My main listening practice comes from podcasts, youtube, and dramas but a few days ago I discovered that my favorite podcast app 팟빵 also have an Audiobook menu. There are plenty of book reading podcasts but this menu is just ordinary audiobooks that you can buy and listen to via the app. I have wanted to try listening to audiobooks for a while as there’s a big difference in following people chat about this and that (which most of my favorite podcasts are doing) and listening to a story. I was curious to see if I would be able to hold on and follow along. I was looking at a few titles and ended up picking 시시한 사람이면 어때서. I knew nothing about the book but I really liked the title and felt a need to listen to some sort of feelgood story, and as I just threw myself into this new mini-adventure, I discovered that it was exactly what I needed. It’s an essay collection and almost all of the thoughts and stories hit home so hard that I ended up listening to the entire book in one go. It took a little over 2 hours and I not only managed to follow along but I actually felt a lot better about myself afterward. I definitely recommend that you read or listen to this book or any other feelgood book if you don’t feel great. I also really recommend audiobooks in general. It’s a great way to get some practice in while doing mindless work like cleaning.
Almost a year ago I started a new project. I started my language journal as a test to see if it would change my writing skills and vocabulary and the plan was to try and write something at least once a week. I found it really hard to get my thoughts out at first and as I had made a rule of not having any rules, other than writing everything in Korean, I quickly ended up with a lot of study notes, stickers and tape to fill out the pages. However, I slowly shifted to writing my actual thoughts on different topics as well as diary entries from days that I wanted to revisit and remember in the future. I still decorated my pages a lot. I have always LOVED stickers and used to collect them as a child, and I love washi tape too but have never had a reason to buy any. I had fun decorating as much as I had with the actual writing and then one day I got a comment on my Instagram from a girl in Korea. It was nothing special but as I checked out her pictures I saw that she too wrote a diary and spent time decorating it. Looking at her pictures I discovered a bunch of hashtags and I immediately felt super excited. It turns out, diary decorating, is an actual thing! Especially in Korea. #다이어리꾸미기 #다꾸기 Who would’ve known? There’s a huge community online of people who share my somewhat newfound love for both journaling and decorating, and I instantly felt right at home! There are blogs, Instagrams, Youtubers, chatrooms, and forums. It has been about 6 months since I discovered this new and very beautiful world and my sticker, stamp and washi collection has grown very big, very fast! And my vocabulary has grown too, though I wasn’t really in the way I had planned, haha!
As for the more study related part, I actually do feel a lot more comfortable with writing. I start by writing my entry on my laptop and then I send it to my italki teacher who then returns it with corrections. And then I rewrite the corrected version into my actual physical diary. By now I have done it so many many times that I know that one page takes 150-200 words to fill out with the way I decorate. If I have more to say then I write more pages, if I have less to say then I add more stickers. It’s so much fun, super helpful and it doesn’t at all feel like studying to me.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that whatever hobby you have, try emerging it with your language learning. I have made several new friends through my journaling and I’m so happy I discovered this little world.
I’ve been wanting to talk about this for a while, as it is one of the questions I get the most from fellow students. The answer is really simple and while I hope I don’t come across as a total downer, I think we need to get rid of this naive way of thinking. The answer is; I don’t. I simply don’t rely on being motivated. I work hard even when my motivation is nowhere to be seen.
There’s a saying that goes ‘If you find a job that you love, then you’ll never have to work a day in your life.’ I strongly dislike this saying as I find it naive rather than motivational and it gives an unrealistic goal to chase after. Let me just make this super clear. Even if you get your dream job, you will have crappy days. I mean think about it. If you get into your dream school, do you really think that you’ll be able to complete it without feeling any burden or tiredness? I’m sorry to burst anybody’s bubble, but the answer is no. No matter how happy you are about your school or your job, there will still be that co-worker that you just can’t stand. There’s still going to be cold, dark, rainy and stormy Monday mornings where you would give anything in exchange for getting to stay in bed. There’s still going to be things that you don’t understand and things that you don’t want to do. Getting your dream job doesn’t magically create more time in your day or more energy to your body. You won’t automatically start liking everybody around you and you won’t automatically get your life together.
