I have really struggled with how to start this blog- I’ve been in Beijing for almost two weeks now and only today have I actually decided to sit down and post something (little tidbits of writing have been in progress for a while). Many of the people who will be reading this already know a lot about what I’m doing and I don’t really have the time to go into details; I guess they will come gradually. Short version: I am spending a semester in Beijing doing an intensive (think cram school) Mandarin language program. There’s not much time to do much besides study- four hours of class every day, and then the entire afternoon/ evening is spent preparing the next day’s lesson which can have up to 90 new words to learn, plus homework and other assignments. There’s also an extremely strict language pledge- aside from calling home, I will not speak English for the next four months (and my program takes it seriously here- they have actually put pledge-breakers on a plane back to the US). It’s hard and at times simply awful, but there are moments (which I hope will grow increasingly more often) where I am thrilled to be here, and feel that I’m mastering this ridiculously challenging language. When communication actually happens, I feel my motivation and energy to continue study revived.
Yours truly, freezing cold in front of, uhm, whatsitcalled.