Written by Millie S., High School/Pre-College Student Correspondent for CET Beijing: International Career Pathways Summer 2019
My time in China was very inspiring and amazing, but it was also a challenge. Coming into the program without any Mandarin skills, I found that it was very hard for me to fully immerse myself in the culture due to the fact that I couldn’t understand what people were saying. To backtrack, my first language is Spanish and then I learned English, so learning Mandarin where the language isn’t so similar was very difficult for me.
However, with the help of my newly found friends and teachers my Mandarin has grown from where I started. To be honest, I only know a few basic phrases, but it’s still something. Taking my first Mandarin class in China I was super excited because when I used what I learned I felt very accomplished.
Meeting new people from very different backgrounds all invested in learning Mandarin or strengthening their Mandarin was a great way for me to work on my language skills as well. Only being here for a month, the first thing I learned to order was mango juice (man guo zhi) then I learned how to order bubble tea as well as my favorite order at McDonald’s. Many of the things that I learned to say in Mandarin is basically how to order food because I love food.
Every class with Bao laoshi was always so interesting and an overall fun environment for me to express myself in Mandarin. She made learning a really hard language, at least for me, really easy for me to understand. Even with my challenges with the language barrier I’ve made friends and created memories that I will take with me forever. Maybe I’ll teach my family some phrases in Mandarin.