06 September 2008

où vais-je? where am i going? 我是到那裡去﹖

If I don't write this down, my brain will explode. I've been thinking so much, and it needs to be organized in writing - or else I cannot think new thoughts, must let the old thoughts out!

I think, finally, at the age of 21, I've narrowed down what I want to do in life. Or maybe not. But this is a much stronger feeling than I felt at 18 when I began college. For the past 3-4 years, I've always questioned why I chose studio art as my major. And for the past 3-4 years, I never had a good answer. And I still don't. Except that I love making. But I could really care less about the critiques, the shows, the galleries, the conceptual thoughts, the scene, etc. All I really cared was that my hands more moving and creating. Which is why I also love baking. But no real university offers a culinary degree, that's what culinary school is for. However, I am always active in baking as I do it any chance I get when school is not busy. I always figured I'd graduate, and get a normal job and continue to make stuff on my own. Because I have never wanted to be an artist artist, as in a person who lives solely off of their creations. I've never had an urge to go in that direction.

In the Spring of 07, I applied for a scholarship to an artist residency program called Ox-bow, in Michigan. I got runner-up. And since I did not receive the scholarship, I signed up for Photography I and U.S. History at Tarrant County College. I took Photography under a nice teacher called Oscar. amazing guy. And I learned a lot. Completely reversed my hatred of it from high school. And there, I saw an ad for Photogaphy II in Italy, and Expressive Photogaphy in France. A study abroad course I was finally interested in! I was set on going, even though it was not to happen until summer 08. (Funnily enough, it turns out that the person who I was runner up for dropped out of school. however, the school decided to still give him/her the scholarship even though he/she was not a student and was no longer eligible to receive it. and he/she went, complained the whole time, and left on the 2nd day. so in the end... it was a wasted scholarship. of course i was a little piqued when I heard that, but... now i'm so glad it happened because it set the stage for everything else!)

In the fall of 2007, I decided that it was time to finally attempt to go back to something I once hated and dreaded with a passion: Chinese. I hated Chinese when I was little because I was the only person of chinese descent in my school (and in high school I was maybe 1 of 4) and I was forced to go to school every saturday morning to learn things that I could not use anywhere except that chinese school on saturday mornings. I fought and eventually got my way, quitting in 6th grade. And I don't regret quitting at all - at the time, it was of no use to me, nobody around me spoke it, and there was nothing to make me love it.

As I grew older, my mother took me to Taiwan more and more often. summer 03 (i think), summer 06, summer 07, winter 07/08... and there, i loved it more and more. when I was little, i loved it, but now i really loved it. the culture, the food, the people, the way of life... it appealed so much more to me now that I was 20 instead of 14 or 10 or 7. (How much and why I love Taiwan, now that is another story.) I began to fall in love with things that required me to know the language: beading, food, etc. When I was younger, there was nothing to connect me to the language, except for the fact that I was chinese. But now, I loved the city, I loved the stores, I loved the books... and I needed to know the language so I could continue this immersion!

And so, I decided to take Chinese 604 in the Fall of 07. I was petrified. It was a grueling course, but it was fantastic. I bonded so well with the group of students in that class (probably because we were all of the same ABC situation), and was genuinely sad when it ended. I wanted to take the next level class, Chinese 612. However, at that time, I was not willing to sacrifice my 8-12 ceramics class for a class that met M-F at 10AMs. It would mean I would have to give up ceramics, the one art I had taken since high school. And I wasn't going to do that - yet.

I was ready to register for Italian, since many of my art history classes had links to Italy. And not to mention that one of my most favorite professors at UT -ever-, Louis Waldman, spoke Italian. (He is another story as well, I could go on about his amazingness!) However, my roommate was taking French and set on it. And that is tempting - to take a language class with someone you know, especially your roommate, would make the class fun. Not to mention, practice and homework = easy! 5 seconds away. My mind still wasn't set, until I began looking into the individual programs. And I made up my mind the moment I found a syllabus online for Italian that mentioned having to spend additional time in a language lab. Physically going into a computer lab to listen to files and practice. No, no, no! And then I saw the francais interactif website, which had all the vocabulary, pronunciation, videos, and practices online... And I decided that the French program seemed better organized and structrued, so I signed up for French. (Since I was signed up for the study abroad class in France and Italy, either language was a win-win for me. Had it been between Italian and Russian or Italian and Greek, Italian would have won regardless.)

And I am so glad I did. I loved my French class, a big reason being that we had a visiting lecturer from France. A French person! I realized I had never met a real French person, so it was fascinating to learn about his culture and country. I also realized how much I enjoyed learning from a native speaker. All three of my Spanish teachers in high school were not native speakers. Fluent, yes. Good, yes. But the culture part, that you must be born with. Living there for 10, 20 years does not count. I like to learn from people who grew up there, not studied there. It doesn't mean they were bad, but the native part makes a huge difference to me.

In the beginning of the new spring 08 semester, I was a little bit miserable. Not because of anything related to my French class, but because I sorely sorely missed Chinese. I had developed a true fondness for it, and I had chosen not to take it. Not because I couldn't. But because I chose not to. And that decision was killing me. So once registration rolled around, I finally made the decision that I hadn't been willing to make for the past 3-4 years: to not take ceramics. Maybe a small small part of me deep deep inside a long time ago wanted to be a ceramicists - and I think I wasn't willing to let go of that small dream until now. However, I never really wanted that dream, it was more of an easy answer to "what else can I do with something I love?" and not "what do I really want to do?" And I did love ceramics, and I still do - but I needed to pursue what else was consuming my heart, which was Chinese.

Then in the summer of 08, I went to France (and Italy & Switzerland). that is a whole novel. But it obviously only confirmed my direction in life as well as my love for the French language. And it really is a whole different story that I don't feel like typing up now - or even thinking about. But many things happened in France that for sure are pointing me in a specific direction.

Now that I am in chinese again (fall 08) -I am so so happy! I miss French, but there is a huge difference between French and Chinese for me: I need someone to push me to memorize and learn Chinese because it is so easy to give up on. French is very easy to learn on my own. Many French words exist in english, and vice versa. If I don't understand, there are context clues and I can guess. I can use the alphabet and easily figure it out myself. Chinese? If I don't know it, it is a pain to look it up and I become lazy. The grammar is finicky in that since I am a native speaker, I often think something sounds right when in fact it is completely wrong. French is just much easier to keep up with, and I don't need another class to push me. Plus, French was so slow for me! I wanted to learn more in a shorter amount of time, but the class wasn't structured that way since it was the basic beginning course. I much prefer the accelerated courses.

I haven't even mentioned my art classes or geology. they get their own posts, later, when I get to organizing my thoughts about them. but, they are still very important nonetheless!

All that leads up to now. and what will happen next. and i'll save that for a later post.

On a side note, here are my goals for this semester (in no order)
1. Cook once a week
2. Exercise every day. Allow myself 3 miss days for the entire semester. And they better be real good excuses. The best would be zero miss days. But we'll see!
3. Listen to rfi every day.
So far I have managed to do all this since I started it on 23 august 2008. And I don't want to stop.

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