A Typical Day in Shanghai

Rachel Palfini

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7:30 am: Wake up and review for daily Chinese quiz (~30 new characters)

8:30 am: Eat breakfast with host mom or dad

9:10 am: Leave for school

9:20 am: Catch bus to school or walk to metro if bus hasn’t arrived yet by 9:20

9:50 am: Arrive at school

10: 00 am: Chinese class begins

11:50 am: Chinese class ends

12:00 pm: Lunch at cafeteria (8 远) or restaurant nearby (16 远)

Lunch from a nearby restaurant. Not sure what the name is but it was delicious.

Lunch from a nearby restaurant. Not sure what the name of it is but it was delicious.

1:00 pm: Area studies class begins  (Film, History, or Issues in Modern Chinese Society)

4:00 pm: Area studies class ends

4:15 pm: Catch bus back to host family’s house

5:00 pm: Arrive home

6:00 pm: Eat dinner

We eat lots of little fishy friends for dinner.

We eat lots of little fishy friends for dinner.

6:45 pm: Catch bus back to school

7:30 pm: One on one tutoring or group tutoring begins

9:00 pm: Tutoring ends

9:45 pm: Arrive back home and begin Chinese homework

1:30 am: Go to bed

The Chinese class here is intense. We meet for eight hours every a week (2 hours/day, Monday – Thursday). The teachers only speak in Chinese and you can only ask questions in Chinese. Once in a while if we really don’t understand the meaning of a word, they’ll tell us the English definition but that’s rare. Every day I have to memorize 30 new characters and we’re quizzed on them at the beginning of class. We also have “review” and “preview” homework due every day that take between 3 and 5 hours to complete. Every four days, we cover two chapters (total 120 words, 28 new grammar patterns) and then are tested on the fifth day. Today was our first test. In addition to the hour and a half written/reading/listening portion, I had to give a group oral presentation (4 – 6 minutes) and an individual presentation (3 minutes). In short, my Chinese language class has taken over my life.

This is how many new words I learned for my first test.

This is how many new words I learned for my first test.

I’m also taking three area studies courses that meet 1/week for 3 hours each time: Film and Cinema in Chinese Society, Issues in Modern Chinese Society, and Modern Chinese History. These classes also assign 50-100 pages of reading before every class but thankfully they are largely discussion based so skimming works fine.

My first day of calligraphy class!

My first day of calligraphy class!

And, for fun, I do calligraphy for an hour every Monday before tutoring. It’s a cultural event put on by CIEE and they have some of the Chinese language teachers do the instruction. Above you can see my first day’s work. It is so incredibly difficult to make the characters straight and curved at all the right angles. The instructor did the character third down on the far right. His calligraphy is beautiful!

Spring is coming to Shanghai!

Spring is coming to Shanghai!

Despite doing Chinese homework in all of my spare time, I really enjoy the time we are actually in class. We have two different instructors that each teach twice a week. It’s fast paced and my class only has a total of five people (including me), so there is never a moment to daydream about what I want to eat for lunch. They are very encouraging and I can tell (or at least I hope) my Chinese is improving.

-Little Sparrow

There aren't many stray dogs around but I say this little guy the other day and couldn't resist taking his photo.

There aren’t many stray dogs around but I saw this little guy the other day and couldn’t resist taking his photo.

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