While I have been here in Harbin, I have been taking four different Chinese language classes: a one on one, one on two, conversational seminar, and a newspaper reading class. The one-on-one class, I can study a topic of my choice and I decided to study finance and investing in China. The topics I have studied include Chinese stocks, bonds, insurance, risk, angel investors, venture capitalists, etc. The second class I am taking is a one-on-two class which solely focuses on your pronunciation of Chinese characters or words since Mandarin has four tones. Almost every Friday for this class, we take a field trip where we can put our Mandarin into practice. Thirdly, the conversational seminar class is exactly what it sounds like and very similar to my Chinese classes back at Pitt. We learn new words and grammar patterns just practice colloquially conversing in Chinese on various topics based on the new material. Finally, a newspaper reading class where we read and analyze Chinese newspaper articles which are pretty advanced topics. For example, last week we discussed an article about legalizing Euthanasia in the Netherlands.
Speaking of class field trips earlier, I want to talk about a few places I got to go on these class field trips and how we get there. Unlike the big Chinese cities Shanghai and Beijing, Harbin does not have a massive complex subway system. With that said, Harbin’s subway system only has two lines so traveling within Harbin and depending on the distance, all modes of transportation are pretty convenient. But, within the next five years, Harbin plans on opening a third subway line to allow more people to use the subway and reduce the traffic within the city. For my conversational seminar class’s field trip of the semester, we got to go to Harbin’s Transportation And Planning Museum to learn more about this and how in the next twenty years or so there planning on having a subway system size comparable Beijing and Shanghai’s. For my newspaper reading class, as a class, we got to go to a newspaper office and interview the general manager asks him about his thoughts about the rise of social media and internet and industry competition. Similarily for my one-on-one class, I had the opportunity to interview a local bank’s money manager and ask him questions about what are his job’s responsibilities, his job’s relationship with the Chinese government, and some other finance-related questions. Finally, when I have for my one on two class. We typically take a taxi or walk if it’s close enough. Places we have visited include Harbin’s Tea City, the local fruit market, museums, Zhongyang Street (a cool lively street with lots of Russian influence and a beautiful view of the Harbin river at the end of the street) and learning how to cook 东北菜 (Dongbei Chinese Food).