Trip Start Jul 03, 2006
11Trip End Aug 21, 2006
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"Wenzi," referred to by English speakers as mosquitoes, are the bane of my existence. Unlike Western mosquitoes, which are detectable by their distinctive buzzing, Chinese mosquitoes make no sound at all. They are also invisible. This means that even if I believe I have hunted down and killed every last mosquito in my room before going to sleep, I will still wake up with at least three fresh mosquito bites. I have five on my body right now. They itch like the Dickens! I hate you, wenzi! Hate you!
The second thing that causes me daily anguish is "ting xie," translated into English as "dictation." It literally means, "listen write." Ting xie is an educational torture tool employed by the Chinese to try to make me quit studying this language
Now, ting xie might not sound that difficult to you, but remember that Chinese characters are not phonetic. Unless you've been studying Chinese for one spillion willion years, you cannot guess how a character is written by the way it sounds. What's worse is that the smallest variation changes the meaning of the character completely. If a single stroke is too long, too short, missing, extra, or drawn at the wrong angle, the character is not only wrong, it most likely morphs into a different character that is not at all what you intended. Learning to write Chinese characters takes time, patience, and practice. Trying to make us do it overnight is the equivalent of showing someone how to swim for the first time one day and then the next morning ripping their Swimmies off and tossing them into the lake. It's too hard, and the teachers know it; nonetheless, at 8am every morning, they gleefully administer ting xie. This morning I scored a whopping 20%. One to hang on the fridge.
But enough whining about mosquitoes and ting xie. You came here to read about my weekend. Yes, Friday was a big day for us students because it marked the halfway point of the program. The reason I know that Friday was the halfway point of the program is because it was also the day of our midterm exam. The midterm was composed of two parts, a written part and an oral part
On Saturday, with our midterm exam safely behind us, the program took us to a historical printing shop where China may or may not have invented printing (this depends on whether or not I correctly understood the description written on the wall about the place.) Then they took us hiking in a scenic forest with beautiful trails and waterfalls. After a few hours of hiking (and swimming,) the program herded us onto a boat and shipped us off to Nanji Island where we spent Saturday night. I will pick up with Nanji Island in the next entry.
Hoping all is well and good at home.
~Your excited and exhausted Yin Yin