I find that this type of mentality is closely connected to the whole “If only XX then everything will be solved” mentality. ‘If only I lose weight, then everything will be okay.’ ‘If I just get this job then all my problems will go away’ I’m sorry but life doesn’t work that way. And becoming obsessed with these ideas can cause your mental health some serious harm. It’s so easy to fall in those traps and end up feeling really bad about still struggling with something. ‘I have such a great job, why am I still feeling like this?’ You can feel truly happy about something and still struggle with it. You can want to learn Korean with all of your heart, and you’ll still struggle with motivation sometimes. And that’s okay. It’s completely normal.
I guess what I’m trying to say is just that you really can’t rely on motivation for results. What you can rely on, however, is the work you put into your dreams, even when you don’t feel motivated. Trust me. I can guarantee you that even the great Oprah has days where she just doesn’t feel it. So that’s it. I just work hard. Always.
Happy new year everybody!
To those of you who have been around on the blog for a while, will know that starting a new year is a magical thing for me. Many people spend the day/night like they would on any other day, but to me, it’s the most unique day of the year and I’m always surprised by how much I find relief in the concept of new and fresh beginnings. It’s not just during the new year. I feel it every Monday morning when I wake up. It comforts me every night when my day hasn’t been the best or when I’m not satisfied with what I have accomplished. New times will come and all we can do to change things is to make efforts to do or to be better in the future.
The last few days I have been reflecting over the year that has now officially passed and I’m glad to say that, while the year was quite rough, I have managed to accomplish almost all of my goals for the year. Not only the language related ones that I wrote about here but also the ones related to my health, taekwondo and for my house.
It makes me feel more prepared for the new year that we have entered. If I can accomplish those things despite having things working against me, then I can do it again for the next 12 months.
And so, here I am, with a whole new set of goals to accomplish!
I haven’t set a lot of language goals this year as I feel like they will come quite naturally, but of course, I do have a few specific goals that I want to share with you guys.
But first I think it’s time to talk to you all about my TOPIK results!
As I shared in my last post, I didn’t feel super confident in passing level 4 but I had a really great experience and as a result, I was actually planning on retaking it in April. However, on the 20th of December, I was finally able to check my score and it turned out that I had indeed passed! Hurray!
So these are my final results, and while I was obviously ecstatic about passing, I actually didn’t think too much about my scores or new goals until I shared my results with my amazing italki teacher. She was so happy for me and instantly started planning what we need to work on for me to be able to pass level 6 in November.
It’s going to be a challenge but she believes in me, and so do I!
So there you have my first and biggest language related goal for 2019!
As for the smaller goals to help me achieve it, they are:
1. Read at least 12 books throughout the year
2. Practice 50 random words every day, from my italki lessons
3. Write at least 1 diary entry in Korean per week.
4. Write at least 12 essays throughout the year
5. Do translations
Those of you who have been around for a while knows that I always buy myself new years presents, that are related to my goals, to motivate and inspire me to actively work on them.
This year I bought myself:
1. 3 sets of mildliners (first time trying them, believe it or not!)
2. Extra Muji pens (I bought a set in London the night before my exam and I’M IN LOVE)
3. KBS 생활 한국어 고급 (For study and review purposes)
Gosh, it sure has been a while. The last few months has been so hectic and I don’t even know where to begin updating from.
As you guys know I was studying diligently for my TOPIK exam and I flew to London on November 16th as planned, with my Korean friend, ready to tackle whatever came my way. And thank god for that because I woke up with a sore throat which then quickly evolved into a full on cold.
I was determined to do well on my exam anyway, so the next morning I stopped by a pharmacy to buy a nasal spray and some kleenex, and then I headed straight to the test location. Everything was going according to plan until I talked to the supervisors to get my papers checked, and she asked me if I was sick – Even though I very obviously was. So, apparently they don’t really want sick people taking the test because it easily disturbs the rest of the test takers – which is totally fair, I just didn’t think about it.
