After a dramatic finale of the exhausting exam season, one usually finds oneself back in his room, sitting at his desk, with an unusual case of ” I-have-nothing-to-do” syndrome. During these times, it is common to find a new hobby to pass the time. Usually, people go for the more sporty route, exercising to make up for the lack thereof during the exam season. I have briefly considered this, but the amount needed to make up for my lack of exercise would probably require two lifetime gym memberships. So, I sought a more lenient way to spend my new found spare time.
I decided to learn a new language!
Malaysia is a country in which its people speak many different languages, yet somehow all understand each other with the use of a lingua franca, either Malay or English. So, I’ve decided to take it a step further and learn a language not native to me. That language happened to be Mandarin.
Mandarin is a language spoken by the majority of the Chinese people all over the world. It has had many permutations and evolutionary changes over the millennia. It is a beautiful language that not only challenges the speaker’s vocabulary, but also his speech presentation, because different intonations of a specific spelling will most definitely refer to a completely different word.
I began my journey by reading some classic Chinese literature like the Art of War by Tsun Tzu, and other short stories with their English versions close at hand. I also tried my best to converse with the nice lady at the local Chinese restaurant using Mandarin, and thoroughly enjoyed transcribing my order on a piece of paper by copying it off the menu. My efforts drew some snickers from my Chinese friends, sure, but I believe with enough practice, I may some day be a proficient Mandarin speaker.
At this point in time, people who don’t know me well may be wishing me luck on my uphill endeavor, while people who know me well may still be snickering at my efforts. Regardless, it is worth noting that it has been 5 years since my 12 years of formal education in the Mandarin language has ended. With its current state of disuse, my vocabulary has greatly diminished, and I find myself struggling to write even the words that I so clearly see in the eyes of my mind. These hands that once brandished my calligraphy brush with ease now find great difficulty in wielding a ball point pen.
Fortunately, this horrifying revelation has sparked a renewed vigor to spend the upcoming summer break with more productivity. By setting clear goals, and with enough effort, I am positive I may regain this precious skill I have almost lost. I urge you to do the same, because you, dear reader, may be on the verge of losing a once beloved skill as well!
Have you been playing your favorite sport recently?
Have you had a go at that chess set recently?
Have you had the time to sit down and simply draw?
Get out there and have some fun, my friends. Explore the life you once had, you may find some hidden gems worth see the light of day again! Happy summer holidays!