Good Good Study, Day Day Up!
Due to the fact we study a whole year of Chinese in one term, the class is very fast-paced. Each day comes with a new lesson, each lesson with 30-ish new words. This means, since Friday is a test, we learn 120 words a week! Every day I spend around three to four hours writing and re-writing my characters so I can remember them. Some two or three hours I spend on reviewing grammar, not to mention the homework and essay due each week. It's a lot, but I am rigorous in maintaining a good routine, despite the heavy workload this generates.
This heavy workload is, however, very rewarding. I can feel how much my Chinese has improved, how much easier conversation flows. It's hard to judge how well you're doing from the Chinese people because they're so warm and welcoming. They will not measure their compliments, even if you say something akin to "my name is porridge, meet you is nice." Therefore, I judge my Chinese level by how frowned people's faces must be to understand me. When I first arrived, all I saw was frowns trying to think hard about what I meant by "Can you pass me the tall, circle, white…" (I was trying to get the teapot). Now, the frowns only come when I'm trying to explain a complicated concept, such as why Brazilian soccer is the best in the world, a topic that comes up a lot for some reason. Every time I catch myself so entranced in a conversation that I even forget how nervous I am to be speaking in a foreign language, I can't help but smile to myself!
So, if your desire is to learn Chinese, or Arabic, or French, or even another school subject, all I can tell you is study well! If you do, your quick learning will make it all worthwhile! And never be scared by Dartmouth's quick academic pace. Dartmouth students have one thing in common: if they set their mind to something, they will always achieve it. Beijing has been no different, and I trust one day many of you will be in the same position I am, whatever your field of study.