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Nathanael Kornelius van der Beek (德国)


     Nathanael Kornelius van der Beek 是德国中学生,2012年8月前往上海市进才中学交流,2013年6月返回德国。


Four month of my exiting exchange year in China are already over now. All in all it have been three very good month, with a lot of challenging and unforgettable impressions. At the beginning of course it was hard to get into a complete different culture, but that is why I am here and from day to day I get more and more used to everything. I am very glad to come to China for one year, and I knew from the start that it was not always going to be easy.


Language
Of course the language was very hard for me at first and still is, but I keep making progress as good as I can and I am also fascinated by the language, because in my language (German) you can just write a word, and when you are not sure how to write it, you just write it how it sounds, but here you are forced to learn the character, otherwise you cannot even try to write it - for Europeans it looks like a “secret” language sometimes. I wanted to learn a language that is completely different from my language, and now I can already understand the first things and can speak and read a little. Although here in Shanghai a lot of people can speak English almost fluently, like my host brother or my classmates (my host parents can also speak a little), you still get a lot from the Chinese language, also if you are surrounded by all the “western” things.


Host Family

My host family and me get along well and at first it was very useful that they can speak a little English, because I think it would have been a huge challenge to make everything clear, like rules or explaining ways or other small things in daily live, without speaking one language, but know I try more and more to speak Chinese with them and making every day little goals and I hope in the end we do not need any English at all anymore. I actually just live with my host mother and my host brother, because my host father works in Huangshan in Anhui province and just comes home sometimes, but still I get very good along especially with him. My host mother has to work a lot, but when she is not at work she is at home most of the time. My host brother, as all Chinese students, every day has a lot of homework to do. That is sometimes sad, because he very often does not have time to do anything together, like playing basketball going to the cinema or in town, because he hast to learn. But I heard that “problem” all Chinese students have, and that is a thing that nobody can change. He is sharing his room with me, and we get along well, although we do not talk so much, because he in general is a quiet person and, as I said, he anyway has to study most of the time. But if we do something together we talk about things and it’s fun, he teaches me some Chinese and I also meet a few of his friends.
My host family also already made a trip with me to Huangshan during the national holiday in October. We went there for the whole week and also visited the mountain. It was a great experience and I am very thankful, that my host family gave me the opportunity to go there. We stayed in their second house there during that time, and made trips almost every day. In a month, during spring festival, we will probably go to Hainan and spent the holidays there. I am really looking forward for going there, because everyone who I ask says it is very beautiful and all the pictures I saw so fare are very nice.
The daily live we do not do so many things together, probably also caused by the fact, that my host brother has a lot to do. We often go out for dinner together, but at weekends we do not so many trips or “activities” together. But still we get along well and I can talk with my host parents about the most things and I am very thankful that they host me for one year.


School
School life is good so far. I go to “上海市进才中学国际部” and stayed there for the first 3 month and will change to the Chinese “local school” very soon. In two weeks the situation will change a little and in the morning I will go to the international school and in the afternoon I will go to the normal Chinese school, and after my Chinese is good enough, I will just stay at the Chinese local school. At the beginning school was very tiring, tough and sometimes exhausting for me, because hearing a completely different language in a new big place like Shanghai is a thing you first have to get used to. I start getting used to it, and I am not so tired any more like in the beginning. Also at the beginning I very often was not able anymore to study again Chinese after school, because I studied all day in school and was too tired from this studying, that I just had to do something else. But now I am more and more able to study characters after school again.
My class in international school is called “CSL”, that means “Chinese second language” and we only, except PE, music and art, have Chinese in this class. Our Chinese subjects are: reading, listening, writing, hearing, and vocab. It is quite a tough schedule, but I think it is good for my Chinese. I have only 6 classmates, and they all also just started studying Chinese.
Because at the international school there are no Chinese students, I do not really made Chinese friends yet, but I think this will change, as soon, as I go to the local school. At the international school I made friends with a lot of people from different countries, of course still mostly Asian, but there are people from all over the world. It is really fun there actually, because you just meet knew students and they come from a country and talk about their live in their country and you tell him about your live. The only bad thing is, that I do not have the “Chinese environment” around me, that means that I do not have a lot of people around me that talk Chinese, so I do not listen to Chinese so often or talk to Chinese people, but this also will change as soon as I will go to the Chinese part of the school. I made friends with people from Korea, Italy, Brazil, Taiwan, Thailand, Japan, France and many more countries, and although I am in China it is also a nice experience to be together with so many people from all over the world and do things together with them, but still I am looking forward to the local school and to meet Chinese students.


Leisure Time, food etc...
At weekends I often go out with friends, mostly other foreign friends, because the Chinese students – and also my host brother - have to study, and I anyway do not know so many Chinese students because I went to the international department of my school, and not the “real” Chinese school. But I hope, and think this is going to change in the next couples of weeks. I really enjoy just walking through downtown Shanghai, sitting at the Shanghai Bund and watching people, go through all the shopping malls or have lunch or dinner with some friends. Also I once went to karaoke with some friends, this also was a nice and funny experience, because we do not have something similar like this in Germany. Going to Nanjing road or Yuyuan garden is also nice, although it is always very crowded, but you cannot avoid that in this city. Also I made trip with friends to different parks and shopping malls outside of downtown. And of course the volunteer board of AFS Shanghai organizes a lot of things at weekends like cooking or listening to Chinese music and also the Christmas party, which is coming up on the 21th of December. It never really gets boring in this city and you always find something to do.
I really enjoy the Chinese food, what makes me happy, because before I came here I was struggling, if I would like the food! But I more and more like the Chinese kitchen, and also eat things, which I in Germany would not eat. And of course the food here is compared to my home country really cheap.

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