So there I was, trying to explain that I didn’t cough at all and that I had brought nasal spray and kleenex so I wouldn’t be sniffing either. I thought that would work, but that just brought up another problem. During the test, we’re not allowed to have anything on our table except the papers, our pen and something to drink. So then I had to unwrap all of my tissues and lay them on my table to show that I had no secret notes and what not, as well as to avoid being noisy while unwrapping them during the test.
What. A. Mess. Anyhow, in the end, they let me in and I was, in fact, the quietest in the room lol.
As for the actual test, we started with the listening test which went okay, I think. We then moved on to the writing test which is my weakest point so I figured that it would be perfect to “get it over with” and then I could finish strong with the reading test which is my strongest point. Or so I thought haha! Instead, the writing test turned out the be easier that imagined (though I still didn’t manage to finish the final essay before the time ran out) and halfway through the reading test I had a few questions where I felt completely lost. And then I made the mistake that I ALWAYS TELL MYSELF NOT TO MAKE! I kept re-reading the questions – which by the way didn’t help at all – and that obviously meant that I ran out of time and had to speed read through the last 5 questions and just guess the answers.
Honestly, I’m still a bit frustrated with myself for falling in that newbie trap, but what can you do? Just have to keep going.
So all in all, things went okay, but not at all like expected so I literally have no idea what my results will be. I’m not super confident that I’ll pass level 4 as wished, but if that’s the case, I’ll simply take it again in the spring.
It was also a really great experience! As most of you guys know, I had some intense anxiety issues when I took the exam the first time a few years ago, but I didn’t have any problems this time. Also, a lot of the other test takers said that they found it really difficult to stay focused around halfway through each test, but I didn’t feel that at all. I’m so used to using Korean for hours and hours at a time so I just felt super relaxed and basically just in my right element.
The results will be out on Thursday so I’m impatiently waiting, haha!
I had some fun days in London with my friend, and a few days after I got home I started a new internship, which slowly sucked the life out of me. Okay okay, I’m being dramatic. It was really rough though. I didn’t have a lot of time to myself and when I finally did have some time, I didn’t have the energy to do anything at all. The work I was doing just wasn’t a good match for me but I learned a lot and when I finished the internship last Friday, I got a lot of praise from my boss and coworkers, and they even gave me a present. It was rough but I’m grateful for the experience.
I’m now officially on my Christmas break and I’m looking forward to just relaxing and having a great time with my boyfriend.
I have a lot of things that I want to get done, but I want to make sure that I actually get some proper rest.
I hope you all are having a great holiday time with your loved ones!
So.. I told myself to not join any Kmooc courses until after my exam in November, as they take a lot of time, and I feel like I’m better off with my books right now. So obviously I signed up for no less than two courses. Whoops^^
They have so many interesting courses lately and it’s just so hard to not sneak a peak once in a while, and as soon as something catches my eye, I can’t let it go, haha!
I still feel like I should be focusing on my books, but in my defense both courses are a lot less intense than the ones I have taken before and I do honestly think they can turn out to be helpful. I think they might give my studying an extra boost while also serving as a breath of fresh air during my otherwise exam focused studies. Just as importantly, I think they might add some value to my life in general. It’ll be worth it.
The first course I enrolled in is called 인간과 삶, and it covers a bunch of topics like life, death, society and economics. I’m thinking that this course might come in really handy for the 쓰기 part of my exam, as the essay will most likely involve some (or maybe even all) of those topics and I’ll be able to learn words and phrases that can secure me a few extra points or at least cause me to give more thought on these topics.
I’m actually really excited to see what this course will bring!
The second course I enrolled in is called 소통-행복과 변화로 가는 길. This course is not as much about exam preparation but rather about me learning in general. I’m sure it’ll plant a few good words or phrases in my head anyway though!
None of the courses have begun yet, but I’m really looking forward to it. It probably wont be easy as I have so many other things I want to do as well, but rather than thinking of it as a challenge, I’ll think of it as an amazing opportunity to grow.
3 weeks ago I went on a taekwondo summer camp with a bunch of amazing people. A lot of things happened that weekend! First of all, I had my third belt graduation and successfully earned myself a new belt! Hello Orange!
