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Suddenly the entire set starts to rotate around me and my insides begin to melt.
I feel like I'm trapped inside a Transformer which has just woken up.
At the beginning of last November, a Chinese teacher and colleague at my school sent me a message on We Chat (the Chinese near-equivalent of Whats App) asking if I was looking for a girlfriend in China.
There followed an application and an interview for a TV show.
For the background video segments, I was told what to say and given several attempts at recording each sentence.
By the end of the show, I was feeling pretty overwhelmed.
My chosen date asked me on camera to say 我喜欢你 (Wǒ xǐhuān nǐ – I like you) to her in English.
What it feels like to be a star On the show, I got a taste of real showbiz: having my hair and make-up done, being on stage with a mic, and playing cello and table tennis in front of an audience of millions.On the show, it looks as if I could speak fluent Chinese.In reality, this was an effect created in the editing room, and nearly every question I was asked had to be either repeated or translated into English by one of the more experienced foreigners on the show.This was the sign I was about to emerge from a narrow tube onto the studio floor to blinding lights and the screams of the audience.That was the worst part, but after one hour – intense and surreal in equal measure – it was over. Not many Westerners can say they've been on a Chinese TV show.
I’m glad I had put myself in a totally Chinese-speaking environment; it's the best way to learn a new language.