January 21, 2016, by Danny Bav
? 有朋自远方来，不亦乐乎? ?
So many of you probably clicked on this link, wondering what the title means. It’s a quote from Confucius (孔夫子), which loosely translates to “to have friends come from afar is happiness, is it not?”. It’s one of the first quotes I learnt in Chinese and it has served as my motivation for learning Chinese throughout these last few years – to connect with cultures around the world.
I think it’s safe to agree that everyone has their own personal motivations for learning a language – whether that be helping you to connect with a culture or loved ones, or whether you’re a keen traveller and want to create deeper friendships abroad.
My journey of studying Mandarin started back in high school:
I had my first glimpse of the oriental world during a school exchange to Shaoxing, China. I still remember travelling over with friends, unaware of this new world I was about to encounter. Staying with a Chinese family dropped me right into the centre of Chinese culture, it was something totally different, something I had never expected before. That was when my eyes were opened up to how life was completely different on the other side of the world and I had a sudden ambition to be a part of it, to explore and gain knowledge on this mysterious yet wonderful part of the world.
I remember sitting in my Chinese friend’s house enjoying a meal and his parents didn’t speak a word of English. I barely spoke Mandarin at the time and they kept giving me more and more food, so I thought it was an optimal time to try out some of my Mandarin.
“饱了饱了!” (Im full!) I uttered. It was the first time I attempted to use Chinese. They laughed and enjoyed the fact I was attempting to use the language. I believe that we can break down barriers with foreign languages and that inspired me to carry it on and integrate Chinese studies with my degree at Nottingham.
An adventure awaits…
Soon it’s time to uproot myself and leave my little nest and comforts in Nottingham to study and live abroad in Ningbo, a place very different from home. Over the last semester I have been building up my confidence with Mandarin through Contemporary Chinese Soc and I can’t wait to explore China and use my newly found language confidence as much as possible. It hasn’t hit me yet that I am moving away from everything that is so familiar to me, but when it does I hope my initial wave of excitement will carry me through the initial few weeks.
I treat moving as the next chapter in my life, it’s an opportunity to go out and explore more of the world and practice Chinese in everyday scenarios. However, before I get there I’m heading to Hong Kong with friends to celebrate Chinese New Year. I hope to delve deeper into vlogging, so expect some future travel vlogs (perhaps even in Chinese, but don’t quote me on that!) 😉
Also, if any of you have been to the Ningbo campus already, feel free to send me recommendations of places I should visit!
Bring on China!
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