That next day after a long morning of orientation, we learned drumroll please who was in what Chinese class!!! The first class (100) contained the very beginners and those who had studied for a semester or two: Tiffany, Seijen, Katora, Will and Hannah. The next class contained people who had studied for roughly three semesters (200) Jill, Nate, Zack, Alexis and me!!! So for all of you who were just as worried as me (aka no one besides me), you can take a deep breath and relax because I placed into the right Chinese class. The next class, 201, has only two people! My roommate Windsor and Courtney, who have both had 5 semesters of Chinese. The final class, 300, contains the Chinese experts: Anthony, Yoko and Sam.
Next they went though and introduced our teachers. There is Lu laoshi (like the color green in Chinese, but I can’t make my computer do the two dots 绿色的绿) who is the main professor. He teaches the beginning class. Next there is Lu laoshi (different lu) who is very strict and teaches the advanced class. She told them they were only allowed to speak Chinese, and they should limit how much they talk to their family and friends at home! Next is Li laoshi, who I would describe as a giant cuddly panda bear. He teaches Windsor and Courtney’s class. Finally, last but not least is Sun laoshi, who teaches my class. Sun laoshi is about four and a half feet tall, somewhere in her mid to late 20’s, early 30’s (you can never tell!!), and has the cutest, sweetest little voice and mannerisms. We all went out to dinner with our Chinese class and Sun laoshi wore mint green sunglasses without lenses complete with matching mint green nails.
We then went back to our classroom, which is on the 11th floor of our dorm! Each floor has a little study classroom that fits maximum 5 or 6 desks and a whiteboard. Our classroom is on the 11th floor, which is very convenient for my 9am Chinese class every morning.
Monday through thursday we have two 50 minute Chinese classes with a 10 minute break in between. For the 3rd period on Monday and Wednesday, you have an individual 20 minute session with the teacher (on either Monday or Wednesday). On Tuesday and Thursday you have three 50 minute sessions. On friday you either have a test or a language practicum (it switches off every other friday) which lasts for two hours. So basically I live in my 11th floor classroom every morning. At least we can run back up to our rooms during breaks.
We also have a lot of Chinese homework. Sun laoshi gives us more homework than all of the other teachers combined! Every night we have to do a ton of work book homework on the previous chapter, as well as study for a tingxie (listen write) quiz which is also on the previous chapter (you have to memorize all of the vocab words and she will read you 4 words and two sentences in Chinese and you have to write down the characters and tones). We also have to preview a new chapter, read and understand everything as well as be familiar with the vocab, answer a ton of reading comprehension questions and memorize a full 7 or 8 line dialogue. On tuesdays and thursdays for our third class, we have to prepare to talk about a topic (today’s was, give your friend a phone call and talk about where you’re traveling for spring break) in front of the class. We also write weekly 300 character essays which we must memorize and recite in front of the class every thursday. Okay I’m done complaining about my life now.
After meeting with our language professors we joined Marketus for a trip to Walmart!
We all wanted to buy little mattress pads for our unfortunate mattress-less beds. I think I’ve only ever been to Walmart once in my entire life, and that was in Virginia to buy my comforter for school. It was definitely an interesting experience, trying to find everything I need to survive. Our first stop was mattress pads. Marketus found a woman who grabbed a few thin colorful pads for us to choose from. It was about $10 US, so I decided it was worth it! Most of us also got pillows because the pillow provided was pretty flat. I grabbed a pink mattress pad with little white hearts and a pink pillow with roses. SO MUCH PINK! I thought it would liven up our white-washed prison rooms. Windsor got a bunch of pillows to line up along her bed to sleep on top of. Good idea, but I move around way to much for that to work for me.
After finding our mattress pads we all went around in search of other items. We decided to grab a cart and put all of our mattress pads and pillows into the cart so we wouldn’t have to cary them around. It was fine until everyone dispersed and a few of us were left with the cart. Jill had somehow been designated the cart-pusher and made so many sarcastically funny comments that at one point Hannah and I were literally on the ground laughing, watching her push this giant cart of pillows and pink mattress pads around. Here is a photo for you all to enjoy:
At one point I decided that I needed to get some laundry detergent. There was a sign that said one was on sale for 10 kuai, but we couldn’t figure out which one it was! I asked a salesperson in Chinese “excuse me, which one of these is the one the sale is referring to”, except in my childish Chinese it probably sounded like “excuse me. which one is that pointing at the sign, 10 kuai”. The poor guy was sooooo confused. How hard can it be?! I was pointing at the sale sign and I said “which one??” nope. “This pointing at sign says 10 kuai, which one is 10 kuai, which one is a little cheaper” nope. I gave up and took the one that was 16 kuai that I thought the sign was referring to. I guess I’ll never know.
I got a few other things like a cup, bowl, toilet paper, dish soap, cereal etc. The best part was trying to get it all home on the subway. It was super great I hope you can sense my sarcasm.
When I returned home I almost died when I opened my mattress pad. On the other side were little girls and princesses frolicking. I thought I’d show everyone my new and fabulous, slightly more comfortable bed.
After our great workout we all decided to go get pizza! It’s week one and we’re already sick of Chinese food. We all ordered a few pizzas that were “normal”: Korean pizza, Mexican pizza, standard multi-topping pizza and one weird pizza. Disclaimer: I was not responsible for this! This was the other table’s ordering decision!! One half crab meat, green pepper and some sort of white sauce, the other half was baked potato, tortilla chips and the crust was filled sweet potato (I think). Veeeeeeery interesting. I tried a tiny bit of the crab meat and some of the sweet potato crust, but I was kind of full from basically eating the entire Mexican pizza myself. Typical.
From left to right: Seijen, Sam, Nate, the back of Zack’s head, and Jill