So I have a new plan.
I'm not entirely sure if it will really work, but I've thought it through and I think I can do it.
Plan: Be mostly fluent in Chinese by June.
I will have been in Taiwan for one year by then... and I found a journalism internship in Hong Kong that I want.
There are complications with getting the internship but if worse comes to worse, I'll know Chinese.
I started class with another Chinese teacher last night. She drilled me big time on tones. But I was ultimately really happy because I could actually read the Chinese in the first chapter of my book. There were a few characters I didn't know, but ultimately, I'm feeling really confident.
In fact, we went to KTV last night for Natalie and Allen's (next) to last night in Taiwan. They're moving to Hong Kong on Friday. We played a few Chinese songs and I could read some of the characters (not nearly enough to participate though). I didn't even consider if I could understand it.
But believe me when I say that singing and speaking Chinese are totally different ballgames.
KTV in Taiwan is similar to going to one of the Karaoke houses at home. In Austin my friends and I started going to Karaoke (almost weekly) when I was a sophomore in college.
The places were always a little shady and run-down. You get your own (brightly multi-colored) room (and bring your own booze) and just put in whatever songs you want. The videos almost never have anything to do with the song that's playing and often times is entirely ironic.
Here, you walk into this super nice place. There are chandeliers, gold trim, sparkles on the table and leather couches.
It was really fun. I think I'll be setting up another KTV night sometime soon.
Sidenote: Most bizarre thing in the world in a country song in Chinese. Thank you Jay Chou.