我的台湾之旅 – My trip to Taiwan (Day 1)

Author: Inês Carvalho

我2018年决定重新开始学中文。今年我决定八月去中国旅行。因为我想要练习我的中文,也想在中国跟中国人聊天。但是办中国的签证很麻烦,所以我决定去台湾香港和澳门旅行三个星期。 因为在香港和澳门,本地人不说普通话,所以我决定大部分的时间都住在台湾。这是我第一次飞这么远! 也是我第一次去亚洲。

I decided to start learning Chinese again in 2018. Since I wanted to practice my Chinese, and to chat with Chinese people in China, I decided that I would travel to China in August this year [2019]. However, getting the Chinese visa is very complicated, so I decided to travel instead to Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau for three weeks. Since locals do not speak Mandarin in Hong Kong and Macau, I decided to spend most of the time in Taiwan. It was my first time traveling so far away!

在飞机上我认识了一个台湾人: 在飞机上他们给我一个有小麦的蛋糕,但是我不能吃有小麦的东西,所以我把这个蛋糕给了我右边的旅客。他很友善。 他是台湾人但是住在比利时,以前他住在美国, 所以他的英语说得非常好。但是我要练习普通话,所以我没用英语和他聊天。我的中文还不太好,但是他明白了我说的话。我们到台湾的时候,他还帮助我买了一个SIM卡。然后他去了台北,我去了台南。

I met a Taiwanese on the plane: I got a cake that contained gluten, and since I could not eat it, I gave it to the passenger on my rigt. He was very friendly. He was Taiwanese, but he lived in Belgium, and since he had lived in the US previously, his English was really good. However, I wanted to practice my Mandarin, so I did not speak to him in English. My Chinese is not that good, but he understood what I was saying [I guess!!]. When we arrived in Taiwan, he helped me buy a SIM card. Then he went to Taipei and I went to Tainan.

我买了高铁火车票。高铁站很干净。高铁走得很快。我想给我父母打电话,但是在葡萄牙还很早,大部分的人还在睡觉。不过我的男朋友还没睡觉,所以我给他打了电话,我们聊了一会儿天。

I bought the tickets for the high-speed train. The train station was very clean. The high-speed train traveled really fast. I wanted to called my parents, but it was very early in Portugal, most people were still sleeping. However, my boyfriend was not asleep yet, so I called him and we chatted a bit.

在台南天气非常热,也很湿。高铁站不在台南的中心,所以我应该做公交车。在这个公交车不需要买票。公交车很特别,有很漂亮的窗帘。

The weather was very hot and humid in Tainan. The high-speed train station was not in the center of Tainan, so I had to take a bus. There was no need to buy a ticket for this bus. This was quite an unusual bus, and it had beautiful curtains [I forgot to mention in Chinese that it broke half way, and we had to change to another one].

很好吃! Delicious!

我下了公交车以后用Google Maps 找我订的旅馆。旅馆在一条很小的街道上。旅馆老板的太太很友善,我到的时候,她给了我一盘非常好吃的水果。然后我换了衣服,一条裙子和一件T恤。

After I got off the bus, I used Google Maps to look for the hostel I had booked. The hostel was located in a very narrow street. The hostel owner’s wife was very friendly. As soon as I arrived, she gave me a plate with delicious fruit. After that I changed clothes, I put on a skirt and a T-shirt-

离旅馆不远有一个寺庙。
在寺庙里面我问了一个员工为什么在坛下面有那么多甜食。她给我说那些东西都是给爱神的。她问我有没有男朋友,还问我我的男朋友在哪里。我回答他在英国写他的论文。员工说那个神能帮增进 我和我男朋的友关系,这样我们会很幸福。她还给了我很多甜品,但是那么多东西我拿不了,一些掉在地上。我笑着拿了东西,感谢了员工的介绍,然后走了。 那以前我没见过寺庙, 这是第一次! 所以我在寺庙里逛了很久。我也拍了很多照片!

There was a temple not so far away from the hostel. I had never seen a temple before, this was the first time! Therefore, I was inside the temple for quite a while. I also took a lot of pictures [note: I asked before if it was ok]!

