Notte prima degli esamiBeijing, Spring 2012
I know, I know, I’m so clever. I used the name of an Italian movie I had to watch for class a couple years ago in a blog post about taking Chinese. (Yes, I took Italian. Yes, I have an Italian last name. Yes, I am part Italian. No, I have never been to Italy. No, I am not related to the Mafia. Yes, I like pasta. Okay, that should cover all the questions.) Anyway, the movie in question, Notte prima degli esami, “the night before the exams”, is about a bunch of Italian teenagers doing random crazy things in Rome before the final high school exam, kind of in the vein of American Pie. The reason I bring it up is that ever since I had to watch the movie for class, it is the first thing I think of when I have a test the next day. Even if that test is in Chinese. If you count the weeks since our first class, both in area studies and in Chinese, we have been in class for three weeks now. However, due to the spring festival, it has really only felt like two weeks - then again, due to the nature of the program I’m in, Contemporary Issues, it could have passed for a quarter back at my home university. CI is arranged on a block schedule, and while we have Chinese classes throughout the entire semester, we take each of our four area studies classes one at a time and intensively, switching every month. Both classes are difficult, though. Chinese is already hard on its own, but with a class that only has three people in it, you have to be ready to answer every single question. Luckily, we have gotten our tutors this week, and the one-on-one time with my tutor has been really helpful. That, and he introduced me to delicious, delicious pumpkin congee (rice porridge). Our classes are rewarding, though. I feel like the introductory block really taught me a lot about what China has gone through in the last century, and some of the issues it is facing today. I’m actually kind of sad that tomorrow is the last day. Similarly, I have learned a lot in just two weeks of Chinese class, and hopefully I’ll be able to not fail the exam tomorrow. (Though when I told my tutor that I had my test tomorrow, he just stared at me, nodded, and said “jia you” - good luck. I'm not sure how I should feel about that.) To kind of maybe incorrectly quote Chairman Mao: Revolution is not a dinner party, and neither is Chinese class. Also: I will post pictures from Longqing Gorge and Tianjin soon, but some of the photos won't upload correctly, so I am currently working through that. Expect to see them this weekend!
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