翻译

Over the past two weeks, after talking with my girlfriend and my roommate about my current situation I had an epiphany. I was getting a little distraught about how the progress of my Chinese was going. I felt like it was going slower than others around me, and I wondered why. But then I was told, it’s because of all the self studying I was doing. Unfortunately, I hadn’t had the balance that I needed, both studying from the textbooks as well as speaking to the people around me. For the first two months I was here, it was all studying and no speaking. The reason for this is I found it “easier” which was the biggest hurdle I needed to get over to begin really improving my Chinese. So, thanks to Esthefany and Mike, I was able to really see what I needed to start doing, talking with other Chinese people. I thought why not talk to the Chinese people I see everyday, the front desk ladies. Ever since that moment I’ve been talking with them often and my Chinese is progressing very quickly. So much so, that I will hold conversations that are beyond the “how’s the weather today?” and “how are you today?”. I began talking about everyday topics and issues. The best part of this, is I am getting corrected often. I can ask them, “did I just say that right?”, and they will be able to correct me.
Two days ago I was at the front desk talking with one of the girls at the front desk and an old man walks over. He had his suitcase and backpack on looking exhausted around 2 pm. Normally, I don’t take notice to the guests who come along, but I could tell this guy didn’t know how to say what he wanted to say in Chinese. Since the front desk ladies speak next to no English, this could have been a problem. I look over at him and ask him, Can I help you with anything? He was grateful, I was able to check him in and get his internet set up within his room. I realize that my Chinese is getting to the point where I can help others. I told him that I understand what its like to not know how to say what you want say.
That event got me thinking, that my Chinese is actually progressing and it makes all the hard work worth it when you can see you really have progressed. When I was in Shanghai, I had to ask others to help me how to say things, even simple things, but now it looks like I’ve finally reached a new level with my speaking.
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种族歧视

Not everything has been positive being a foreigner in China. I’ve found it can actually be a hindrance to look the way you do. A few friends and I decided to go to an electronics market known as 赛格(saige). This market is vast and has nearly every electronic available. You want into this building and it’s almost as if you stepped into the future. However, this blog post is focused on what happened next. My friends and I were running late so we wanted to grab a cab and head back to our dorms. So we stand along a busy intersection trying to hail a cab. We see plenty of the cabs pass by having customers in the back. But eventually we started seeing empty cabs pass by. We thought to ourselves maybe they were at the end of their shift. But we saw more than a few pass us by and no more than 20 meters down the road pick up someone of Asian decent. After 30 minutes of waiting, we realized what was going on, they were racist towards foreigners. We realized we weren’t going to get a cab and just took the bus. This is the first time in my life I’ve been a minority where I went, and unfortunately I was discriminated against. The worst part of this whole situation was I had things to do and waiting a half hour for a cab wasn’t on my list of things to do. I’ve talked with other foreigners I’ve met and they all have experienced the same thing. I’ve also learned a few ways to get around the system. First, if you travel with someone who either is of Asian decent or looks Asian, then you allow them first to hail the cab and then you come out from wherever you were hiding and get in. You immediately see the frustration in the cab driver’s eyes. Another way that I learned from a Chinese friend of mine was to carry around a small backpack that has wheels and a handle and prop that out on the sidewalk. You won’t have to wait more than a minute or two for a cab to stop for you. Much to their surprise, you won’t be going to the airport, but your preferred destination. It’s unfortunate that I need to stoop to hiding or misleading a cab driver just to get picked up, but I’m here to build relations between the two countries by doing my part and learning the language. If only they didn’t group all foreigners together  and let a few bad apples ruin the bunch.

种族歧视

Not everything has been positive being a foreigner in China. I’ve found it can actually be a hindrance to look the way you do. A few friends and I decided to go to a electronics market known as 赛格(saige). This market is vast and has nearly every electronic available. You want into this building and it’s almost as if you stepped into the future. However, this blog post is focused on what happened next. My friends and I were running late so we wanted to grab a cab and head back to our dorms. So we stand along a busy intersection trying to hail a cab. We see plenty of the cabs pass by having customers in the back. But eventually we started seeing empty cabs pass by. We thought to ourselves maybe they were at the end of their shift. But we saw more than a few pass us by and no more than 20 meters down the road pick up someone of Asian decent. After 30 minutes of waiting, we realized what was going on, they were racist towards foreigners. We realized we weren’t going to get a cab and just took the bus. This is the first time in my life I’ve been a minority where I went, and unfortunately I was discriminated against. The worst part of this whole situation was I had things to do and waiting a half hour for a cab wasn’t on my list of things to do. I’ve talked with other foreigners I’ve met and they all have experienced the same thing. I’ve also learned a few ways to get around the system. First, if you travel with someone who either is of Asian decent or looks Asian, then you allow them first to hail the cab and then you come out from wherever you were hiding and get in. You immediately see the frustration in the cab driver’s eyes. Another way that I learned from a Chinese friend of mine was to carry around a small backpack that has wheels and a handle and prop that out on the sidewalk. You won’t have to wait more than a minute or two for a cab to stop for you. Much to their surprise, you won’t be going to the airport, but your preferred destination. It’s unfortunate that I need to stoop to hiding or misleading a cab driver just to get picked up, but I’m here to build relations between the two countries by doing my part and learning the language. If only they didn’t group all foreigners together  and let a few bad apples ruin the bunch.

