Since we arrived after orientation, we still had to pay our tuition fees and find out what class we were in the morning of the first day. We woke up at 7am in order to get to the Cashier’s Office right when it opened at 8am then to the Chinese Language Center (CLC) main office to complete our registration. We had high hopes we would be able to finish this and not be too late for the 8:10am class. Amazingly enough we were able to get all of this done and were in our new classes by 8:20!
We were given CLC Student IDs, a handbook, and an awesome backpack as well. Above is the CLC building and the hallway leading to my Level 1 classroom. In my class there are 7 of us, including me, each from a different country. The three girls are from Japan, Korea and Mexico and the three guys are from Hungary, England and France (all of us early to mid 20s). Also there is a mid-50s professor visiting NCCU who sits in on the class from India. He is like a walking story book character. He’s travelled extensively and loves to talk about it and interrupt and go on tangents. One of the first things he said was “I’ve never taken a language class really, when I was in South America I learned on the streets. (Then turns to the Mexican girl and says, in Spanish, “It’s good, don’t you think?”) He also talks REALLY loud because he has “only 30% hearing in his left ear” because something happened when he was “climbing the Himalayas with a sherpa.” No joke. All of us almost died laughing. It’s the most interesting group of people I’ve ever been in one class with. Our teacher is a 50ish year old woman who is adorable and loves to sing and make jokes. It is so incredibly fun.
Chris is in level I1-4. That is class 5 out of the 13 total levels offered. He has a young teacher who is very sweet and a class with just as much diversity. He’s happy to be back in a Chinese class and is getting more and more comfortable speaking where ever we are. I am so thankful to have him as a guide around town, and it is nice to still both be learning at the same time.
Our classes are almost 3 hours: 8:10am to 11am, with two breaks and 9 and 10. During the breaks Chris and I sometimes meet up to get a coffee from the vending machine or up to the corner store to grab a snack.
After our first day of class there was a welcome lunch/party in the main foyer of the building. I got to introduce Chris to some of my classmates, notably the Hungarian who subsequently introduced us to two more Hungarians. One of them invited us to a Christmas party with all the Hungarians who are studying here, which seems to be quite a few! Chris introduced me to his teacher and some of his classmates as well. Everyone was so nice and it was interesting to see how many people had come from literally all over the world. Also the food was quite delicious: pastries, sandwiches, cakes.. mmm.
Here’s a little more of the school. My classroom, a bit tight for all of us. We might be moving to a bigger one soon. Then there is the top-of-the-line, restaurant quality (in my opinion) water dispenser of hot and cold. A wall of student work and last but not least my new nemesis, the squat toilet. I have found one western style toilet in the building and I always try and go to that one instead.
Around the university other fun things were going on since it was the first day of Winter session classes. There was a carnival of sorts on the track, as seen below. Other fun things we did on our first day were go to the bookstore and find my textbook. Only 490元 NTD, about $20 US. What a deal! Also I found a great poster of Jackie Chan beating up a cigarette.
During my first class we learned general greetings and I got a Chinese name! 白莉莎 Bái lì shā. The teacher tries to find a character which sounds similar to your English name and works from there. Bái is the same beginning sounds as my last name, also it means White, very fitting. lì shā is equivalent to my first name (something like Liza or Lisa), lì meaning Jasmine. So technically my name means White Jasmine. As my teacher says “Very pretty! So beautiful!” Here’s my first day notes and the nice backpack we received.