I took a semester of Mandarin Chinese last year to fulfill a category for school, and to satisfy my curiosity for the language. I found the course to be one of my favorite that semester, and devoted a lot of time to learning the basics. When I heard about the opportunity to study abroad in China I thought it was a chance to use my knowledge about the language in a setting that would hopefully expand my skills. Having spent two weeks in China, I wish I would have continued to study Mandarin.
Tonight for instance, Courtney, Blake, and I traveled around Tianjin exploring different shops and taking multiple cabs. It is very rare to find cab drivers, who speak English, and some won't even bother to try working with us because of the language barrier, but we found a driver that put in a ton of effort to communicate with us. I used what little Mandarin I could remember to speak with him, and he kept saying how great my speech was. This wasn't the first time someone has told me that my Mandarin is very fluent. Every time I get this comment I wish I would have continued my education in the language. I love when people who clearly don't know English still try to communicate with us, and I try my best to use what little I know to reciprocate the effort. While in the cab tonight the driver said he wanted me to switch to sitting in the passenger seat just to talk with him while he drove. Life is all about the experiences we invest in, and this trip could lead me to further my study of the language and eventually come back to China with the hope of holding a conversation by immersing myself in the culture.