Posted in Personal, Rant, taekwondo, Uncategorized

Picking myself up and mending my wounds

Two weeks ago I went on a little adventure that turned out to be quite the rollercoaster. On Thursday I drove to my sister’s house in the evening and then we took the train together the next morning, headed to køge for the annual taekwondo summer camp. I was feeling really nervous and anxious which isn’t at all unusual for me however this time it was a bit worse as we were only 3 people – including me – from my club who had joined the camp this year and the 2 others were both there as instructors for the black belt team and the children’s team, which then leaves me ‘alone’ in my team. In fact, we saw each other so little that they were both surprised when they saw me at dinner on Saturday night and asked when I had arrived since they hadn’t seen me around.. Well.. I had been there since Friday morning, several hours before they themselves had arrived haha!

I had so much fun last year though, so I was determined to go this year as well even though I knew I would be on my own during all the lessons, as my sister doesn’t do taekwondo and was only there as a guest. Also, while taekwondo has triggered my anxiety many times before I know it’s only there before we actually start. The second we start lining up and gets ready to greet the giant 태극기 hanging on the wall and the 사범님 in charge, it completely vanishes in an instant.

And that was indeed what happened on Friday when we had our opening ceremony and our first lesson as one giant team. I had so much fun until the very last 10 minutes where we had to partner up, have a 10 second long(short?) fight and then the person to the left had to jump ahead to the next row and start over until we had had a fight with people from all belt colors and degrees. I was the person on the left which meant that I was the person to travel through the rows and it was fun and interesting until I got to the very last row. Everybody had been kind and smiling up until then and took it a bit more easy if they were fighting people from lower ranks. But the at the last row I was teamed up with a guy who is basically the 대사범님’s right hand. I don’t like him. And I say that coming from a personal point of view and not a professional. He is super talented and has been doing taekwondo for ages, but I don’t like him as a person – but I believe that’s a story for another day!

I generally don’t let my personal feelings and opinions take over so I greeted him with a big smile and in return, he looked at me like I was a piece of sh*t that he couldn’t even be bothered to deal with. The 10 second fight starts and I do my best even though I’m tired from already having done it around 15 times and he then dramatically rolls his eyes at me and starts yelling in my face “MORE MORE MORE” even though the 10 seconds is up and I have run down to the very back and start over with the white belts. He forced me into an uncomfortable situation where I had to either ignore him or ignore the 사범님 in charge who at the same time was yelling at me that the time had already ended.

That night I went to bed feeling really sad. I felt like I should have stayed home as I obviously wasn’t good enough. I didn’t deserve to be there. I tried reminding myself that it was totally okay to feel intimidated by him. He’s older than me, taller than me, broader than me and he has been doing taekwondo for more than 40 years compared to my 2 years. I tried so hard to stay optimistic but for some reason, that tiny little part of the lesson had erased all the joy I had felt about being there, even though the first 50 minutes of the lesson had been absolutely great.

Saturday morning I got up early with my sister, had breakfast and got ready for my first lesson of the day. The first lesson was about – you guessed it! Fighting! – and after the Friday lesson, I was dreading the entire thing even though this specific lesson was the one that I had been looking forward to the most.
The lesson was being taught by Nuno Damaso who is insanely talented and really good at teaching as well. Our team was from white to blue belts which meant that I, as a blue belt, were the second highest graded person on the team and therefore had to stand on the very first row, and I felt like such a fraud. I felt so strongly that I didn’t deserve standing all the way up there..

During this lesson we had a few uhm.. mishaps I guess. We were only wearing chest guards during his lesson because that was the main area we would be focusing on and he said we should be able to take a bit pain from blocking with our arms and legs (Head was off limits so headgear wasn’t relevant either) and we were all pretty much fine with it. However my partner had a few issues with his aim as he started to get tired and as a result, I was left with some pretty bad bruises everywhere and especially on both of my hips, as well as a bruised rib.

