Learning Chinese

I said I would update this more frequently from my last post, so I thought it only fair that I have a new post a month later. The weeks are starting to fly by. It seems as though I’m staying at school longer. I usually play basketball once or twice a week, as well as have English club once. So I’m at school until 6pm, for 3 days the other days I have my chinese tutor, or band practice to attend. My school is having a 30th anniversary performance put on, and I was selected as one of the performers. I was vaguely told to pick a song that has some meaning to the special day, with a french song that I never heard as an example. So after scouring the internet for songs about “School appreciation” I gave up and picked Louis Armstrong’s, What a wonderful World. I’ve played it in the past which helps for preparation. I have roughly 30 middle school girls who are accompanying me and I’m having them singing some harmonies to the chorus and such. Although I was instructed that I was the focus of attention and they were the background. I think it’s gonna turn out good. Our band had a show last night, a block party to be specific. It went pretty well. We have a nice following from our fellow teachers and there was a nice size Chinese population that came. We are getting paid pretty decent for our gigs now, and will be playing at one of the nicest clubs in town in the coming weeks. The irony is it has been much easier to get gigs in China than in the U.S. or St. Louis for that matter. We plan a few shows before the New Year. I will also be playing a duo gig with a guitarist we met a few weeks back. It is in one of the nicest places in Shenzhen, (besides where I live). The area was supposed to open up in November but didn’t because it is huge. I was told it is the largest shopping center in Southeast Asia or something along those lines. It has an enormous IMAX as well as an outdoor amphitheatre on the water. There are nice restaurants (stress nice) as well as wine bars and the bar I will be playing has a ski lodge feel to it. The place is still new and not very busy as far as I know so it should be a good practice gig as well as good fun.

Chinese is still difficult. I’m waiting for my breakthrough to happen in comprehension. I can make simple sentences and understand structure decent, but the words are difficult to remember for many reasons. I can always put in more study time, but have been doing alright given my schedule. My tutor is a really nice college student studying teaching english to foreigners. It’s definitely a language that needs patience. I’ve been using a variety of study methods online and our textbook that was a required purchase. One in specific I’ve used as of most recent is Learnchineseez it is very simple as far as web design, and gives useful phrases with a native speaker’s pronunciation. Another website www.Memrise.com has helped me with character recognition and has many languages you can use. I recommend both.

It’s Christmas season and the weather has turned chilly. I bought a jacket last week, and am contemplating getting a jacket tailored. My body type isn’t exactly near a Chinese man’s. Shirts may fit me but don’t give me much movability. My apartment is not the warmest place. Although I think lack of heat in my St. Louis home prepared me well for the cold. I just in the past week got a few more tutoring jobs which will be a nice supplemental income. I am looking into booking my tickets for our Break the first week of January. I’m definitely flying into Bangkok because it is a good starting point and the cheapest flight. I’ve decided a definite visit to Siem Reap, the ruins of Angor Wat which I’ve been told are truly a wonder of the world. My next 2 countries I’m split between are Burma and Vietnam. Both would be equally awesome, and I haven’t made up my mind yet. Any thoughts or opinions feel free to comment, they will have little bearing on my decision, but nonetheless are always welcomed.

  • Tiberius

    Ankgor Wat will be amazing. Watch out for the depictions of dinosaurs sculpted into the rocks. http://www.s8int.com/dinolit14.html

  • Jerry Knight

    My first reading of your blog. I recognize the guy standing next to you. He is very cool.

    Nice website and content.

    Merry Christmas!

  • Michael Kleydman


    Just wanted to let you know that I’m still reading your blog! It’s a nice change of pace at work. Hopefully, by reading this post it’ll inspire you to write a bit more often!

    It seems that your getting a routine down in China. Glad to hear that you’re able to showcase your music talents.

    Unfortunately, I was unable to make my trip out to Asia over the holidays. I’ve taken a job in Arkansas and will be moving in a week! To use a Jafarian quote, “moving on to bigger and better things.” It should be a nice change of pace for me. Getting a bit too complacent here in St.Louis.

    Angkor Wat will be an awesome trip.. I recommend going to Burma. It’s a bit more interesting going to places that aren’t recommended by your typical tourist.

    Happy Holiday,


  • Amir

    Tiberius, I will definitely check out the Dino’s. I may even ride a pterodactyl back to St. Louis!

    Uncle Jeff thanks, send my regards to all of the family, and happy new year.

    Michael, good to hear from you. I’ve fallen victim to routines, which haven’t included updating the blog, I will try my best to. Nice on the move, did you switch jobs or the same company. Burma may be on the backburner, it’s slightly more expensive and more difficult to get to, however plans change.