Outsmarting Shanghai

So guess how I’m distracting myself from constructive things tonight?

The Office! Dang this is the best show, I’m re-watching season 4 and I’m up to the episode where Jim and Pam go to Michael and Jan’s house for the most terrifying dinner party ever. Did you know Angela was crazy pregnant that whole season and is being cleverly hidden through camera tricks and general TV awesomeness? I love stuff like that. Look at the dynamic of this show, how can awkwardness be so funny?

So earlier I managed to Skype a Chinese friend of mine who actually lives in China! And practiced some of my new conversational skills with him in Mandarin Chinese. For the most part it went well and he understood me, however (as I suspected) despite learning the meaning to lots of words I still have trouble understanding sentences when I hear them spoken all together.

Another problem I encountered was something I so naively didn’t expect, there are different ways to say the same sentences and when your taught the less common ways it can make it more difficult for a Chinese person to understand you. So when these two situations happened together neither of us understood the other.

Also I suspect that terms have changed over time, I’m using an old Chinese learning curriculum that teaches me some terms a certain way, and when I look at newer texts I see the same terms written differently, and more simply! And I’m thinking, I only know the harder version and I’ve gone to far to relearn it!

But when my friend spoke small sentences and asked easy questions I understood him, and when I spoke clearly and stopped clenching my teeth when I spoke he understood me. Is it common for people to clench their teeth when their speaking new languages? I feel like I do it when I’m learning new scripts as well (luckily I don’t take it to the stage ha).

A friend asked me why out of all the countries I could use to kill some time in why I chose China and Shanghai in particular, I mean how many people think of that? It’s expensive to fly there, it actually needs a visa to visit which costs money and for a simple Australian a government such as theirs is kinda scary. I can’t really source my motivation back to anything in particular except for how awesome it looked in Skyfall. Am I wrong though?? Go back and re-watch Skyfall and marvel at the sheer awesomeness that is Shanghai in that movie, that could literally be all it took. My brother won’t hear of it though because being a member of the film industry he knows what went into making those shots look so amazing, and that the city won’t be that good in real life. We’ll see.

Another dilemma for my Chinese trip (now only 5 days away) is whether to get a bum bag (or fanny pack) and look like a complete tool in Shanghai. On one hand, I love my wallet and not looking like an idiot. On the other hand it is a well known city for pickpocketing and I’m oblivious as all hell, I’m also really tall and loud and not Chinese so I’m kinda gonna stick out. I would definitely steal from me.

I don’t actually know for a fact that pickpocketing is especially high in Shanghai, but my other Chinese friend told me that it is and when a friend is literally from a country I’m visiting I take every word they say as complete law. But at the end of the day whether it’s true or not in stands to reason that if it does happen it’ll happen to me and I’ll be completely screwed if it does so I think I’ve talked myself into it.

If you have any helpful advice for Shanghai please let me know 🙂 I’ll be back again soon for an update on whatever’s on my mind at the time. Peace out 😉

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