It’s been a while since I updated this blog, but there’s a big reason for that, namely that I’ve become absolutely, completely, and entirely obsessed with the Chinese language. And culture and history and people as well. I have been spending hours on end practicing writing the characters. This is mainly because I have to catch up to the rest of my class in writing. I can read most of the same words and phrases that my class knows but I can’t write them. But I’m steadily improving in that respect.

Now this doesn’t necessarily mean that I haven’t been having fun. Or even that I haven’t been out and about and experiencing my surroundings first hand. I have. Even though I’ve been studying Chinese so much, I’ve still managed to find plenty of time to explore Kaifeng and interact with the Chinese people. Work hard play hard, is a good motto to describe my time here thus far. Weekends we don’t have class, which is contrary to the ordinary Chinese educational experience. Chinese students often have class on Saturday and Sunday but they usually get a day off somewhere during the week. Imagine if the US made that regular practice. Everyone would revolt. I know that at Akron they have the occasional class on Saturday but it’s very rare. And most people avoid such classes. And I’ve never heard of class on Sunday. That would be unheard of in the States. But they do have more breaks than we do. More holidays and a longer break than the US during the Winter for Chinese New Year.

I’m happier and healthier now than I have been in years. I’ve got a lot to be thankful for. God has really blessed me. I have a beautiful, loving, intelligent girl who loves me and whom I love deeply. I’ve got more friends than I ever had even in my most outgoing years. But most importantly I’m doing something I love. It is my job to study Chinese. I’m actually getting paid, (not a large sum of money but enough for the local economy) to study Chinese. That’s right, as part of my scholarship we get money every month from the school. And every day, I get to use Chinese in everyday situations. It happens to me every day, I’ll learn a set of vocab words for the chapter we’re working on and sure enough, that very same day I’ll hear them in conversation with someone or hear them on TV.  Making Chinese friends has been extremely easy. It took a few weeks for us to get the ball rolling but eventually we met some and it set off a chain reaction opening up a flood of Chinese people for us to get to know. They really want to meet foreigners and are very hospitable. And most of them don’t know hardly any English so it is good for practicing.

The week off of school was good, it was nice to relax and catch up on my Character writing. We were off, not this week but the week before. We didn’t go to another city because there was too much planning involved and we didn’t know about the break far enough in advance. But it was okay because I just practiced my characters. But we did, the other Ohio students and one Kyrgyzstan girl, go to Karaoke one night. We went earlier in the evening in order to get back in time for curfew. It cost a little bit much but we got ample drinks for the night. And they do karaoke different in China than they do in the US. In the US and Canada you usually go to a bar and there is a microphone set up in the corner and a screen for you to look at and you sing in front of a bar full of watchful patrons. And I’ve done it before, but I don’t normally feel comfortable with my vocal range (or lack thereof) to sing this way. China makes it so much easier for you. You get a private room and you rent it out for a couple of hours and everything is set up for you. The rooms are really nice and you can have snacks or drinks brought to you. I think this is far better than getting up in front of a room full of strangers and attempting to Sweet Caroline off key. They had a wide selection of songs, including Chinese, American and Korean artists across all genres. They had Let it Be by the Beatles, which I of course had to sing. But as the night rolled on, I found myself loosing up more and more and comfortable around the other singers enough, that I randomly ended up singing Lady Gaga and Justin Beber. But the thing that was most shocking was they had Mumford and Sons. Ben and I sang one of the songs off their first album, I forget which one. But how random is that?