Posted in korea, Personal, Rant, Uncategorized

Hyehwa: My second home

These days I am feeling pretty homesick despite technically being home. Honestly I just miss Korea and especially Hyehwa. Hyehwa was my home for 3 full weeks and I loved every second I spent there. My sister and I went on a lot of adventures in Seoul but we returned and ate dinner in Hyehwa almost every night. We got somewhat close to a lot of people in our neighborhood. The part time workers in the CU in front of our guesthouse, the떡볶이 아줌마 down the corner, a few restaurant owners and especially all the workers in the smaller coffee shops and juice bars. We both love spending time in smaller shops and with the Korean summer heat it’s important to stay hydrated, so we came to visit these shops quite often. Some of the shops even gave us those stamp collecting coupons despite knowing that we would leave soon, because we came so often.
I had so much fun and I met so many amazing people.

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The thought of not being able to go back anytime soon is haunting me and making me feel somewhat depressed today. I was talking to one of my best friends on skype this morning and he asked me if I was coming back next spring. I felt so incredibly sad when I told him that I probably wouldn’t be back until 2019. It seems like such a long time.
I’m a student and a house owner so I won’t be able to save up the needed money very fast, and I have to save up for my London trip in April, before I start saving up for Korea.

Luckily I took a lot of pictures while I was there and looking at all those pictures makes me feel better.

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I know everything will be fine, and most of the time I don’t feel sad about having to wait. I guess I’m just feeling a bit sensitive after talking to my friend this morning.
But my friends aren’t going anywhere and Hyehwa will surely wait for me as well.
I’ll see you all soon X

PS. I would kill for some 순두부찌개 right now!

Posted in korea, Personal, travel, Uncategorized

Time to go

The last week have been absolutely insane. I officially started my summer vacation and that meant that all my focus was on renovating our new home and on studying. I have been working my butt off to make sure that everything at home is under control and even though I haven’t been able to focus too well, I still insisted on studying. I have especially been listening to a lot of audio-books and I have been reading a lot on my tablet as well as in my psychical books.
This week literally just flew by with a blink of an eye, and now it’s almost time for me to leave.

My sister and I started talking about this trip back in 2013 and we started saving up for it in the beginning of 2015. And now the time has finally come. It’s almost midnight here in Denmark and I’m leaving in less than 7 hours.
I should probably be sleeping but that’s unlikely to happen. I’m too excited and nervous.

Those of you who have been around for a while will probably know about the strong anxiety attacks I suffered from last year, when I went flying for the first time. Needless to say I’m not feeling too well about that part of the trip. My therapist suggested some calming medication but I denied. I want to do this using my own strength and courage. And I can do it. I know it for sure.
If I start feeling sleepy then I’ll go to sleep but if I don’t then I guess I’ll be pulling an all-nighter. That wouldn’t be too bad either. Then I would be able to sleep on the second plane and hopefully not struggle so much with the time difference. But we’ll see. I’m taking one small step at a time.
I have a few check points on my way, and I’ll make sure to celebrate whenever I reach one. My boyfriend will drop me off in Grenaa, then I’ll take a bus to Aarhus and then another bus to the airport. After those check points I have Helsinki, Incheon and then I have the final check point which is our home for the next 3 weeks! It sort of feels like a game when I break it down like this!

My bags are packed, I said bye to my bunnies earlier and now I’m just casually waiting.
I’m going miss my boyfriend and the bunnies, but I’ll be fine. I hope they will miss me too lol!

I guess it really is time to go on our own little adventure now. I kinda felt like the time would never pass.
See you in 3 weeks dear Denmark~^^

Posted in korea, Personal, taekwondo, TOPIK, Uncategorized

Overwhelmed but happy

Yesterday a kind follower sent me a message and asked me how I’m doing lately. It made me realize that I have been MIA for quite a while compared to normally and it also got me thinking about all the loose threads I currently have here. During the last month or so, so many things have happened and I’m not even really sure where to begin explaining but I’ll give it a try.
This post will probably be messy, long, study related and pretty personal. You have been warned.

