Posted in books, Resources, Selfstudy, Uncategorized

REVIEW: Real-life Korean Conversations: Intermediate – By TalkToMeInKorean

I ordered this book by TTMIK around the time they published it, but I didn’t get to start using it until just recently. I have now finished it and as I have promised a few people, I’m now here to share my thoughts with all of you!

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Table of content:

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Structure breakdown:
Each chapter begins with a 2 page dialog which is then followed by a vocabulary list.

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vocabAfter reading the dialog and following up on the vocabulary, the real fun begins. A grammar pattern from the dialog is introduced and followed by a few sample sentences that allows you to become more comfortable with that specific pattern.
You then have two short assignments involving that pattern. The TTMIK crew guides you through the vocabulary so you only have to focus on the actual pattern and how to use it. Below the assignment you’ll find the answer key.

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After checking your answers, you see two other patterns that are related to the main pattern that you are learning, which then introduces two alternative ways of expressing the same thing as the main pattern. It can be by using other words, another type of grammer or even another level of politeness. Below these patterns you’ll also find a sample sentence as well as information on why the pattern is different/similar, how to use and when to use it.

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Each dialog has three main patterns, that all comes with assignments and alternative patterns.

Good things:
– When reading the dialog, the Korean version is on the left side, and the English version is on the right side. This way you can check how much of the dialog you understand line by line if you wish without having to flip back and forth between pages, or if you are more like me, then you can easily skip the English version completely. You can adjust it according to your preferences.

– The book comes with audio files. A useful tool for any language learner.

– Vocabulary list. A really helpful tool and a good indicator of your level. I’m always excited if I know most of the words on the list. Also, it makes it easier to study on the go, because you don’t need a device to look up the words (though I’m sure most of us just do in through our smartphones anyway).

– The same grammar pattern can be found in different chapters. This is really helpful when it comes to expanding your knowledge of how to use that specific pattern. It’s also a great reminder that there’s never just one way of expressing yourself

– The answer key is printed right after the practice assignments, in a discreet font and color. This is GREAT! When I do assignments in books, I check the answers after each assignment because I don’t want to complete a full page of assignments just to discover that I had misunderstood what I was supposed to do. However, this usually means that I have to go back and forth between the assignment and the answer key. This is why I love it when books have the answer key printed along with each assignment.
As mentioned above, it’s very discreet so you don’t have to worry about the answers jumping to your eyes before you actually need them.

– The book changes between the different politeness levels, unlike many other books who only teach the 존댓말 version.

– The general design of the book is great. It’s user friendly and pleasing to the eyes.

– It has cute drawings with empty speech bubbles. Okay this might sound odd, but think about it! You can go back write your own example sentences using the grammar that you just learned. Sounds like fun to me!

– Fun and realistic dialogs. I know that it kinda says so in the title, but trust me, titles aren’t always honest. I had quite a few giggle moments while going through the book and many of the situations were super relatable.

What could be improved:
Nothing really.

Final thoughts:
Overall I really liked the book. Personally it was mainly reviewing for me, as most dialogs only had 1-3 unknown words and I only came across  1 unknown grammar point. For a short time I also wished that the dialogs had been a bit longer, but that’s all just because I’m at an high intermediate stage. If you’re a high beginner/low intermediate stage then this book would be absolutely perfect for you. At this stage it’ll be very helpful to have a book that explains and compares similar grammar patterns as well as help expand you vocabulary. It’ll also help you gain some confidence if you find it difficult to practice with native speakers.

If you’re interested in the book then you can find it right here! They also have it in ebook format and in a beginner edition as well.

Also, I did take a few pictures while studying with the book, so I’ll have another ‘Study With Me’ post up, in a week or so!

Posted in Dealing with stress, Guides, Personal, Uncategorized

Dealing with stress: Life Planner

As most of you already know, I’m under a lot of stress lately, and having been very sick due to immense stress a few years ago, I’m very cautious about how I handle things this time around. I have a lot of things that I HAVE to do as well as a lot of things that I WANT to do, but no matter how important all of these things are, letting myself and my body down, is not a choice.

