Sunday, December 14, 2014

Since last we spoke

I remember when I started this blog that I had every intention of writing at least one post a week, but somewhere between memorizing hundreds of new Chinese words and watching Guardians of the Galaxy twice in one day, I kind of lost track of it. So here I am, ready to make up for my absence. By my calculations it has been about two months since my last post, so I'll start by trying to cover what happened in that time.

In a word, turmoil. No there hasn't been any earthquakes or peasant uprisings, this is the more subtle, internal turmoil. I have had more existential crisis in the last two months than in my previous 23 years combined. I told this to multiple people, somewhat jokingly, but it's completely true. My time in Wuhan has caused me to question my entire life plan, my commitment to Chinese and my understanding of who I am. Remember when I wrote that somewhat obnoxious initial post about how I will eventually laugh at this blog, how evolving is the best thing that you can do to become a better person? Well, I failed to remember that change is often accompanied by many stressful nights laying in bed wondering what exactly I have gotten myself into.

Don't get me wrong, Wuhan has been great. You can scroll down and see I have made some amazing friends, seen beautiful places and experienced wonderful things. But I am far from fulfilled. I have never in my life had so much trouble motivating myself to get things done. Part of the problem is the difference in teaching styles between the US and China. Whereas I have become accustomed to homework assignments, quizzes and a multitude of tests each semester to gauge my progress, the Chinese have a more relaxed system. There are only two real grades for the semester, a midterm and a final. The impetus to study and prepare for those tests is on you. The teacher will not force you to do anything, you have to create your own regiment to study by.

This problem is rather simple to solve; you just work harder. But a simple problem isn't necessarily an easy one. In fact, this might be the most difficult problem I have encountered in my academic career. Never have I felt this much weight on my shoulders, yet have no idea how to relieve it. I am a goal oriented person, I need steps to track my progress and know I am on the right path. Here, I have none of that. So I must create my own path. Trouble is, I HAVE NO IDEA WHERE TO START. So instead of working my ass off and learning the Chinese I need to, I feel like I'm treading water.

Put simply, I need to find the old Ethan. The kid that filled notebook after notebook practicing characters, the one that would walk down the street mumbling Chinese to himself like a schizophrenic. I have improved in almost every way over that kid, but he sure as hell loved Chinese. That is what I am truly searching for, my passion for this language, the thing that let me spend all those hours studying instead of watching TV or reading inane internet articles.

Before anybody starts panicking, I should establish that I know this is a temporary problem. I will figure out a way to study that can help me reach my goal of Chinese fluency. Something will click into place, I just have to work hard to make it happen. Until then, I struggle on.

Oh, and I promise to post more often...maybe.

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