Written by Kelsey Gallegos, (Washington State University) Student Correspondent CET Intensive Chinese Language in Beijing, Fall 2015
I came to CET Intensive Chinese Language in Beijing for one main reason: To improve my Chinese. If that were my only requirement, there were cheaper methods (no offense to CET) around with flashy brochures and lukewarm promises. There were three things that drew me to CET while the others failed:
1) Teacher and Fellow Student Recommended
3) Immersion with Language Pledge.
It’s no secret in my program back home that the preferred and vetted program is CET. Since my 101 Chinese class I’ve heard the wonders and how well it works. How much people have enjoyed it. And how lucrative it is for your career (though I think some of the stories my teacher told us were made up…). It wasn’t just the teachers, though. Students who had been on the program spoke highly of it. They talked about the difficulties of the language pledge, but how well it helped them in their studies. The teachers focused on the rigorous materials, the one on one or one on two drills that improve pronunciation, and the immersion. The students focused on the local roommates, many saying that they became lifelong friends. For those that didn’t become best-est buds, they still fondly regarded their roommates.
Now this might sound weird, if you know anything about United States University life, but I’ve never had a roommate. Instead of starting out as a Freshman, I began as a Junior thanks to a transfer AA. This meant I had the option of taking a singles room, which I did. Stay by yourself or live with a stranger? Hmm… No brainer there. So while my fellow students praised the local roommates to high heaven I was understandably a wee bit nervous with the idea. That was of course until I met MY roommate.
Her name is Zhen Jing and she’s really awesome. Having her here has been a life saver, really. She’s been endlessly patient as I fumble about with my Chinese, and has seemed to enjoy hanging out with me as much as I enjoy hanging out with her. Our conversations are a bit awkward, mostly because I don’t have the Chinese vocab yet to really hold a much more in-depth conversation than the basics, but even then they are nice and she never seems to mind too much. She’s also pretty understanding. I’ve never been one to be in superior healthy all the time, and so this adjustment has been a little hard. A few nights ago we had a “Beijing Style with your Roommates” event. We were supposed to go out, but instead, we stayed in. My roommate, and my best friend Brittany, made us Beijing Style noodles. We cooked together, laughed together, and hung out together. After some insisting, they even let my friend and I wash the dishes (though they still peeked in and helped a little too). As my language pledge has started, knowing she is willing to help me is such a relief.
This brings me to my third reason for joining CET: the rigorous language pledge and immersion. It has already taken effect and sometimes it can be hard to work with it, but I have found myself enjoying having to stretch my brain and search for what will and what will not work. Instead of worrying over grammar, I have been trying to make my messages make sense. I have grown confident in talking with people around me and it’s been in general a blast (and this is day two!). Our dorm is located on the Southern part of campus, where all Chinese students dorms are located too. This means that foreigners, besides ourselves, are pretty rare in this area. We are immersed in the language due to this, from on the street, in our conversations, and in the classroom. It’s been an amazing experience and I hope that if you are reading this with the consideration to do a study abroad for language, learn where your dorm will be. Try to make it as immersive as possible.