I am Mauricio Cueva Bravo. I am currently studying in the Technology Management Department at National Tsing Hua University, also known as NTHU or its full name in Chinese as國立清華大學, I’m a graduate student. My study program is called International Master’s in Business Administration. My favorite jobbies is the photography.

My home country is Ecuador (厄瓜多尔), which is literally located in the geographical middle of the world, in South America. It is a small but beautiful and diverse country, with many different kinds of ethnicities, religions, wild life, regions and wonderful landscapes. I came to Taiwan last August 2009, and my first impression about this country was the variety of food that they have. Everything looks nice to try. Every time I felt hungry I said: “Well, let’s try it!”. I was so happy and of course, I ordered my food, but I only heard back: “Wo ting bu dong”. “Oh, oh!! What is going on?”, I said! There was a small detail: they spoke Chinese and I didn’t even know how to say “NǐHǎo (你好)”.

At that time I had a counselor who was helping us with some questions I had. As you can guess, I asked her, “When are we going to start the mandarin training?” She replied me that after one day. Great! I could not wait for that, so I was decided to order my food by myself. Well, the next day, when the class started, I also started to feel what most internationals students feel when they have to face a very tough language like Chinese. I think that the issue for us is the confusing four-tone system, the extensive system of measure words, and the whole lot of things to memorize. But even so, I think that it is less complicated to learn how to speak than how to read Chinese, and the things become worse when the teacher tells you that you have to memorize and follow the correct order to write every Chinese character; at that moment you just want to cry.

I can say that the Chinese grammar is much simpler if we compare it with other languages. You can play with Chinese words and create your own sentences; but please, don’t go so far, haha!! I heard that English speakers sometimes complain that the beautiful Spanish language has a complicated grammar (use of male and female gender, verb conjugation, etc.), whereas the Chinese language has little or no bound morphology and there are no grammatical paradigms to memorize. Each word has a fixed and single form: verbs do not take prefixes or suffixes showing the tense or the person, number, or gender of the subject. Nouns do not take prefixes or suffixes showing their number or their case. I’m not trying to tell you that Chinese has no grammar, what I mean is that due to the lack of inflectional morphology, Chinese grammar is mainly concerned with how words are arranged to form meaningful sentences. Plus, each Chinese character is pronounced in one syllable, that’s why when watching Chinese movies, you find that a few words can be translated into a syllable mapping in the English subtitle.

At the beginning it was difficult for me try to deal with the pronunciation of pinyin, especially with j, q, x, zh, ch, sh, b, p, m, f. It was really hard, and later on I heard that I have to use tones. I asked myself, “Tones? Lǎoshī(老师), what are you talking about? That is going to be crazy, sorry! Sorry!” Anyways, I thought that new food and a new world of possibilities were waiting for me, so “Come on! Just do it”, I said. I have to say that after that I started to recognize some words, I also started to have more courage in learning Chinese. Nowadays, I’m still learning Chinese and consider it as fundamental tool for making friends, eating well and of course, making some business contacts for the near future. Taiwan undoubtedly is a small but unbelievable space of land for achieves this and others goals as well. Xièxie Taiwan(谢谢台湾).

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