When I look through my blog posts, I realize that I have way too many posts about the frustrations living in this amazing although perplexing country.
Of course, I had the initial “culture shocks” but slowly, I started to understand the local Chinese culture and got to know some nice mainland Chinese.
The most interesting of the local Chinese people I have gotten to know better are the humblest and nicest of all working folks: the building maintenance manager, the postman, the green grocer and his wife, the cleaning lady, the dustman, the sundry shop owner, the supermarket staff, the bus driver and others I see in my daily life.
Many of them still think that I’m Korean and many of them never cease to praise me for my amazing ability to learn how to speak Chinese. Little do they know how little I know!
One morning, I was having a chat with one of the building maintenance guys and the conversation went to learning Chinese. He praised me for being able to converse in Chinese although I’d only been here a short while. B
I told him I still have a lot to learn.
For instance, I can’t read the newspaper. I can’t even read the signs around me. That’s why I am quite paranoid about electricity and water cuts because I didn’t realize that notices had been posted in front of the apartment. Yikes! I thought it’s just another ad :S
I asked if it’s true one would need to know at least 500 Chinese characters before one can read the newspaper? He said no, knowing 300 characters would be good enough. With 150 Chinese characters, one can already read many things or at least try to guess.
When I mentioned that my kid can read a few Chinese characters, he said that I could probably best him because I was an adult and I was consciously learning Mandarin while the kids are taught to memorise the Chinese characters, at an average of 100 characters a year?
Hmm..in 5 years’ time when they are about to start middle school, Chinese children would have mastered 500 Chinese characters. Pretty scary, right?
So…my New Year’s resolution (or Chinese New Year’s resolution hahaha) would be to learn 300 Chinese characters by the time the year is over.
It’s a tough challenge and I don’t think I’ll be that hard on myself to achieve 300 characters…
I’ll do my best and as best as my old memory bank can do. Wish me luck!