Watching Movies with the Chinese Language Club

This semester, OU’s Chinese Language Club hosted a screening of Wong Kar-Wai’s film Chungking Express. It was pretty convenient, given that I had to watch the same movie for my Chinese Cinema class, so I went to the screening (I also got to help pick the time, so at that point I really ought to go). There weren’t a lot of people there, in fact, it was just me, OU CLC’s president, one other person who just wanted to watch a movie, and a gigantic box of microwave popcorn. The perfect recipe for a good movie, if you ask me.

Wong Kar-wai is from Hong Kong, so the movie is was actually produced in Hong Kong, not China. (This means that I couldn’t understand any of the lines. It was still a great movie). The film follows two Hong Kong police officers who have recently broken up with their girlfriends as they struggle with loneliness, and eventually find new love. Both characters are extremely lonely and depressed, despite living and working in such a busy and energetic city.

The plot of the movie is a little bit difficult to follow, especially because it transitions abruptly to the second story. Honestly, the appeal of the movie isn’t really in the plot, but in the ways that Wong Kar-wai communicates the plot, and messes with the viewers head a little bit. There are a lot of blurred motion shots, where every sixth frame is extended to cover the next six frames, which makes it feel a bit frantic and crowded. The scenes are mostly at night, with bright signs flashing by against a dark background, which makes for some interesting visuals. There are also a few humorous pieces, but for the most part it’s a serious film.

Overall, it was a fairly good film — I would recommend it if you don’t mind a movie that’s a bit less traditional. Of course, it was also nice to watch with at least one CLC friend!

OU’s very first Global Engagement Day

One of the requirements of the Global Engagement program is that we attend and participate in OU’s Global Engagement Day. Sine it’s a new program, this year was the very first Global Egnagement day! There were panels to discuss various aspects of studying abroad, as well as an informal “panel”/discussion about meaningful study abroad experiences. I participated in the informal discussion. It was a nice break from endless homework to just sit around with some other GEF’s and talk about study abroad. Of course, we talked about the peculiarities of the countries we studied and lived in, as well as the most crazy things that we did or had happen while we were gone. There were a lot of different experiences, but we definitely had a few things in common:

1. Everyone has trouble with the actual travel part of studying abroad. It seemed like everyone had a story about almost losing their bag, or having trouble at the airport. I guess it’s just statistically unlikely for someone to spend such a long time travelling and have nothing go wrong.

2. Everyone has done at least one really crazy thing. It probably didn’t even seem that crazy when they were doing it. I didn’t think my 50K was that crazy, but everyone else had a different opinion! On the other hand, some of the things that the other GEF’s did seemed impossibly crazy, like live with a stranger for a few weeks. (Then again, I did stay with a complete stranger I met at the airport my first night, so I guess I get it)

I’m disappointed that I had class during the rest of Global Engagement Day, because I would have liked to hear from some of the other panels, but I’m glad I was at least able to participate in something. And I guess the overall takeaway from this is if you go abroad, don’t freak out when travelling goes wrong, and make sure to do at least one thing that’s a little bit crazy.

Reflections from my semester abroad

I’ve been back for quite a while now, which seems like the perfect time to write some sort of reflection post. I’ll keep it short, and basically just talk about some things that I’m so thankful for now that I’m back, as well as some other reflections on last semester.

Things I’m thankful for:
1. Being able to talk to my friends and family easily. It’s so nice to only be one time zone away from my family and be able to call people during the day rather than always having to wait until 9 pm.
2. Warm showers, dryers, and other similar comforts. Dryers save so much time. It’s unbelievable.
3. Having a kitchen. China has amazing food for cheap, but I definitely missed being able to just cook for myself.
4. Having my own room. I really really love being able to just have a space that is mine and that I can lock everyone else out of for a while. I guess I didn’t really experience any of the problems with having a roommate freshman year in the dorms because my roommate was amazing, but I definitely experiences some of those problems in China.
5. My primary education in the U.S. Elementary, middle, and high school schedules in China are crazy, because the middle school, high school, and college you go to are all based on your performance at the previous level and on national tests, so the stress of studying for the SAT begins in elementary school, and it’s worse because people only get one chance to take the gao kao. I’m so glad I didn’t have to go through that.
6. Understanding everything. I guess this is a given, but it’s just so much less stressful to immediately understand the language and cultural references.

General reflections:
1. It’s so much easier to get homework done when you don’t know people. I spent so much more time studying in China than I ever would be able to in the U.S. because I didn’t really know anybody to waste time with, and everyone I knew in the U.S. was sleeping when I was awake. I also didn’t really have much internet access which made me extremely productive. Overall, I would much rather have people to talk to, but sometimes I do miss just being able to sit and work on homework without any texts or anyone knocking on my door.
2. Learning a language is really hard. Before I went to China I thought that I would be fluent when I came back. Unfortunately, I still don’t think I’m really fluent. My Chinese has improved a lot, but I still take a long time to understand what people say, and there are still countless characters that I don’t know.
3. A lot of things can become normal. If I thought about it, I would realize how incredible my life was, but if I didn’t remind myself everyday that I was in China it was easy to just settle into a normal routine. Occasionally something crazy like a purple three wheeled truck would catch me off guard, but I was surprised how much I felt the same as I do here.
4. People around the world are somehow both more different than you thought and more similar than you thought at the same time. I would never have been able to imagine any of my classmates’ stories, but at the same time we all had a lot in common. I remember clearly walking home with my classmates one day, and one of them saying “现在,年轻人的性格都差不多”, (“Now young people’s personalities are all about the same”). I don’t really think that’s true, but I do think we have a lot more in common than we might think.