“Sometimes the most important person
in your life needs to be you”

I know that I’m not the only person who struggles due to stress and I know that we are all very different and have very different ways of coping, so this might be a completely useless blog post, but if this can help just one person then I’ll be more than pleased.
And that’s why I would like to introduce you all to Alfred!
Alfred is my Life Planner – Yes I have a tendency to name all of my favorite items. I named my Dolce Gusto Piccolo ‘Bent’. Or rather ‘Bent the penguin’.. I also gave him googly eyes but that is a completely different story!

Basically I’m a planner. I need everything written down. I need to-do lists, goal list, shopping lists, meal plans and so on. The more lists the better. And I need to keep it all together in one convenient space. I do not work well with lists or calendars online or on electronic devices. I don’t know why but it just doesn’t do it for me. I’m also incredibly picky when it comes to calendars. In Denmark, most calendars are way too small. There are practically no extra spaces to plan out the things that I need to plan. They also all have an hourly set up, going from around 8am to 5pm. How is that going to help me when I have an Italki session at 7am, taekwondo at 7pm and a movie date at 9pm? And what about all those empty time slots where I have no plans? That’s a waste of space. Sure I could just write my other plans in those slots and correct the time, but doesn’t that just prove my point that the time slots where useless (In my case at least) to begin with? This might seem like I’m overly picky but it’s super important to me.
This is where Alfred comes in. Alfred is a custom made Life Planner and I literally chose everything about him myself. I chose the cover, page layout, cover, planning pages, added quotes and even chose the color of the spiral. There’s a few companies out there who offers these services (and this is not sponsored by the way) so if you are just as picky as I am, then you will definitely be able to find something that suits your taste.

The most important about Alfred is that he is a LIFE planner and not just a planner. This means that it’s about your entire life and not just your working hours like most standard planners. I ordered Alfred from Pirongs, and I added all the things that I needed. Blogger planning pages, Christmas (as you might remember from last year, Christmas is really important to me) planning pages, cleaning pages (I’m a neat organized freak in my study space but everything else is pure chaos), fitness goals, study pages and a lot more. There are a ton of other pages you can add like budget pages, wedding planner pages, teaching planners, notes and whatever else your heart might desire.
You can also add text and pictures to all of your pages.

Alfred is very personal to me so I can’t show you everything, but I’ll show you a few of the empty or less personal pages.
I have been wanting to buy a custom made life planner for a long time and obviously it does take some time to produce it, but I believe it’s worth it. I received Alfred in the mail 3 days ago and I’m carefully adding all of the craziness that is currently going on in my mind. All the dates, all the demands, all the wishes. I feel lighter for every line I write. I also just ordered some stickers and washi tape, so I can decorate my pages even more with a few fall themed goodies.
Having all of my s**t put together in one book is in itself a stress reliever but writing and decorating it adds a whole new relaxing aspect. I recommend that you try it. If you enjoy color books then you might like decorating too.
Another alternative could be a bullet journal, but I feel like it’s a bit too time consuming for my schedule. I’d love to try it some day, but for now Alfred is my savior.

Again, I’m not sure if this will be helpful to anybody other than me, but there’s no harm in trying – right?

Posted in Personal, Selfstudy, Uncategorized

Catching my breath

I have been back in Denmark for almost 3 weeks now, and things have been absolutely insane. I caught a really bad cold in Korea and was actually sick throughout my entire trip. I’m actually still coughing at night and for a few hours after waking up, so obviously that doesn’t make things any easier. I got home around midnight and had to get up early the next morning and go to our new house to help with the renovations. We all worked hard together in order to get the most important rooms (living room, bathroom, bedroom and kitchen) and then we spent all Sunday and Monday on actually moving in. The rest of the week was spent on cleaning the old house before returning the key to our landlord, trying to unpack at least a little bit in our new house while at the same time working full time. To be honest everything is still a bit chaotic but, all the most important things have been taken care of and I’m finally able to catch my breath.

I had an amazing trip and I already miss being in Korea. I can’t wait to go back! I have a ton of stories to share with you guys and I hope you will look forward to reading about them. A lot of interesting things are happening at the moment as well, and I’ll be back to talk about those things when I know a bit more. It all involves me studying harder and doing my very best. 🙂

I’m currently at work and I brought one of my new study books with me, so that I can study in the breaks between customers and meetings. I got to practice a lot of Korean on my trip and I have been keeping up with my italki lessons. I have also been reading my webtoons and a new story book I bought in Korea.
However this is the first time I get to sit down and actually study without any other goals, in almost 2 months!