And then the next day I did actual 겨루기 (kyorugi) which is the sparring/fighting part of taekwondo. Obviously we practice the techniques and such but we don’t do a lot of 겨루기 in our normal practice sessions (unless you are around a red belt or up – at that point 겨루기 becomes a part of your future promotions) so it was super new to me. We practiced a few techniques and then a few people got to try them out in an actual fight. I have always been absolutely terrified of the thought of fighting someone else, so imagine my surprise when my hand flew up in response to our coaches request for volunteers. Well.. ^^; I really have no idea what happened. Maybe I was feeling a bit more confident due to my new belt, or maybe something inside me just knew that I really needed to challenge myself. Who knows?
I was sparring with a girl who was used to sparring so I quickly had to change my tactic and focus on defending. I got 0 points and she got 2, but we were supposed to keep on till 3 points had been achieved. However I ended up defending myself well enough so that she couldn’t get the final point and the fight had to be stopped because the time ran out. That still makes her the winner, but I felt strong and completely invincible! Sort of funny since I had just lost my first fight, huh?
Those things has already turned into fond memories however, something way .. bigger? .. more interesting? happened. I don’t really know what to call it yet. Whatever it is, it certainly sparked a bunch of thoughts and emotions within me.
As some of you guys already know, our club – and sister clubs – all have a Korean Grand Master, living in Germany. I had met him twice before summer camp. I met him briefly at the dan promotion back in September and again in March when we had our annual Easter trip to his Dojang in Hamburg. Back in March I had decided that I was going to challenge myself and actually talk to him. He doesn’t speak Danish nor English, and his German skills are not too great either. I don’t speak German at all so if we were to talk, it would only be in Korean, which – as you all know – is not at all new to me.
When we were having dinner back then, he sat down next to me and while I was trying to gather some courage, his family joined him and they started chatting away in Korean SO FREAKING FAST and with the thickest Busan dialect I have heard in a long time. In the end I just sat there with my, not at all charming, 멍 face. Nope. I was so not going to try and join that conversation! I did thank his wife for the food in Korean though, but then she got so shocked that I for a moment thought I had broken her, and I ended up just smiling awkwardly and then practically ran out of the room. Great. It was just great.
As you can probably imagine, I had absolutely no intentions of talking to him and making a fool out of myself this time either, however I forgot to take something quite important into consideration. You see, back then only a handful of my taekwondo friends knew about my language skills, and it has since then become known among them all..
Saturday evening was our last evening together, it was they day where we had the most lessons and also the day of our successful belt promotion so everybody was having fun and relaxing together. Master Shin and his wife had brought a karaoke machine and people were singing, dancing, yelling, laughing and getting more than just a little tipsy. I was sitting with my friends and coaches who were talking to Master Shin, when one of my coaches suddenly turned around and asked me if I wanted to speak in Korean with Master Shin, and before I had a chance to decline the ‘offer’ my other coach was telling Master Shin about my Korean abilities.
It happened so freaking fast and I quickly turned into Master Shins favorite person. I was quickly asked to switch places with my coach and he then called over his wife to talk to me as well. He was talking so fast and even though his dialect was way lighter when talking to me, I still had to focus 100% on understanding what he was telling me. He also talks A LOT. That’s kinda an inside joke among the clubs, but it only made it ‘worse’ when he was able to speak comfortably in Korean. I asked him when they had moved to Germany and he started telling me about where he grew up, what university he had graduated from and about a funny friend of his who has become very wealthy. He never answered my question though He asked me to sing a Korean song which I politely but very strongly passed up on. Every time he and his wife had to do something or went to sing a song, they would instantly circle right back to me, and it quickly gained interest from the 150 other people who were present. They were all staring at us and talking about us with the biggest fascination I have seen in a very long time. I didn’t know most of them and I couldn’t really process the situation because I had to focus all of my energy into understanding the conversation.
A few hours into the conversation he suddenly got out his wallet and took out a business card. It was old and wrinkly so he started to smooth it out on the table until his wife found a prettier one. He then gave the pretty to me and asked me to write down my contact information on the other one. He explained that he would love for me to help him translate in the future, at these taekwondo events. He also told me about a bunch of Korean companies in Germany that he could connect me to if I wished to work with them in the future.
