Those of you who have followed my progress, regress, frustrations and (few) victories in the class room, will know that there have been quite a few changes in the composition of our little class over the past 3 years. Now we're back to three. My British friend Rebecca, myself and now Maiko. The most beautiful and sweet girl from Nagoya. That would be in Japan. I have to admit that before meeting Maiko, learning that we had a new Japanese classmate was initially bad news for me. And why is that?
I think I've told you that I've got my work cut out when it comes to learning Chinese characters. I just cannot seem to memorise them and when we have to read aloud from the book, I usually dread the moment where teacher Xin says "MòLì (my Chinese name) ni du ba (you read, ok)". My reading sounds something like "wo something something de shihou bu hui something something yinwei something". Recognising those little buggers is proving so difficult for me. The same cannot be said for Rebecca for she is much more studious than me and seems to have what we Danes would call a "brain of glue" to which everything sticks. Then there is Maiko. There is hardly a character that she doesn't know. And if she doesn't know the pronounciation in Chinese, she knows the meaning in English.
Yes, Maiko has an advantage. But how big is it actually? Let's look at a few of the similarities and differences between Japanese and Chinese:
Our next exam is coming up (hopefully in December or January). While I will no doubt struggle to get above the pass mark, Maiko is almost certain to get a full score. She might struggle like Rebecca and I on the listening part (no advantage of being Japanese) - but as for the multiple choice reading part and the written part, she'll do brilliantly! Ok, enough, crybaby! Get studying!
Post scriptum: I really like Maiko. She is in on the joke :-)