Ah the joy of opening a new book!
I hope you all had a great summer like me. 🙂

Posted in books, Personal, Resources, Selfstudy, Uncategorized

Old challenges

Now that I have gotten back into my study habits again I have been trying to decide which story books and study books I should add to my schedule. It wasn’t really a problem to pick out the study books but I couldn’t decide on a story book, despite having 5  great books to choose from. Don’t you guys know that feeling of having some books or movies that you truly love and enjoy, but sometimes it’s just not the right time for them to shine? Anyway, my boyfriend then bought me a tablet yesterday because he wanted to make it easier for me to study on the go despite my busy schedule. He said that he wanted me to have a loyal studybuddy (isn’t that the cutest thought ever?). While setting up my new studybuddy​, I made a list of useful apps and started downloading and logging in to all of then, and when I opened the Ridibooks app, the first book that showed up was 덕혜옹주.

As many of you guys know I started reading 덕혜옹주 last year around summertime and because it’s quite a difficult book it took me ages to just read a single page. After reading the prologue and the first two chapters I was in desperate need of a break. Generally speaking, I have a tendency to study with materials that are way over my level. I have always done that and to be honest I kinda like it that way. When feeling somewhat lost I automatically pay better attention, have a stronger focus and feel way more motivated. I know that most people feel the opposite but then again, we’re all different – and thank god for that! Nevertheless this book just happened to be a tad too much over my level. It was to the point where I couldn’t even figure out whether something was a difficult old word or a weird old name. Do you have any idea how frustrating it is when you spend ages on finding the meaning of a word without any luck, just to later discover that it was a name? (Thanks Jeannie! It you hadn’t told me back then, I would still be lost lol) Oh god even just thinking about it makes me all frustrated!

When I decided that it was time to take a break from reading it, I promised myself that it really just was going to be a break. I didn’t want to give up. However I quickly forgot all about it and now 10 months have passed. I feel ready and motivated to end my break and give it another chance. Maybe I’ll finish it, or maybe I’ll read 3 more chapters and then need another break. I have no idea, but I do know that I still want to complete it and even thought this last year haven’t been the most consistent year when it comes to studying, I know that my abilities have improved so maybe it’ll feel less difficult this time. I began reading the 3rd chapter yesterday and once I have read a bit more and gotten an idea about how difficult it is, then I’ll add some reading goals to my new study schedule.

Challenges doesn’t always work out like you want them to, but that doesn’t mean that you failed them. I challenge you all to pick up one of your own old challenges. Maybe it’ll be easier now 🙂

Posted in Personal, Uncategorized

Study room

So.. We bought a house. We didn’t even see it coming but we suddenly had the opportunity to buy a house that we really liked and we ended up doing so. The house needs a lot of work and the last month have been absolutely insane. I haven’ had time to even think about opening my Korean books as I have been busy with the whole moving process as well at having exams.
While the timing kinda sucks (I mean, shouldn’t I be studying more now that my Korean trip is approaching?) I don’t regret a thing, because in our new house I now have a study room. A room just for me. A room where I can peacefully submerge myself in my studies. A room where all my books have a place and there’s enough space to add a lot more books (Let’s face it, I’m going to Korea in slightly over a month – I’m gonna need more book space).
This room is going to be my own little stress-free temple and I’m constantly thinking about how to decorate it. It’s going to be worth it.

As I said I haven’t had time to open my Korean books, but you guys know me right? Of course that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been studying! I’ve been sticking to my italki lessons twice a week and by discussing everything that’s going on with my teachers I’ve learned a lot of situational Korean. When else would I ever be talking about wallpaper, renovations and heating sources?
I also discovered the ‘Free books’ category on ridibooks and because of that I have been reading quite a lot whenever I had some spare time. I read during my lunch break and when there’s not a lot of customers in the store. I have a few pens and some paper in my work locker and I make sure to write down all the unknown words when I read. I have quite a few vocabulary list lying around at this point!
I have also kept a personal diary in Korean for a few weeks. This meant that I got some writing practice done, however, since it’s quite personal I didn’t want anyone to read it and that obviously meant that I couldn’t get it corrected either. That makes it a lot less effective and I might get used to using wrong expressions and grammar, so I decided to stop. Instead I’ll be practicing my writing with less personal subjects.

