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So, OK, last semester I was at the top level of classes offered by Beida’s Chinese as a Foreign Language College. Once you hit the advanced level at the 对外汉语学院, you’re best off 入系’ing – entering the Chinese department – unless you’re a fan of stupefyingly blah language textbooks.

So this time around, when it came time for the placement test, I checked the little ‘I am thinking of entering the Department’ box and crossed my fingers.
Sure enough, I placed in, meaning that I am now a one-semester student in the Chinese department of Beijing University, on the Literature major track.

Panic set in this morning – holy shit, what was I thinking? I read at, like, an eighth-grade level! Oh shit oh shit oh shit! Undo! Undo! – but after going, getting the course catalog, and sitting down with a cup of coffee and a blank roster sheet, I’m feeling good about this.
There are some classes – 古代汉语文学, the one listed as being for 研究生 (Graduate Student Classical Chinese Literature) and 目录学 (Bibiliographic Studies?), anyone? – which are obviously not options for me, but then there are others – 《老》《庄》导读 (Guided Readings in the Laozi and Zhuangzi), 鲁迅研究 (Lu Xun Studies), 汉语方言调查 (Looking at Chinese Topolects) – that look doable.

I feel like a kid in a candy store here.

16 Comments

  1. John P wrote:

    Diving right in is the way to do it. What have you got to lose?? Good luck, man. You’re about to discover exactly how much you enjoy Chinese… :)

    Monday, February 9, 2004 at 11:26 am | Permalink
  2. Alaric wrote:

    Go Brendan! I envy you.

    Monday, February 9, 2004 at 11:44 am | Permalink
  3. Prince Roy wrote:

    you’re doing the right thing. sooner or later you have to cut the language student umbilical cord and get down to business.

    That’s a good literal translation of 目录学. My grad school (UC-Boulder) termed it ‘Sinological Methods’.

    Tuesday, February 10, 2004 at 1:17 am | Permalink
  4. zhuuu wrote:

    Admirable, go for it.

    Tuesday, February 10, 2004 at 2:57 am | Permalink
  5. boy wrote:

    Wow, what a champ. That must be exciting. I’ll be eager to learn what I can from your trials and tribulations.

    Tuesday, February 10, 2004 at 12:15 pm | Permalink
  6. Adam Morris wrote:

    I will give you my mac plus anything else you want so I can do what you’re doing.

    I’m dragging with hyperactive kids. You’re studying Zhuangzi. Sheesh.

    Wednesday, February 11, 2004 at 5:34 am | Permalink
  7. Brendan wrote:

    Adam: no deal. I did the hyperactive kid thing before, and that way lies madness.

    Wednesday, February 11, 2004 at 9:18 am | Permalink
  8. Adam Morris wrote:

    I did the hyperactive kid thing…

    Some bite was taken away today by one of our heads publically praising me for my teaching skills. I guess this world needs people who can handle them.

    Thursday, February 12, 2004 at 7:31 am | Permalink
  9. SK wrote:

    Hey Brendan.
    Long-time reader, first time commenter…
    Just wanted to say that I find your blog to be probably the most enjoyable of the China-blogging “scene”. Your love of what your doing really comes through in your posts and for other “sinologues” is a welcome voice.
    Anyway
    What’s the reading level of the laozi, zhuangzi reader? E.g. If I can read a newspaper can I tackle that bad boy? And where does the “guided readings” part come in. Is it original text, followed by explanatory essay?

    Good luck in Beida.

    SK

    Friday, February 13, 2004 at 6:48 am | Permalink
  10. Ken wrote:

    I read at, like, an eighth-grade level

    Pshhhh. Some of us can hardly read at all!

    Thanks for letting us stay so long with you this past week. *MWAH*

    Saturday, February 14, 2004 at 1:34 am | Permalink
  11. Matt wrote:

    Well Brendan, you just picked up a new fan. You may remember me as Matt Leonard from H.S. Anyway I enjoy reading your posts. Keep up the good work I’m looking foward to rading more.

    Tuesday, February 17, 2004 at 12:39 pm | Permalink
  12. Brendan wrote:

    SK – the trick with Chinese is always knowing the meaning of a character in a certain context, not just knowing the character. That’s especially true with old stuff, where familiar words take on unfamiliar meanings.
    Zhuangzi is pretty clear, I think; it’s still written in guwen, but it’s easy enough to read. Laozi, on the other hand, kicks my ass.

    Matt – hey, what’s up? How’s things at Temple these days?

    Wednesday, February 18, 2004 at 7:15 am | Permalink
  13. Josephine wrote:

    I envy you soooo much. I get all excited by only been able to recognized one character in a street sign!

    Tuesday, February 24, 2004 at 9:24 am | Permalink
  14. Brendan wrote:

    Lili – it’s still a bit cold to be hanging around the Weiming Hu at night. Or during the day, for that metter. And then in summer it gets so crowded; I’m thinking that there have to be other, quieter spots than that. I’d have thought Houhai would be one, but now it’s surrounded by bars, adding a touch of that Sanlitunr class.

    Thursday, March 4, 2004 at 6:19 am | Permalink
  15. Lil wrote:

    Brendan!! y’know, wei ming hu is very romantic at night. and if people ask you where you crazy kids went, you can just be like, uh, the lake don’t got no name.

    pick up hui jia by an dun.
    btw, could you please rewrite the friendster thing? and don’t tell yo about it!! thanks =)

    Thursday, March 4, 2004 at 12:48 pm | Permalink
  16. 盲虫寒异 wrote:

    目录学 Bibiliography (If I remember correctly, it is part of library science.)

    Sunday, May 9, 2004 at 8:18 am | Permalink

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