Friday, September 19, 2008

Week Two Slightly Better

I've made through the 2nd week of university without killing myself, but it was touch and go there for a bit.  Last week was really, really tough, and I was near tears many times, as I couldn't understand a lot of what was going on, and I was having serious misgivings about the wisdom of deciding to attend college at my age when classes are taught in a language I'm not fluent in. When I went to talk to the Chair, he assured me that in three months I'll be fine.  Three months!  Aiyo....but the mid-term exams are in November, what about those?  How am I ever going to pass any tests?  The Chair also said that the teachers will grade me based on my ability.  I can only hope this is so.

At least my schedule got a little better, now down to only 12 classes per week:

10:10 - 12:00 Introduction to Literature (Difficult to understand a lot of what the professor says, but she's really nice and I think she'll be patient with me.)
12:00 - 4:10- a four-hour break, during which I can come home and relax a bit
4:10 - 5:00 Introduction to Computers - Practical Exercises (I cut this class this week, seemed pointless, as we hadn't actually had the real Intro to Computers class and had nothing to practice)

8:10 - 10:00 English (I love this class, hahaha, but I feel sorry for the teacher, as she can't seem to get any response out of the students at all.)
10:10 - 12:00 Phys Ed (First item on the agenda was jog around the track five times.  Well, I can't jog, so I walked as briskly as I could, in the 100 degree heat, playing Wu Bai songs on my cell phone for encouragement.  Since the others were half jogging, half walking, I was able to keep up, because their walking pace is extremely slow.  Then we did some stretches in the weight training room, and that was about it.  Next week we're supposed to learn how to use all the equipment, after the jog around the track.  I like the teacher, she's funny but no-nonsense, and she understands about my bad knees.  However, she told me I need to lose weight.  No, gee, really?  Gosh darn, if you hadn't told me, I just wouldn't have known, thanks ever so much for the enlightenment.)
12:00 - 4:10 - a four-hour break where I can go home and shower after sweating like a pig during the phys ed class.  I dropped the Grammar and Rhetoric class that I had at 1:00, because it's a 3rd year class, and I didn't understand anything at all.
4:10 - 6:00 Introduction to Computers (Incredibly annoying class, because while the teacher talks, the other students chat loudly or sleep, and I can't hear anything.  The teacher never once told them to shut up, just kept talking, and they got louder and louder......I mean, sheesh, I wouldn't understand an explanation of binary code in English, let alone Chinese!  Why on earth this is a required class for the Chinese Department, I'll never know.)

8:10 - 10:00 Computer Word Processing - the other students practice typing English, I'm trying to learn how to input Chinese with the keyboard instead of with software, it's kinda fun
10:10 - 12:00  Readings in Chinese Poetry (I like this teacher very much, he's cool, but I don't understand much, yet.  Too many references to things the Taiwanese kids studied throughout grade school and high school, and I have extremely limited knowledge in that area.)
12:00 - 1:00 LUNCH!  (I have a standing date with my friend Maria for Wednesday lunch in the cafeteria, where I can get a huge plate of rice with four veggie selections for only US$1.50, and it's tasty, too.)
1:10 - 3:00  Taiwan History (Another cool dude for a teacher, totally adore him.  I understand most of what he says, but sometimes he loses me.  In this class we'll also be doing some field trips, which I'm looking forward to.)
3:00 - Go home!  I dropped the Selected Readings of English Sinology Writings because 1) I discovered I didn't need the credits and the course is an elective, and 2) the teacher was pretty boring.  This class is taught in English, but his English is not very good at all, and he was nervous about having me in the class.  

Sleep-in-late day!
Originally, I had the practice class for English in the morning, but the Teaching Assistant said it would be silly for me to attend and listen to the English CDs with the others.  I just have to write a short paper for him, and that's it.
1:10 - 3:00 Chinese Paleography (Otherwise known as the study and scholarly interpretation of earlier, especially ancient, writing and forms of writing.  Not an easy class to understand, and requires one extremely huge, heavy book along with a smaller one, no fun lugging those to class. It's a subject I find very interesting, and I hope I'll be able to puzzle it all out.)
3:10 - 4:00 Labor for Education - Groups of students clean up the campus and sometimes go out into the community to clean up there, too.  I think it's a great idea, and American students should also be required to do this.  However, spending an hour in the hot sun in the summer in Taiwan is not much fun.  Still, I guess it's better than having to clean the stinky restrooms.
4:10 - 6:00  Introduction to Chinese Classics (OMG, so hard to understand the professors, who is also the Chair of the Chinese department, because he uses a lot of words I just don't know.  And his voice through the mike is SO LOUD.  Yesterday the itty bitty girl next to me was concentrating on taking a note, and the professor suddenly shouted to make a point, and she shrieked and jumped out of her seat in fear.  I had a bad headache by the end of class.) 

9:10 - 10:00  Introduction to Chinese Classics Practical Exercises (Sigh....yet another class where I'm clueless as to what's going on.  The teaching assistant has lousy handwriting, so I can't understand what she writes on the board.  Well, come to think of it, I can't understand most of the other teachers' writing, either.  It's like I've only studied printing, and they're using handwriting - big difference!  Anyway, in this class we're separated into groups to work on reports, and at least the guy who sits next to me speaks a tiny bit of English and can help explain stuff to me.
10:00 - go home!  Originally I had, of all things, a "nursing" class in the afternoon, but the school decided that foreign students didn't need to take that, hooray!  Now I have a day that I can go into Taipei to meet my friends for lunch once in awhile.

My classmates are very nice, but they're all 18 years old, and I don't really have much in common with them.  Some of the girls are just too giggly for me, and there are way too many of them who seem to want to make friends just so they can learn more English.  I'm going to be a little standoffish for awhile, I think, and I'm not going to be attending many of their group activities.  So far I haven't run into any crazy-as-I-am Wu Bai fans, but I'm still hoping I will.

When the typhoon left us on Tuesday, it took Autumn along with it.  It's been back to stinking hot for the rest of the week.  I do hope it starts to cool down soon.

Busy weekend ahead, got some reading to do and will meet with Aaron, who has finally come back from England.  I know Monday will be coming along far too soon. :(


Anonymous said...

Way to go, Marla! Stay with it! I know you can do it! I'm so proud of you! I wish for the freedom that you currently have. Make it happen!

WuBaiCBFan said...

Freedom? What freedom? I don't feel as if I have any at all now. That's OK, I spent three and a half years basically goofing off, guess it's time to get serious, right? hehe

I may not have a stellar first year, but I'll be better next year, I know it!

Nicole said...

Wow, that's an intense shedule! I know you can do it! :D