There’s still a lot of work to be done but at this point it’s mainly things where I can’t be helpful anyway, so now I’ll probably be able to study a bit more effectively. My study room isn’t close to being ready yet and most of my books are still in packed in boxes, however I did unpack a few things this morning and will be making a new study schedule as soon as I finish this post.
I’m going to be doing my best with what I got until my study room is finished, and once it’s ready I’m sure everything is going to become a lot easier! I’m already browsing through my ikea magazine to find inspiration. I want this room to overflow with inspiration and I can’t wait to show you guys the finished result.

To end this post I want to share this song with you guys. It’s a song that I enjoy studying to and I thought you guys might enjoy it too. 🙂

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, Guides, Resources, Selfstudy, Uncategorized

Reading books in foreign languages

When it comes to learning a language there are tons of ways to improve your skills. My best tip is definitely to read a lot in your target language since it can improve your skills in so many different ways, but I’ll save that for another blog post and stick to the actual topic of this post for now! While I recommend reading about a variety of subjects in a variety of forms, I personally find reading books to be the most helpful and interesting.
However, jumping into reading books in a foreign language isn’t always that easy. Unless you already have some fairly decent skills or a ton of patience (or stubbornness perhaps?), then you will most likely struggle a lot when you first try it out.
I know so many people who have gotten discouraged and filled with frustrations while trying to read books, that they no longer want to even try.
As a book lover I really find it sad whenever people around me fail to find joy in their books, and especially when the struggles are caused by the language and not the book itself.
I read my first book in Korean a little over a year ago and I’m currently working my way through my 7th book, so I thought I would give you guys a few tips on book reading in foreign languages!

  1. Choose a book that isn’t completely new to you. It can be a book that you have already read, a fairy tale you remember from your childhood or maybe a book version of your favorite movie. This way you will find it a lot easier to fill in the missing gaps – because you will have random gaps here and there. I also don’t recommend reading books that you already know by heart. If you do that then you risk getting bored too fast and you might stop paying attention to the actual book while reading it.
    It’s all about balance.
  2. Choose a book with novels or short stories, or a long book with short chapters. Short chapters gives you the feeling of getting somewhere. If you read 3 pages from a 10 paged chapter then you will feel the progress asap, but if you on the other hand read 3 pages from a 50 paged chapter, then you will feel like you have gotten just about nowhere. You effort remains the same but those 3 pages will feel a lot more valuable in short stories or chapters.
  3. Look up every unknown word in the first chapter. The first chapter is usually some sort of introduction to the characters and the overall story, which means that all the most important words for that specific book will show up over and over again in the first chapter. If you keep looking them up until you remember them, then you will find it a lot easier to work through the rest of the book. Of course you can look up all the unknown words throughout the entire book,but my personal experiences tells me that this method usually becomes too overwhelming. Personally I prefer looking up all the unknown words during the first chapter, and after that I only look up words if I suddenly find myself feeling lost after reading a full page or of I see a certain word being used again and again.
  4. Make an actual effort. Don’t keep the book in your bag and only bring it out when you have to wait for someone or when you smartphone battery dies. Make an actual effort to read the book. Decide on an adjustable goal every day and make sure to bring out that book in order to accomplish it- even when you aren’t bored to death!
  5. Try reading books in both digital and paper format. I have always preferred paper books as I enjoy the feeling of putting in a bookmark and then being able to see how much I have read as well as the feeling of actually turning the pages. Also I used to get really tired from reading digital books and bad headaches were pretty normal too. These days it seems to be getting better, but I definitely still enjoy paper books over digital books. It might make a big difference to you too.
  6. Try out pretty books. This might sound really stupid, but I personally enjoy books with pretty pictures. Especially drawn or painted pictures. It feels sort of like a check point whenever I get to one of the pictures, and I feel almost just as excited to reach those as I do when I reach a new chapter. I collect the Indigo books and I definitely recommend them if you want to enjoy pretty pictures while reading great stories

I’m currently reading 빨강머리 앤.

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I hope you found this post useful!