My love/hate relationship with Chinese continues. It’s nice being back in the US, but at the same time, sometimes it feels too easy. I liked the challenge of always trying to decode signs around me while on the bus, or tackling a menu of jumbled characters and managing to order a meal for 15 people. Even a trip to order a milk tea or mail a card can turn into a little hurdle, and after you’ve accomplished your task, it feels good.
When I would travel around Southeast Asia for holidays, I was always amazed at how handicapped I felt. Learning basic things like numbers and simple commands was a huge task. Arriving back in China and ordering my bus ticket, listening to the annoying audio ads, and eavesdropping on people around me made me so, so, so happy. It was all so easy! I could speak and understand the language again!
After living in China for three years (along with my three years of Chinese from college) I was comfortable with my level of Mandarin. Daily tasks were easy, and I could muddle through just about any tough situation… even if it wasn’t very eloquent. Order things online- check. Make phone calls to inquire about something- check. Negotiate rent with landlord- check. Find a Chinese roommate- check. I have answered the same basic questions about myself millions of times, so my small talk is pretty good too. But the nice thing about Chinese is there is always something new to learn. I bought myself a few books in Chinese, and I still listen to some podcasts in Chinese/about China. Maybe I’ll have to get back into a Chinese drama online just to quench my thirst for this silly language that has been a huge part of my life. Speaking Chinglish with friends from China always helps too!