But it was fun. I had so much fun and forgot all about those depressing thoughts that had been haunting me since the previous night. My adrenalin was pumping and I felt so good after that lesson, that after our 15-minute break I jumped straight into the next lesson of the day and it wasn’t even until halfway through it that I realized how bad my injuries from the fight was. I obviously couldn’t see my bruises yet but due to my bruised rib, I was struggling a bit with breathing and moving in certain ways.

I still managed to power through and then I went to change my clothes for the lunch break. At this point, I knew that the 4th and final lesson of the day would be off the table as it was self-defense and involved at a lot of grabbing, punching and throwing, but I still thought I could power through the 3rd lesson after lunch as it was about stamina and explosivity and with no contact.
My sister was not agreeing though haha! She was immediately in mother mode and wanted me to stop for the day until we had a clearer idea of the injuries I had. I was determined to take one more lesson but when I grabbed my 도복 I noticed that the thread in my pants had broken and taking another lesson would 100% end up with my pants ripping and me flashing my behind to the entire team. I decided to take it as a sign from the universe, telling me that enough is enough. It could also be due to the fact that I have gained 9kgs since December but I would like to stick to the first explanation, hahahah!

In the end, I was out of the game for the last half of the weekend but I had a lot of fun watching all the classes from the side bench. On Sunday I met up with my Korean friend whom I had never met face to face before and when the camp officially ended my sister and I continued to Copenhagen where we stayed until Monday.  While sitting at a Starbucks with my sister, all the pictures from the camp got posted online and when I saw this picture of me it suddenly hit me why that first episode had been so rough on me. 

This picture was taken right as we were ending the fighting lesson on Saturday morning. A lesson that physically took a way bigger toll on me but take a look at my face. I was totally fine. And it hit me. On Friday I didn’t feel intimidated by his size, his strength nor his belt degree. I’m okay with the pain. I was feeling intimidated by him as a person. I felt he was attacking me and who I am, and not my body. I felt worthless and ridiculous.

And on Saturday it was the complete opposite. I got some somewhat bad injuries but my partner and I was smiling and laughing through the entire thing. We were cheering each other on and the instructor was as well.

I think everybody needs to remember this. You don’t have to act like a tough person or belittle people to stay ‘strong’. Smiling at people, cheering them on and telling them that they did a good job does not make you weak nor does it make your win any less of an accomplishment. You can be opponents and still be friends.

Posted in Personal, Rant, Selfstudy

Honest thoughts on motivation

How do you stay motivated to study?

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.

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 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

The (italki) Language Mindbuilder Challenge

As 2017 is beginning and most of the people around me are busy with their new years resolutions, I myself is busy working, studying and planning my first trip to Korea. Even though I enjoy doing things in my own pace, I’m not really too bothered by my busy schedule. I enjoy most of what I am doing at the moment, and the things that I don’t quite like, are only stepping stones to the things that I really want to do, so I’m fine with a little suffering (sorry, I’m in such a dramatic mood, haha!)
As I am starting to work my way through this new and exciting year, I have been thinking a lot about time management and what I need to do better in order to make more room in my schedule and this made me think about the Italki language challenge (Read more about the challenge here). If you have followed me on the blog for a while, then you will probably remember that I joined their first language challenge of 2016, and I ended op completing the biggest goal, which was having 30 hours of italki lessons in a little over a month (Read more about that here). I had a ton of fun and I certainly can’t deny that it was very helpful to my learning. I definitely do no regret doing it! However, I am struggling to decide whether or not to do it again this year. First of all, I had a full month off from work last year, which meant that the time aspect didn’t really matter, but this year I only have a week off in February. The smallest goal this time is completing 12 hours, and finding room for 12 hours during the 28 days of February, can be a bit of a challenge with my schedule this year. Also, there’s also the economical aspect. I spent quite a lot of money last year, because I wanted to accomplish the 30 hour goal. And even just 12 hours, can become quite pricey.
However, on the other side – wouldn’t it be a great tradition to create with myself? Start every new year with an italki challenge! Also, I already tend to spend a lot of money on my love for languages. Just think about the amount of money I have spent on books, and even worse, shipping! Yikes! I guess it’s pretty much the same. And it’s not like I can’t afford it to be completely honest.
Maybe I could even find yet another teacher and switch between them all. I bet that would be a fun way to keep myself on my toes!
Also, it certainly would be a great way to prepare myself a bit for my Korea trip this summer. Not to mention that I honestly don’t feel like I did my absolute best, during last years challenge.