Let’s start with my drivers license. I took my final drivers license test about a month ago and I passed despite driving in a small snowstorm for the first time and nearly peeing my pants from pure fear. The days up to the test day was an absolute nightmare. My anxiety was completely out of control and I couldn’t sleep or eat properly, which just makes the anxiety worse the following day.
I was so relieved that it was finally over but a few days later when I had to drive my boyfriends car for the first time, the panic started all over. Oh no, there’s no signs on the car letting other people know that I’m inexperienced – shit what if I make a mistake? – there’s no driving instructor to save me if I mess up – what’s that sound? – is it me or does the gear stick feels weird? – Did they let my pass by mistake?
I was starting to think that this part of my anxiety would never go away. My boyfriend however felt like the problem was easy to fix and a week  later he bought me a brand new car on my birthday. He figured that I would be way more relaxed in a new car since it’s safer and has more in common with the car I drove in during my driving classes. He was right. It took away more than half of my anxiety and that is how I ended up with my little red Suzuki.
I have now been driving more or less every day and while it is mostly just the short trip from home to work, I have actually been on a longer trip completely out of my comfort zone too. I am going to keep pushing myself and practice. Interchanges still freak my out like crazy. It scares the soul out of me. I guess it’s because I have to trust all the other cars in my lane, even more than I trust myself, and that’s just terrifying!
I would love to be able to drive to my hometown in may, and visit my family. I guess you could say that it’s my goal. But that’s like 220 kilometers and about a million interchanges away, so we’ll see. Ugh, scary!

Having my drivers license and a car means that I can finally start Taekwondo classes! I’m so excited about this even though I have no idea what to expect. I’m currently just waiting for new teams to start up so that I wont be the only person who knows just about nothing. I hope this will be a good way to get my body moving and tire it out a bit so I can control my anxiety a bit better. Or at least give me an opportunity to meet new people, show off my Korean skills and get out some of my work related frustrations! I’m hoping for a beginner class to start in April, and if not then I’ll probably just join the current class even though I’ll feel like an idiot. I worry that I’ll chicken out if I wait for too long.
Actually, I’ll write them a mail as soon as I finish this post and find out! I promise!

As for my anxiety in general. I have been in a really bad period since January and I have been struggling a lot with my anxiety. I believe it started due to this whole drivers license process. Since I passed the written exam in the middle of January I constantly had driving related activities and working full time at the same time probably didn’t make it better. It made me worry a lot about my Korea trip. You see, whenever I have a bad (like good ones exist) anxiety attack I promise myself that I will never ever again do something to make myself feel that scared again, and since I already know that flying will set off every bit of anxiety in my body, I have actually told myself to cancel the trip at least 20 times. But I wont.
Also, my boyfriend and I decided to tell his parents about my anxiety after keeping it a secret for ages. I guess I just wasn’t ready for the questions and the pity until now.
It turned out to be quite the emotional evening, but I’m happy that we did it. Now I don’t have to make up stupid excuses for being overly tired and quiet at times.
This reminds me of another new thing in my life. I started hypnosis therapy. Hypnosis is.. Odd? I’m not even sure what to say about it. In the beginning I really disliked the thought of hypnosis and the feelings it gave me, but I seem to be finding more and more comfort in that feeling now, and I think it might actually be helping me. I’ve been feeling better for the last 10 days or so. It’s still odd though. During my last session I clearly felt my body fall asleep while my mind stayed completely awake for several minutes. I heard myself snore slightly while listening carefully to my therapists words. If that’s not weird then I don’t know what is. Anyway, I’m starting to feel optimistic for the first time in a while! I’ll be bringing hypnosis audio files with me on the flights. Everything will be okay, and I will go to Korea no matter what.

As for the Korea trip, time is really starting to fly now! A little over 3 months to go! Phew.
My sister and I are finally starting to make more specific plans for our time in Korea as well as prepare some of the more practical things like the schedule for our departure day, looking into money exchange and what not. We are both incredibly excited at this point! It feels so unreal that we are actually going on the trip we have been planning for years. A few things have changed though. I will not be taking TOPIK 2 like planned in Korea. Basically it turned out to be a bit more complicated than it was in London so I just decided to postpone it and take it in London again next year. I don’t want more stress than necessary. I want TOPIK to stay like a good memory in my heart, so I’ll just wait a little longer.

As for studying, I have been doing a decent amount of studying however I honestly haven’t gotten much out of it. My studying have been insanely disorganized and random because I simply haven’t been able to focus on the same topic for a very long time. But I don’t really mind. I somehow enjoyed my random studies.
Oh yeah, I also forgot about the Italki language challenge!
My goal was to complete the 12 hour goal and I did! I got a diploma and everything. I still have my italki lessons twice a week and I seem to be gaining confidence in my speaking skills these days. That’s a pretty great feeling!
I have been reading a lot lately. It makes me feel really happy. I have been reading a few webtoons and some ebooks too. I have also been reading a ton of different blogs these days. I’m also still in the process of reading 빨강머리앤. I’ll be finishing it soon and I have truly fallen in love with this book.
I feel a pretty big urge to buy books lately. Study books as well as story books. I’m trying really hard not to though, since I know that I will be saving a ton of money if I can just wait a little longer. God give me strength!

