New Members - What was one of your first real life usages of Chinese?

This is a topic designed for New Members.

Just add a comment below about when you first started using Chinese in "real life" meaning outside of the classroom. Was it in a restaurant or taxi? Or talking with a practice partner on skype? 

Examples:

"The first time I used Chinese was when I was at a consulate for my visa and was able to drop a few 'dui dui' in the conversation."

"I was at a restaurant and able to tell my friends which dishes were chicken 肌肉 and which were beef 牛肉. "

You can answer in English, pinyin or characters, whichever is better for your level.

So when did you first use Chinese in real life?

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The first time I used Chinese was in a Chinese restaurant. I ordered 蒙古牛肉 (Mongolian beef) and 春卷 (Spring rolls). I studied Chinese for a few years and the local Chinese owned establishments were used to students practicing. 

One of the first times I used Chinese in China was in Beijing. I was looking for the post office. I couldn't remember the tones for 邮局 (you2ju2) and ended up going though as many tone combinations as I could come up with.. you1ju1 zai nar? you2ju1 zai nar? you3ju1? you4ju? you4ju4? you3ju3? My husband final put an end to my embarrassment and used the proper tones. The woman I was asking replied, "AH! 那里. (oh, there.) " and pointed across the street. 

Heh nice story, thanks for sharing. I will try to remember those tones now too.

The 1st time I used Chinese was many years ago when I arrived in China for the 1st time.
Coming from Laos border into the south of Yunnan, without speaking one single word in Chinese, and no one around me that could speak English.

The 1st characters that I learn were: 中 (zhong), 北 (bei), 南 (nan), 东/東 (dong), before I could even learn 你好 (ni hao), ou 谢谢 (xie xie).

I found it much easier to learn to read than to learn to speak.

The first time I used Mandarin was probably asking where the bathroom was during one of my first few days in China. I had no prior Mandarin experience so it was definitely a terribly mutilated version of 厕所在哪里.

I study mandarin at university I need some manuals in PDF, I only have them as paper. Does anyone know where I can find ?

 I first started using Chinese  Ni hao, Xiexie and Zaijian in our class when a Chinese boy was in our English class and he also taught me some basic Chinese. From then on I became interested in the language and have started some basic classes using You Tube

Nihao Brandon!!

Di yi ge, zai Lotus Garden fandian: wo chi le kaoya!! (Feichang hao chi!!)

Duibuqi, wo bu huei xie Zhongwen...

Zai Jian!!

Renato

I was getting Chinese food at the airport and the cashier thanked me in Chinese and English. Imagine her surprise when I said 谢谢 back!

I joined a local meetup group in the Chicago suburban area, that gets together informally to study Mandarin.  We have both Chinese and non-Chinese members.  The Chinese members  also get a chance to  practice English.  Randy

I used Chinese for the first time with a woman I met at church. We are now very good friends. I also practice with the owner of the local take out place and the waitstaff at a local restaurant.
I see more and more Chinese students at the library. Two months ago, I talked to a young Chinese woman who currently studies rare books from the French middle-age ... and so funny to try to speak Chinese ...
The first time I used Chinese in real life was in my high school's Chinese class. There were two Chinese teachers - one Korean, the other Chinese. The native spoke only Chinese and poor English, so I had to speak in Chinese with her. Everyone liked her because she was such a kind person who always treated students with patience, so I wanted to ask her lots of questions about Chinese language and culture. I remember the first time I talked to her, I said something like "Hello! My name is --- and this is my friend. She learns Japanese."

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