It's Monday morning at Shanghai Jia Tong University. Wang Xin is my new teacher in the course spoken Chinese. She looks younger than me but reveals that she has been teaching for eight years. Her name Xin means "early morning" and she was born at sunrise a very early morning 32 years ago in Dalian, a city in the Liaoning province in North-east China. As oppose to Western names, Chinese names have a literal meaning because the Chinese characters have a meaning. I once learned that Line is short for Karoline, which in etymology (the study of the origin of words) means free. That's a quite good match for my mindset. But according to Xin the meaning of names is different in Chinese language than in Western language... Hopefully this will make more sense for me with time and Chinese practice.
Last year Jia Tong had 6000 international students and Xin loves to teach us because we are "so different" as she puts it. Indeed. In my new class we are 22 students with 16 different nationalities.
I see this Chinese Study as an amazing opportunity and a great challenge at the same time. It is such a different language from the ones I know of and studying a language is somehow more measurable than studying for example marketing or communication. I really feel like I have something to prove. To myself and to everyone around me who knows that I am studying full-time Chinese.
My plan is to stay focused
Shanghai is an amazing city that truly never sleeps. There is always something going on: events to go to, new stunning malls to visit, hidden markets to explore, trips to take, restaurants to try and people to meet. For me, focus is absolute key if I want to make progress with my Chinese. And I do.
After all, my Chinese is the reason why I am posting this from China. And when the breathtaking metropolis of Shanghai makes you forget where you actually are and why, focus will keep you on the right track.
Here's a great and quick-read article for points to remember for easier (and perhaps less painful) language learning.
If you have more time I can recommend watching TED Talks about Language Learning. Benny Lewis holds a pretty good one on what holds us back from learning a new language as adults. One of his points is that we forget to have fun with learning and just getting out there and try. Mistakes are okay. Point taken Benny, now I'm off to by a disc drive for my Macbook and I will definitely do it in Chinese:
Wǒ mǎi de guāngpán qūdòngqì