Exciting times! Yesterday I had the orientation and welcome session at Shida University and in a couple of hours I will have my first Chinese class there!
So let me tell you about my impressions on the orientation session. It was scheduled from 9 to 11 a.m. and I arrived around 8:45. Once I stepped out of the elevator in the 5th floor, I was given a student's guidebook and I was told where to attend the orientation session.
The whole orientation took place in the same lecture hall where my oral examination for the placement test took place. And at 9 o'clock, every single seat was taken, the whole lecture hall was completely filled up with new students. Yes, that definetly is the largest Chinese program in Taiwan! Around 300 new students from all over the world start with me in this semester, and they have an overall of 1500 Chinese language students at Shida by now.
To my surprise, most of the new students where Asian. I really did not expect that, I thought there would be more westerners. But actually I think that will be an advantage later in class. I wouldn't be too happy to chat with my western classmates in English all the time, I am sure it will be interesting to have to use Chinese for talking to your classmates, because you are forced to - since their English might not be so good. Looking forward.
Later in the orientation session we were told about the average composition of the Chinese language students at Shida:
17% North/South America
2% Rest of the world
At 9 o'clock sharp the president of the Mandarin Training Center at Shida entered the stage and delivered a very warm welcome speech.
He talked about just anything that you would expect from such a speech. How happy they are to have us as their students, how great the Shida language program is and that we have to study hard for this program. For a lot of reasons, one of them being that we have to pass a test to be allowed to enter the next level. After he finished his 10 minutes speech, we watched a 15 minutes promotional video about Shida Chinese language program that covered all the interesting topics that a new student would be interested about. Next to the standard self-adulation. ;)
After that, another female Shida staff member entered the stage and gave us a powerpoint presentation where she summarized the most important facts about the visa, the courses, changing the courses and just about anything that we are supposed to know. What really surprised me was the fact, that she did her presentation in both, English and Chinese. The whole time when she spoke Mandarin I wondered why she would do that, because I am sure that she pretty much was talking to herself because no one understood her. If we would have understood her, we would basically not have to go to a Chinese language school! ;) I really have to ask her about that sometime! (Or perhaps she even reads this here! Hello!! ;) If you have an idea about that, let me know.
After a question session, we could pic up our class schedule. Unfortunately, there I had a little of a surprise. The timeslot that I chose was correct, from 6 to 8pm, but the level did not match with the level that was previously evaluated in the placement test. According to that class schedule, I should take a class that starts with the beginning of the first PAVC book. Hm, that was bad, because I was told I could directly start with the 2nd book. So I went back to the question and answer session that was not yet finished and asked the staff member that had given the powerpoint presentation about it. She told me that I should first attend the wrong class and then follow a (complicated) changing of class procedure in the change class period, involving filling out forms, talking with the teachers and so on. I am happy that I did not take this advice but directly went to the main office, counter 7, to resolve that problem immediately. The staff member there was very friendly and helpful just that she encouraged me to deliver my request in Chinese language instead of English. Well, if I would have had the choice, I would have chosen German instead. Haha, but anyways, as it turned out, they didn't give me the more advanced class because there was no advanced class in the timeslot that I had chosen. Anyways, she also didn't really know why they would give me that beginner class instead then. I told her that it was okay for me to take an 8 a.m class as well, and the whole issue was resolved. :) (Actually it must have looked really funny seeing me and talking about administrative stuff in Chinse...)Now it is 6:30 a.m in the morning and in 1,5 hours I will have my first class of Chinese at Shida, starting from chapter 23 in the first book, which is really okay for me since the first book just has 25 chapters.
Stay tuned for me...it has begun!