I stayed over in Táibĕi last night, so I could get some things done this morning. Since I have less than a year left on my passport, I figured it was time to head over to the sort-of-but-not-really-a-US-embassy, otherwise known as AIT. While I was filling out my paper work, I bumped into none other than my TA from my first Chinese class at CU ten years ago. Geez, I feel old thinking about that.
Back then, I had a pretty rough time in the class. I worked pretty hard, but I still wasn’t one of the better students. There were WAY too many kids who’d grown up speaking Chinese and were just taking the class for an easy A, or to mollify their parents. Every semester, about half of the white kids in the class flunked out or dropped out, until it was just me, some guy who was already fluent (and literate) in Japanese, and an uber-student called Dan. I swear that guy had practically a crate of flashcards with him every class. He had an organized and efficient system for making sure he knew them all, too. Not being nearly as cool as either of them, I gave up on Chinese, and started learning some HTML and playing around on the web. By the time I came to Taiwan three years ago, I honestly couldn’t understand more than about 10 or 20 words. If only I’d had my current Chinese background when I was 18!
The coolest thing about my passport renewing experience, though, was something completely tangential to it. I had to go get some photos taken, since my “passport sized” photos I brought were too small. Luckliy, there’s a photo shop right next to AIT that can develop pictures on the spot. While I was waiting, I ducked into the bookstore next door to browse around. I still can’t believe what I found. They had Chinese versions of one of my favorite fantasy books from my first year of college. The Death Gate Cycle in Chin-frik’n-ese. Somebody slow down my geeky heart before it races away.