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It’s been more than four years since I studied Chinese and I still have a giant sack of flashcards. I’d forgotten all about my different study systems until I took them out for this photo (taken as part of a journaling prompt from Shimelle’s Learn Something New Every Day class). At first I assigned each tone a different color and I also wrote bopomofo next to the pinyin. I know working with bopomofo would have helped my pronunciation, but I was taking an intensive course and my goal was to remember as many characters as possible. I didn’t have time to memorize a new phonetic system, so I just stuck with the one I was familiar with. After my teacher taught us radicals, I wrote those strokes using a different colored pen, but that proved to be too fiddly.

I still can’t believe I was given the opportunity to study Mandarin for an entire school year. I still get nervous when prepping for interviews, but every time I hear myself speak Chinese I think “Dude, I’m speaking Chinese!” I still have the first Chinese newspaper article I ever managed to read from start to finish tacked on my bulletin board. It was about a flasher. When I brought it in to show my tutor, she asked “So, why did you pick this article?” I didn’t pick it! It picked me! It was a momentous occasion, but I do wish the story was about a nicer topic for the sake of my scrapbook. Oh well. I’ll have a fun time explaining that page to my kids someday.