26.05.2015 - 02.06.2015
Finals week and my last week in China! Tuesday was the day of my first exam. As I am the only student in my class doing the twelve week program, I took my test alone in a room on the first floor. My teacher explained the format of the test before I started, asked if I had any questions, and I was off. I was surprised at how simple the test actually was. I think that my studying paid off because most of the material on the test was included in my review. I found out later that day that I earned a B. That afternoon, I also took my speaking final. My teacher handed me a piece of paper with about thirty questions on it and, asked me the questions and held a microphone in front of me to give my response. The questions were various; what is your impression of Chengdu? If your friend called you up in a panic, how would you help them? I also earned a B on that exam. I returned to my room to study for my listening exam the following day. Listening is always the most difficult because you are listening to a recorded dialogue and do not have the aid of body language. The dialogue in general seems very artificial. However, I tested well and earned a B on that exam as well. I am very content with my grades.
After my last exam, my class and two of my three teachers took me out to lunch and then to KTV, a karaoke bar considered to be one of China’s most popular sources of entertainment. Our teacher ordered various drinks and snacks, including a dozen beers. We sang songs in our native tongues (I chose Michael Jackson) and danced together. For the first time in my life, my teachers encouraged me to drink. They kept handing me beers telling me to celebrate a job well done! How could I argue that? The only other person drinking was our Japanese classmate, Daodai, who filled my glass every time it was empty. I said my final farewells to my classmates and teachers, thanking them for all that they’ve done for me. I left the KTV at 2:00 pm relatively drunk, so I went back to my room to take a nap. Again, only in China have I had such an experience.
For the next few days, I travelled around the city by “san lun che,” a three-wheeled motorized car big enough for two passengers. By day I went sight-seeing and by night, my friends and I went dancing. I have always highly enjoyed dancing, but I think that I have danced more in the past three months than I have in the rest of my life combined! After three days, my legs felt as if they’d been run over. On my final day, I went to the bar where everybody meets at the beginning of the night and said my goodbyes. When I arrived in China, I never imagined that I would have made as many close friends as I did. People from India, the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, France, Spain, Tajikistan, Israel, Korea, Japan, Djibouti, Zimbabwe, Estonia and dozens of other nations that I’d only read about became my brothers and sisters. Perhaps the greatest asset of studying abroad are the international connections that one makes. Now, my friends have a place to stay in America in exchange for being accommodated in almost every continent. In addition, ones understanding of the global community and the world’s various cultures increases unimaginably. For example, my very good Indian friend, Aasim, who is a devout Muslim, taught me teachings from the Quran and some Arabic vocabulary. My Danish friend, Jakob, taught me not only some of his language, but also of the demographics of Greenland and his experiences there. I had no idea that a landmass so large only contained 40,000 people! In terms of learning the Chinese language, I couldn’t think of a better place to be than Chengdu. Being a city of fourteen million people, one has endless possibilities to practice their newly acquired language while avoiding the western-influence of cities such as Beijing or Shanghai. It is said that the people of Chengdu have a high level of patience for foreigners and are actually quite welcoming; I couldn’t agree more. Moreover, the food is delicious, the women are beautiful, the history is vast and detailed, and the cost of living is relatively inexpensive. I would highly recommend Chengdu to anyone with a desire to learn Chinese culture and language. I can write confidently that I will be spending a significant amount of time in Chengdu in the future. I end my blog by encouraging anybody interested in traveling, experiencing Chinese culture, learning Mandarin, seeking adventure, making foreign friends, or gaining a vast global perspective to travel to Chengdu. Personally, it has become one of my favorite places in the world!