11/17/10

Why Oh Why China Is So Frustrating Sometimes?

I have to be fair here. I’m not talking about the whole China here, just about the university I’m studying in. And I have to add that I didn’t sleep so well last night so that might have some effect on my mood today.

We had our last midterm exam today and I was totally frustrated with it. Why? Because we haven’t learnt anything during that course which is about Chinese culture. We were forced to buy a book but then we never use it. When we were learning about the qipao we just learnt which actor is dating which director. Dating culture would be an interesting topic but not like this. I had Korean and Chinese Culture and Japanese Culture courses back in Finland and I am comparing to those courses. Of course it’s not maybe fair to compare, because the education in Finland is the best in the world.

And yesterday I almost lost my mind during the spoken Chinese class. You never know what to expect from that class. It might be watching a video about an animal that I don’t know how to call even in Finnish. So really usefull stuff right? The teacher have some good ideas to make us speak and corrects our pronunciation but the majority of the course seem to be just bouncing from some random thing to another.

My intention is not to make the teachers to lose face, but I feel like I’m losing my head with them! The university is also constantly nagging about our absence, but sometimes I don’t see a good reason to wake up in the morning to go to class if I’m not going to learn anything. I am here to learn and I want some quality teaching. If the level of some of our courses continues like this it is ok for me too because as an exchange student I’m not paying. But then they shouldn’t be sending me a text message every morning where I am. I’m not a primary school kid anymore.

But I also have to say that we have some great teachers too. Our reading course is nice and the teacher has a clear vision what she is doing in every class. She knows how to teach. Also writing course is one of my favourites and I enjoy those classes very much. Listening teacher is also a really good teacher and he knows what he is doing. We also have a course about Chinese characters and it started out nicely but right now I’m not sure in which direction the course is going.

Our teachers seem all to be graduate students that here means they only have a bachelor degree. In Finland you would never be able to teach in university with such a low degree. Sure the situation in Finland is a little bit different because bachelor degree is not a graduation in Finland. It is just a piece of paper and almost every university student do a master degree too. At Least if they want to find a job. So how much experience can I expect from our teachers because they don’t even have a master degree?

This is not an attact towards the universty. Some of you asked me to write about not so pleasant things in China so here you go. Maybe you can’t take everything I wrote literally, but I genuenely hope that the spoken Chinese course and Chinese culture course will improve during the rest of my time in this university.

11/15/10

Is Learning Chinese Hard Or Not?

Interesting things happening in the Chinese Learning Blogosphere. East Asia Student already reported about it yesterday but I am going to share my opinion as well.

It all started when John from WooChinese wrote that Learning Chinese Isn’t Hard. Then two days after another John from Sinoplice answered by reasoning Why Learning Chinese Is Hard.

I think that there is no universal truth is Chinese difficult to learn or not. It depends on who is learning it! I don’t find Chinese being the most difficult language, because I tried learning Latin and that was a real pain in the butt. I hate grammar so that is one reason why Chinese is better choice for me than Latin or German (that I also have studied).

But there are other reasons too why I don’t find Chinese language so difficult. Firstly, I think Chinese is the most interesting language I know. It would have been cool to know Latin but I didn’t really have a good reason to learn it. Secondly, I need Chinese everyday so I have great motivation to learn it. I didn’t want to become an Ancient history researcher so I didn’t have any use for Latin. I also forgot Swedish (studied 6 years) and German (studied 5 years) completely because I never used them.

Learning Chinese isn’t easy, but it’s not the hardest thing that I’ve tried to learn. It will take a lot of time and energy to become fluent, but I know I can do it. But I could have all the time in the world and still wouldn’t understand space physics.

11/14/10

How Was The Firework Show Of The Asian Games Opening Ceremony?

Amazing. Last Friday was the opening ceremony of the Asian Games. I didn’t have tickets but I still wanted to see the fireworks with my friends.

First we wanted to go to a Mexican restaurant that was recently opened. But when we got there the place was dark and the workers said there is nothing and that the Italian restaurant is on the third floor. But the restaurant was completely finished and it was clear that it had been open before.

Then we tried to go to one Italian restaurant (not on the same building) but pasta dish was about 120 yuan which is the same price than in Finland! We were starving so some of us went to Malaysian restaurant and the others, including me, went to Subway.

After having dinner four people of our group disappeared and after waiting for a while some of us decided to go and try to find a good place to watch the fireworks. While sitting in the metro we found out that the three closest stations were all closed because of the Asian Games. They didn’t want people too close to the opening ceremony stadium.

