我终于来中国啦！I'm finally in China!
Today marks my first real day in Beijing as well as the start of my tenth year studying Chinese. Yes, tenth. It's kind of a strange feeling finally being here after studying the language and culture for so long. It seemed inevitable but at the same time so far away.
After about 30 hours of traveling, which included several transfers and spending the night in the Charlotte airport, followed by a 14-hour flight, I've been too occupied with catching up on sleep to feel any kind of stress or culture shock just yet.
I started studying Mandarin in school way back in 6th grade. Having spent nearly half my life studying Mandarin means I put a lot of pressure on myself to be very proficient. A month ago I spent 4 weeks studying Korean at Korea University, and one thing I learned during that time is that in language-learning, perfection is not the goal. My Korean level is much, much lower than my Mandarin, and because of that I had to let go of my expectations of achieving fluency in order to just improve naturally and organically. I focused instead on communicating, which should always be the goal of language anyway. This time around I'm going to actively try to focus on working with what I do understand instead of fixating on what I don't.
The main goal I have for myself is to be able to compartmentalize each language in my mind. As of now the only distinction my brain seems to make is English versus Non-English. I realized this was a problem when I almost said, "谢谢," (thank you–in Mandarin) instead of, "감사합니다," (thank you–in Korean) after asking where the bathroom was in a palace in Korea. Now I’m already having the opposite problem, almost accidentally speaking Korean to Beijing shop owners.
I’m actually looking forward to not being able to access Western social media at all. It will be a bit rough at first, but not wasting time on the internet will surely do wonders for my attention span, my academics, as well as my ability to be fully mentally present. Not having Google, though, that is going to be tougher than I thought. I didn’t realize how often I used it until I suddenly couldn’t anymore.
Another goal I have for myself is to take more pictures, which I will be sharing on my blog as well. During my time in Korea I focused more on being in the moment and not taking very many photos, so this time I want to document my trip in a more tangible way–while still being in the moment, of course. I’ll also be keeping a physical journal, in Chinese as much as possible, so I’ll be able to track my language progress as well.
Until next time–拜拜！
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<p>I'm a junior majoring in Asian Studies and minoring in Graphic Design and Leadership Studies. My favorite hobby is language learning, specifically Asian languages! I also enjoy making music and taking photos.</p>