Thursday, November 17, 2005

Late Bloomer

Pui pointed me to some very good information about Chinese language programs in China, at the top universities in Beijing and Shanghai. The Peking University Web site really reminds me of the Stanford Web site, somehow, in its layout and color scheme. And the "campus scenery" pictures were the most creatively aesthetic of all the university Web sites I browsed. Just like Stanford. :) According to some ranking, it's also the number two university. It's better to be number two than to be number one. ;)

Overall, I was very impressed with the Web sites, which have full English versions as well. Compared to our Web sites, they only seem a few years behind. As I was browsing the Web sites, I came across this online Chinese language degree program for foreigners at the Beijing Language and Culture University.

It looks quite good, even better than my Pimsleur audio lessons, and quite economical, so I already signed up. Unlike Pui, I probably can't take a year off to live in Shanghai to study Chinese. Maybe just vacation.

My coworker said he learned English at the age of 25, and he speaks quite well. So, I can learn Chinese at the age of... uh... slightly older than that. :) I seem to be a late bloomer in a few things.

Yesterday I picked up some take-out food from Shanghai East. As I was waiting for the food, I sat at the counter and browsed their pictorial book on modern Shanghai. The pictures were really beautiful, and amazing. It looks nothing like what we saw when we were there in 1991. Not only that, but the people dress like Americans. Or, according to Lewis, the girls are even hotter and better dressed than those in NYC. I don't recall seeing people wearing jeans and such back then. I don't think I'm that old, but even in my time already, the change is astounding.

Purchasing the online course seems to be the first purchase I've done directly with a Chinese source, with the online transaction also processed by a Chinese source. This is somewhat significant, that the best online educational program I could find is from somewhere other than the United States. Not only that, but more and more Chinese Web sites have been starting to show up in Google search results.

This Stanford Travel trip looked really interesting: Yunnan and Tibet Suitcase Seminar. However, my sister pointed out that it's quite expensive and the average age of travelers is probably around 65 years. Sigh.

It's inevitable that the standard of living in China and other countries will become comparable to that of the United States someday. Just think of 1.2 billion people, four times the population of the United States, with room to grow 20 times the current per capita income (in nominal terms). This is just the tip of the iceberg.

However, crap, that really does mean we have a dire environmental and energy problem in the quite near future.