On Tuesday night, I had very short conversations in Mandarin Chinese (or, as it's said in Chinese, Pu Tong Hua) with the Chinese-born owners of an Oxford, Mich. restaurant. They were able to understand me; turned out, the Guang Dong province-born owners speak both Mandarin and Cantonese.
Then, today while at Oxford High School, I met a lady who's from Beijing and is now teaching Chinese. Again, short conversations and she said she understood me just fine. I even understood some of the things she said. Hao ji le!
Funny how once the pressure to study is removed, the language becomes much easier to learn. I've often thought that eight months of my life spent studying Mandarin at the Army's Defense Language Institute is too much time to waste. So, with that I'm working to brush up on both my Chinese and Russian skills. Spanish too, perhaps.
Teacher, whom I'd rather not identify, has even encouraged me to stop by sometime and chat with her. How cool is that?