Independent University Newspaper
Copenhagen Business School

Popular searches:

Independent University Newspaper

Copenhagen Business School

What just happened? I passed…

Go on exchange |   27. May 2020

Oana Alexandra Miron

Student blogger

There are many ways to pick and choose electives for your exchange semester.

One option is to focus on specific studies from that region. Another is to look for subjects that tick off some of the criteria for your desired MSc Program. Alternatively, I could have picked something interesting yet not as demanding as a main subject. Whatever the case, bear in mind that an extra elective with 20 hours of home preparation time a week will block too much of your schedule.

But then again, that last point is something that didn’t seem to come to my mind on that November morning when I woke up full of motivation believing that I could move mountains with my bare hands.

Well, I also watched an X Men movie the night before, so it would really be wrong of me to put all the blame on that morning. (By the way: Did you see that movie? Wouldn’t it be really cool if we could all play with storms and shoot lasers against all the evil on the planet?).

Anyway, back to my electives. To conclude my first point: yes, I picked something that was definitely not easy. It could have been easy, but it just was not!

With my exchange taking place in a Mandarin-speaking country, I chose to see that as the perfect time to learn some myself. I wanted to understand at least a bit… At least 1% of the writing! I wanted that: and if there was a perfect time to do it, my mind said this was it!

I will never forget the first class, when I realized that I might have got myself into something more serious than I thought. The majority of my Mandarin classmates were from countries like Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia or had a parent who originated from China. The class was not an ‘Intro to Mandarin for beginners’, it was a simple ‘Intro to Mandarin for all’, but given that it took place in Singapore, the number of students who had no prior contact with Chinese writing was not that high.

Of course, with Japanese, Malay and Mandarin being part of different language families, it is not that easy either, but at least the written form has many similarities. For me, there was no similarity whatsoever, and the class itself started to get more of a ‘challenge’ image in my head.

With every lesson, I was stressing even more that I am behind and that I will not pass. The book pages were flying faster than time should permit. We started at page 10 and by the end of the first lesson, we had got to page 40. There were words after words after words. Character after character, and combination of characters after combination of characters. How was I supposed to memorize all of them? How was I supposed to learn and assimilate these word structures? I had no clue whatsoever.

And then…

One day, I went to the pharmacy and saw a price 三(sān)十(shí)四(sì) SGD. Surprisingly my brain understood it. It knew 34 SGD was too expensive for a plaster. And I thought to myself ‘OK… so I know the numbers…’, but then something else happened! (*Drum rolls! *) The cashier asked me ‘ 你(nǐ)是(shì) Member?’ and my brain understood every word. My brain did not have to assume she was asking if I was a member just based on the last word: no! I understood exactly what she said: she had asked, ‘Are you a member?’.

OK! I know it was the smallest win in the history of wins, but have you tried to learn a language with a completely different way of writing? (If you have, just know: even if it does not matter much, you have my entire respect and are an idol in my view!) It is frightening, especially when, based on this feeling, it is hard to identify with your classmates.

Yes, I picked something that was definitely not easy. It could have been easy, but it just was not

However, by understanding those few words, I realized that, actually, that is all that matters. I took the Mandarin course to change my current state of knowing nothing to knowing at least 1% and I might have got even further than that. That small win was what I should focus on: that win and MY journey: not my journey compared to everyone else’s journey. Everyone else did not have the same start as me, so that 1% change means something different for each and every other individual.

And somehow, I set my mind to remembering that moment every time I felt like taking the course might have been the wrong move. The course did take a bit more preparation time than you hope an elective will take, but it also had a bigger impact than a simple theoretical course.

Surprisingly my brain understood it

Heck, by the end of it, I was recognizing characters, knew if words belonged to the same group as others and passed an exam written entirely in hànzì (汉(hàn)字(zì) = Chinese characters)

After getting my exam results weeks ago, I am still in awe as I never thought I would say I took a Mandarin course! It is an amazing feeling! And hey, if you go to Singapore for your exchange, don’t miss this cool opportunity and please send my dearest regards to 王(wáng)老(lǎo)师(shī) (the most amazing Mandarin teacher)!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

What just happened? I passed…by

  • News

    Staff layoffs: What happens if you’re fired

    The clock is ticking. On Thursday morning (5 October), CBS employees will know if they are up for dismissal or not. But what will happen on the day? What emotional stages are you likely to encounter? And who will be there to pick you up when you are feeling the blow of being laid off? CBS WIRE has talked to HR and the consulting agency Actief Hartmanns to provide you with answers.

  • News

    Network, network, network – CBS graduates advise on getting your first job

    There are many approaches to finding your first job. Three recent CBS graduates talk about how they landed theirs. Their approaches were quite different, yet they all highlight networking as a key element.

  • News

    A-Z of the dismissals

    In these final days of September, the fate of a number of CBS employees is being decided. The final amount of money saved on salaries via voluntary severance agreements (aka redundancy packages, Ed.) and senior agreements will be known.  After this, the actual number of employees up for dismissal will be decided by management – and then the individuals will be selected.

  • News

    Layoffs break the crucial trust between organisation and employee

    CBS is laying off a number of employees soon, which will affect our university in different ways. When employees are fired without having done anything wrong, it shatters the trust between the organisation and employees, while also taking a toll on productivity, according to a CBS expert. Layoffs also affect the ‘survivors’, who are forced to adapt to a changed workload and the loss of cherished colleagues.

  • News

    Here to help – at the touch of a button and at Campus Desk

    Exam anxiety? Lost student card? I’ve wedged my car between a Fiat 500 and a lamp post, can you help? You never know what you’ll be asked next. But that’s just how the Campus Desk team like it. And if they can’t fix your problem, they’ll know someone who can. CBS WIRE asked the team about the whole range of topics they advice on every day.

  • Gif of the week
  • News

    CBS Quiz Time: Unraveling the success story

    A successful university environment such as CBS is often associated with academic pursuits, but campus life extends far beyond the classroom. At CBS Quiz Time, a student society motivated by creative thinking and social engagement, students join in a refreshing range of creativity, excitement, and social interaction. CBS WIRE talked to Celine Møller-Andersen to find out about the society’s vision, strategies and the factors that are driving its rapid expansion.

  • News

    Why so sudden? The CBS financial crisis explained

    Employees and union representatives have posed many questions in the wake of the 17 August announcement of a firing round. In this interview, University Director Arnold Boon explains how Senior Management has been working with the budget and a change of financial strategy since the fall of 2022, and why layoffs are now necessary.

Follow CBS students studying abroad

CBS WIRE collaborates with

Stay connected