I recently completed the first semester of the Chinese Flagship Program at Nanjing University and am currently in the beginning of the Internship Phase. As I’m sitting here taking a break from the few tasks I need to finish, I thought I’d reflect and record my thoughts on this past semester. (I’d rather keep this blurb very short.)
You could ask many of my classmates in my Flagship Cohort, and they’d probably have the same opinion as I do. However, I have no idea where I should begin. Let’s just say, the past semester was different than I expected. First and foremost, this past semester has taken its toll on every single student (and teachers as well. That needs to be mentioned.) The courses are very intensive. Spending the whole day working on essays or preparing for class was not something I was expecting, and being strained from the long days during the week did not make me want to discover what Nanjing had to offer as a city. Thus, the days before leaving Nanjing, I crammed the few spots I still had yet to ponder upon.
Chinese language courses consist of Grammar, Media, Writing, and OPI***. Although these might not seem to be many courses, the workload and the extra one on one tutoring hours made it hectic. To be frank, grammar class was a joke, and Media class was just overall disappointing. My instructor lacked the skills to get a conversation going. One of the main reasons being he wasn’t able to come up with creative questions, and only asked questions that were written in the packets. This made it feel unnatural because we were just answering questions from a list. However, I really enjoyed my writing class because my instructor was very patient with all of her students and started great class discussions. I learned a lot about many topics in this course besides just writing.
My opinion on OPI class changed throughout the semester. At first, my instructor was really strict, and with this class only being one-on-one, it made me even more nervous. He was using a very “Chinese” teaching style. However, through the course of the semester, he began to use a softer approach. I am not aware why there was a sudden change, but he became one of the most supportive and encouraging teachers. (He’s also my favorite teacher. I’m very sad I don’t have him anymore.) I was able to score a Superior at the end of the semester, but it was all because of his help.
Teacher with the floral lei is the best! C for “Cao.”
***(OPI refers to the oral proficiency exam that we take after both semesters. However, the one at the end of the second semester is the only one that is accounted for to obtain the proficiency certificate at the end of the program. We must score Superior to pass!)***
During the past semester, I actually had two different roommates. In the beginning, the first roommate left me with a good impression, but as the few weeks went by, I realized that he wasn’t a good match. The tutoring sessions with him didn’t go well because he didn’t want to participate in academic discussions with me, and there were times when he didn’t come back to the apartment at all. I understood he was busy with preparing for government exams, but my question was “why would you take part in this program if you didn’t have the time?”
Eventually, after a month, I called it quits and found a new roommate. It was bad in my part, because one of the staff told him “Goodbye” for me. I couldn’t even tell him that “we weren’t meant to be.” (But I don’t feel that guilty anymore.)
The second roommate wasn’t bad. We had different majors, and there was a four-year age difference, so we didn’t become super close. However, he helped me a lot with Chinese and had many useful conversations about culture.
Friends (that helped my mental state)
Like I said, it was a stressful semester, which made my mood go up and down. I was a little bit mentally unstable per se, but I’m so great to have friends that were always there to comfort me (and make fun of me at the same time.) Our karaoke sessions were honestly the best!
After mid semester, I was not satisfied with my OPI results. Therefore, I asked for extra help. A past Flagship teacher gave me extra tutoring sessions, but he also introduced me to a new friend that helped me a lot as well. This guy took me to many good places in Nanjing!
After taking me out all the time, it was my turn to take him out for fish!
Overall, it was a stressful semester. However, my Chinese did improve, so at least my sweat and tears throughout the semester weren’t in vain. Anyway, it’s Internship Phase now, and I hope to update about what I’ve been doing as well as my travels during break.