"Chemistry Helps Us Understand The Great Courses

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“Ting bu dong” was my response khổng lồ every person that said anything other than hello và how are you in Mandarin. The phrase ting bu dong translates as “I don’t understand,” so of course when I didn’t understand what someone was saying to me in Mandarin I would let them know in their language that I, the English speaking girl, did not understand. I traveled through China, a Mandarin-speaking country, for a whole month only knowing basic greetings and the phrase that I didn’t realize would always lead to lớn more Mandarin being spoken khổng lồ me. I learned very quickly that being in a country that speaks a language other than your native tongue can be a great way khổng lồ improve your language và navigation skills, but it does not come without its challenges.

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While in China, I researched at Beijing Normal University (BNU), a public research university in Beijing. Almost all of the students at BNU spoke some English, which made navigating on campus quite easy. But once I stepped foot off campus, I was in a different world with little khổng lồ no English spoken. Because Beijing hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics, the public transportation system has some signs in English, which has made it easier for foreigners to navigate. Unfortunately, difficulties still arose when I didn’t know where I was going, or if I couldn’t read a restaurant thực đơn or know the price of an cống phẩm in a market. *fun fact about me: I don’t eat pork or beef, so knowing what was in my foods was important. Here’s what I did khổng lồ navigate trung quốc with my minuscule Mandarin skills:

1) I made it my mission to lớn learn the characters for all meats so that I would know what I could & could not eat based on the meats in the foods (authentic Chinese food seemed to be very pork & meat-heavy). Not speaking Mandarin, but knowing food characters allowed me khổng lồ try, và fall in love with, many different Chinese cuisines. I was also able to lớn help my American classmates pick foods as well.

2) I learned basic phrases, some of which I used in the wrong context. Ni hao (hello), ni hao ma (how are you), xie xie (thank you), ting bu dong (I don’t understand), and a few more. My Chinese friends & colleagues were so happy that I was trying to lớn learn their language, and it felt good being able khổng lồ say a few things. I will say that learning the phrase “ I don’t understand” in any language (ting bu dong here in China) might not be the proper response after someone says something lớn you in his or her language. I say that because I would respond to something I didn’t understand “ting bu dong” they would continue to lớn speak to me in Mandarin. It wasn’t until I got back khổng lồ the United States that I realized if I said something khổng lồ someone in the United States in English và their response is “I don’t understand” I would try khổng lồ explain it differently because not understanding doesn’t automatically mean “I don’t speak English.”

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3) When making travel plans in-country, make sure lớn write down all the details necessary to get to & from your destination. Having written addresses, train names and times made it easier for me lớn get where I was trying to lớn go. In case I got lost, I could point out my destination to someone who would try lớn help direct me.

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4) Have a translation dictionary or phrase book handy. The only way we were able to go to lớn the bathroom at a café was lớn find the page in the book that asked where the restroom was because no one at the café understood our gestures or words. You never know when you might need it!

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5) Make friends with locals that speak English as well as the native language. I had the best ramen of my life in trung quốc because a friend I made ordered it for me.

6) Be patient. Even if people speak excellent English, they may not understand what you mean because they didn’t learn English the way you did. I left đài loan trung quốc being able lớn explain things that I never thought I would be able lớn or have to lớn explain.

Ultimately, know that it is okay lớn go abroad without speaking the native language of the country you’ll be going to. It can be a challenge, but if you follow some of my advice, you will leave that country knowing that you tried your best khổng lồ communicate with others.