Okay, now I’m just pointlessly ranting. I’m not sure if I have more relevant things to add. But then again, I guess none of this was really relevant unless you were wondering where I was.
Basically the last month or so have been sort of hell but I’m starting to feel better and happier.

I just want to leave this beautiful voice here for you guys to enjoy.

Posted in books, korea, Podcasts, Resources, Selfstudy, Uncategorized

Blind listening

While my biggest strength has always been listening, I discovered quite early in my Korean journey that I seem rely a lot on my other senses too. It didn’t really bother me until I started preparing for TOPIK 1. When doing the listening part I would suddenly feel all panicky because I couldn’t follow along as well as I usually could when watching dramas or anything else really.
Obviously it bothered my quite a lot and I immediately started to practice blind listening. It was incredible frustrating for such a long time, but never the less I started to improve. I would find small audio clips or news videos and then put all my focus into understanding the short clips while closing my eyes. In the beginning it didn’t work at all since my general Korean knowledge was quite lacking, but after some time I was able to at least catch most of the words even though I didn’t know their meaning. When I was doing other things or just felt to tired to fully focus on listening, then I would find longer clips and let them run as a background sound, hoping that it would still help my listening skills as well as my intonation. I feel that it did indeed work and this is basically how I met one of my best friends:
PODCASTS
I found a few different ones while using my practically non-existing-google-skills. It worked out fine but after a while I discovered a site that seemed to have all the podcasts that I was listening to and a ton more. I have now been using this site for a little over 10 months (Find it here) and I find it incredibly helpful for my listening skills. There’s so many podcasts to choose from so there should be something interesting for everyone. Go check out the recent uploads, the most popular uploads or search for a topic that you like. Want news? Language learning podcasts? Radio-style podcasts? It’s all there.
Another reason to why I love this site is that they have an app that just makes everything incredible convenient. You can easily listen from your phone when you’re on the go and even if you don’t create an account, it’ll still remember your history and last played podcast. I listen to a lot of long podcasts which means that I often need to stop in the middle of an episode and I just LOVE the fact that it remembers how far I got and just starts me back up exactly where I left it.
I’m currently listening to a podcast called 소라소리 which is a series of free audio books. Each book usually has 1-4 episodes and each episode is around 1-1.5 hours long (Though they just started a new one which is 12 episodes long!) and you can even download them if you know you wont have internet access later. You can also skip back and forward with 10, 15, 20, or 30 seconds in one go, so you can easily listen to certain parts over and over again til you get it right, or you can easily go back if something interrupts you and causes you to loose focus.
In my case I just really enjoy audio books so I searched around and found 소라소리, but I got even more hooked when I discovered that Book 2 and 3 are both stories by Roald Dahl! If you have read about my London adventures then you might remember that I bought a book full of stories by him, and luckily both of the audio books are in my paperback as well! Double bonus! I just started book number 3, and I think I’ll just let it keep playing in order until I have listened to all of the current books. I definitely feel like this one is one of the more difficult podcasts as you only have one reader playing different roles and during certain dialogues the speaking gets really fast, but I still find it so helpful, challenging and kinda therapeutic too.

Wow this became a lot longer than expected. Anyway I just wanted to share my best friend and absolute favorite way for listening practice. There’s so much gold here! I hope this will be just as helpful to some of you guys, as it has been and still is for me!

Posted in books, Food, Guides, korea, Personal, Selfstudy, travel, Uncategorized

Planning, Studying, Dreaming

Planning, Studying, Dreaming – That’s exactly what I’m up to today!

Last Friday I received a few amazing presents on my email, from (one of) my language partner and good friend. He had sent me 3 different guide books full of gems and the best of it all is that it is all in Korean! To begin with I was just exited because I really love guide books – and blogs, articles, videos etc – as they allow me to plan things for my own trip to Korea and I can also use them to dream myself closer to my travel dates! But then as I was printing them out and skimming some of the pages and looking at the pictures, it really hit me that these books are pure goldmines! First of all, there’s so many new words that I can learn and use for my own trip, especially if I want to visit those specific places or if I want to take a guided trip while I’m there! No matter what, we can always use more vocabulary – right? Secondly,  I quickly noticed that many of these books are filled with history and culture and if you are like me who has a general interest in Korea and not just in the language, then that is indeed an amazing thing! Study your target language and learn about your interests at the same time – If that isn’t a perfect combination then I don’t know what is!
In my case, my friend bought me a book for 부산, 경주 and 제주. I’m not planning on visiting these places on our trip but my sister and I are determined to visit them some day so I’m really excited to learn more about these places!

