When and why did you start learning Chinese?
Five years ago (when I was 20), I studied a year of arboriculture in Dunedin. During that same period, I self-studied Japanese and Esperanto in my spare time. On my way to class, I would always hear lots of students speaking Chinese. There were also lots of Chinese shop signs lining the streets. I gradually realised, if I want to live in this kind of environment, I really ought to learn some Chinese. This way, I would at least understand the chatting of passers-by.
What is the best thing about learning Chinese?
I think that in the process of learning Chinese, the best part is [that] I run into people of Chinese heritage all over the place, and they’re all willing to help me improve my Chinese.
What opportunities have you gained because of your Chinese learning?
Through our local Chinese corner, as well as events hosted by the New Zealand China Friendship society, I have plenty of opportunities for language exchange. Having a decent grasp of Chinese also makes me feel more at ease in major cities like Christchurch, Wllington and Auckland.
What would you say to other Kiwis who are thinking about learning Chinese?
For Kiwis wanting to learn Chinese, I highly recommend utilising the latest software and dictionary apps. This way, your studies will be relatively effortless.
Do you have a favourite Chinese word or expression? Why do you like it?
My favourite idiom is ‘the blue sea turned into mulberry fields’ (figuratively meaning, ‘time brings great changes’), because it invokes such vivid imagery. Imagining the deep blue ocean becoming fields of mulberry, and then thinking about the vicissitudes of the world makes me feel like I have thoroughly experienced life’s tribulations.