I apologize for the late update, I lost track of time from having Chinese classes start, extra activities beginning, and the many field trips we had so far. Also before I go into detail, I just want to let everyone know that I stupidly left my usb cord for my camera in America, so I won't be able to update photos until I can possibly find a similar usb cord to buy around here (thank you for the idea Prashanth!).
Basically I only have one main Mandarin class since I am in the Accelerated Chinese Program. This class is fours hours long, from 8am to 12pm, with only short breaks in between (Mon-Fri). We were placed accordingly based on our placement test, so I was rather surprised that I was placed much higher than I expected. I was placed in the Intermediate Level II and Advanced Level I Mandarin Chinese class, which required 3 semesters of Mandarin. I have only taken two semesters at Chapman University, and I was extremely worried about being below par as well since we were only able to complete half of the Chinese 102 textbook. I do not mind this placement, I actually see it as a great opportunity to improve my Mandarin even me since it would be more challenging and would allow me to reach fluency quicker, for I would hopefully be able to take Advanced Level II for my Fall semester in Beijing at Peking University. Along with staying with a Chinese family, I am expecting to improve my Mandarin greatly after these two months.
I am getting along better with my Chinese homestay family, but to be honest I am closest to my homestay mom. She is the one who really seems to care about me and takes the time to talk to me and help me out. I really appreciate all she's done for me so far, and am already thinking of what to get her as a goodbye/thank you present. I already bought her some famous green tea from Lin 'An, but I feel it is still not enough!
Besides my four hour Chinese class, I also try to participate in optional classes, like Tai Chi and Chinese Calligraphy. In addition, I also have to meet with a Chinese college student tutor for 4 hours each week, and have a one on one session with a Chinese professor for half an hour 4 days a week. Afterwords, at night, there is a language clinic from 7:30 to 9:00pm. Also, being a homestay student makes getting to all these things less convenient as opposed to living in the dorms, for most if not all the events are held in the dorms. However, I would not give up doing a homestay because I actually get to learn about the Chinese culture and speak with people in Mandarin, as opposed to other international students in the dorms. Not saying that they aren't nice, but I came to China to learn more about the culture, people, and myself.
My days are full and busy, and if I am not attending one of these things, I am studying or doing my Chinese homework. On top of all of this, I am trying not to stress over all the information and documents I am getting from Peking University for the Fall semester. The LSAT also looms near, of which I have not studied for yet, and have not found time yet.
Moving on, the field trips we had so far were amazing! We went to the SWFC Observatory, which is the tallest building in Shanghai. Also, we went to Lin 'An, Suzhou, and Tong Li. All the food was amazing, the scenery and nature beautiful, and the air was actually breathable when one is away from a huge crowded city in Shanghai. At Lin 'An, we walked and climbed so many stairs, but it was worth it I guess to go down the slide they had for 10 kuai. The water drifting ride was great fun as well. We arrived at Suzhou at night, so we didn't really get to do much but shop, eat, and ride a motorized rickshaw, but the hotel was BEAUTIFUL. Simply amazing garden theme. I really liked Suzhou, and am glad we get a chance to go back this Saturday to visit a silk factory.
Tong Li was mesmerizing, even though it was raining most of the time we were there. It was a nice quaint area with beautiful old buildings that America does not have. I see it as history being preserved and admired by all who go there.
I want to write more about how I feel being here in Shanghai, but I think I have talked a bit too much for now, so I will wait until my next post to do that. So until then, I hope you enjoy the weather at wherever you are at while I sweat and sweat over here.