I have an incredible Chinese culture professor. He's an older gentleman that has taught for more than 20 years and is full of stories about China's past and his own experiences. We were talking about how complicated the Chinese language is because each character, word or phrase can be tied to a long line of history or customs and possibly an entire story behind it. He said Chinese is very different from English in that the less words your can use to express yourself, the more culture you are thought to have. (字越来越少，文化越来越大) By these standards, my blog would definitely be marked as the work of an uneducated peasant! I like this unique part of Chinese, because English seems to be a race to use the longest, flowery sentences with the largest vocabulary words in the dictionary. Chinese has books full of idioms (成语）that are four characters but take paragraphs to explain in English. Mastering these is nearly impossible, but learn to use a few and you can certainly impress some locals!
I also have a truly wonderful set of classmates this semester. The class is more lively and willing to get together for fun than last semester. Friday we celebrated an Indonesian classmate's birthday at his house with homemade Indonesian and Thai food.
And Saturday I spent the afternoon at a Chinese family's house chatting about everything under the sun and learning how to make 饺子，or Chinese dumplings. I met their daughter on the plane coming to Beijing in February and have been in touch ever since. They were so sweet that I will have to go see them again!