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These books have facts, pictures, addresses, recommended places, recommended food, recommended accommodation, maps and guides on how to get to the different places. I really can’t explain how excited these books make me. These are from 투어팁스 and can be bought for practically no money, several places online. I personally love to buy ebooks through Ridibooks.com and if you want to check them out then you can find them right HERE – They also a travel books for other places than Korea so I you are interested in other countries and still want to practice your Korean, then here’s your chance! Personally I’ll be buying the one about 서울 as soon as I have finished this post! UPDATE: Not all guidebooks are compatible with pc and mac, so remember to check that out if you don’t have other reading devices!

If you don’t want to spend money then you can also just try to search for ‘(place)가이드북’ and you should be able to find some for free here and there. I know that VISITSEOUL.NET have a bunch of guides with different purposes, and they seem quite interesting too! You can find them HERE

Now I’ll be returning to my books! Have a great Sunday everybody!

Posted in korea, Personal, Selfstudy, TOPIK, Uncategorized

TOPIK, new goals and changes

I already told you guys about my TOPIK experience and I also shared the fact that I passed level two as hoped (and expected) which of course means that I need new goals. I’m definitely the type of person who need a lot of specific goals in order to thrive and I also feel that my studying becomes a lot more organized when I’m working towards something specific. So what’s my new goal? Well. TOPIK 2 was definitely not a challenge for me, but my 쓰기 skills are lacking a lot more than I want to admit and that combined with the rest of my Korean skills means that I am still not good enough to pass level 3. I’m in a frustrating place somewhere in between everything and nothing. Sigh. But it’s OK. There’s only one way to get past this place and that’s to continue to work hard, right? Anyway, to make sure that I actually challenge myself I set my next goal to be Level 4 in July. I feel like it’s a very suitable choice for me!

Now some of you might be wondering about July, because TOPIK in July is only in Korea – right? Yes, correct. My sister and I decided go to Korea in July instead of May, due to some personal reasons. My sister also really wants to celebrate her birthday in Korea, so when we discovered that it would fit perfectly with the TOPIK dates, we decided to just change all the dates! So far our plan is fly on the 13th and return on the 31st(July 2017)! We will be finalizing the rest of the details until September 1st, where we will buy the tickets and everything will be official! I can hardly wait!

I have a few other goals in mind as well but I’ll be keeping them to myself a little longer!

On another note – On Friday, I’ll be having my last session with my lovely Italki teacher. Her schedule will be changing so she will no longer have time for italki which is something I can definitely relate to. It’s going to be odd though! We have been talking on a regular basis for almost exactly a year now and we have gotten to know each other so well. According to my Italki statistics, we will be having our 70th session on Friday! That’s crazy! She have been following me from so early in my journey. We already talk through Kakaotalk outside of our sessions and I’m sure we will continue like that!

I though about taking a break from Italki too instead of looking for a new teacher, but I just feel like I might regret it later. These sessions have been such a great help to me and even though I know that I don’t try nearly as hard as I could (and should), I have still improved a lot since my first session and I want to try a lot harder when it comes to sticking to Korean, in the future. I have looked at a couple of available teachers and even scheduled a trial session with one of them. Let’s see how it goes!

In general, I guess there’s just a lot of things going on right now.
I am working on a new study schedule that fits my current situation and as usual I’ll keep you all updated!

Now I’m going to go outside in my sunny garden and do some work, while listening to my newly found podcast! Enjoy your Monday guys!

Posted in Food, korea, Personal, Uncategorized

My Korean snack weekend

After two insanely tough weeks, I  was thinking about how I really needed proper break. when I left work on Friday. I didn’t make any plans for the weekend and even though my house looks like a bomb went of in it, I decided to just relax and do whatever I felt like. Sometimes you just have to give yourself a break, no matter how much you work you have to do. I got to sleep in on Saturday morning for the first time in ages, and when I finally woke up I decided to make myself some 호떡. I have never tried it before and it weren’t planned at all, but I just got the sudden idea and went with it!
Oh boy am I glad that I did! Not only was it my first time making them, it was also my first time tasting them, and I must say that I’m a fan! I will definitely be making them again another time!

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When I woke up today I suddenly got a new idea! I wanted to eat 떡볶이! I have made it twice before and since I recently bought an instant sauce pack, I thought ‘Well why not?’ and once again I just went with it.
During the last few months I have gotten to try a lot more Korean food and as a natural result of that, I also get Korean food cravings a lot more than what I’m used to. My Korean cooking ingredients has now taken over two shelves in my kitchen and it most likely won’t stop there!

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I’m sorry for the extremely bad quality of the pictures! Mr. 남친 ran away with my camera this weekend so I had to rely on my depressingly bad phone camera.. Sigh..

Anyway! Now I’m going to do the dishes and then I’m going to return to my drama and eat my 빼빼로 – just because I want to!

See you tomorrow!