April 6, 2013, by Mark
Chinese food, language & hospital
Welcome back for another Study China instalment. I have mostly recovered from the jet lag and man flu since my last post but I am now dealing with another issue, my ear hasn’t popped since landing! I’m usually not one to seek medical assistance, instead favouring self-recovery, but being in a foreign country so different from my own I figured it was probably best to get it checked out. My first real Chinese experience therefore became a hospital visit. Accompanied by an English-speaking Chinese student I visited multiple doctors, all of whom did not speak a word of English which made for quite an experience in itself. The hospital itself was much like the QMC in Nottingham, an education hospital, but with one key difference. Where patients in the western world wait in waiting areas, here in China they simply queue (I use the word lightly) into the doctor’s rooms. This meant whilst being seen by various doctors I was joined each time by a handful of other patients, all staring and curious as to why a westerner was present. Although now on Chinese medication, I have to admit I really rather enjoyed my Chinese hospital experience!
The same day I entertained my first Mandarin (Chinese) language lesson. Mandarin is arguably one of the most complex and difficult languages in the world, making learning it somewhat a challenge. The language comprises of different tones that mean pronouncing a word just slightly wrong means you can find yourself saying something entirely different. I learnt this the hard way in my first lesson whilst attempting to say ‘mother’ and instead saying ‘horse’. Following my introduction to the Chinese language a group of us headed to one of the many university canteens where a plethora of Chinese dishes and foods are available to purchase using a swipe card system.
In the evening we all suited up for the official opening ceremony of the Study China Easter Programme 2013. Held in a vast building the event felt somewhat more like a press conference with more cameras and press present than actual Chinese students and staff greeting us. After a few speeches, formalities and greetings we were invited to a formal dinner comprising of many different Chinese cuisines. I would add at this point that knives and forks are almost entirely non-existent with chopsticks and small spoons instead the norm. I am relishing the challenge to master using chopsticks and watching those who really are hopeless with them!
– Mark J Richardson
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