My last Chinese class

So, I had my last Chinese class on Friday.  It was sort of sad.  I mean, I've been having one-on-one class from her five mornings a week for 12 months.  And she was a really good teacher, too, not to mention a helpful source of cultural insight.  So, I went out and got her a bouquet of flowers, and wrote her a nice thank you card.  I'm really proud of myself that I managed to write 99% of the card in Chinese without consulting the dictionary.  Go me!  She was impressed by the flowers, especially once she realised that they were a Chinese-style bouquet, since I just had the flower-shop lady make the bouquet for me, after I told her why I was buying the flowers.  I don't know if she was impressed by the card, because she didn't read it while I was there.  She said she would read it at home so she could cry in private.  (No, that's actually what she said, translated from the Chinese, of course.)

I had a funny (but somewhat typical) experience in the flower shop while the flower lady was making the bouquet for me.  Her high-school age daughter was sitting at a table doing her homework.  She was obviously trying to muster up the courage to speak to me, but she wasn't confident in her English, and she was asking her mom what to say.  Her mom just told her to speak Chinese to me, since it was obvious I spoke Chinese.  Basically all she wanted to do was ask me about the US.  People here who haven't been to the US have this really strange image of what life is like back home, because all they see of our country are the movies.  I kid you not, many of them seriously think we are all tall, thin, good-looking and rich.  (I guess they think I got kicked out for not being any of the four.)

Another thing I learned from the girl is that her high school English teacher (who is Taiwanese) forces them to write in cursive, because they think it's easier to read.  So she wanted me to teach her how to write cursive in a better way.  I just looked at her and laughed, and then explained to her that I haven't written in cursive since fourth grade.  I realize that with my learning disability I'm a special case (I always used a computer to write in-class essays), but I'm pretty sure none of my teachers past middle school gave a rodent's hindquarters about how my classmates wrote an essay, as long as they wrote well.  And now, with computers, honestly, is handwriting that big a deal?  I mean, if it's legible, who cares?  (For those of you who have seen my handwriting, yes, that's a big if.)

I had another funny experience at a bank the other day, too.  I tried to cash my winning lottery receipts at the bank that, I had read, was handling that stuff for the government.  They even had a sign over one of the teller windows in English and Chinese saying "Uniform Invoice Lottery Payments".  So I went up to the window, showed him my receipts, and he tells me, in Chinese, to go the post office.  Huh?  Non sequitur, anyone?  I just looked at him blankly, then pointed at the sign.  I thought he didn't understand what I wanted.  So he thinks I don't understand what he says, and sends me to another teller window where a woman looks at me nervously for five seconds, then asks her fellow employees how to say "go to the post office" in English.  At this point, my slow-moving brain catches on to what's happening, and starts to speak to her in Chinese.  At which point everyone in the bank cracks up laughing, I suppose because they had been operating under the assumption that I had no clue about Chinese (which is a pretty reasonable assumption when dealing with foreigners here, actually).  Talk about making you feel self-conscious, though; I know I look different, but I hadn't realized the ENTIRE room was paying attention to me.  At this point they explain to me that actually the sign is wrong, and I should go to the post office to cash the receipts.  This sort of annoys me, because if they'd just changed the darn sign when the procedures changed the whole thing could've been avoided.  Silly Taiwan Cooperative Bank.

For those of you wondering why the post office can cash lottery receipts, the post office in Taiwan also acts as a bank.  A lot of people have accounts there.  That's how I pay my monthly rent, actually, by depositing cash directly into my landlord's postal account.  For those of you who read the international section of the newspaper, you may have noticed the stories about the Japanese prime minister's attempts to reform their postal banking system, which I think is pretty much the same.  Taiwan and Japan have a lot in common.   I will probably go into that in further depth in a later e-mail.


One Response to “My last Chinese class”

  1. wedding dresses Says:

    Very interesting topic, thank you for posting.

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