在寺庙里面我问了一个员工为什么在坛下面有那么多甜食。她给我说那些东西都是给爱神的。她问我有没有男朋友,还问我我的男朋友在哪里。我回答他在英国写他的论文。员工说那个神能帮增进 我和我男朋的友关系,这样我们会很幸福。她还给了我很多甜品,但是那么多东西我拿不了,一些掉在地上。我笑着拿了东西,感谢了员工的介绍,然后走了。

Messages to the God of Love

Inside the temple, I asked one of the staff members why there were so many candies below the altar. She told me that those candies were for the God of Love. She then asked me if I had a boyfriend, and where he was. I answered that he was in England writing his thesis. The staff member told me that god could help improve our relationship, this way we would be even happier. She also gave me a lot of candies, but I could not hold them in my hands, so some of them fell on the floor. I smilingly picked them, thanked the woman for her explanation, and walked out.

Altar *with candies*
Chikhan Tower or Fort Provintia or
赤嵌楼

然后我去了赤嵌楼。很多年前荷兰人建了这个塔。 我觉得赤嵌楼很漂亮,但是我比较喜欢寺庙。

Then I went to the Chikhan Tower. The Dutch built this tower many years ago. I thought it was very beautiful, but I still preferred the temple.

晚上七点我去了花园夜市。我吃了很多奇怪的东西,但是都好吃!我吃了芝麻蛋糕,很多肉,甘薯, 珍珠奶茶, 火龙果 – 火龙果的颜色很漂亮,这是我第一次吃这种水果。吃完火龙果以后,我找了找在葡萄牙语里这种水果怎么说: “pitaia”.

Pitaya… 火龙果 fire dragon fruit

At 7 p.m. I went to the Garden night market. I ate a lot of strange things, but everything was really tasty! I had sesame cakes, lots of meat, sweet potatoes, pearl milk tea, pitaya – it has a really beautiful color, it was the first time I tasted this kind of fruit. After eating pitaya, I looked for the Portuguese word for it: pitaia [I didn’t know the English name at the time, I just knew the Chinese name: “dragon fire fruit”].

八点左右的时候我觉得非常累,所以回旅馆休息。但是那个旅馆每晚九点有派对。老板请所有的客人吃台湾的水果,喝啤酒。所以我有机会跟其他的旅客聊天。旅馆里没有其他欧洲人,有一个美国人,一个日本人,两个香港人,一个北京人,剩下的都是台湾人。

About 8 p.m. I was feeling very tired, so I went back to the hostel. But there is a party every night at that hostel at 9 p,m. The host invites all the guests for some Taiwanese fruit and some beer. This way, I had the opportunity to talk to the other guests. There were not any other Europeans besides me, there was an American, a Japanese, two Hong Kongers, a guy from Beijing, and all the others were Taiwanese.

At Tainan Quiet Hostel (I highly recommend it!)

因为我想要练习我的中文,所以我跟台湾和中国人说话。一开始的时候他们说得很慢,所以我听得懂他们说的话。但是然后他们说得快起来,我就不太听得懂了,但是没问题。去睡觉的时候,我很开心。我在亚洲的的第一天过得很开心!

I talked to the Taiwanese and Chinese guests because I wanted to practice my Chinese. At the beginning they were speaking very slowly, so I could understand what they were saying. But after a while they were talking faster and I did not quite understand them, but it was OK. I was feeling really happy when I went to bed. I had a great time on my first day in Asia!

I would like to thank my Chinese teacher, Dan, for her corrections throughout the text! 谢谢老师!

Language goals 2018: 普通话 (Mandarin!)

by Inês Carvalho

This blog post is coming a bit late, I know! But I had a lot of work to do, and I also wanted to try out some resources before setting a plan for language learning in 2018.

I suppose you’ve guessed it by now… in 2018 my goal is to learn… Mandarin! Yeay! I want to finally become (relatively) fluent in a non-European language.

I attended a Mandarin course about eight years ago, but after the first year almost everyone gave up, except for two people. Therefore, the university decided not to open a second-level Chinese course.

At the time, I decided to keep learning by myself, so I finished the course book we were using and I even bought the course book for the next level. I was never able to say a lot in Chinese, but I learnt the basics (about A1 level), I could speak a little bit and I studied about 400 characters (“studied”… it doesn’t mean that I actually remembered them).

