I picked up season 4 of the X-Files today, which is, perhaps, the best television series of all time. Conspiracy theories, colonization, creatures, and cigarette smoking men don’t get along to well with the Chinese language…but what the hell, I don’t know enough 汉字 right now to comprehend the local flicks anyways.

My new hobby these days has been hanging out in the many tea houses which can be found throughout the average P.R.C. mainland. I’ve visited about 6 different establishments within the past month…always ordering red tea (which I’m told is actually black tea…or something along those lines). Aside from green tea, it is the only other item I’m currently able to order. Each tea has a special name, the characters of which are completely beyond me…probably hiding out somewhere in Mongolia. I just say 我喝红茶! Where I’m immediately presented with a menu upon which the most expensive item is clarified for me. Being the cheap individual that I am, I give a slight smirk and immediately select the cheapest possible red tea on the menu. 5/6 time I got what a paid for…a Lipton “International” tea bag. But I hit the tea pot yesterday and was the surprised recipient of some ‘real’ tea…for the same price.

The real reason I did the tea bar is that one can hang out as long as one should please…I’m talking from opening to closing…for the price of one tea pot. So far my record is 5.5 hours…on Tuesday. This ‘stay as long as you want’ policy fits nicely into my study habits. Writing characters (which is pretty much all I’ve been up to these days) is a somewhat mind-numbing exercise, in which close proximity to internet, a DVD player and abundant Mulder and Scully adventures can result in many a blank page.

Despite many hours logged drinking tea, I still find myself getting my ass-kicked in class. Characters are tough, really tough…especially when one given 15-20 new ones each day. I don’t have much of a problem recognizing characters and associating them with their pinyin…it is the writing I cannot remember. I can read, but not write. However, while my Korean and Japanese classmates are taking me out for kimchi and sushi on the characters, I’ve got the game cornered in the listening lab! There is still hope!

I really want to start bloggin’ a bit in Chinese…but really can’t write much of interest that wouldn’t generate howls from my Chinese literate friends.

“Hi, my name is Bryan. I study Chinese at Nanjing Normal University….” I’ll spare you the attempt!

In a few months baby!


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