Best Practices for Learning Chinese


After an awesome night out on my 30th birthday with close friends I was then surprised by all my dearest friends in Miami for a surprise party/going away party this past Saturday at the Ritz. I must say it was the first time I have EVER been completely surprised.  What an incredible way to leave the country. I’m now working on everyone to try and come visit me over the next few years, so the constant stream of visitors.

Ali 30th B-day at Doraku Sushi

Ali 30th B-day at Doraku Sushi

When I land in China after a long flight around midnight I am supposed to go apply for a permanent residency visa. With that said, I am writing this blog during my break from studying a Chinese lesson on applying for a visa. I’m just trying to picture the Chinese officials look on their faces when they see this blonde white chick in a wheelchair volunteering to live in Kunming, a place where most foreigners have never heard of. It should be a very interesting conversation and one where I bet it would be fun to be a fly on the wall.

As many of you know I have spent much time in China over the last decade. The first time I went to China I was 17 years old and had just graduated high school, and decided to defer school for a year. I bought a plane ticket to Beijing, barely could speak any Chinese and had no real plan. I had told my parents I was in this very structured program and people would meet me at the airport. In reality, I landed in the airport with no clue of where to go. I had only signed up for some Chinese classes at this University and that was pretty much it. I purchased a map and pointed to some school symbols to a Chinese taxi driver.  When I arrived I met this really cute French guy who did not speak much English, but was pretty proficient in Chinese. He set me up with a place to stay, helped me enroll in my classes and he worked out as a pretty fun boyfriend for about two weeks.  I ended up quitting classes after about a month and decided the best way to learn Chinese was to go shopping  and bargain in the streets, and play a lot of Chinese drinking games with grain alcohol. Oh yes, the Chinese love their drinking games.

I tell you this story because I’m thinking how I’m going to regain my fluency in Chinese this time around. I’ve been practicing like crazy, but I have a feeling that on the weekends I might have to revert back to drinking games with my fellow rehab patients. However, most Chinese drinking games involve using your hands… So, I’ve actually been working out in my head how to play quadriplegic Chinese drinking games! I will keep you posted on this one. I’m also trying to get a visual picture of a bunch of quads in wheelchairs – in China – in a bar – drinking… Oh, and of course karaoke will be involved. When the time comes, I promise you there will be a video on this blog of that night.

Finally, at least this time when I enter the country, I will have my sister, my dad and an entourage of new Chinese friends, surgeons and doctors meeting me there.  I have no idea what I’m in for during my travels, so I’m just going to have to keep a sense a humor over the next seven days.

Back to studying!

30th Surprise B-day

30th Surprise B-day

30th Surprise B-day 30th Surprise B-day


3 responses »

  1. Looking forward to being one of your Kunming visitors/neighbors next year when I finish Acupuncture school. Bon voyage, and good luck with the move!

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