We all know there are more and more foreigners studying Chinese worldwide, and that there are increasing numbers of students heading for China to learn Mandarin Chinese.
For most who finally make it to China, it is very much part of growing up, achieving some form of independence—and, of course, a huge adventure to look forward to. However long the period of time students spend in China does not only involve language learning and there are a myriad of activities and things to do and see.
As part of getting a better understanding of what students most enjoyed about their time in China we caught up with Alan a young man form the UK who recently spent six months in Chengdu studying Chinese and hopes to return there in another couple of months once his next visa has been approved; but, this time, he will be job hunting as is keen on spending a couple of years at least working and further exploring China.
This is the basics of our conversation:
Hi Alan, how long did you study Mandarin Chinese in China?
I spent 6 months studying in a language school in Beijing then moved on to Guangzhou as for another 6, I felt I needed a change. The first few months were quite intense but then it all just clicked and I found myself able to converse quite comfortably about day to day matters
How many hours a week did you study?
I attended classes every day for 2-3 hours but did a lot of out of school work to really get to know the language, especially the memorising of characters part
Was it all study and no play?
No, we still seemed to have plenty of time to do other things, such as day trips (initially) around Beijing for sightseeing, then out of the city to see the Great Wall, of course; one time we even went skiing north of the city. The same with Guangzhou, plenty or recreational things to do—indeed, one time we went into Hong Kong for an overnight stay
Did you have much interaction with local Chinese people?
Yes it was great to be able to practice our burgeoning language skills in the markets and shops, enjoying new experiences and meeting all sorts of Asian women and men in the process. Some of the students got to know several Chinese girls and boys from a nearby school and they really liked to practice their English with us. In addition, there were some on our course who were keen to start dating Asian women; they got to know several Chinese women who have foreign boyfriends and they were able to introduce other Chinese girls to them. In fact, would you believe, one student from the US even ended up with an Asian bride as he married his girlfriend before he went back at the end of his course.
Sounds like you had a great time in China… what’s your next step with the language?
Well, I’m actively looking for a job in China where I hope my language skills will be useful, and where I can continue to develop and learn more to ultimately, attain fluency…
Wish you luck!