Mandarin Studies – Why Would You Do It?

20 May

Why would you learn a language as hard as Chinese? The reasons that motivate yourself will most not likely be the same that keep you going. Here is why.

Ultimately, to the main reason to learn Mandarin is to live in China. There is little use of knowing the language elsewhere in the world. Therefore I would say that the reasons that make learning Mandarin a good idea are the same that motivates you to come to China in the first place. In the long term, the reasons are those that make you stay here. I came to China with a very clear idea of what it was that I wanted to do here. I think that most people do. But like most people realize, the reasons for moving to The Middle Kingdom is unlikely to be the same as the ones that make you stay. When you first come here you are absolutely enthralled by its strangeness. When you stay for a while you get used to the great things about China and start getting more and more annoyed of the less great aspects. For those that stay beyond that point, when the sweet is not as sweet and the bitter more poignant, they do so because they have found something other than what made the country seem great at first.

Funny story; when I arrived here I came to the wrong city. Furthermore, not only the wrong city, but also the wrong province, and the wrong part of the country. When I came to Copenhagen, bags packed, and put my E-ticket number in the machine I was dead surprised when the destination said Shanghai. I wanted my ticket to say Beijing. The reason that this problem was so vexing was that I remembered at that point as flash that yes, 8 months ago when I booked my ticket, I was indeed going to Shanghai, but during the course of that time the school I was going to attend when bankrupt. Somehow my Swedish meatball brain failed, for the better part of 2/3’s of a year to compute the logistical consequences this had on my itinerary. So the first thing I had to do when I came Shanghai was to find a way to get to Beijing, it was not easy.

Last week I went back to Shanghai, on business, finding the train was a piece of cake. I actually speak pretty decent Chinese today as a result of many many hours of studying the language. The reason that I am reflecting on this is that just as my abilities to live life here changed, from very finding it hard to finding it easy, very new reasons to stay has come to mind. I wrote that ultimately the reason to learn Chinese is to live in China. This is very true. To make the many many hours worth it one needs to find a home here. My home was not so much found to learn mandarin, but because I was learning it.

I live with my coworkers, in a super nice apartment; we have a san-lun-che (a three well mini car) that seats us all and is great fun to drive. We eat superb Chinese food every day and we enjoy Beijing’s nightlife. Indeed these are all reasons I was able to appreciate China from the start. However, they alone would not let me reckon that staying here indefinitely was a good plan. They are not as sweet as they were when I come.

My real home is instead my job. I love it – every minute of the workday. I got the job because I was learning Mandarin. When I think of Beijing it is Beijing Gateway Academy that I think of. When I recently went back to visit my folks I missed not only my good mates, but my office desk and the people I meet when I work there. Learning Chinese/Mandarin is a good idea for many different reasons, all of them somehow pertain to living in China so it is not hard to see why the reasons you have in your mind when you arrive are going to be different from the reasons that motivate you once you have been here a while.

Rui Ming works for a Mandarin language Academy in Beijing that is a great option for those that want to learn Chinese Mandarin. If you are interested in more information about learning Mandarin in China, please consult the website of Beijing Gateway Academy.

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