I’ve said this to only one person up until now: “Not even in my senior year of high school would have crossed my mind that I’d be learning Chinese.” Fast-forward to today, I’m a freshman in college, heading into the second semester of Beginner Chinese, being completely in love with it. What happened?
My Language Background
I was born and raised in Chisinau, Moldova, an Eastern European country many people mistake for the Maldives since almost no one’s ever heard of it. There are primarily two languages spoken here: Romanian and Russian. My native language is Romanian and it’s been the only one I could speak for quite a while. Then I got into watching dubbed anime (embarrassing, I know; I didn’t watch subbed until later) and playing World of Warcraft. This combination skyrocketed my English because:
- It was a ton of fun;
- I did it for hours on end.
My school required that I study German but I wasn’t really into it, so I only put in as much effort as to get a satisfactory grade. Finally, there’s Russian, a language spoken by 20% of the population where I live. It’s so useful here, it should be in the Moldovan starter pack. However, I didn’t pick it up as a kid because I mostly had Romanian friends. When I was in high school, the rational part of my brain made me study it because it would be “good for my career”. And study it I did for about 2 years. It’s a language that is SO DAMN difficult, I still struggle speaking it to this day.
So I wound up knowing 4 languages. All of them have either Latin, Slavic or Germanic roots. As I was entering college I really wanted to pick up yet another language. You’d think that the next step would be to choose something similar to the ones I already know. And you’d be perfectly reasonable in assuming that. I, however, picked the most foreign and ridiculously hard language known to Westerners – Chinese. Suffice it to say, my family was visibly disappointed. They kept insisting on the “opportunity cost” I’m wasting by doing something that has a “very steep learning curve” with no immediate “ROI”. Big words, didn’t listen.
I just thought that learning Chinese was a really cool thing to do. As for practicality, I’ve made tons of Chinese friends my first semester just because I’m attempting to learn their mother tongue. *Shout-out to all of them for helping me*. It’s been four months now and I still feel like a baby. I can barely make up simple sentences and only know about 400 characters (OK, I know that seems like a lot, but it really isn’t enough to understand your average Facebook or Wechat post. And that is very important).
So What’s My Goal
My goal is to be fluent in 4 years, as hard as it may seem. I will document my journey along the way. It’ll be uncut, with all its struggles and joys. I will speak the absolute truth. If you’ve made it so far, that’s awesome! If you want to join me on my journey, you can sign up here so you can get notified when a new post pops up. And if you’d like me to write about a particular thing you’re interested, hit the comment box below. Excited to see where this goes.