Author: Tiffany Luehrs
Program: Hangzhou, China – Study Center
Yes, class on a Sunday. The opening ceremony for the school year was on Wednesday September 14th but classes did not start that day nor the next because of the Mid-Autumn Festival that took place September 15-17. In America, most holidays are observed on a Monday even if the holiday occurs on the weekend but in China, they celebrate holidays on the exact day. This means that you might have to make up for having days off during the week like we had to. The Mid-Autumn Festival fell on the 15th and while we got three days off, we had to make up for the missed classes by beginning our semester on a Sunday. But I was more than ready to get started after what had seemed like a never ending summer!
The first day was the usual syllabus day with the overview of the semester, the professor’s expectations, and of course the awkward but necessary icebreakers all in Chinese. The class I had that day, 精读 (jing du – intensive reading/grammar) is somewhat like our homeroom class and our jingdu professor also serves as an academic advisor. We have jingdu every day except for one, and our jingdu professor keeps us updated on campus activities, holidays, elective courses, class trips, etc.
With the exception of the first day of school, I normally have two 90 minute classes per day with a break in between. Everyday I have class at 8am except for Tuesdays when my first class begins at 1pm. Instead of just one main Chinese class that meets everyday I take four separate courses that often overlap in topics, grammar patterns, and vocabulary. The Chinese courses I am taking include 精读 (jingdu)，阅读 (yuedu – reading) ，听力 (tingli – listening comprehension)，and 口语 (kouyu – oral). The way that our classes are split up allow us to focus and gain a deep understanding of each aspect of communicating in and comprehending Chinese. In addition to the intensive Chinese language courses, I am also taking the Environmental Biology of China course and the Chinese Culture and Civilization course taught by our Valpo program director.
The campus is much livelier than we when we first arrived in Hangzhou now that classes are in session and I have met students from all over the world from places such as Germany, Russia, Scotland, England, Romania, Korea, Japan, and Thailand. Apart from classes, I usually spend my days going on runs by West Lake, studying at nearby cafes, eating out with friends, roaming around Hangzhou, and playing soccer with the boys (in the process of recruiting other girls to join). The first couple weeks have flown by and I look forward to seeing what else the semester has in store!