So I have been in Kunming studying Chinese for two weeks. While I will write a longer review of the school later, I just wanted to give a two week update because this whole experience has been amazing.
Turns out that while my current career is a teacher, the life of a student suits me. The school I’m at has the dorms, classrooms and cafeteria all in the same building. So it’s uber convenient. My daily schedule looks like this:
- 7:00-Wake up
- 8:30-12:30 Class
- 12:30-1- Lunch
- 1-6: Free Time
- 6-6:30- Dinner
- 6:30 onwards: Free time
So my day is totally structured by class and meals, which I like, but outside the structure I’m free. And if you notice I have every afternoon off. I made a pact with myself that I wouldn’t fuck around in the afternoon. I’d study, or go out or do something productive with my time.
And so far I’ve been really good with my promise. Aside from one day when I didn’t leave the building (I had a cold, and felt exhausted) I have done a ton of stuff in the afternoons. Sometimes I hit play on my ipod and explore the city for hours, other times I go out with my new Chinese friends or classmates. I’ve made friends with the locals including a 27-year-old ethnic minority who invited me to his friends house for a home cooked meal, and a 50+ year old woman who promised to teach me to dance with a fan.
I have to say this life suits me so very, very well. As there are about 15 foreigners living and eating together (we each have one-on-one classes so we don’t study together) there are plenty of shenanigans going on, but in a good way. I’ll be honest I was a little bit worried about the other foreigners. China tends to attract a certain type of life-is-a-party character, a type I usually don’t get along with. But because they all came here to study, and everybody really wants to learn chinese themselves (not because a parent or somebody is forcing them) we get along fantastically. Crazy fantastically.
So is my chinese improving? I think so. Just the fact that I speak chinese for 4 hours everyday, and chat in Chinese on my weixin app every afternoon, and meet and hang out with local people who don’t speak English has improved it. I won’t say I’m totally immersed (I speak English with my classmates) but I would say half the day is living all in chinese.
I so far have had one brain fart of a day in which not only could I not remember how to pronounce the new words in class, but when I asked my chinese friend if he had fun the night before he couldn’t understand me. I asked 3 times, in 3 different ways and I got nothing but “what?” and “I still don’t understand,” replies. Those are the days that you wonder why you even bother learning a language (everybody already speaks English anyway, right?) and you want to hang yourself.
Luckily, I’ve only had one day like that (out of 2 weeks) and they are fewer and further between, (when I first started attending Chinese class I would come home with a blinding headache after only 2 hours of class,) but I’m sure I’ll have another before I finish.
So being a student is really good for me. I could go on and on, but I have to meet my classmates now to go to a Animation Festival by the park, then go do my homework before 6 o’clock dinner. The life of a student!