Hello, English Department! How are you doing?
It’s been a little over a year since I attended my last class in Binus and wrapped my thesis up. Not long after the graduation, I left the country for some extra experience, challenging myself to learn another language. What language has even more native speakers than English? Mandarin Chinese, of course! So I took off to Beijing last August to study in China Youth University for Political Sciences. While up here, why not making the most of it?
I started off from Level A, which is practically nothing but a scratch, and strive obsessively to stay above average. Coming from me, it’s something that, I daresay, completely out of character. It paid off, however, when in this semester, along with a few others, I’m allowed to skip Level B, and go straight to Level C. While the lessons in Level A & B are Chinese Comprehension, Listening and Speaking, Level C get two extras: Reading Comprehension and Writing. I have to admit that those two lessons provide the biggest challenge for us who ‘jumped’ from Level A, seeing that understanding a word from the context is quite hard when you can barely recognise the Chinese letters in it and limited range of vocabulary isn’t helping when it comes to writing assignments. Another challenge of being in Level C is the fact that our class inhabitants mostly came from Chinese Departments in their home universities.
Studying Chinese’s definitely giving me much more of a challenge than English was; not that I’m saying that I enjoy English less; it’s and will always be my favourite foreign language. Grammatically, Chinese is really different from English. It might take a while to get a grasp on it. That’s not the only problem. After getting comfortable in using Chinese grammar, I really need a lot of exercise to keep my English grammar intact. Considering that the chance of making conversations in English is slim to none, I doze myself with tons and tons of both American and British TV series (and movies) on weekends. Thankfully, my Korean classmates are really excited right after knowing that I have a degree in English, and are really enthusiastic in asking me to help them practise their English (in exchange of them teaching me some Koreans while we’re supposedly practising our Chinese…).
Anyway, as I mentioned above, I do try to make the most of my stay up here. Aside from visiting some other areas in China Afraid that I might not want to go back to China had I gone back to Indonesia during the holiday, I decided to pack my things and went solo travelling to Japan for a month. It was, by far, the craziest travelling that I’ve ever done. I’ve been on trips without my parents before––all those wonderful experiences with Paramabira––but never alone. It was far from lonely, I must say. I was never downright alone. I met so many people––mostly American, Taiwanese, or Koreans––and managed to make some new friends along the way. I even managed to meet up with a friend from Inha Summer School 2012. I’d say that language is the key here. English is absolutely a must, but learning Chinese (despite the fact that I’ve only finished Level A by that time) and speaking the tiniest bit of Japanese really helped me survive the month.
Though I’m missing Indonesian food terribly every moment (thus was the reason I spent my last week in Japan eating Indonesian food. As much as I love Japanese food, there’s just no taste like home), I’m enjoying every moment I’m having here: from the extreme studying, to the crazy travelling. It broadens my mind, my knowledge; it opens up chances to road that I have yet to explore; it expands my world.
What I love from my current school in Beijing is the phrases that my school stick to decorate every classes; each phrase is unique and inspiring. My favourite is “To have another language is to possess a second soul.” And of course, there’s our language school’s motto, “Language is power.” So learn well, follow your heart and seize the day!