So, how was the experience? In a word, intense. We had to memorize each character, its stroke order, meaning, tone, and Romanization--it's a lot to keep up with! Over the past few months, I have found myself writing these characters in the margins of my notes for other classes, sometimes inadvertently, as I tried to remember everything. Now, just because I characterized the class as "intense" doesn't mean that I did not enjoy it. On the contrary, Chinese class is one of the few classes that I always looked forward to, even on days when we had tests. The reason for this is our teacher, who is enthusiastic, kind, and truly dedicated to helping us learn. When learning a foreign language, especially one so different from English, it can often be embarrassing to practice oral communication skills. However, I never felt embarrassed or unwilling to speak in class because our professor is so encouraging and reassuring. Professor Li created a warm, safe environment for us to explore Chinese, and I am so grateful for the experience. I really wish I could continue to study Chinese at UNC Asheville, but I am graduating in May, so I have only one semester left before I go.
Coming to UNC Asheville in the future? Then I'd strongly consider you to try your hand at Chinese. You'll find yourself thinking of language in a new way, and will encounter a warm community of fellow language learners. You might also consider completing a minor in Asian Studies while you're at it!