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!

Posted in Personal, Selfstudy, TOPIK, Uncategorized

Getting productive

Time is flying by and before I know it I’ll be heading to Korea with my sister, which means that I don’t have a lot of time left to prepare for TOPIK anymore. As I have mentioned before, I don’t have a lot of time at the moment, but I am finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel! While it is tempting to just wait until things go completely back to normal, I have decided to start upping my study game now, and I am crazily excited about it.
I have been planning my new study schedule for a few days now and I guess today is my first official day following my plan.
The key to being able to follow a study plan is to constantly change it up based on what you are able to do (or simply based on what you feel like doing) at the moment. I think that many people forget to be honest to themselves and therefore end up making unrealistic plans, which is of absolutely no use to anyone.

Anyway! My study schedule starts with the Italki Language MindBuilder Challenge! Yes I did indeed sign up for it, and I already have my 12 lessons booked with 효진쌤 & 혜선쌤! The first 1,5 weeks will probably be terribly exhausting since my schedule is already pretty booked, but I have tried worse and feel confident that I can power through it with a good result. And after that I have a full weeks vacation without too many plans, so I will be able to study and recharge my energy. I’m ready!
The time I spend in the bus every morning will now be dedicated to my story books and my trip home after work will be dedicated to my favorite podcasts and audio books.
As for study books, I am currently going through TTMIK’s Korean phrasebook for travelers, while making some notes for my sister, however I pretty much already finished it, so I guess it’s not really a part of my new schedule.
I will be using following books for my plan this time:
– Useful Chinese characters for learners of Korean
– 한국어 문장 쓰기의 모든 것
– Korean grammar in use Intermediate + Advanced

I’m also trying to decide whether or not to start 서강 한국어 쓰기 2. I can’t really decide.
I will be studying and trying to learn new things, but more than that, my focus will be on reviewing and closing the gaps that I have when it comes to using the Korean language. This is something that I have a tendency to skip pretty often and of course that affects my learning. So I’m not really making any rules about how much or how long I study every day with this plan, my only rule is that I need to study something new and something old from each book, every single day. I’ll also be making a bigger effort to use my Quizlet app during my short free periods during the day and in general try to be more productive with the time I have available for language learning!

Time flies so fast lately and I have to really run if I don’t want to miss out on anything, but I know that things will become better in just a few weeks and I know for sure that I will appreciate all of my efforts as soon as I sit down to take the TOPIK exam again.
More than anything, I hate regretting the things that I did not do, so here’s to being productive!

Posted in Personal, Selfstudy, Uncategorized

Last goal of 2016

The year is slowly coming to an end and as I do every year, I have been thinking about how to end the year in the best possible way. I started thinking about this last week and decided that I wanted to end 2016 with a feeling of having accomplished a lot in my language learning journey. And to enhance that feeling, I decided that my last goal of 2016 should be to finish 5 of the books that I am currently studying with. I’m always studying with a ton of books and e-books at the same time, because I just can’t wait to get started, when I buy something new. So this way I can put away 5 books from my ‘books-I-am-currently-studying-with’ shelf (Yes. I do actually have such a shelf! It’s on my desk!) and move them to my ‘books-that-I-have-already-finished-but-keep-near-by’ shelf (Yes that’s real too).
I decided to finish these 5 books:
1. 서강 한국어 쓰기 1 – I only have 1 chapter left in this book as well as a few pages I want to review, so I guess this wont be too difficult to accomplish!
2. 백설공주 – I still had 7 stories left in this book when I made the goal, but since my reading pace is slowly becoming decent and the stories are pretty short, this too wasn’t very difficult. I read the last story yesterday! Success!
3. 빈도별 토픽 – This will be one of my bigger tasks since I’m only about 70% finished with the book. However the book is very easy to understand and doesn’t have a lot of assignments compared to my other books, so it is definitely doable!
4. Korean Q&A sentence patterns – I only need to finish 3 chapters in this one, and it’s pretty easy compared to what I usually study with, so this will be doable as well.
5. Korean folk tales & Aesop’s fables – I’m not sure why I never got around to finishing this book but I guess now was right the time! I only had 4 stories left and I finished them all this week.

So 2/5 books have been cleared and I have a week left. It’ll definitely take up a lot of my time, but since my holiday break started today, I am quite OK with that! I will also be visiting my home town next week, which means that I need to entertain myself for the 2×5 hour train ride – Perfect timing! Not to mention that I will be staying with my sister who has work everyday til 4pm, so I’ll have plenty study opportunities there as well.

Time to fix those loose ends before the year ends! Wish me luck!
Merry Christmas guys!

Posted in books, Personal, Selfstudy, TOPIK, Uncategorized

Re-entering the world of dramas and books

With all the hectic things that have been happening in my life lately combined with the fact that Christmas is always super busy at my house, as well as the fact that I have had some self-caused issues improving my Korean skills (I talked about that in this post), has caused me to feel really stressed when it comes to studying Korean. I feel like I don’t have time enough and since I ‘wasted’ (but not really though) a lot of time, I’m constantly worrying about whether or not I can succeed in the goals I made earlier this year. Because of these doubts I have been focusing a lot on progressing and being effective with the time that I do have, and it seems that this has caused me to completely forget to enjoy the language in itself, as well as appreciate the things that I already know about this beautiful language.
I haven’t even thought about watching dramas or movies in several months and I haven’t picked up any of my beloved books from the Indigo series, since the beginning of August – these two things used to be some of my favorite activities!

I realized this while dusting of my shelves during my weekly Sunday cleaning sessions, and I suddenly felt an urge to read one of my books. It really has been a while!
So yesterday during my lunch break, I decided to continue reading the webtoon that I put aside a while ago to save time, and I truly enjoyed just casually reading without putting more thought or energy into it. When I got home from work and had finished dinner, I started watching 도깨비, and immediately found myself enjoying it. I watched both episodes and I’m looking forward to the next episode. I didn’t get to ‘really’ study, but I really enjoyed myself and that’s important too!
It made me feel a lot more positive and energized for ‘actual’ studying. So this morning I picked up 백설공주 from my shelf and brought it with me to work. Despite it’s title, it’s actually a compilation of small and famous stories like ‘Little red riding hood’ and ‘Rapunzel’. It’s actually quite lovely! I totally recommend this for people who are new to reading Korean books or who simply get bored too fast to read long stories. Especially since it’s well-known stories that don’t demand too much attention and focus from you.
Anyway, I finished reading the first story in the book, in the bus on my way home, and now I feel happy, re-energized and ready to do my best during a study session with 혜선쌤!
I guess it’s all about balance.
To celebrate I decided to go shopping a bit on Gmarket, even though I really shouldn’t. So I bought a new study book and 3 more books to add to my 인디고 아름다운 고전 시리즈, collection. As superficial as it may sound, shopping does wonders to my general mood!
And that’s ok too!

All these hectic things will be finished soon and I know that I will be able to study more like I’m used to, so for now I’m just going to relax and keep a balance between studying and just enjoying the language.

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!