It’s Never Too Late To Start Learning

Discovering China with Hutong School, and Jerry

At Hutong School we teach hundreds of students every year, and each person means something very special to us.

Every one of our students brings something unique to our company, each an individual brick in a great big puzzle. You guys help us staying up to date, and in touch with the community.

Every once in a while we get students that are not like others, people with great personalities, big hearts, and ability to draw people to them. Jerry was one of them, all the way from Mauritius, a tropical paradise in the Indian Ocean he instantly became an office treasure.

Jerry is a perfect example that life is about continuous learning, and that’s its never to late to start something new!

China Learning Experience Lesson Life Student Chinese Language

A lesson in life from Jerry

A native Mauritian, long time Hong Kong expat, known shipping expert, and boat building enthusiast, studying in China, how did that happen?

When talking to Jerry it quickly became obvious that he has lived a long and exiting life, between adventurous anecdotes and inspiring quotes, I couldn’t help to wonder how he ended up right in our Shanghai Office and why China is so special to him

How did it begin, your quest in to China?

“Have you ever heard about the Japanese phrase Kaizen? It refers to activities that continuously improve a certain function, first used and commercialized by Japanese Auto-maker Toyota. (I kind of had in a class in university, but Jerry didn’t teach the class, so I honestly could not remember. Sorry Professor!) 

That is what life is about, continuing to improve and learning, even in your old age. I wanted to learn Chinese and knew that going to China was the best way to improve. Was it a big challenge, yes! But getting better at something means trying, and failing as well. I am too old to care about what other people think, so I just start talking, even if it sounds funny.”

Still wondering how this great persona ended up in front of me I had to ask, how did you find Hutong School?

“I found it on the Internet, I had been in contact with the Beijing school for some while and promised them that I would join their classes, but there is a temple in Shanghai that I needed to cross of my list before heading to the capital. I only had a couple of days in Shanghai, but decided to see if Hutong School had any classes that I could join. Luckily there was, and so I’ve been doing some 1-1 classes. “ 

Jerry just dropped in from the street and started asking questions, in Chinese! He immediately drew a lot of attention, and I’m sure he was an experience for his designated teacher. A quick PSA, you can always drop by our offices in you want to see our classrooms, talk to a employee or have a chat about the different opportunities.

What’s so special about China?

I like the practical way of living here. If something is broke, they fix it. If you’re unsatisfied with something, you tell them. There’s an honesty and simplicity in the Chinese way of living that I find refreshing. And of course, the contrast from the Western world plays a big role. From the architecture to the way people act and even the traffic rules (Which traffic rules Jerry? I am still trying to figure out if they exist) ”

So what’s the best thing about China?

“The people, no doubt! The Chinese people are warm hearted and open minded, always interested in chatting with a new potential friend. Perfect way of practising Chinese”

Any challenges about being in China?

“Personally it’s the food, it’s a preference.” 

I know you are a busy man, how do you spend your free time in China?

“Exploring! I love seeing new things and exploring small streets. It gives me a opportunity to practice my Chinese with real people”

Jerry is an old school explorer, no VPN, no online map or metro APP. Just straight up learning by doing. A great advice is to throw yourself out there in the in the wilderness. Don’t be afraid to get lost, there is always a metro somewhere near. 

We’ve been speaking a lot about you learning and practicing Chinese. What motivates you to keep going?

“I don’t know, and I hope I never find out. Because if I do figure out where that crazy fire comes from, I might stop it, something might ruin it. It’s about staying motivated and finding new challenges. And that’s what keeps me going, learning and challenging myself. And I don’t like translators, when I do my work I want to be able to represent myself. I don’t like anyone else speaking on my behalf” 

What is important when learning a new language?

“You have to find a way to learn that motivates you, try, try, and try. You can’t be afraid of trying. Removing the negativity in your head, and start seeing the positive in your progress. And study! Find a way to make the studying fun. I like listening to the radio, and music. That helps me” 

Do you have any special tricks on learning Chinese?

“A teacher can’t teach you Chinese, only you can do it. Languages are like music. Every language has its own rhythm. I like listening when learning, I like to draw and write. I write everything I don’t understand down, everything I find interesting, and draw the beauty in new places in my notebook. 

I think expressions are very important to understand, certain expressions and how conversations are build up. Understanding the underlying of how people communicate is important when learning a new language”

Sharing your experience

Sharing a story like Jerry’s is important for us here at Hutong School, and we want you to know that there’s no age limit to learning or visiting new places. At Hutong School we get young energetic students straight from High School, and we have amazing people like Jerry. Whether you are interested in an internship, a couple of days of language course or maybe a longer stay, there’s a big possibility that we can help.

If you don’t trust me, trust Jerry!

If you really want it, you’ll find a way to do it”

Interested in your own China adventure?

Did the story on Jerry get your attention? If you’re interested in learning more about Chinese culture, see our article on Ancient Chinese stories, or read our funny guide of “Do and don’ts when in China“.

Already packed and ready to go? Get in touch with our Program Consultants and begin your new Chinese adventure. Being curious doesn’t cost anything, just interested in knowing more about Hutong School, and what we can offer? Click here to get started. 

Same great quality, bigger scale.

Hutong School is now operating as That’s Mandarin. Now you can expect the same great Chinese lessons with access to online Chinese learning platform NihaoCafe.