Learning new things

When we were planning our retirement, I often read articles  that talked about what folks would like to do in their post-retirement — more time for golf, traveling, fishing, learning to knit, learning to play musical instruments, gardening, or just hanging out where the weather is nice. Basically, some people want to do things they didn’t have time to do while some people want to learn something new.

For me, I knew that we would be doing RVing and travel more. Then it morphed into full-time RVing. I never thought much about what else we would be doing to keep ourselves stimulated after we retired. All I was looking for was to not having to get up early in the morning and deal with the stressful job.

Before David and I moved to Richmond, Virginia, about 12 years ago, we used to square dance every week with our club in the Eugene-Springfield area. If you’re thinking of your grandpa/grandma square dancing, stop right there. Gay square dancing is entirely different — it’s more fun, flamboyant, more energy, and no silly dress-code. We danced at Advanced A2 level when we moved to Richmond and would like to continue learning a next level. However, being full-time RVers makes it impossible to participate in square dance lessons because they take many months to complete at each level.

When Sheri, a blogger whom I follow, pointed me to Mountains 101, an online course from University of Alberta, I was immediately interested. Sheri learned that David and I will be visiting the Canadian Rockies this summer and thought that what learned from this course will heighten the experience of this trip. I love being in the mountains and have always been intrigued in geology. After reading the description of Mountains 101, I found it to be what I’d like to know more about so I enrolled in the course. David is learning it along with me as well. Thanks Sheri. Sheri has an awesome hiking and travel blog (trailtopeaktheadventurouspath.com). You should check out her blog.

Mountains 101 from University of Alberta

Mountains 101 from University of Alberta

One thing led to another. I am also enrolling in an online course from Peking University through Coursera.org site. It’s Chinese for Beginners. When we travel to Asia later this year, we’d like to visit Taipei. It’s not that I expect to be able to converse in Mandarin by the time we are in Taiwan. My dilemma is that despite looking like Chinese (my grandparents immigrated to Thailand from Mainland China), I speak no Mandarin. Most of the time when David and I visited any Chinatowns, I had to let merchants know that I don’t speak Chinese. They almost always assumed I speak Mandarin. I even learned a sentence in Mandarin that says “I don’t speak Mandarin”. It sometimes seemed to make the matter worse since I somehow initiated a conversation in Mandarin. One elderly lady in Las Vegas kept on talking to me in Mandarin because, I guess, she didn’t believe me.

I don’t know why but I always feel like I should know a little bit of Mandarin because of my ancestral root. In fact, I occasionally felt embarrassed by not being able to speak Mandarin. So, we’ll see where my learning of this course will take me. It took me my whole student life to learn English and I could barely use them when I lived in Thailand. So, I don’t have a high hope. At least it’s something to keep my brain stimulated.

How about you? What new things did you learn recently?

Chinese for Beginners from Peking University

Chinese for Beginners from Peking University

9 Comments

  1. Loved this post! I had no idea gay line dancing was a thing–now I feel like my brother and his partner have been holding out on me, lol! Your story about the lady in Vegas cracked me up. I hear you on not being able to speak your ancestral language. Every time I walk through Waikiki, tourists and shop owners constantly speak to me in Japanese, even though I keep assuring them I can’t speak it at all. 😀

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  2. Well I just learned that there is gay line dancing and also there is some sort of rating system for line dancing….I never went to college, joined the german navy when i was 18 then immigrated to the US 1 year after I left.. I enjoy listening to The Teaching Network college classes and visit exhibits that intestest me… I think if I have a passion for geologie and would learn more about it but my true passion is learning on how to be a better person, come out of my shell, make a difference in peoples lives.

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  3. I really enjoyed this post 🙂 That’s great that you are taking a Mandarin course (although that stinks to feel embarrassed that you don’t know it – people can be good at assuming things..).

    I learned spanish while studying abroad but my language skills are a little rusty. It’s been in the back of my mind that I want to be more fluent. I just checked out coursera at your recommendation and signed up for their five part course. Thanks for inspiring me!

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