I am sure we all remember that we entered Nankai in February of 1978. At that time there were still lots of temporary, simple and poorly built houses on campus because there had been a strong earthquake.
After we moved into the dormitory in Nankai, I found out one interesting scenario, some students in our class already knew each other pretty well. As we all know, more than half of the students in our class used to study at Waixiao (Tianjin Foreign Languages School), a few of us used to study at Foreign Trade School, and another few used to study at Teacher’s Training Program in Tianjin. And some used to work in the same company or school. I didn’t know anybody myself since I used to be a worker in a transportation company in Tianjin. Also I noticed that there were more girls than boys in our class.
We had a group discussion on the first day, during which we introduced ourselves and talked a little about our feelings of becoming university students. Then we went to the big room 514 where Mr. Li Weishu (李维树) gave us a speech. He welcomed us warmly and told us what we would study during the next four years, and also he said we would need to take a written and an oral exam so that we could be placed into three small classes according to the test results.
In the afternoon, we took the written exam. At first it was a dictation. Ms. Wang Zhijie (王志洁) was reading and we were writing. Ms. Wang’s pronunciation and intonation were very good, I was saying in my mind, “University instructors are university instructors”. The dictation was about a man coming back home without a key, so he borrowed a ladder and tried to get into his house through the window, but the police came because they thought he was a burglar, something like that. I had never had any training in dictation, so I could not catch up. I could only write some of it. I happened to take a look at the student next to me, who was Zhang Jianxin (张建新), He seemed to be able to write everything with nice cursive handwriting. On the whole, the exam was not easy for me at all. Later I was surprised to learn that Yuan Haiwang (袁海旺)got 93 on that exam, which was the highest.
The next morning, it was the oral one. We were all sitting in a room waiting for Mr. Ning Hong (宁洪) to call one student at a time. When it was my turn, I walked into the other room where several instructors were sitting there ready to ask me questions. The questions were about what school I had gone to, what I had done and studied before, my life, family, and things like that. Mr. Liu Daiye (刘岱业) asked me more questions than others, Ms. Ma Zhenlin (马振铃) and Ms. Wang Zhijie both asked me some questions, Mr. Li Weishu and Mr. Chang Yuexin (常耀信) also asked me a few questions. I vaguely remember that Ms. Zhang Kaiping (张开萍) was there, too. But she did not ask me anything. They were all pretty friendly.
In the afternoon, it was the second part of the oral test. One student would go to another room and listen to a story on the tape recorder for 3 times, then he or she would go to retell it to the instructors. The story was about a large woman inviting a young man to dinner. During the dinner the young man kept asking her some questions to show his appreciation for being invited to dinner, but he did not realize she was not amused. Finally she said if he had not asked so many questions, they would have both enjoyed the dinner a lot better. (By the way, we see and experience this kind of misunderstanding and miscommunications in our life a lot, right?) I could hardly understand it. Later I found out some classmates could understand everything. Then we split into 3 small classes and the first thing we were going to do, a week of hard labor, digging ditches on campus, but we had a lot of fun working together. Those days just seemed to be like yesterday, can’t believe so many years have gone by since then.
I miss the good old days back in Nankai very much!