I stopped studying Chinese in 2011 because I started my PhD at the time and I had no free time in the first semester. In mid-2012 I finally had the time to study languages again, but I wanted to start something new, so I did a short Japanese course and then I started studying Swedish by myself since I was going to move to Sweden in September 2012. The last thing I wrote in Chinese was an e-mail to  a Chinese girl who was renting out a room in Sweden. I don’t think my Chinese was brilliant, but it worked, because out of 35 applicants, she picked me immediately! This is what I wrote at the time:

我叫 Inês。 我是一个葡萄牙学生。 我在LiU大学学习 Gender studies。 我要和你一起住! 我爱 Ryd Linköping, 也在 Ryd 有很多朋友。
我是女人, 没有狗还没有猫 哈哈 I don’t have pets and I don’t smoke!
 
我认为学习汉语语言和文化很有意思。我只学习了一年仲文, 所以我的中文很差。我的中文很差, 但是我很爱写中文哦。

 我想和你一起住!!

在中国, 你来自哪里?
我到中国没有去。但是我要到哪里去!

I hope my Chinese isn’t too bad :))) Please, take me!! 🙂 Hope my Chinese skills impressed you hehehe just kidding, but I gave my best!!
Last year I realised that I urgently needed to go back to learning Chinese, otherwise I was at risk of forgetting all that I had learnt before!
At the end of 2017 my feeling was that I only remembered very little Chinese. I decided that I would study everything from the beginning but using better resources this time. I think that the resources my teachers used when I first learnt Chinese were outdated. They taught us characters and grammar structures, instead of teaching us useful phrases. When I went on learning by myself after the Chinese course ended, I should have changed the resources and the method. For each word I learnt I always learnt to HANDWRITE the character and I would get upset whenever I couldn’t write them. The problem was that this perfectionism made learning a very slow process. Had my focus been on speaking the language and writing using pinyin (based on Latin letters) to introduce the characters in the mobile phone or computer, I would have been able to reach a much higher Chinese level.
Nowadays I am a  much more skilled language learner than in 2010 (I hope), so let’s talk about language goals and resources.
My goal in 2018 is to be able to use Chinese to speak about areas of immediate relevance (personal information, family, shopping, employment, asking for directions, travelling), express opinions about simple topics or describe experiences and personal interests. Hence, I would describe it as reaching a point between A2 and B1 level. I’d like to aim higher, but I also have a demanding a time-consuming career, so my language goals have to be more modest.
I took some time to do some research on the best learning resources out there. After my successful experience with Italian, I searched for YouTube channels with videos for Chinese newbies and I found these ones:

YouTube channels are an awesome away of learning languages! I don’t have a lot of time to sit and study, so this way I can watch the videos while I’m eating or listen to them while cleaning or cooking. That’s how I learned Italian, and I think that this strategy will also work for other languages.

I also looked for podcasts. For now, I’m following ChinesePod, and I listen to it mostly when I’m on the bus (unfortunately I spend too much time on buses… fortunately there are podcasts!). ChinesePod‘s website is really cool too! I highly recommend it (though I think that at some point you have to pay to use it).

As to course books, I’m starting New Practical Chinese Reader 1. This is going to be my main resource. My plan is to finish this book by the end of February, then study New Practical Chinese Reader 2 for three or four months and then do New Practical Chinese Reader 3. I plan to study four lessons a week at the beginning while the lessons are still easy and there’s more that I can remember, and then slow down a bit as lessons get more complicated, probably to one or two lessons a week.

As to speaking practice, I’ve already found a nice exchange group in Lisbon and I think it’s going to be fun and motivating.

After my first week of Chinese learning, I’m highly motivated and I’ve realised that I can remember so much more than I had thought at the beginning! I told my boyfriend that my goal was to be able to have a simple conversation with a friend of his who is from Taiwan by the end of March, and he has already shared with him my goal, so now I really have to learn Mandarin because I don’t want to disappoint them!

As to the remaining languages, my plan is:

  • recover my C2 Spanish (sniff) and remove as much as possible Italian interference;
  • B and C level languages (i.e. French, Italian, Swedish, German, English, Dutch): listen to podcasts, YouTube videos, movies, maybe read literature in these languages, find language buddies and hang out with them every now and then;
  • A level languages (Japanese, Esperanto): do some Memrise or Duolingo so that at least I don’t forget the basics I’ve learnt. In Esperanto, I want to keep on doing lessons in lernu.net every once in a while.

You can follow my language progress and tips on Instagram: @ines_wordwideweb

Happy 2018, you language freaks! Or… 新年快乐! 🙂