I finally did it! Now I have joined the gym. An ex-colleague had asked me about whether I knew of any gyms in the area, and a former student of mine had mentioned one which was about 10 to 15 minutes away from the main entrance of the university. It is also 24 hours and seems pretty well put together. Well, on Thursday, me and my ex-colleague went and joined. It was nice to get back into things after I had spent the summer using the local gym facilities at home. It is not vastly equipped – there are ten treadmills and four cross-trainers and a bunch of free weights and weight machines. But that’s enough for me to do some work on.
Since returning to Beijing, I have tried to keep fit and exercise, but it is not always easy; if the air is bad, I cannot really run around the track. Other things get in the way as well. But if I have the membership, I will be more inclined to use the gym, and during the day, I think, it might be quite quiet. Hopefully, I can get into a routine of going, as I hopefully will of having an extra Chinese class a week. We will see…
Speaking of Chinese class, the class yesterday a particularly difficult one. I have spoken about my teacher’s patience before, but I was chatting with a friend and fellow blogger, whose Chinese is far more advanced than mine, and we were sharing stories about what we find difficult. I tend to forget things as soon as I have been told them. There are also several ways of saying one thing, which is common in English too, but in English there tends to be a standard way of saying something whereas here, there is not necessarily any standard way. It can also be – to my mind – overcomplicated. For example, I was describing (in Chinese) a video clip. It started with a guy in a restaurant and the waiter pulled the chair out from behind the table for the guy. The guy then sat down. There were two ways of saying sat down:
- 他坐在椅子上. Tā zuò zài yĭzi shàng. He sat down on the chair.
- 他坐下了. Tā zuò xià le. He sat down.
I was arguing that the first (in this situation) was irrelevant because I had already said the waiter pulled out the chair. Context is often important in Chinese. I was also struggling with the fact 上 – shàng – follows 椅子 – yĭzi – which means chair. Shàng has several uses but is often used – a least by me – to mean ‘up’ or ‘before/last’ – as in last week (上个星期 shàng ge xīngqī – the last two characters mean week). 下 – xià – means ‘under/below’, ‘down’ or ‘next’ – as in next week (下个星期 xià ge xīngqī). So, number 2 literally means ‘he sat down’ (the ‘le’ at the end does not have a specific meaning but is used to indicate the action is complete).
My teacher patiently explains things as best she can and I ask questions when I can, and that is how most classes work. My listening is still my weakest area, but actually, when I went to join the gym, I could understand some of what the gym instructor was telling my friend (his Chinese is better than mine), which was cool!