My limited Chinese is returning and growing everyday. I've been getting a lot of practice at a tea and coffee shop (Seven Teas) across the street from the middle school where we've been doing all our training and classes. They do not speak English there, but they do have an English menu with Chinese characters and pinyin so I am building my vocabulary one cold drink at a time. As we have Chinese class from 8-9:30 and the rest of our training from 9:45-5PM, it's a welcome break in the middle of the day. Oh, and have I mentioned that the middle school we're all doing orientation at is beautiful? And there's so many things in easy walking distance from us: Martyr's park, bakeries, a city museum, small shops... though just walking around demands a lot of attention. People everywhere, cars, bikes, and motorbikes moving along on the sidewalk have surprised me a few times. It may just be that Saratoga was so quiet, but the other two times I've been to Asia the activity on the streets amazed me. There's so much going on at 6 or 7 AM with dance and exercise groups going on and a few individuals simply doing their exercises alone where the streets have less people.
In short, despite my initial nervousness I am warming up to here though I am sure that when the group disperses and I settle into the school year with another volunteer working at my school I will encounter challenges. I haven't yet had too any of the issues I've heard Chinese American people sometimes report when they come here. Sometimes people expect me to understand more Chinese than I really do and just keep talking to me, but I've met a lot of people too who will speak to me in English if I ask. In time, I suppose.