Friday, June 27, 2008

Right now I'm sitting with my laptop at Cafe Strada. I'm on vacation in Berkeley and I'm spending the night studying Chinese. What a dork. But with literally two weeks left before I depart for China, I'm starting to freak out about my inability to understand Mandarin.

Okay so maybe I'm over exaggerating just a tad bit. It's not like I can't speak any Mandarin. I did take Mandarin in high school, but then again high school level foreign language doesn't quite cut it. Besides that, it was four years ago and I haven't seen the stuff since then. I'm slowing working on it, but Mandarin is hard language. It's a work in progress.

So you may be wondering how exactly I'm learning Chinese. The key is exposure. Mainly I'm using The Rosetta Stone. They claim it's the fastest way to learn a language guaranteed. For my sake, I hope they're right. In addition to that I'm listening to Chinese podcasts and trying to watch Chinese television. I've even delegated my iPod nano as the "Mandarin iPod." I've only put Chinese podcasts on it, so I have no choice but to listen to Chinese.

Honestly though, maybe the title of this entry is misleading. The Mandarin is coming along. I can tell is better than ever, not that means that much. I'm starting to develop an ear for the sounds and tones, but it's no where near fluency. I've always managed to pull out my A game during crunch times. With my training in China being conducted solely in Mandarin, there's no bigger crunch time than right now.

Time to go back to learning about mao yi (sweaters), ku zi (pants), and chen shan (shirts), etc.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

I spent this past weekend in scorching San Diego attending my friends graduation at UCSD. Other than it being disgustingly hot and sweaty, it was nice ceremony. The best part of the trip though was just hanging out with the guys.

I have a really unique group of friends at home. We've all been friends since at least middle school. In fact I've known a few of them since preschool. The funny thing is even though we all ended going to different high schools and colleges, we have stayed together. And while we might not keep in touch daily or even weekly, I know I can always depend on them and vice versa. A group so close we call ourselves "the brothers."

This weekend it hit me that this will be our last summer together. I've always come to expect all my friends being home during winter/summer breaks as if no time were lost. It was like no matter how long I might be gone, home, friends, and family would always stay intact in LA. This summer is really a crossroads as we begin to embark on different life trajectories.

Pretty soon we'll all be going our separate ways:

I'm heading to China.
One of us is headed to India.
Another off to Athens, Georgia.
One of us is already in New York.
Some of us are finishing up school next quarter.
Some are still looking for a job. Who knows where they'll end up!

What spurred all of this was a talk with my friend on the drive back from San Diego. He expressed all his concerns and worries regarding staying in touch and keeping together. Honestly, I'm not that worried. It's going to be hard to keep in touch, especially when I'm on the other side of the world. But with email, facebook, blogging, skype, etc. it can be done if you're diligent about it. Good friends are worth that time and effort.

P.S. Sorry those of you aren't in either of these images :( But click below for more of my graduation photos. You can feel like you were there!

UCSD Graduation

UCLA Graduation