Chinese classes are difficult for me. I don’t like to study and I go to classes remembering something one day and the next is totally blank. I can memorize the textbook characters but then when the teacher writes it up on the white board it doesn’t look the same to me and so I have a hard time to learn these Chinese written words as well. Everyday it gets harder and I almost wanted to give up because it was giving me a headache. Until today. As I mentioned before, I go to have a breakfast at whatever place has a manageable restroom and free wifi. Today we went again to a nice hotel breakfast and I attempted to look over my text book and then I heard a conversation beside me (we were sitting at a shared table setting) and actually understood what they were saying. It was an older Korean businessman and a Chinese lady on kind of a date. They were speaking slower than normal so I was able to pick up their words. I could tell that they were speaking freely with each other because they glanced over at me thinking that I was a foreigner as well as they heard me speaking with the waiter in English- they had no idea I was just listening to them. They spoke about their families, blah blah date stuff and some other things I couldn’t catch but I was still so magnetized to them as I could tell it was an awkward convo btwn them so for me it was entertaining, you know awkward dating chatter. I was awful, I just sat there and listened in, a real eavesdropper of the worst kind. I realized I had this new skill. I can pretend I didn’t understand or I could choose to communicate. In my experience, most foreigners here in Tianjin do not speak Mandarin so then it’s not expected, which is sad but I could always use it to my advantage like a secret weapon. If I try to squeeze my whole family in a taxi that takes only 4 people I could just say I don’t speak Chinese and act clueless. This is great. I’ve also started to try to use the tv shows to study bc the book gets so boring. I’ll watch a Jerry Springer kind of show, soap operas, home shopping network etc. Little by little I can hear the story and it gets more interesting. I really like listening to the Macdonalds workers. They are hilarious and say funny things to each other just shouting across the storefront and to the back. In the fancy hotel they don’t tend to yell so it’s less for me to watch and listen to. Macdonalds is the best for people watching and listening. I can tell my brain is so old though, I cannot keep my thoughts straight and sometimes I start to speak in Spanish or Japanese and it’s all crazy. I made a new German friend here and I listened to her speaking in German with her son so the next day in Chinese class my brian was listening to Mandarin and then German started to exit my mouth. Seems as if the language part of my brain is in cobwebs trying to turn back on but is taking a while to warm up. Hopefully I will keep up- I know if I can sit next to more Chinese people on a date I will continue to be interested. I know it’s not polite but it sure is funny and I consider it a study incentive.