Classes Have Begun! A Daily Routine is Established
Now that I have been attending classes for about a week, I feel that I should give you a brief overview of my daily routine:
8am-12pm: Classes at the Tunghai University 華語中心 (Foreign Language Center).
I have two hours of reading classes followed by 2 hours of conversation classes. Each one of my four classes is taught by a different professor and I am growing more accustomed to their different accents and teaching styles. I am finding classes difficult, but class size is small (2-4 people) so it is easy to ask questions and receive help.
Favorite Assignment so far? One of my conversation teachers asked us to go to a department store, find a specific restaurant, and bring back a menu as proof that we had done the assignment. Practical and delicious.
12-2pm: Lunch Break.
Almost everyday, myself and the other students walk to 東別 (Dōngbíe) to grab lunch. 東別 is a labyrinthine collection of streets and alleyways crammed with convenience stores, restaurants, and just about any kind of shop you can imagine. The food in Taiwan is relatively low-cost and we have made it our mission to sample a different restaurant everyday. (東別 really comes alive at night when all the street-side vendors open up shop, but I will write more about that later.)
2-4pm Tutor Hours:
Four days a week, the Puget Sound students break into small groups for tutors hours. My tutor’s name is Lisa and she has been working hard to supplement lessons from the textbook with her own activities and exercises. This past Friday after class, she invited us to a Taiwanese arcade that had ping pong, batting cages, darts and more. (The first chapter in our book was on sports.) I am constantly impressed by how pleasant she and the other Taiwanese that I have met here are. I hope that one day I can be as good as they are at hosting students that come to my country.
4-?pm Sports Time/Dinner/Homework:
Old habits die hard and I have been on the Puget Sound Crew team for the last two years. If I don’t work out, I get cranky. I also like the chance to stretch out my body after sitting in desks all day. The big sport on campus is basketball, but there is also a weight room and a swimming pool available for student use. The gym is much like gyms anywhere where people concentrating on their routines, but the regulars in the pool have been especially friendly. I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with several people, most of them graduate students at the university, and this has given me a chance to practice some Chinese outside a classroom setting. Granted, most of our conversations are pretty basic (What nationality are you? Are you a student here?) but I figure any practice is good practice. After that, it is time to have dinner and finish up homework for the next day.
This past weekend, we also visited the Confucian Temple in Donghai with our Taiwanese roommates. I would write more about it but, as is my habit, I am going to post pictures and let you fill in the blanks!