Since February 25th, the Chinese students have resumed school for their spring semester. However, international students don’t begin school until the 4th of March. In order to know what level our Chinese is at, we had to take a placement test. They access you and place you in levels ranging from 1 to 8, with 8 being the hardest international students can take without actually taking normal classes with other Chinese students. The worst part of the test was the 8:30 starting time. There was a reading and writing portion, as well as a speaking portion to access your level of Chinese. Because my roommate and I were up late last night playing on a newly bought dartboard, we went to bed really late. I went into this test, dazed and still very sleepy and went right into it. The test was four pages double sided, that entailed various kinds of questions. Thankfully my reading is the best of my Chinese skills, so I did fairly well. Unfortunately, some questions had quite a bit of ambiguity to them so it ended up coming down to one question or the other. After I finished the writing class, they assessed my level of speaking. I sat face to face with a teacher and we began talking about where I’m from, and the group I came with. We talked for about 5 minutes and she put me into either 4th level or 5th level. Her explanation was because my reading is at a relatively high level, I could be in 5th level, but since my listening could use some work, 4th level could also work. She told me to check out the textbooks since this was only a recommendation. After looking at the book for level 5, I realized what I’m about to get myself into. The translations of the new vocabulary words are in Chinese; there is not an English word to be found. However, I am willing to take this challenge head on and put in all the hours I need to continue to grow as a Chinese speaker.

今天的天气

 

Today the weather is beyond the levels that are allowable to be outside in. This morning I went to explore the city a little and ended up buying a large map of the world at a bookstore. However, during this endeavor there was a nasty wind blowing and the dirt was just flying into my face. I had a constant dry mouth sensation. I knew something was off about today’s weather. Over the past few days we have had beautiful blue skies and warm weather. So today’s weather was so unexpected. There was a yellow tint in the air, everywhere you went. Turns out that that was a thick layer of dust in the air that is similar to a wood shop classroom. I started to feel exhausted really easily because what I was breathing turned out to be hazardous, extremely hazardous. According to AQI (Air Quality Index), over 100 isn’t healthy, 250 is very unhealthy, and 400 or so is hazardous. So when I returned home I was curious as to just how bad the air quality is. On some of the worst days so far, it’s been in the 700’s which is actually hazardous enough that I would wear a surgical mask to make it easier to breathe. Today’s levels clocked in at 1532 at 4 pm, almost 4x the normal hazardous levels. It’s recommended that if the levels are above 400 you should avoid going outside if you are able. The scale doesn’t mention over 1000 because it shouldn’t get that hazardous. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a surgical mask on me and the air really is thick and painful. Plans for the rest of the day are spent inside. If you are curious about Xi’an pollution, check the website http://aqicn.info/city/xian/

Below are pictures of just how bad it is, and no, there is no sepia filter. That’s as yellow as it looks, this is the worst it’s been for a while.

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坐公交车

This was my first experience riding a bus in Xi’an, and I must say it was an interesting one. I learned quite a bit from this ride, remembering that one of my classmates had his cellphone stolen on a bus in Xi’an a few days ago. Today sure was an experience. The bus I was taking was to go to an excellent bookstore, within the city walls, was packed. First I realized I needed to pay close attention to what stop I was at and how many I had left to go because of how bad the announcer speaker was on the bus. Half way through the bus ride I realized that I was getting pick pocketed. I felt someone trying to reach into my back pockets. I subtly checked over my shoulder and realized it was a little girl of 6 or 7. I then realized that a woman kept checking on me to see if I was paying attention. I assumed this was her mother and they were working together using such a clever system to rob foreigners. Even if I had turned around and saw this little girl I couldn’t have accused her of stealing because she would pretend to not know what was going on. I didn’t want to embarrass her, and thankfully I had anticipated this could happen so my phone and wallet were in my front jean pockets where my hands were protecting them. I thought to myself the rest of the bus ride how horrible it was that this mother had taught her daughter that that was the right thing to do.

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除夕

It is customary to wash all dirty laundry during this time period. You should also wash your jacket, which I wasn’t aware of. I only brought one jacket and it seemed to frustrate my host mother a little, but I apologized and she seemed okay. It would have been difficult to hand wash a P-coat in a small sink. Afterwards, around 10 we went to eat a big breakfast. During Chinese New Year you only eat 2 meals, breakfast and an early dinner, then at midnight you eat dumplings to celebrate the passing of the New Year. It is customary to buy firecrackers. So, we bought fireworks. My host father and brother were explaining about the firecrackers, or bian pao 鞭炮. Lots of people were in the streets setting them off. There is rarely a silent moment during New Years Eve, everyone is setting off fire works and loud ones. We were walking by a little boy who tossed what seemed to be a relatively small ball at the ground; it made a crack worthy of a sonic boom. He was about a meter away and my ears hurt pretty badly it was so loud. Soon we went to my host fathers mothers house and started the festivities. They were playing mahjong and watching New Year Eve shows. After a little while I actually made dumplings. It was actually really hard to get it exactly right, but I did my best and had a good time. After we ate our midnight meal of dumplings and celebrated. Traditional Chinese New Year states that the parents give the children money in these “Red money bags”. He explained the tradition to me in Chinese so I was a little lost, but I was really excited to be part of this tradition.

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Hong%20Bao           Hong%20Bao%202        Mahjong%20             GatheringDumpling%203

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