Going to bed in my tiny little pink tent that night, I couldn’t sleep despite being completely drained. I was trying to process all of my thoughts and emotions but all I felt was panic. I was fine when I didn’t have time to think about the situation but now that I was all alone I instantly doubted myself and I felt like crying. I almost called my boyfriend despite it being way past midnight, because I suddenly felt like the most stupid person in the world and I needed someone to tell me that it wasn’t true.
The thing is, I have never been super confident about any of my skills, but I have been working a lot on that and it has been a really long time since I have felt that insecure and it really caught me by surprise.
I was cursing at myself for having agreed to help, and for giving him my contact information. I mean, who the hell do I think I am?! I can’t interpret. I’m not good enough. I keep thinking about myself as a TOPIK level 4, but the truth is that I haven’t actually passed that grade yet. I could fail. And even if I don’t, a level 4 is still no where near a level 6 which would be way better for him. I’m going to mess everything up. He’ll meet me next time with big expectations and become disappointed because I haven’t improved since the last time. Or he’ll ask me me to translate something and I wont understand and I’ll just stand there in front of everyone like an idiot.
Also, I don’t network. I can’t. I’m a super awkward person and I suck at being social. I can’t network with companies! I mean god, I don’t even know what I want to do with my life yet. What the hell is wrong with me?
It suddenly turned into a depressing post, huh?
In the end I kept all these worries to myself. I joked to my friends and my coaches about going home and focusing my studies even more now, but I felt really worried. My boyfriend sensed that something was off but I insisted that I was just tired. For the next week I studied like crazy and got N.O.T.H.I.N.G out of it. I couldn’t focus at all and I didn’t absorb anything that I read. My study tracker looked great but I can’t remember a single thing from that entire week. Time spent on studying doesn’t equal progress.
As the week had passed and we gathered at my regular Dojang, we all got diplomas for passing the test and talked about our favorite parts of the weekend while sharing everything with those who weren’t able to join us on camp.
When it was my turn I got my diploma, talked a bit about my favorite moments and then went to sit back down, when my main coach stopped me and said “Something else also happened, right? Would you like to tell everybody or can I do it?”. I knew he was talking about my conversation with Master Shin, so I started explaining and my coach kept adding to the story.
This is basically where everything changed. My coach was eagerly telling my story from his point of view, everybody who was at the camp started talking to those who hadn’t been there “It was so cool, she just sat there and talked to him in Korean like it was the most normal thing in the entire world…”, “Frau Shin looked so happy when they talked about her homemade Kimchi”.
Everybody was so fascinated. It was such a new thing to them. I felt a bit lighter seeing everybody so happy and excited and then my coach added something that really touched my heart. He said that he had known Master Shin for more than 25 years and in all that time he had never ever seen him or his wife so relaxed and open. As I mentioned before, Master Shin talks a lot. However, he only talks if he has a purpose (which is usually explaining something about taekwondo, the human body or our minds). Probably because communication is tricky when he isn’t that good at German, and doesn’t have any other language in common with everybody else. My coach said that it was incredibly touching to see him relaxed like that. He then lastly added, that our little Dojang had gotten some serious bonus points from Master Shin, thanks to me.
It made me realize how incredibly lucky I am. I got to see a side of Master Shin that nobody else get to. I got to hear about his childhood, and I got to listen to him bickering with his wife about the wrinkly business card, while nobody else had any idea what was going on.
It also made me realize that I’m not going to disappoint anyone. I talked to him almost nonstop for 4 hours. He knows exactly what my skills are. Sure, he’ll probably expect me to improve till I see him again. And I will.
I also wont disappoint my coaches. To them, this has already been an incredible experience. Also, they all cheer me on! They ask how my exam preparations are coming along and they all listen even when I get carried away and talk about it for way too long.
I don’t know where all of this will take me. I might end up doing a lot of translation/interpretation work in the future, or I might never. I might end up networking my way into some company or I might not. I truly have no idea. All I know is that I didn’t come this far by freaking out and running away.
I might face some difficulties and I’ll need a different focus during my study sessions, but I’m going to do my absolute best and I wont let any self doubt drag me down that hole again. This is all about growing.