Here’s what the typical day at ACC looks like for the first couple weeks:
5:30am- First alarm goes off. Jump out of bed, quietly make your way to the restroom to get dressed without waking the roommate.
5:50- Now that you’re ready for the day, sit down at your desk, open Quizlet, and review the ~100 new vocab words for that day’s lesson. Continue reviewing until you get 100% correct.
7:15- You have extra time. Reread the text from the lesson. Look over the grammar. Check facebook, if you can get your VPN to work.
7:45- Leave for class. Class starts at 8 and is in the building directly next to the dorm, but you want to look over the vocab for a few minutes before class starts.
8:00-Time for the 听写！This daily quiz tests your knowledge of the vocab for the day’s lesson. There are 6 questions. After the quiz, you have 大班课(big class) for 50 minutes. The teacher goes through a powerpoint and explains new vocab and grammar and cold calls on students to answer her questions. It’s pretty similar to Georgetown’s Chinese classes.
9:00- Switch classes for 小班课aka small class. This class has a couple less students and is basically the same structure as big class, except there’s more individual attention. You’re getting pretty sleepy in this class and try to plan a scenario in which you have time to go by the vending machine in the dorm.
10:00-Time for 讨论课/ discussion class! This class is you with one or two other students and a teacher. The 50 minutes is spent discussing a topic that you prepared on a worksheet the night before. It’s a good opportunity to have a meaningful discussion with your peers about the material covered in class. You’re pretty stressed out because the other girl in your class was a summer student and has been at ACC for a couple months already. She knows how to play this game and you’re a little anxious about engaging with this讨论课 veteran.
11:00-Here’s where it gets tricky. There are three periods for one-on-one class/单班课。The first is at 11, the second at 12, and the third at 1:40. Each week your assigned time changes. Today you have the first class. You’re very nervous about spending the next 50 minutes talking one-on-one with a teacher, especially since today is a teacher you’ve never had before! Fortunately, like all of the ACC teachers, this one is very nice and helpful, and together you spend the entire class discussing the lesson and practicing using grammar and vocab.
12:00pm- After class, you anxiously text all your friends to see who is available to eat lunch. You still don’t recognize everyone’s Chinese names, so looking at the schedule doesn’t really help. You find someone to eat with and head to the cafeteria. Last week you found a fried rice dish that wasn’t horrible and order that every day. Today is not an exception. While waiting for you food, you look around at your Chinese peers. They all seem to be staring at you. Am I really that white? You get your food after what seems like an eternity and sit down at one of the long tables with your friend to eat.
1:00- You should get started on studying. You look over the vocab but ultimately decide to have a nice afternoon break. You surf the web for a while before your 责任感 compels you to begin studying. You spend the rest of the day alternating between trying to learn the new vocab and checking Facebook.
6:00- You should probably eat dinner. Your friends and you briefly consider going to a Chinese restaurant, but it’s been a long day and you’re not prepared for the stress of trying to figure out what is edible. Ultimately, you all head to Tube Station, the pizza joint. It’s a little expensive, but pizza is just so good.
7:30- You arrive back in your room. You open Quizlet and resume studying the vocab. You decide maybe you’ll be more productive on B2, the ACC floor in the dorm. It has classrooms, a big study room, and, most importantly, WiFi. So many people are there studying! It’s a big ACC study party. After a few hours, you realize it’s getting late and you return to your room to sleep.
Now, here’s what a typical day at ACC looks like in the last couple weeks:
6:30am- First alarm goes off. You’re pretty tired and you don’t have that much to study, so you go back to sleep.
6:45- 2nd alarm. Ehh.
7:00- 3rd alarm goes off. You should probably get up now. You stay in bed and grab your laptop from your bedside table. You practice the grammar on Quizlet once. 55% accuracy. Not bad.
7:30- Get out of bed and get dressed.
7:50- Leave for class. Stop by vending machine to buy a 4 kuai coffee in a can or a 3.5 kuai sugary tea drink in a bottle.
8:00- 听写！It’s no big deal. You don’t remember a few words but that’s just life. Class starts and you immediately want to go back to sleep. You pop open your coffee and chug it down like your life depends on it. You don’t want to be sleepy; it just happens. The rest of the class is a struggle to be engaged and learning.
9:00- 小班课! You’re still tired, but you have to be on your A game in this class. For some reason the teacher always calls on your for the sentences you’re not sure how to answer, and doesn’t call on you for the easy questions everyone else keeps flubbing.
10:00-讨论课 time! Everyone is friends by now, so discussion class is pretty relaxed. What starts as an on-topic discussion about our lesson usually turns into a discussion with the teacher about China’s culture and politics.
11:00-Today you have the third one-on-one class. You go with your friends to the cafeteria to get a 6 kuai rice meal. You’re pretty sick of everything you’ve already tried at the cafeteria, so every day you ask the cafeteria worker for a suggestion. Today’s suggestion was not bad. You take your food to go and return to your dorm room. After eating and watching tv for a while in bed, you still have an hour before class. Nap time.
1:40pm- Time for class! Uh oh! You have the intense teacher. He prompts you to use 6 grammar patterns in a row and it takes 15 minutes to complete one sentence. After a while of intense grammar practice, the conversation turns more casual and you have an in-depth conversation about the differences between China and America. Today’s conversation turns to the impact of campaign contributions on American politics and how corruption in Chinese business makes it hard for American companies to make partners in China. After class you realize he’s actually you’re favorite teacher for danbanke.
2:30- Class is over. Should you go out into the city or watch TV in bed? Why not both? After watching a show on YouKu, you meet up with your friends to go to one of the few remaining tourist destinations you have yet to visit.
5:00- After spending a couple hours at your destination, it’s time to head back to campus. It’s already dark and it’s freezing outside. After arriving back at the National Library metro station, you and your friends walk back to campus and decide on a place for dinner.
6:00- Dinner time! Y’all make your way to the Korean place down the alley in 西门（儿）and all order bibimbap. After dinner, you go to the bing place to get jelly filled pastry things for 1 kuai. So tasty.
7:00- After getting food, you head back to the dorm. On the way, you pass CoCo and decide you need that milk tea. The warmth of your beverage makes the walk to the dorm slightly more bearable in the freezing cold. After you hit your floor button on the dorm elevator, you belatedly realize you should go up to the 6th floor to get your quiz from your cubby. Even though you spend way less time studying than at the beginning of the semester, you consistently get better grades.
8:30-It’s getting late and you realize you should probably start studying. You write down the vocab words a couple times, read through the lesson, do the discussion class homework, and call it a night. Recalling new words has become so much easier over the semester. Most characters are recognizable; you just need to learn what a combination of previously known characters mean put together.
10:00- You’re pretty much done studying so you spend a little while catching up on things back home before going to bed, a little sad that your ACC experience is so close to coming to an end.