It’s my last week of the Summer Intensive Language Program at the Monterey Institute for International Studies, and I’m pretty stoked. Here’s what’s going on:
- Shark Week is starting in minutes. I’m not really watching but my housemate is losing his mind with excitement, so I’m happy for him.
- I saw the Way Way Back last night, which I enjoyed more than I thought I would. It reminded me, surprisingly, of my goofy friends in Shanghai.
- I went to Point Lobos with a big group last Friday after class. I saw some otters swimming around, I think, Whalers’ Cove, a black sand beach, a little rock where about a dozen seals were resting, and then some rocks off the point where a bunch of sea lions were barking to wake the dead. Back in the neighborhood I saw humming birds and deer.
- I got all my laundry done today, INCLUDING bath towels and bed sheets.
I hung out with my classmate 丹宁D tonight, we went to a Chinese restaurant. She ordered 水煮魚 (poached fish in chili sauce) and I ordered 辣子雞 (fried chicken in peppers), and 酸辣土豆絲 (hot and sour shoe-string potatoes). Later, the owner blew by and commented that the potatoes were the odd-man out; one northeastern dish next to two sichuan dishes.
丹宁D is a teacher too, so she and I were doing what all teachers do in August… start fantasizing about next summer, mentally blocking out the upcoming school year. My first choice is Taiwan, but Latin America could be a possibility, especially if I get my Philippine passport.
The restaurant owner came back later and totally gave us an impromptu tutoring session, which is the BEST. She was having 丹宁D read funny stuff from her WeChat account (丹宁D is way more literate than I am) and tried to talk us into going to study in Harbin next summer. I could be persuaded.
So I don’t ski or bungee jump or surf, those things are not a thrill for me. I do get a huge rush from native speakers talking to me at full speed, when they’re genuinely interested in spending time with me. At first I try to keep track of all the words I pick up from the conversation but I end up just letting it go after a while, because it comes at me too fast. 丹宁D stopped the conversation a couple times to ask me, “did you get that? what did she say?” and yes, I was understanding up to 90% of what she was saying, and I negotiated the other 10%.
I couldn’t really translate into English what was going on; translation is a different skill, and translators and interpreters make the big bucks and take a lot of headache medicine. But when I’m understanding Chinese without mentally going back to English, that’s when I feel a rush.
That’s all I have for today. No clever conclusion, I have to prepare for class tomorrow.