It has been almost a year so far, and it really feels nice to be able to communicate in a country where the language is not the same as mine. The very first experience of learning Mandarin was during the orientation course, the first week in Taiwan. Since I was a kid, I have seen Mandarin language like something unreachable, but when we got here we saw the reality when we met a lot of foreigners speaking fluent Chinese or others trying very hard to learn it.


These are kind of things that really motivated me to learn it and pay too much attention even after you see a lot of little sticks making words.
I think that my personal experience has been like many other cases, even if I’m still a beginner in mandarin, I can honestly say that now is easier for me to leave in Taiwan, since I already know some.

There have been some steps, like when we are kids, we start by understanding without talking, after some more time, some more lessons and ashamed we start talking at least the very basic expressions and we start practicing what we have learned in the classroom.
But Mandarin is one of those special cases, a different way of learning, and of course a different way of teaching sometimes. I’m sure that if I were in another western country where I don’t have to write characters I would probably be speaking the language in six month, and that’s the challenge here.
It is weird to meet a person back home who speaks Mandarin, so this difficulty for learning makes it a very interesting and defiant language.

The environment here in Taipei could be a bit harder sometimes, because we can get to meet a lot of people who speaks English. So even if we are trying hard to practice our Chinese sometimes people just reply in English, because they also want to practice it.
Such is the example when I went to McDonalds after my lesson about the food, so I was trying hard ordering my han bao (hamburger) and ke le (Coca Cola), and suddenly, the cashier was replying in English.

Or it could happen the other way around, once you start speaking Chinese, people think that you are more fluent than what you really are and they speak so fast and many things to you.
It feels a kind of integration with the society, once you start understanding at least a minimum part of the conversations, and it also make you feel part of.
I started noticing the difference once I met people who just came to Taiwan and we are by ourselves, without locals, without other foreigners who speak Chinese, so I’m the one who has to try hard to make myself understood or help others who doesn’t know anything.

My purpose in Taiwan…

I’m here for a Master degree; nevertheless, we have a Chinese class only 6 hours a week, which is still a plus, because that’s what had helped a lot so far.
I know that even if I keep studying Chinese the rest of the year I still have here I still won’t be able to speak it fluently but at least I can get to know more about the Taiwanese culture.
Now, I feel like in a countdown, I will have to go back to my country soon, so I have to take advantage of every opportunity Taiwan is giving me, and Chinese is one of them, so I must study harder and practice it more every time, because back home, I won’t get to listen to Chinese very often.


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