Posted in books, Dealing with stress, Personal, Podcasts, Resources, Selfstudy

Audiobooks and selfcare

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.

Posted in Selfstudy, TOPIK, Uncategorized

Study Log: June

NOTE!
Hi guys! I was just about to post this study log, when I discovered that I forgot to publish the one from last month! I’m an idiot, sorry! ;;
———————————————————————————————————————

JUNE STUDY LOG

Goals for June:
– Have a daily study average on 2 hours
– Work on my vocabulary
– Enjoy myself even more

Results:

A Tracker:
42 Hours, which gives me a daily average of: 1,4 Hours.
As you can tell from my goals, I was aiming way higher than that, but sometimes life just happens. I know it’s still a decent amount of studying but I’m not really satisfied. Oh well!

TOPIK:
My TOPIK practice results for June were:
듣기: 32/50 correct answers.
That’s 4 correct answers less than last month, but I can’t really complain when my effort weren’t that great either ^^’

읽기: 32/50 correct answers.
This is also 4 less than last time. I also haven’t been reading as much this month in general, which suddenly made me feel very overwhelmed. I felt like my reading stamina had dropped but to be honest I was probably just really tired, haha!

Other results: 
During the last half of the month I started to really work on my vocabulary and on actually using it, which is really great. My italki teacher is also really diligent and sends me detailed notes, so that’s really helpful!
As for enjoying myself, I have really gotten better! I’ve started to watch dramas again and I watched the entire 1st season of Busted on netflix. I didn’t track it as a part of my studying though, as I was watching it while cleaning and such.
I also continued to enjoy podcasts.  (I’ll have a post up next week on all of these things)

To work on in July:
– Have a daily study average on 3 hours. July is also a bit busy, but I’m able to work things around my schedule this time, so I can definitely reach this!
– Work on my vocabulary. I want to really make an effort to use the words I’m learning more and become familiar with their sounds and usages. I also think it’ll give me the push I need to get better TOPIK scores.
– Practice reading aloud! I’ve been wanting to do this for a while, but I never really do it (Mid July update: I’m doing really well with this one!)
– Work on Taekwondo specific vocabulary! Yeah.. Uhm.. That’s its own story! I’ll be back with that one soon!
– Study with TOPIK tests. I did that ages ago and found it really helpful, so I’d like to work on that again. By studying I mean re-reading the tests I have already taken, looking up all unknown words and grammar structures, analyzing the answers and taking notes.
– Work on writing. My writing really needs some extra practice so I want to try an spend some more time on that, even though I already have plenty goals for July, haha! ^^

Posted in Personal, taekwondo, Uncategorized

A day full of Taekwondo

Saturday was a very exciting day to me. My taekwondo club was hosting a Dan promotion (Black belt promotions) and there are many reasons as to why this was so special.
First of all, Dan promotions are usually hosted by our Grand Master Shin, in his Dojang in Hamburg. The second reason is that Dan promotions are held on separate days from the normal promotions, which means that those of us who aren’t actually being promoted are not able to watch the Dan promotion take place.

This time however, my tiny club hosted the big event with black belts from all over Denmark, and even I as a white belt was allowed to watch the entire day unfold.
This in itself makes the day special but another reason was that it was the first promotion without our Master Wandy, who sadly passed away just recently. We all knew that he wouldn’t be among us for much longer and this is also the reason why we hosted the event. That way he could take part in his last promotion without having to travel all the way to Germany. Sadly he didn’t make it to the promotion but we know that he would have been incredibly proud to see this big event unfold in the club that he dedicated his life to.
Our Korean Grand Master Shin and his lovely wife also took part in a short memorial service and prayed for him. It was all very beautiful and I hope he knew how much we all cared.

A few of my main coaches were being promoted on that day. They originally wanted to wait but ended up joining the event because they knew that Wandy would have wanted them to, and they all did incredibly well.

It was so amazing to see them do their things and the hours just flew by as I saw them performing and fighting. There was a few injuries but it was all handled quickly and without any drama. I guess it was pretty much expected. I mean it is martial arts after all!
I felt incredibly proud as I was watching them all and I felt so motivated afterwards. I’m being trained by these awesome people. I WILL become one of these awesome people.
I arrived just before they had their first break and they immediately came over, when they saw me, and started to fill me in on what had happened so far, as well as made sure I could get a good seat in the crowd. These people were under such an immense pressure and they still made sure to take care of the rest of us. If that isn’t amazing then I don’t know what is.
I feel like my club members always take pride in taking care of others, being polite and being well balanced.