So we got off at the next open metro station and after getting outside we saw hundreds, no thousands of people going to the same direction. Because so many people can’t be wrong, hopefully, we decided to follow them. Nearer the Pearl River there were lots of guards, police men and volunteers to make sure we wouldn’t go too close. First it was way too crowded there and we could barely breath. It reminded me of an accident that happened in Germany last summer.

Luckily soon we found a good spot to watch the fireworks and we could actually sit on the grass. Then we looked our watches, it would be at least two hours wait before something would happen. From some website I had read that the fiework show would start at 9.42pm but when the clock reached that time nothing happened. We waited five minutes more and nothing.

We were tired and hungry so we asked one volunteer guy what time would the fireworks start and he said eleven o’clock. After hearing that we decided to go to eat and come back before eleven. We got back to the road and then we heard it. Fireworks! We started running back as fast as we could but soon it was quiet again. Almost angry we found the volunteer guy and asked why he told us the show would start at 11pm and not earlier. He didn’t say much but an another volunteer next to him said that there’s 50% chance that after fifteen minutes there will be something more.

I started to think how they handled the fireworks in Beijing Olympics and wondered if here in Guangzhou they would have gone few steps further. Maybe all those people watching the TV would right now see a magnificent fireworks show, that have been shooted maybe a few weeks ago. But luckily that wasn’t the case and soon the show started.

I will later try to add a video of the firework show.

11/11/10

Is Guangzhou Ready For Asian Games?

There are new flowers and flags everywhere. Just one hour ago they closed a big intersection so few buses and cars with guards, soldiers and volunteers could drive through fast and safe. I also heard that right now you can’t access this University Town, which is an island, by metro or by bus. I’m not sure when the transportation is back to normal but because of this we didn’t have our Chinese Culture exam (Teacher unable to come to school).

Guards and soldiers everywhere ecspecially surrounding the stadium. I haven’t checked but they seem to stand there all night long. I also haven’t tried what would happen if I’d go closer to take a photo.

They don’t like people wandering too close to the stadium. This morning I was talking with my classmates outside in front of the classroom. Soon one guard came to order us to go inside to talk. The reason was because of the Asian Games. But when I soon left (because no teacher, no exam) people were walking outside like any normal day. So maybe the lady guard just wanted something to do.

If there is a wall, there is also Asian Games advertisement. So remember to smile!

Save and protect Asian Games facilities, guarantee Asian Games smooth progress. Anyone know a better translation for this banner?

According to official website over 900 000 people applied for Asian Games volunteer. Around 590 000 people were chosen as volunteers and the girl in the picture is one of them. There are around 4 to 6 volunteers in the major intersections near the stadium here in Guangzhou University Town. But some people aren’t volunteering. Lots of students are forced to go to watch some games and cheer the Chinese athletes. They have one month holiday but they can’t go home. If they do go home there is no coming back to campus.

And then there is the people who seem to be pretty ready for the games. At least almost everyone here is carrying a flag or two! I have to admit that I still haven’t translated the brochure that I got a month ago. I only know that it includes instructions on how to behave during the games. Well, I have one day left, should I be a nice foreigner and actually read it?

11/5/10

Visit to Yuyin Shan Fang Ancestral Garden

(My friend taking a photo in Finland)

I like taking photos, but sometimes I just forget my camera or the battery is dead.  I went to Yuyin Shan Ancestral Garden earlier this week and wasn’t sure if I want to pay the 18RMB to go in because I didn’t have my camera with me. Would there be any point to see something beautiful if I can’t take a photo of it?

That made me think that I should also enjoy visiting places and seeing interesting things without possibility to record them. I should just be there and look with my own eyes, not concentrate on taking photos and not really seeing what is in front of me. So that time I just relaxed. I walked through small gardens and peeked inside multiple rooms thinking what if I would live in a place like this.

I am a history student still even I’m not sure will I ever continue those studies in Finland. I enjoy seeing old building and sited, so I was little bit disappointed to notice that part of the garden was new. Some parts should be from 1871, some from 1922 but the newest part have been built just 4 years ago. But if it’s still a beautiful piece of architecture could I just admire it?

Yuyin Shan Fang was a quiet and harmonious place. Luckily the big group of elderly people just came out before I entered with my boyfriend. In the temple he introduced my to the god (I guess there must be some god in a temple to worship) and asked for lots of money. He doesn’t know if he believes in that kind of things or not but just better to be safe than sorry.

After going around all the places in the area we just sat down on a bench and did nothing. There was no one to look at me because  I’m a waiguoren (foreigner). There was no kids screaming and running around. There was even no need to talk. Only enjoy the place and the quietness.