May on learning Chinese in Shanghai
GoEast student profile
Time in China: 3 years
Chinese Level: HSK5
Other Languages: Thai (native), English
GoEast Teachers: Winona Liu 刘科含
Campus: French Concession campus in Shanghai
Favorite Chinese Phrase/Word: 冰淇淋 Bīngqílín! (icecream!)
Why did you come to China?
I’m pursuing a medical degree at Fudan University, a six-year program in English, but that doesn’t mean that I won’t learn Chinese. And even though my end goal is to work in Thailand, the Chinese population and tourists in Thailand grows every day. It’s super important in any profession to be multilingual. I already know Thai and English, so Mandarin is my third language.
Did you know any Chinese language before you arrived in China?
I knew some pinyin and how to count to ten, but not much more. It was a big culture shock at first for me, coming from a small town to a metropolis like Shanghai because there are so many people here. I actually really enjoy the convenience of transportation and how easy it is to get around here. After a while, my inner-Chinese roots pulled me through. I remember so specifically, trying to get off the bus. Because if there’s no one getting off they would just keep driving. So I gathered my inner-Chinese and just screamed nonsense until the bus driver had to slam on the brakes, stop, and let me out. I think that was when I realized I should really study Chinese. It’s so easy to say ‘我要下车Wǒ yào xià chē’ but I didn’t know how to put it together.
Why are you learning and studying Mandarin language at GoEast?
The Chinese that they teach you at Fudan for my program isn’t sufficient to go into a hospital and ask, “Can you close your eyes?” I knew about GoEast from a senior friend in the same program, she had been taking online classes with Emily. I asked her, “I really want to improve my Chinese but the university is teaching me about fruits. I can’t go to a patient and talk about fruits.” So she suggested GoEast to me and sent me Emily’s contact. I walked from the campus trying to find Daxue Lu. I didn’t really know where it was but Emily waited for me at the door which was really neat. That was my first impression of GoEast.
And GoEast really helped my confidence in Chinese and just let me practice, not being afraid of saying the wrong things. Because they don’t laugh at you, they’ll laugh with you. That’s what I love about learning with Winona. She’s very kind and she makes the lesson very interesting.
How often do you take Chinese language classes at school?
This semester, twice a week. Now I just started on the HSK 5 book, the second chapter. There are so many words in each chapter. When I have more time I use a flashcard app called Anki, especially when I get closer to an HSK test. It’s very useful, I also use it for studying medicine, even though it was originally created for language.
What have you learned about yourself while studying Chinese?
I think being in China in general, it’s a totally different vibe than living in Thailand or even living in the States. I discovered parts of myself that I didn’t know existed. I came out of my shell more. With a new language, you can kind of almost be another person. If you learn it from the right people, they’ll tell you the right things so you won’t go and embarrass yourself in front of other local people. I think it’s just great, it’s fun.
What advice do you have for people who are interested in learning Chinese at a Chinese school in Shanghai?
Just do it. You’ll have no regrets. A new language, if you know how to speak another language, that’s amazing. You don’t know how many people you can connect with just a new language. It doesn’t matter how good you are at it as long as you just go for it. So just don’t back down. You made the right decision to learn Chinese. I support it.