Maria Holland

My Birthday Was So 茄子

In Uncategorized on March 30, 2010 at 1:00 am

In class today, we went over the third text of the lesson.  This one was completely different – as opposed to the main text, which was a story about an American coming to China and discovering how stingy he was, and the dialogue, which featured a Chinese guy who just came back from working in America and discovered that he had become stingy, the last text was about a Chinese guy who studied in America for a few years and, upon his return to China, discovered that he had become stingy.  I’ll be glad when this lesson is over . . .

We had a discussion of when AA制 (going Dutch) is used in our countries.  Apparently the moniker is deserved because the Dutch are the ‘stingiest’ as measured by the ultimate standard of how often people treat others to dinner – they even split the check on first dates!  I realized that my representation of Americans might be slightly limited because I’m a college student.  On birthdays, everyone pays for the celebrant’s meal when we go out, but in every other country the birthday girl/boy is the host and treats everyone else.  Hey, old people, how does it work after we have jobs and are making real money? 

I brought the last cake to class; now the cake is no more :(  It was great while it lasted!  My birthday, even extended across 13 time zones, had to end at some point too – 1:00 this afternoon, specifically.  It, too, was great while it lasted.

This afternoon we had HSK class.  Apparently the class is over after the April test, and we don’t have school next Monday, so our next meeting will be our last.  Since it took them two weeks to straighten out the schedule conflicts, that brings our total number of classes to 4.  The class is kind of a joke, though.  Despite being a class with the stated goal of preparing students for the HSK, the teacher never explained how, where, or when to sign up for the test.  Instead of giving us an overview of the test – which we have to take entirely in Chinese, including instructions – he launched right into grammar.  Then today he gave us a practice test . . . but it was the new revised HSK, which is quite different than the old HSK that we’ll be taking.  Good job.

I had visitors this afternoon – my friends Kristina and Maja bringing me the PowerPoint that they had been working on all weekend.  It was pretty amazing, especially for these two, who claim to know nothing about computers.  There were pictures, Slovenian trivia, ridiculous use of Chinese words and grammar structures, and liberal mentions of 茄子. 

After they left, I had an intense craving for hand-pulled noodles with egg and tomato followed by a dessert of peanut baozi, but I ran into Jimmy en route and changed my plans.  His dad just got in, so a few of us joined them for dinner.  And what a special dinner – the beer was cold, the rice came on time, and we ordered two more dishes after the first round was demolished.  Hardly a meal goes by here that doesn’t cause me to remind everyone that “We sure do eat well here.”

I just discovered a Chrome extension called Polyglot that promises to turn surfing the web into an intense – and hilarious – Chinese learning experience.  (It works for many languages, though, in case Mandarin isn’t your thing.)  It randomly chooses words in every page you load and replaces them with translations in the target language.  It’s a good brain stretch to encounter and interpret Chinese characters interspersed with English text (especially when the translations are a wee bit too literal and totally ignore context), but it’s also inordinately funny to look at.  Example:

Google executives struck 打击 for 言论自由 in China last week when they announced they were 移动 their service to Hong Kong 后 a 系列 of mounting conflicts with the 政府 over the privacy of its users and the 自由的 flow of information.

Not the best source of grammar, but I’m picking up some awesome vocabulary!

Wait, apparently it gets better – It translated someone’s facebook wall post (“Love ya”) as “Love 亚" . . . I almost cried laughing.

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