你说中文吗?

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Happy Tuesday although it feels like Monday to me! The Monday after Easter Sunday is a national holiday here in Italy, so we didn’t have classes yesterday. We’ll make them up on Friday! Many of the FFEs are tired and a bit cranky today, because we all woke up at 6 AM to register for fall semester classes. Marist let us register a full day before freshmen in Poughkeepsie register which is pretty nice! I plan on taking:

  • Intermediate Chinese I
  • Digital Toolbox
  • Communication Research: Strategies & Methods
  • Intro to Strategic Advertising
  • Fundamentals of PR Theory & Practice

I’m excited to dive into classes for my major, since most classes this year were gen eds. Nevertheless, they were very interesting, because they were attended in Firenze!

This morning I caught up on my blog about Easter in Nice at La Ménagère at 7:30 AM. It was the first time I’d been there in weeks when I was the only customer. It was very relaxing and peaceful. I haven’t spent as nearly as much time there in the early morning as last semester.

I wanted to tell a story from my travels yesterday that I didn’t include in yesterday’s blogpost. Moments after catching our breath on the train in Genova to La Spezia, I heard a young Chinese woman ask an Asian couple sitting behind us if the train we were on went to Florence. Her final destination was Perugia. You can get practically anywhere from Firenze Santa Maria Novella, and the Asian couple told her in broken English that this was the right train. She thanked them with an uncertain tone in her voice, and before I knew it, she looked straight at me and said “你说中文吗?” I said “一点” (a little). She looked confused, so I repeated the short phrase again but with more confidence and volume this time. Her face spread wide with relief, and then she dove into very fast Mandarin as she showed me her TrenItalia ticket. I picked up several characters she spoke, and I knew at the end she said “可以吗?” That basically means “Can I?” I replied to her “可以吗.” She smiled and said “谢谢你.” She motioned to the door, and about 6 of her Chinese friends followed her to seats in front of us. They gave Olivia and I second look before taking their seats.

This was a first for me, being asked if I speak Chinese in Chinese. I was fortunate enough that she already communicated what she wanted to know in English, but I was proud of myself for providing her with an accurate answer and in her native language that could have been mine. It took me by surprise and forced me to think on my feet. Traveling induces a lot of that! Sasha and Olivia got a really big kick out of it, as did I. This experience was a rare one, in that I actually felt proud of my Chinese appearance and American citizenship. She didn’t make me feel foreign or separate from her, even though she knew I wasn’t fluent in Chinese. I really appreciated that. I was again reminded that Chinese people probably look at me all the time and assume I’m fluent in Chinese. Someday I will be. xo ~ e.

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