So. I started Chinese last week.
A lot of folks have asked how Chinese is going. I'll try to do my best to tell you. Here are my thoughts, in no particular order:
1.) Ohmygoshohmygoshohmygosh... OTHER GROWNUPS!!!!!! I actually get to be around and talk to OTHER GROWNUPS!!!
Now, for those of you who have never been stay-at-home-parents (let alone a stay-at-home-parent for the last decade... let alone being a homeschooling stay-at-home-mom) this concept may seem hard to grasp or even - let's call a spade a spade - utterly pathetic. But, seriously, stay-at-home-moms will totally get this. After being at home (and only at home), and being moved around a thousand places and knowing no one but my children all those years and having very little - if any - opportunities to hang with grownups this is like heaven and nirvana all wrapped up together... with homework.
DUDE. I'll take the homework. I get to be with grownups! And eat lunch with them! And I no longer have to wait, while the clock ticks slowly by, counting the SECONDS until my husband walks through the door so he can tell me about his day in Grownup Land. O frabjous joy!
2.) Many, many years ago (over a decade), I actually had a career and even a small business on the side. I was a workaholic crazy Type A successful go-getter-nutjob, earning more than my husband and basically living at my workplace. I had a nanny and a housekeeper... here in the US. I gave that all up to stay at home with my boys so that they could actually grow up knowing who I was. And I would do that again, in a heartbeat, for our family has thrived and I know it's in large part because of the sacrifices James and I have made with our time and our finances (it's tough to live on one paycheck!), etc.
But that crazy Type A nutjob is clawing and biting her way back out, I can tell, because I want to OWN the Chinese language and make it my beeyotch. Couple that with the fact that all my classmates are brilliant times twelve...
... AND the fact that my class goes much faster than my husband's and has TWICE the homework of my husband's (explanation later, just a sec)...
...and I am studying Chinese and doing homework every minute of the day that I'm not doing work with the children or worrying about feeding someone.
3.) Spouses looking into taking a language at FSI, know the following: different classes come with different goals and different courseloads/homework/assignments. For example:
~ My husband's Mandarin class is a 44 week class. Its goal is to get him from a 0/0 (no speaking or reading ability in Mandarin) to a 2/2 (speaking/reading). He gets 44 weeks for this.
~ My class is a 30+ week class (some folks are scheduled for 34 weeks/ some for 36 weeks, etc., depending upon the time they have available to them before they leave for post or go into different training classes), and during that time, the goal of this class is to get us to a 2/1. But they're presenting us with ALL the material that the 44 week 2/2 class uses, plus more, in a shorter time frame, so that if any of us want to/need to try for a 2/2 it should be theoretically possible.
Translation: I have all of my husband's work (and, actually, more, for they've given us more books and have given us additional assignments that my husband was never given) smooshed into a much smaller time schedule. Upshot: I have literally almost twice the homework he does on any given night. WOW. I did NOT know this was going to be the case, but I'm doing my best to do what's supposed to be done. Meanwhile...
4.) I will say that the fact that my husband is two months ahead of me in language training (he started in September, I started in November) is a HUGE, and I mean HUGE godsend. Sure, it's nice that he's much further ahead and already knows a super boatload of Chinese... but, technically, this is a huge boon for me because he knows what all the assignments are and can locate them for me.
For example, a huge amount of my homework tends to be exercises that I have to listen to (some random audio file somewhere in cyberspace or on some random database) and then answer questions about. Let me just say this: these random homework audio files are IMPOSSIBLE for me to locate. They're not labelled correctly; they're not in the right place; they're not anything that I can find. But on my first day of class, my husband put every last one of them on my ipod because he long ago had to struggle with and slay the CRAP! Where Is That Random, Mismarked Audio File? dragon.
In fact, my brilliant classmates are often counfounded by that same CRAP! Where Is That Random, Mismarked Audio File? dragon, and they're, as I said, totally brilliant. So I can count myself extremely lucky that my husband long ago figured out the ins and outs of the random pieces of mismatched homework, and I do not HESITATE to mooch off of his prior knowledge.
5.) I love, and I mean LOVE the Chinese language. Holy cow, is it fascinating. (See also: making it my beeyotch, above. It'll never happen, but it's good for one to have goals).
6.) And did I mention that Mandarin is a super-critical-needs-language? And that, like, gets you wicked pointz and stuff? And if you're a spouse going through language training at FSI and you pass your language's test, that counts just like a passed phone test during an interview process for State, should you choose to try to do such? I'm just sayin'...
So, all in all, life is crazy, life is busy, I'm clawing my way through each day with the Mandarin classes, my children, feeding people, my super-heavy load of homework, etc. Thanks, everyone who has asked!
In the meantime...
View State Department Bloggers in a larger map
Just look at that awesome State Department Blogger Map!! (Click here to see it full size in easy-to-use format.)
A HUGE thank you to everyone who has let me add them! And just in time, for The Blogregator is down, and so I love having another way for people to find each other!
Bloggers, if you're not on The Map, just leave me a comment or email me at:
And also, bloggers who like The Map, please consider mentioning it on your blog! I'd love to get the word out there! Here's the link to it:
And also - it's Thursday! Which means that tomorrow is The Roundup! It's being hosted by Jan at the blog Ogles and Observations - and tomorrow is her birthday, so Happy Birthday, Jan! Since it's her birthday, her theme is about celebrating birthdays in the Foreign Service. There's still time to participate!
And one last thing:
Are you a DS (Diplomatic Security Service) Agent's wife/spouse/significant other? Or an Agent with a wife/spouse/significant other? If so, did you know that there's an online email group for you/them? And did you further know that the DS wives/spouses/significant others get together in the DC area sometimes? There's a get-together coming up next week that I do NOT want any DS wives/spouses/s.o's in this area to miss, so if you're a DS wife/spouse/s.o. and you're interested in being involved with the email list and/or the D.C. area get-together, please contact me! It can be a lonely life out there, sometimes, when our husbands/wives/boyfriends/girlfriends have this job, especially when we're currently posted in the DC area.