English

I love English. I want to fill a bathtub with English and soak in it.

When I walk into a restaurant tentatively prepared to speak Chinese and am asked in English “two people?” I can’t help but sigh in relief. Chinese is really hard, and my retention is pretty unfortunate, but it would be nice to retain a good chunk of what I’ve learned before we leave.  That’s nearly impossible because EVERYONE speaks English.

I have said some really dumb things in Chinese:
To the Chinese server at the beer bar in Beijing:
“Can we live over there?” instead of “Can we sit over there?”

To the guy at the fast food counter:
“…and one bottle of handsome.” instead of “…and one bottle of water.”

To the mean lady at the grocery store who was trying to give me something for free:
“No! I don’t want that thing!”

It’s just so easy to take the easy way out, not use Chinese, relish in the fact that most people speak English. I feel as though I’m not challenging myself if I’m not using the language that I’ve worked so hard to grasp.  However, when the Californian kid who just happens to have some Chinese heritage brings me my food says, “would you like more water?” instead of “blah, blah, blah shui ma?” I feel much more confident responding “yes, please” instead of violently shaking my head up and down like an idiot while saying something indiscernible.

Perhaps I will have more luck with German.  Everyone says it’s easier than Mandarin.  I think brain surgery is easier than Mandarin, so the bar is set pretty low.

Here’s to faster language learning – Prost!