Thursday, January 15, 2009

Drumbeats and Guqin Plucks: Three Quarters Later

My bike has changed. Dark grit-covered bike chains with frozen grease, slanting basket, tire frames with occasional dents and bents - the wear and tear are obvious. My pant legs get dirty every time I bike from my apartment to school. Though the bicycle only has one gear, every time I bike it feels as if I'm cycling up a hill, sixty-degree incline. To be honest, I didn't notice the increasing resistance. I prefer to walk now - I don't feel the anxiety of racing against crazy taxi drivers and dodging other cyclists when I just watch others get into accidents.

I used to be able to recall where I learned every character, sentence structure or chengyu, but now all the hanzi just swim in my head, randomly making an appearance at the tip of my tongue rather than on call. Before, I struggled to find the right word, but now I struggle to find the best word. Limited vocabulary is a damper on expression, but a rich vocabulary itself is a bottleneck as well when you are trying to find the best synonym among a group of words that have the same meaning. However, I realized the only reason I couldn't find the best word was because I was in a hurry to express my thoughts, resulting in sentences that when crafted look like magnets held together and split apart by string. My progress reports at IUP reflected high test marks, but one comment united all the teachers - I am rushing this language. My classical Chinese teacher is skilled in calligraphy, but the other day I realized he was also skilled in graphology - "Your characters are hurried and impatient, just like you." According to my Chinese astrology forecast, the Ox year will be a year that challenges the patience and perseverance of those born in the year of the dragon. It seems that the zodiac is harmonized with my Chinese education. This past semester at IUP, I was blessed to be studying with some of the program's most experienced teachers. I hope that during my last two semesters I continue to study with the program's best teachers and build my love for the language and culture. Along the way, it wouldn't hurt to find this Patience thing that everyone says I don't have.

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1 Comment:

sarah said...

Richard, I'm so glad to read this from you in China. You never cease to amaze me. I don't know how or why you're there, but I certainly trust that you have a good reason. I never had the courage to tackle the Chinese language (though Chinese myself) but I'm currently learning Japanese.

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