The Most Embarrassing Moment while I Speak Chinese
Kun Shan University-Carlo Renato Fumagalli Coudere

Taiwan it’s a very beautiful place indeed, but sometimes, I would like to go back to my country because of the embarrassment and frustration sometimes I feel. Of course after the embarrassing moment I just laugh of myself, and hope nobody noticed what happened. The first week after I landed in Taipei airport, I have learned only to say hi! I was saying “Ni Hao” to everybody, and it was very fun! But in a short time, I realized I needed to learn more words than just hello. In the first week my classmates and I started to learn some new words, and even how to write. For me was a very interesting experience, I never thought that I will communicate with other adults by a kind of complicated drawings! After a few days my teacher explained that those “weird drawings” were actually Chinese characters and could be called as logograms or sinographs and is the oldest continuously used system of writing in the world.

After hearing my teacher’s explanation I tried to write and pronounce in a correct way, and after a few hours of intense training, myself and some fellow students decided to hit the streets and practice what we learned. We went to practice to the night market across ShiDa University, and it was very funny. We really believed our pronunciation was correct, but the people in the night market didn’t understood us at all, I still have in mind a picture of their faces with all this expressions of confusion and happiness, I think they enjoyed our ignorance so much. In my ba

ckpack I always have a little notebook, so the answer to our problems was to draw what we wanted! In the beginning we started writing the Chinese characters very neatly, but again we were completely wrong… we were mixing each and every character we learned in class that day, to see if it could make any sense, but the outcome was the same, just a lot of laughter and funny faces from our Taiwanese friends. So what we did in the end, we actually draw what we wanted and mixed with mimics, those days we became professional artistic pantomimist and postmodern drawers.

After those experiences in ShiDa University, I started learning more Mandarin Chinese in my University, but still, Mandarin Chinese language is very complicated and extensive, so my embarrassing moments didn’t stop. Another story about my poor Mandarin language cost me more than NTD$1000. My friends and I decided to visit some friends at Chengchi University in Taipei, after a long trip in bus from Tainan to Taipei bus station, almost 7 hours, without having lunch and dinner, we stopped for a taxi in the street and he asked us in Taiwanese, where?! So we all tried to say the name of the university, but the taxi driver didn’t want to understand us, so we waited for another one, and the story repeated like 3 times, after a while, a taxi driver said he knows the place we are going. We were in the taxi for 45 minutes, and we saw the taxi meter going up and up, we stated asking questions to the taxi driver, and he became angry! At last we arrive to the place! But it was a school with the same name than the University we were looking for! Or that’s what the taxi driver said. I hope I never find another taxi driver like this special and nice guy. I look forward to have more embarrassing but not so expensive moments while I learn and practice Mandarin Chinese.