Thursday, March 4, 2010

Wuhan: the Land of Opportunity

After a series of unfortunate events at various airports, I have finally arrived at Huazhong Normal University in Wuhan—with my luggage! I eagerly began classes today and am very excited to continue them. I’ll have more on that in the future, though.

I will be living in the international student dorm for the next five months (see pic below), though it sounds like I will have to move to the new dorm as soon as it opens because I’m supposed to be in a two-person room with a roommate since I’m here on scholarship. In the mean time I’m living in a room by myself because there are no more available.

Though I’m here to immerse myself in the Chinese language and culture, I think I’ve met more people from other countries than from China thus far—Egypt, Ivory Coast, Cape Verde, Rwanda, Samoa, South Korea, and the list goes on.

Recently, however, I had the opportunity to get away from the international community into the national community—and it got my heart pounding. As I waded through streams of Chinese people…as I spoke with street vendors as they prepared my $0.70 (U.S.) lunch…as I got lost in a conversation with a woman while trying to buy an SIM card for my phone…I couldn’t help but realize how ripe this city is with opportunity.

At any moment of my choosing I can strike up a conversation in Chinese—though I might not get far. At many moments I must strike up a conversation in Chinese—or I won’t get anywhere. In nearly every corner, alley, shop, taxi, restaurant, hallway, bus, and building there is at least one opportunity—and probably many more—to practice and learn Chinese, not to mention all my classes are taught only in Chinese.

Indeed, there are two sides to the coin. There are endless opportunities to give, as well. But I think this has been more plain to me than the former. Only now am I really beginning to feel the opportunity-ness (yes, I did it) of this city in regards to how it can affect my language abilities.

So, now it begins. I hope to wean myself from the comforts of international dorm life and venture deep into the unknown, uncharted depths of this vibrant city.


  1. Brent, how wonderful to hear from you first hand. I am also so excited for you as you live among the Chinese people. The children are darling and I"ll bet they can teach you a lot of Chinese language. Besides they are so natural where the adults are probably more guarded. I'm amazed at the dorm. I had no idea there would be that many international students. The weather here today is perfect. We are going to the opera in Manhattan tonight and then back tomorrow for the girls BB game. The season is then over and we move on to the post season tournaments. I suppose you heard that KU beat KSU on Wednesday. They put up a good fight however.

    Take care and we'll look forward to hearing from you soon.


  2. Brent,

    This might be a question that everyone else knows the answer, but in the title of the school you are studying at, it is called a Normal University. What is the difference? Is there a difference?


  3. Sorry for the delayed response. I had the same question! Apparently, a "normal" university is one that specializes in training teachers...but I've never heard of a "normal" university until I came here.