I've been interested in learning Chinese since I was five. My parents would take me to this little Chinese restaurant in our neighborhood called the "Lucky Dragon," where I'd stare at the great golden dragons that were coiled around the pillars, take in the flashy red and gold decor, and try to decipher the funny little characters on the Chinese Zodiac under the glass tabletop while I waited for food. Voices in a strange, choppy language would drift through the swinging kitchen doors whenever the waitress passed through. I was learning French at school at the time, but that was the first time I'd seen another language actually get used.

Eventually, when I got older, I started helping the manager's kids with their English in return for learning a little Chinese. These lessons did not stick with me very well (probably because all we actually did was play tag). I started learning Chinese formally in high school, and upon graduating, I decided to further pursue the language; I've always wanted to become bilingual, haha.

Chinese can be frustrating to learn because of how many characters there are, (you have to keep track of tones, too, otherwise you might say something you really did not mean to say... Do you want to sleep or do you want dumplings? Are you saying "please" or "kiss"?) and I've learned that in order to keep up in college you have to study constantly. That said, once you study it long enough, I believe that the effort pays off. I always feel pretty happy when I come across a sign in Chinese and realize that I can read those funny little characters.

Sophie Kelley, a Chinese Studies student at Willamette University
Willamette University

Chinese Studies

900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.
503-370-6256 voice
503-370-6720 fax

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