Soochow University, here I come

So, I’m registered. As of yesterday afternoon I am officially a student of Mandarin at Suzhou University (cue hollers and hats thrown in a random and celebratory fashion).

The whole process was pretty straight forward, and I have to admit that I’ve little clue as to what is actually going on (mantra – follow the Korean kid that looks like they know where they’re going – it will either lead to a mandarin class or some great kimchi, either way, I win).


I technically registered about three weeks ago, so as I could get my visa renewed. Registration breaks into four expenses. The first, tuition, is 7,500 RMB. There are then three other expenses that have been priced with what can only be an inside joke among the faculty – Registration Fee: 250 RMB, Application Fee: 250 RMB and Books/Materials: 250 RMB.


The main reason I had to head to the campus yesterday was for my placement test, which in turn would tell me what books to buy. Unfortunately, it did little help clarify which class my ass is going to be sitting in, nor which books to buy.

The problem, as I knew going in, is that my speaking and listening is somewhat better than my reading and writing. After taking a written test and then having a chat with a teacher (speaking/listening test – very devious), it was determined that I could be in Class 2 for speaking/listening and Class 1 for reading/writing.

Sadly, this doesn’t fly. So, I have to choose between (as the instructor put it) “being tired (lvl 2) or being lonely (lvl 1).”

I had considered putting myself in the Lvl 2 class and just pushing myself really hard to catch up, but good intentions aside, who are we kidding? So, it looks like I’m set to be the Teacher’s Pet in Class 1.

There’s going to be a lot I already know, but at the same time, it will give me the opportunity to fill in the massive gaps in my grammar, pronunciation and vocabulary. It will also allow me to ease into this “Back To School” thing a bit more comfortably.

17 Responses

  1. Don’t forget to give the teacher an apple the first day if you wanna be teachers pet.

    Actually in China you probably have to give the teacher a red envelope to get on her good side

  2. I choose level 2 when I was faced with that choice.

    Sure I was a bit behind, but I think in the end, I was better off. It was no walk in the park though.

    And if you have important stuff outside of class, and from your web activites, it seems you do — you may have chose well.

  3. Congrats and thanks for the 250 reference, hadn’t seen that yet.

    How many hours of class a day is that? 4? And in the morning, five days a week, I assume.
    Push hard… someday really need to get back to studying Chinese formally in the classroom somewhere… That day may be never, though.

  4. By coincidence, I started work as a Computing and English teacher in SuDa (East campus) on September 3rd. If you ever need answers from administration, I can try and help.

    Good luck with your studies. Let me know if you want any LE partners!


  5. Hey Ryan,

    Funny, I found your blog about Suzhou because I was planning on studying Mandarin on Soochow University as well… So, when I spot the teacher´s pet, I will know its you.

    See ya on Monday!

  6. @A.L.: No kidding – red packets all the way.

    @Rick: My “web activities” was the deciding factor really. If I was doing 15 hours of teaching a week, I could huff the harder study load, but as it is, I’m pulling long days that can only get longer when class begins.

    @Jeremy: I think it’s 3, but as the welcoming package was a rice paper-thin receipt, I’ve no idea.

    @Clive: Cheers man, might be taking you up on that.

    @Gregorio: Look forward to meeting you man!

  7. I’m glad I spent a few months studying characters in the spring. My reading/writing isn’t quite where my speaking is, but it kept me from having to make the same choice.

    Side note: Two of the quickest learners I know spent the past school year racing each other to learn the language. I’m not a fan of making everything a competition (I went to college where they don’t like grades, after all), but after watching those two goad each other on for months, I’m impressed with the results.

  8. There’s an awesome Pinyin/English dictionary I picked up when I was studying there years ago. Not only could you look up characters by pronunciation and english word, you could also look stuff up by stroke counts and radicals. It was pretty awesome. Here’s the Amazon link: Cheng & Tsui Chinese-English-Pinyin Dictionary

    That, and my version of the little red book (mini-chinese/english/pinyin dictionary) and I was set to go. 😀

  9. @Chris: Welcome back man. And yeah, I agree a little healthy competition is handy.

    @Erin: Cheers for the tip – I’ve got my little red book, but will have to try and find the other one – albeit, not fro Amazon.

  10. Hey man, I’m in exact same boat. (shotgun!)
    A bit ago, my plan was to jump in 2nd semester, which would still probably be too low, but better than all the ni haos.
    Lately though, not even sure if I’ll be able to do that. Looks like it’s going to be a year of self study, trying to get my book skills up to par. (beers and books…we’ll see how that goes.)

  11. I wish I could find a class to join. Instead I need to work so I don’t have enough time to enroll at the local university. Guess I’ll be stuck with my self-study program for another year. At this rate, I’ll be fluent by the time I’m 80.

  12. Anyone still going to Soochow University Dushu Lake Campus? I’m a freshman there now. Just curious to see if there are any other Americans or foreigners other than Indians/Pakistanis/Indonesians lol.

  13. Hi,
    Please, can you give me the website to learn about studying Mandarin at Suzhou University – I have looked and looked at the university website and just don’t know how to find information in English on the program specifics.

    Thank you!


  14. Hello all!

    I’m thinking about to study chinese at Suzhou University in 2010.
    I would like to ask some questions to people which have allready studied at Suzhou University (long term course chinese language).

    My background: I’m working in a german companz in Taicang for almost 2 years. My plan is to go back to Europe in late 2010.

    I would be happy if somebody would like to answer me some questions.
    My contact: [email protected] (email or msn).

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