Sunday, October 3, 2010
Fårikål & a Real Chinese Person
I've been studying Chinese for six weeks now, so I thought it was about time to test it out on a real Chinese person.
Luckily on Thursdays our classroom is right next to the room where international students who's just started to learn Norwegian have their class.
I had a big plan, and during a break inbetween classes I perched myself on a bench in the hallway, ready to catch myself an unsuspecting Chinese person.
After a few nǐ hǎo's to a couple of random Asian heritaged Norwegians that passed by, I finally struck gold:
I caught myself a Chinese person!
Or better yet, an outgoing Chinese girl, called Vicky, that wanted to be my speaking partner!
So, on Friday I got a text message from Vicky, asking if I wanted to come to her place after school for some lunch.
On the metro on the way over there, I stumbled upon these two girls and their pet:
24-year-old Vicky has come to Norway in hopes of doing a complete bachelor's degree at the university of Oslo - she just has to learn Norwegian first, as it will be a Norwegian degree with most of the classes, exams and term papers in Norwegian. I admire her spirit.
It was really cool to get to speak to a Chinese person (not counting my teachers) for the first time since I started studying Chinese. Not only in terms of getting to practise my meager language skills, but also in terms of getting to "confront" an intelligent Chinese person my own age with topics that has caught my interest in the class I'm taking on Chinese society and politics.
I've soon come to realize that a big part of being a university student is the feeling of being incompetent. Any language, I can learn, no problem - but if you think I only have classes strictly teaching me Japanese or Chinese language, you thought wrong.
In addition to purely language-teaching classes, I also have to take other, hopefully useful, classes, like economics, social anthropology etc. In my case I've been taking classes related to the countries of the languages that I've been studying, like Japanese popular culture, modern literature, Chinese politics and so on.
The problem is, I'm so stupid! Or, no, it's just that I feel a bit incompetent.
So, I'm taking this class on China's politics and society, right. I don't know jack about politics in China, and now you want me to figure out an interesting topic question and write ten pages about it?!
No, I'm just whining - it ain't that bad. I'm pretty smart. Ehe.
But the worst part is: My teacher is this, probably award-winning, guy, who's got a Ph.D. in this and that, has done field work for so many years since way before I was born, written a bunch of books and has been doing so much cruical work regarding human rights and the relations between Norway and China.
And he has to spend time evaluating my shitty paper?
Such a waste of resource, you know?
back to the lunch at Vicky's.
Vicky had even made, what is considered to be, one of the Norwegian national dishes, fårikål, which is in, ehr, season right now.
Traditionally fårikål consists of pieces of mutton with bone, cabbage, whole black pepper and a little wheat flour, cooked for several hours in a casserole and served with boiled potatoes. Yum!
It was Vicky's first time cooking (and eating) it, and to my delight, she'd put her own Chinese twist to it.
I also got to taste this Chinese treat: Rice wine dessert, which is glutinous rice mixed with yeast and left to ferment in a dry container.
It was.. interesting.
Hey, if I'm going to China I can't be squeamish!