I thought this title fitting as it’s a combination of most of the major holidays that have passed since my last post. I apologize. As always, the new Chinese word for this post is “闹太套” (Nao Tai Tao). This phrase is meant to sound like the English Phrase “Not at all.” It’s not the most commonly used phrase, but I found the story behind this phrase worthy of putting in the blog. It comes from the singer Huang Xiaoming (黄晓明) in his song “One World One Dream.” The chorus of the song has a number of oddly placed English phrases, and Huang’s vocalization of the phrase “not at all” sounds like he is saying “闹太套” (nao tai tao), three characters meaning “noisy,” “extremely” and “cover”, which have no real meaning when placed together. The phrase subsequently came to mean an embarrassing moment, particularly when one attempts to do something flashy or impressive and instead ends up looking foolish.
*For some reason I’m having trouble uploading photos right now. Once I get that sorted out I’ll make sure to post photos from all the exciting events that I have been participating in.*
Well it has been busy here in China! I completed my Independent Cultural Immersion Project (ICIP) for Holy Cross. I found my topic of “Music in the Lives of Chinese People” to be really interesting and it was a great way for me to practice speaking with Chinese people. My advisor even gave me a thumbs up at the end of my presentation. I felt pretty good! The Fall semester ended with our huge final exam and a banquet that CET held at a local hotel. It was really a bittersweet moment.
On one hand, I was finally allowed to speak English (even though part of me still wanted to only speak Chinese). However, on the other hand, this meant I had to say goodbye to all of my friends and teachers from this semester.
After the semester ended I traveled to Shanghai where I was really excited to meet up with my family! I had decided last year that I would probably not go home during winter break. So my family decided to come out to China to visit me. Despite the fact that they all had some bad jetlag, it was definitely a little more Christmas-y having my family here. I had a blast taking them around Shanghai and Beijing, showing them all the famous places and showing them how much my Chinese has improved since coming to CET.
*photos to come
As soon as they left, I moved back into BIE for our January Term. I was SOO excited to start January Term with a bunch of new Holy Cross students. I have had a blast going with them to some of my favorite spots in Beijing including the Forbidden city, Tiananmen Square, Kro’s nest pizza, etc. I hope they have just as good of an experience in Beijing as I had.
We started January Term the same way as last semester, with our language placement exam. Despite having taken one before, it was still a bit stressful. After completing the 260 class last semester, I was expecting to place into the 300 level class. But instead I placed into the 400 level! I was surprised and really proud of myself.
We started classes with another language pledge. So once again we are only allowed to speak Chinese. The new students are still having a tough time adjusting to it. However, I really believe that my language level would not be where it is right now if it were not for this language pledge. Next semester in Shanghai will be fun, interesting, and (I’m sure) challenging, but honestly I think I will miss having the language pledge to give me that extra push to only rely on Chinese.
Anyway, classes this semester have been more challenging than I thought. Understandably, because the teachers have to cram an entire semester into one month, the class moves at a fast pace. We’re learning more and very challenging words and grammar; we have 3, 1 on 1 and 1 on 2 classes every week and we also have a new review class in which we do a number of different things. For example we have had to speed read in Chinese, we listen to movies and music to practice listening to difficult-to-understand chinese speakers, and interview Chinese people about their daily lives. So overall, this semester has been challenging, but now that I’m getting the hang of it I’m starting to like it more and more.
Oh yes, finally, in addition to our tests, every Friday we also have to prepare a short skit in our class that we perform in front of all the classes. My group and I will be doing a short interview skit that we are loosely basing on the “Silly Job Interview” skit by Monty Python. I’m excited.
People are really starting to get excited about Chinese New Year! I’ll be sure to have some new photos to show you all of what Beijing has to offer around this time!
Andrew Retallick '14