When the promotion ended we all sat down to eat dinner together. 140 people gathered in a big room, eating yummy food and just talking about everything and nothing.
After a few relaxing hours it was brought to our attention that the wife of Grand Master Shin, had made a huge amount of Kimchi and I was lucky enough to get a whole bucket! 아싸!

Guess who’s making 김치전 this weekend!

I got home super late and I was exhausted, but I would do it again if I had the chance. With my own (and very first) promotion coming up, I’m really happy that I got to experience this promotion and also that I got to leave with such an amount of motivation and inspiration.

I wasn’t able to get a lot of photos but here’s a short video if you would like to see a bit of what they did.
I was really impressed by this because they are doing different things based on their levels, and they still manage to stay completely focused on doing their own thing. Well done guys!

Posted in Personal, Rant, Selfstudy, taekwondo, Uncategorized

Pronunciation fears

I have been having a few fears related to pronunciation lately. I have always considered correct pronunciation as one of the most important things when speaking in a foreign language – I mean what is the point of knowing a bunch of grammar rules and fancy words, if nobody understands you when you try using them? I still have a lot to work on but I consider my pronunciation decent enough to get by without too many struggles. However after I started doing Taekwondo, I have been having some serious  issues and minor mental breakdowns.

Everyone in my club is Danish hence they all speak Korean with Danish accent. A very strong Danish accent. This isn’t really a problem in itself, however because everybody in the club (with me as the exception) has just about no knowledge about the Korean language itself, it becomes a problem. Everything is learned through Romanized Korean. This is the big issue because it makes the pronunciation way more complicated. Also the romanizations are usually based on English pronunciation which isn’t the same at the Danish one. When 장 is written as Jang, it only ‘works’ because of the English ‘J’ sound. With the Danish ‘J’ sound 장 suddenly become 양.  Because of that we have people saying both 장 and 양, and even 챵, even though they are all talking about the very same thing. New members without any Korean knowledge obviously struggle with these things, as they have no idea how to pronounce it correctly and they keep hearing the same word with a changing pronunciation.
It makes it really difficult for me at times too, when they tell me something very basic, but pronounce it so differently that I simply can’t recognize the words.

Also when I try to look up things at home, it sometimes causes quite the trouble. When I first joined the club, everybody was talking about 타이코 1양  and 타이코 2양. I tried looking this up when I got home so that I could practice and improve for the next session (Since I started out of the ‘new members season’ I was the only one who knew nothing. I wanted to improve fast in order to not slow everybody down. I thought my Korean skills would be an advantage but it didn’t quite end up that way.) but that turned out to be a bit more difficult than so. Why? Because 타이코 1양 is actually 태극 1장. Not. The. Same. At. All. I don’t even know how 태극 ended up being pronounced as 타이코!
These are the moments where I really hate the romanizations!

I’m also the only one in the club who pronounce Taekwondo as 태권도 and not 타이권도. Makes me feel like a real know-it-all nit-picky douche, haha!

A while ago some of the members were talking about the struggles they had in Germany. In Germany we have a Korean Grand Master who takes part in all of our belt promotions, and whenever he is the person to give out orders, nobody understands him, because he is pronouncing everything correctly. Ah the irony.. I face that very same problem. When asking a question about a certain kick or defending block, I pronounce it correctly and the coaches are struggling to understand what I’m talking about.

This leads me to my actual fear.. I love doing Taekwondo and I want to improve. I also love the Korean language and I find it hard to teach myself wrong or improper things. Until now I have been kinda blocking out all the names for the stands, blocks and so on, and completely been avoiding to say them out loud, which now means that I can’t really remember any of the names. This is something that I need to know in order to continue improving and obviously that puts me in quite the dilemma.

What if my usual Korean pronunciation starts to become bad or weird because I’m practicing it incorrectly during Taekwondo practice?
I don’t want that to happen. But I want to continue growing and improving in my Taekwondo journey..