Ah.. What to do, what to do.. Should I make room for the challenge in my schedule this year?

Posted in Personal, Selfstudy, Uncategorized

The odd ways of motivation

Lately a lot of things have been happening and as a result, my motivation for studying has been on quite a ride. It really made me realize that one’s motivation can be affected by so many factors, which is awesome and frightening at the same time.
As I have mentioned before, I have been working on a lot of projects and some of them are working out, some are not. Some of them depends on me and some of them depends on other people as well.
One of the projects that I have been working a lot on sadly did not work out and even though I don’t really mind, for some reason it seems to have affected my motivation. I felt like my many hours of studying was wasted. How on earth did that thought appear in my mind? Studying is never wasted and thanks to this project, my writing and speaking skills have improved immensely, so why on earth did this feeling get to stick to my soul and drag my mood down? Honestly, I’m still looking for the answer.
Things like this will happen once in a while. It happens to everyone. I guess people deal with it in different ways. So what do I do? I’m usually very motivated. Probably 85% of the time. But what about the last 15%? It’s actually really simple. I just suck it up and keep going. Motivation is an amazing thing but we can’t deny the fact that it’s a emotion that can’t really be forced, and if you rely on that alone, you might not go anywhere near your goals. I don’t recommend ‘sucking it up’ to everyone, though. It’s so easy to burn yourself out and if you do that, then you wont go anywhere at all. I guess it’s a balance thing. My motivation is generally really strong, so I don’t have to worry about burning out, but I know a lot of people are really struggling with their personal balance.
Isn’t motivation fascinating? None of us really knows what it is, how to describe the feeling or how to trigger it. And yet, we can all relate to the feelings it brings and none of us wants to be without it. It is indeed amazing!
Anyhow! I have been ‘sucking it up’ for a short time period and while the results obviously are different from normal, I have still been improving slightly and I’m satisfied with the fact that I stuck through the dry spell. A few days ago, my motivation returned for full power. I now feel super impatient and restless when I’m at work, because my mind needs to go home and study. To avoid too much frustration over this, I now spend more time during my breaks to enjoy the Korean language and urge to learn. I’m making new friends, finding new blogs and integrating Korean into my hobbies like dancing and cooking. I’m having fun in my own little Korean-bubble (yeah.. that’s totally a thing) again!
So what happened? Well I guess that a lot of things have caused my motivation to return this strongly, but there’s mainly 2 things. The first reason is my Italki teachers. Yes, teachers. I started sessions with another teacher last week, because the time difference and busy schedules, sometimes makes it difficult for me to find a good time to schedule sessions with 효진쌤. So, I decided to find another teacher who could fill out the gaps when necessary. However after having my first session with 혜선쌤, I found out that out learning styles and personalities also seems to match really well, so now I’ll just have weekly sessions with both of them. You can’t practice too much, right? Anyway, they are both really great and that alone is motivating, however their praise have really been motivating me. It’s not that praise in unusual to me, but in this case I can just tell that they actually have an interest in me and my improving skills, and that makes me want to study harder and show them my efforts. It kinda feels like when you want to make your friends or family proud. I like this feeling. ^^
The second reason is myself. I had no confidence  at all when I started this journey, but I keep growing and learning more about myself. I didn’t think I could self-study, I didn’t think I could read, I didn’t think I could speak. I’m proud of myself. And I need to work hard so that I can continue being proud of myself.