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I speak three languages. One is my mother tongue. One is part of the school curriculum since I was young. One was self-picked-up due to mere personal interest.

Learning languages is difficult, not to mention languages that are not in the same “system” as your mother tongue. Take Chinese and English as examples: the basic writings are nothing alike, and due to cultural difference, meaning of expressions are half a world apart.

However, if you yourself have that thirst and determination, being fluent in another language is not that tough a task. It is hard, of course, but it will be enjoyable if you love the language enough.

I have to say this upfront, as for me, learning language is not just learning how to listen, speak, write or read. Language is the firmest and trickiest boundary between cultures, it is an inevitable part of any culture. If you plan to get over the fence, be ready to learn how to deal with the thorns attached. This post, however, will not show you how to absorb the culture, because that would be up to individual’s interest and ability. Here, I would only show the general steps that I took to be able to “make Chinese sounds,” because it takes a lot more than this to “speak Chinese.”

I am a Chinese-drama addict. In other words, I could not possibly live without watching at least 1 episode of Chinese drama per week. During breaks it’s per day. After a while, I realized that I could understand what the people are saying without looking at the subtitles, sometimes. And then I learned the words, the sound, and the way some common phrases are used. That was my first layer of foundation.

For Asian languages like Chinese, once you get a hold of how grammar works, it is actually a simpler job to understand the language. I bought several textbooks on this and started from scratch, annotating all grammar points from the simplest greetings to more complicated structures. This set of notes never left my side. Whenever I have time, I would take them out and read them thoughtfully, but would not force them into my memory. Until this point, I had had some grammar foundation.

And then, I went back to carefully watch even more drama and TV shows while minding every sentence being said and paying closer attention to structures that were familiar with me. I would recite the sentence occasionally, until it naturally became part of my knowledge. A little bit of history of the country would also help a lot in learning vocabulary

Learning vocabulary is an essential part, but this comes after the grammar. After I had a decent amount of grammar in my head, I turned to cover my surroundings with vocabulary. Every piece of furniture in the room would have its Chinese name on it, and after I was familiar with these words, I changed to other things like colors, shapes, etc., until I had known how to describe my surroundings, myself, the people around me.

After combining both the vocabulary and the grammar, I visited Chinese websites that were about things I like and created a few accounts on Chinese social networking sites. Here, I made Chinese friends and talked to them about our mutual interest through typing to improve my writing. The conversation could last forever, or only in a few surfaced greetings. It doesn’t matter — just take every chance to have. A lot of people that have the same interest are really friendly and enthusiastic. You will eventually find someone that can talk to you verbally. And this is when you practice your speaking.

To conclude, my advice is to take your foundation study seriously and build on it with things in the culture that interest you. I also try to speak Chinese to all the Chinese people I’ve met, in other words, speak Chinese whenever and wherever I’ve got the chance. Because constantly speaking the language will make it yours.




Oh my gosh, Junior Year – is this real life?  I cannot believe that I am more than halfway through college.  I can still remember freshman year for the most part but I will say that of course I was not a fan of it – yet who is a fan of their freshman year in high school or college?  Looking back I can say that I am proud of myself for making it this far, for the material and content that I have learned thus far, the person that I am continuing to become while in college and much more.  I would say that for new students in college, be open to possibilities – be open for new chances that may not seem like the kind of chance that you would take but sounds interesting enough to try out.

College is the place where you can take risks, make mistakes, and learn from those mistakes even before going into the big world, which is great!  Take advantage of the time that you have and explore new areas that you may not have expected from yourself before.  Example, I did not think that I would change majors at least three times like I did, but if I had not thought about different possibilities then I would not be where I am today.  Lastly I want you to think about what Ms. Frizzle said from the show “The Magic School Bus,” which I hope that most of us watched as a kid or else I will really feel odd at this moment: “Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!”  Though when we get messy, really remember that we need to pick ourselves back up again and that is what our professors, close friends, and family are all for – to help us through the journey of life especially in college with finding ourselves.

Ms. Frizzle


When I began my first semester here at Fontbonne this spring I knew that I was going to learn a lot. With three studio art classes and one modern art history class, how could I not? The thing that surprised me the most was how much I’ve learned in my modern art history class. In general I don’t care for most modern art. I know that art is generally subjective, and everyone likes different things, but I admit I wasn’t looking forward to being visually assaulted by elongated figures, arbitrary color, and abstractions.

The surprising thing was the information behind the art that my professor supplied to us. Historically, art has been influenced by society, technology, politics, religion, etc. Modern art is no exception to these influences. I learned that social upheaval, the Industrial Revolution, and both world wars had a huge impact on the art being produced at the turn of the century. Logically, this all made sense to me, but to see the visual progression of this process was something else entirely. The artists of this time period were literally trying to change the world around them through their art; they had a message they wanted to impart to the general public and they did so fearlessly. Their spirit and passion is something to be admired. Learning each artists’ story and seeing the resulting work has been a fascinating journey and I’m very grateful to my professor for each lesson.


Coming to college was a brand new experience for me. It was a completely different environment from what I ever experienced. Of course I learned as I went along, picking up pieces of information along the way. However, I wish I had known one major thing before I came to college. That piece of information is the importance of relationships with people and accepting advice when needed. The people here taught me to accept advice and, even, to actually use it. I’ve always been a very stubborn person, I didn’t realize that this was hindering me from improvement. The people I met in my first week of college alone taught me this important lesson. New experiences can open your eyes to a different point of view an the people here has shown me that. I listen more intently now and realize that I can’t always be set in my ways. Change is a vital part of life, you must learn to accept this. If you follow tradition you might be steered down the same path you were going, that path may not be the best thing for you. People and your connections with them really matter. Before, I was too stubborn for my own good and I can admit it now. However, I now listen more and that is what I wish I had known.

You might be surprised to hear that I changed in just 3-4 months here at college. That’s what this place does to you. It makes you wonder what else is out there. The faculty and students here were my catalyst to thinking more about other points of view, thus improving my understanding of a variety of things. The people here are influential, it doesn’t take long to realize that. When you come to Fontbonne, things change for the better. You become what you really want to become and learn that change is important and beneficial for you. In the short months I’ve been here, I’ve learned so much. I’ve learned to accept change and I think that’s the most surprising thing about Fontbonne. The influence that it has on you is profound.


Meet the Intern at TalentPlus

by Alumni Posts July 30, 2014

In order to get my degree in fashion merchandising, it is a requirement to complete an internship. And as hard as it is to believe, I am at that point in my college career. My internship is at a company called TalentPlus Universal, which was originally intended to be solely a summer thing. But, I […]

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I’ve Been Holding On…

by Alumni Posts July 30, 2013

It never fails to amaze me just how much I can change over the course of a semester at school. And I’ve come to find that it’s not necessarily the stuff I spend eight hours reading in a textbook that ends up sticking with me, because it’s usually (ahem, pretty much always) not. As cliché […]

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I Wish You Could See the Thoughts in My Mind.

by Alumni Posts March 18, 2013

I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge the fact that we’re, what?, a week past the halfway mark of the semester? The sheer amount of stuff I’ve learned in the past eight weeks is kind of really mind-blowing. I’ve learned, for example, what a derivative is. I’ve learned how to take the derivative of […]

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Students writing for Real Life at Fontbonne are paid a small fee for each post by the university.