Friday, March 1, 2013

Back to the Center!

HNC MAIS student Natalie Sammarco reports back after the first week of spring classes:

"The time is upon us! 100+ of my closest friends in academic pursuit and I have just chosen classes for the Spring term! The break for Chinese New Year was wonderful, but I found myself very glad to be back at HNC this past week. After a good rest and recharge, everyone is energetic and looking forward to the new term.

Coming back to the Center after already having one term behind me is surreal. Since many of us here are submersed in books and work -- the daily life of a graduate student -- it’s not often one gets the time nor space to reflect on what exactly has been done here. Since I had already completed the Certificate program before enrolling in the MAIS, I have had the unique experience of watching my fellow classmates evolve from what seemed like tentative, recent undergraduates to firm and unwavering graduate students. At the beginning of this year, so many people were uneasy about taking classes in Chinese, living in Nanjing, throwing themselves into hardcore, upper level, academic Chinese. Now, everything that seemed like an issue is not even mentioned in conversation.

There is no conversation about how one doesn’t know how to do a presentation in Chinese. There is no conversation about how one doesn’t know if he or she will be able to write papers in the target language. With one semester behind us, it’s apparent to everyone that we are here and will continue to do what is needed to further ourselves and our studies. At this point, it’s a given.

One of my professors noted that he hopes this semester will be a bit more relaxed for us and told us how, last autumn, he could see in the students’ faces how nervous we were to step up to the plate. He said we are old pros now, and then we jumped right into a discussion... something that would have never happened last term. It was nice to see everyone so happy to put forth a word or opinion. At this point, there is no judgment on language ability here. There aren’t cliques that make others feel uncomfortable about anything. At this point, it’s about having a discussion with someone whom you respect as a peer. That’s what I feel this first week of classes at HNC.

This term will be tough, just like the last one. I have requirements for my thesis above and beyond my usual classwork. That will be a challenge, for sure. Yet, I am confident in my ability to complete everything well and up to my standards, since I have a great support network at home and, to my surprise, here in China as well."