I guess it’s no different from Konglish.. My English skills are not getting worse even though I pronounce words the Korean way. And I doesn’t confuse me either..
So what’s the difference? Maybe it’s because English feels like my native language and Korean is still so far from that.

In that case I guess the solution is to study harder.
Study Korean harder and study Taekwondo terminology harder.
What about you guys? Do you have any similar issues?
Any advice? Do share. 🙂

Posted in Personal, taekwondo, Uncategorized

Getting my butt kicked

Thursday was a rough but interesting day for me. After a crazy long day of work I drove towards a small town called Kolind where I was going to take part in my very first Taekwondo practice! I was incredibly nervous and NOTHING went as it was supposed to. Do you guys ever experience such days? Days where you have every single detail planned and still everything somehow fails you?
Well Thursday was that kind of day..
I was hoping that my first practice would help me release all the stress and tension from work that day, but things started going south as soon as I left the house. I ended up driving behind a slow moving vehicle for a really long time which meant that my schedule didn’t work out as planned. I was supposed to arrive 6.40PM, change into my workout clothes and then be ready to join the practice at 7PM. But because of the slow moving vehicle I arrived at 7.50PM instead and just to make things even worse, the front door turned out to be locked and I had no idea how to get in.. Sigh.. After a few minutes of trying to figure out what on earth I was going to do, a woman in a Dobok saw me standing there all confused, and opened the door from inside the building. OK! So far so good! But at this point I only had 4 minutes left before the practice started so I had to choose between changing my clothes and therefor being late, or being on time but train in normal jeans and a tank top.. I was told beforehand to come in clothes that where easy to move around in, so both options pretty much made me feel like an idiot ^^;;
At this point my anxiety starting freaking out (which I totally should have seen coming, but somehow didn’t) and I knew that if I didn’t follow the woman who had helped me in, then I would just turn around and go home instead. So I walk into the practice room all alone, not knowing a single person inside, as the only person dressed in black, in a room full of white Doboks. ^^;; Great. I have never felt that shy and awkward in my entire life. Hahaha.. Just thinking about it know makes me want to hide in a hole somewhere.
Anyway.. Of course the story and embarrassment doesn’t end here.. No, that would have been too easy, right?
Let me just quickly explain something. The club doesn’t have any beginners teams until fall, so I am literally the only one there who has no idea what’s going on and what to do. Everybody was really kind and helped me out when they could, and kept reminding me that everybody had started from zero at some point. They told me to just relax, try to follow along but not to the point where I might hurt myself. While this did indeed make me feel better, I still felt a lot of pressure. Obviously I don’t want to slow everybody down just because everything needed to be explained to me, so in the end I went into my focus mode and did everything I could to pay attention and keep up with everybody else.

That worked out perfectly for the first 15 minutes and then
RIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIPPPP!!!
…. That my dear friends, was the sound of my jeans ripping in front of everybody.. ^^;;
Great. Super great. ^^;;

Do you know that feeling where something super embarrassing happens and you feel like it will become even more embarrassing if you acknowledge that it happened? Yeah, that’s how I felt.. And that’s how I ended up practicing for another 1,5 hours with ripped pants.. Yeah.. Fun fun ^^;;

Anyway, if we just forget about all those struggles, I actually ended up having a great time! It was really interesting to hear so many Korean words over and over again. Though I do have some issues understanding most of what is being said due to the strong Danish pronunciation!
Also! Everybody on the team had to count to ten in Korean, one by one, during warm-ups and I was the last one (because I was the youngest of the white belts) but just as I was about to begin, the 사부님 said ‘Since you don’t know how to count yet, we’ll just skip you for now’. I thought about telling him that I’m actually quite confident when it comes to counting in Korean, but I decided that it probably would be best not to disturb the flow of the warm-up. Also I felt like I had already had more than enough of the spotlight for me to handle on one day, hahaha!
I managed to keep up with most of the exercises and got a lot of compliments for my kicks, which made me really excited. There so much to learn and I’m feeling pretty optimistic so far!
I was exhausted and completely free from stress once the practice was over and I drove home with a really nice buzz in my entire body. I was so sore the days after and even now I can still feel it in my shoulders. I’m quite happy about how things turned out – in the end at least.
I’m really looking forward to my next practice, which is tomorrow! This time though, I’ll be changing my clothes  before I leave from home…… ^^;