine. Not sure how long I’ll be able to stick with that but nothing wrong with having goals, right?

Back to the registration. After being handed my schedule I was taken downstairs and introduced to the Student Societies: about 100 Chinese people who (at first) just starred at me. Then, one guy came up to me and asked if I could speak Chinese.

-Sure, I said.

Two minutes later I had been asked to join the liaison society (?), the debate society and the literature society. The whole society thing is completely new to me. I did my uni degree in Australia and there I was a member of the guild simply because it was compulsory. I kept away from all the “foreign students associations” and stuck to the university’s basketball team. More my kind of thing. So imagine how out of place I felt when I suddenly got all these “society invites.”

I politely declined all the invites and found a comfort corner: the sport society. There I signed up (and I swear I saw a girl secretly applauding when she saw how tall I was) and afterwards I was given a brief interview. The sporty girls wanted to know if I was a:

-badminton player?
-volleyball player?

There was great excitement amongst the girls asking me until I replied “no” to everything.

-Eh… but I do like running. Long distance running? I tried, just when they were turning away.


-GREEEEATTTTTTT!!! We have running competitions too! Excellent! You have to compete for us! Yey!

-Eh, I’m not really a professional runner, I just run because I like it and I think it’s fun….

I stopped short. Nobody was listening. They were already looking up the dates for the next race/ writing down my phone number/ measuring my shoe size.

But I’m sure it will be an exciting experience at this new university. I’ll start off the day with a lesson of Intensive Chinese. Here we go!


Anonymous said...

Ah yes, university societies and clubs. What fond memories I have of that.

Most people want to join for social reasons, but the organisers usually want A grade champions who they can use to compete for the club. Pretty easy to feel like the bottom of the heap if you arent championship grade. I've seen Med students on the bottom of the social pile in those clubs because they're only C grade level standard.

I think those girls who signed you up are picturing you with your flowing golden blonde hair streaming behind you as you gracefully outpace your competitors and take first place at every race this year :)

Jonna- Golden girl :)

Hey doing kung fu would be cool! You'd be the only Chinese fluent blonde girl with real matrial arts skills- you'd be a shoe in for many tv shows and movies! BEsides your tv talkback show that we discussed about before.

Jonna- Martial Arts Golden Girl :)

Good luck with the new uni. Have you noticed if there are many other foreign students?



Lynda said...

It is a pity that you missed the chance to compete in the CCTV4’s 第二届在华留学生汉语大赛。With your good mastery of Chinese, you actually stand a good chance to win at least bronze medal. But I saw a Finnish girl 魏清扬 who comes from north Europe, I think she looks like the Spiderman's girlfriend (in the movie). I've blogged about this nationwide competition which is a quite successful event attracting a lot of audience. Really hope to see you on the stage next year!

Brad Farless said...

The societies thing you mentioned reminds me of all the Japanese anime I watch that have anything to do with school. (Ya... I'm kinda dorky like that).

Good luck at the track events! My wife ran track all through college as part of a scholarship requirement.

Also, I recently gained a renewed interest in finishing learning Spanish.

Jonna Wibelius said...

Adrian -hahahhaa, you always make me laugh w your comments!!?! Jonna Golden Girl?! Hilarious!! You know, I'd love to do kung fu if it was so that I had one little bit of talent for that kind of sport. Truth is: I don't. I am extremely inflexible. Extremely. At the verge of embarrassingly inflexible. Why do you think I always hurt myself so badly when I fall? Coz I am so stiff! Pretty sad actually. I did hot yoga for 6 months some years ago and that really helped, but it was so d*** expensive I couldn't go on. But I should do something like that for the sake of my health. Until I can afford it again I'll just stick to the running and weight lifting :)

Lynda -you are too kind! I wouldn't stand a chance in that kind of competition!! You know, last semester at Suzhou uni they did pull some students from my class to compete in a qualification competition for some similar (if not the same??) competition. However, I was not selected. (I was actually feeling kind of hurt about this until I got a call to be in a local Suzhou TV talk show instead). I think my Chinese is OK but far from good. It's OK though... I'm not learning to compete against others. And I suck at competitions. I get too nervous. :)

Brad -thanks! Good luck w the Spanish. I also studied Spanish for 3 years during high school and I was actually quite good at it... but now I have forgotten it all. I would love to start studying it again, I remember it being a really easy language to learn, and it would be so cool to be able to have 4 languages on my CV where 3 of them being the most spoken languages in the world (Eng, Chi and Spanish)... but but. First I have to finish with the Chinese I suppose!

Brad Farless said...

Spanish is pretty easy to learn. That's true. The hardest part was breaking the patterns in my head to understand how a different language ... works... I guess. It's hard to describe but when I was a kid it was really hard for me to grasp the basics. Then all of a sudden, overnight it was like it made sense. I'm just lacking vocabulary and some training on tenses mostly. With one year of study I could probably speak it conversationally.

Pete In Syracuse said...

Hey Hey Hey & a Hi Ho off you go. The running thing sounds good it might open up some interesting encounters and bonding you didn't expect. Just doun't paint your body the team colors and wear one of those crazy wigs OK? (LOL) "You GO GIRL"

Pete In Syracuse said...

Oh by the way with the Kung fu don't they kind of beat the crap out of you to get you trained up? AH I don't think so! Call me a wimp!!

Jonna Wibelius said...

Brad -I am certain you can achieve that! Go, go go! Get yourself a Spanish language partner. Helps heaps!

Pete -yeah, let's see where this running challenge leads to! I wouldn't know about the Kung Fu, and I am not planning to find out either.. I'm a wimp too, hihi!