Category Korean Textbook Reviews

Category Japanese Textbook Reviews

1 In Korea 2022

Hello Korea #01

한국 잘 다녀왔습니다.

I contemplated for a bit if I should blog about the trip (lazy) but I thought I should make the effort to do so, as a memory keepsake. Once in a while, I’ll go back to read about my past travels and it feels different from simply looking at the photos. Each post encapsulates my feelings at that point, and it’s interesting to revisit the memories years later.

(I brought my camera to Korea and took a grand total of ZERO photos HAHA. I’m also too lazy to edit photos. Natural is the best)

This time, we flew via Air Premia. It’s a relatively new airline and if I remember correctly, there’s only one airplane plying the Singapore-Incheon route so at first, I was slightly apprehensive. But it turned out to be such a good decision. It hits the sweet spot between budget (in terms of price) and regular carrier (in terms of service).

We didn’t manage to find many reviews online, so I thought I’ll write a little more about it, in case it helps anyone who’s still considering. It was a smooth and enjoyable flight. The airplane is new, the toilets very well-maintained, and there’s ample leg space. They served complimentary water and a hot meal (!) during flight, with other beverages/snacks available for sale on the flight. Breakfast was a choice between porridge and scrambled eggs. The food was nothing to shout about, but still relatively decent.

There’s in-flight entertainment (mainly Korean shows and not many, but still alright selection), and more importantly, there’s a USB charging port. Unlike SQ flights, they don’t provide a pillow, but the blanket is so much more comfortable, so honestly I’m pretty pleased. In fact, I’ll probably fly Air Premia again for future flights to Incheon. 🙂

We bought the tickets during the promotion period, so we got to enjoy an hour’s lounge at Changi Airport. It helped a lot since the flight was at 3am, so at least I got a small (and free) bite before the flight. I actually didn’t mind that the SG-ICN flight’s at 3am. Thankful it wasn’t a 8am flight. I like taking red-eye flights for the SG-INC route, so that I can arrive at Incheon in the morning and have a full day’s activity. I didn’t mind that their ICN-SG flight is at 820pm too, you get more time in Korea hahaha.

The first thing to buy at the airport was my favourite SamDaSoo mineral water. hahaha I picked it randomly on my first trip to Korea years ago, and from then on, I would only drink that in Korea LOL.

Lunch was a random pick: 등촌 샤부 칼국수, which offers a “4-course” meal of vegetables in broth, followed by beef shabu shabu, knife-cut noodles, followed by fried rice. This is my kind of multi-course meal!

Broth boiled down a little too much it tasted like curry noodles

Everything was so good, but I particularly enjoyed the fried rice. It wasn’t wet, and there was a crusty bite to it that made it so shiok (enjoyable) to keep spooning in mouthfuls lol. I’m a glutton (in Korea).

WANT

We decided to spend the evening at Gwanghwamun. It felt so real to see King Sejong (statue) again. Friends would know that that’s my favourite spot in Seoul and there’s just sooo many memories associated with the area. So many good friends, many happy chats that happened here. 🙂

It’s amazing how I managed to visit Korea so many times and never visited Gyeongbokgung 경복궁. LOL. I didn’t go in this time too. There was a snaking queue because it was one of the rare times they were opened in the evenings and there were so many people wearing rented hanboks taking photos. Not my kind of thing.

This is totally me.

One of my must-eats is 설렁탕 and so we decided to try out this place which apparently has a long tradition. SO GOOD. No regrets at all.

Look at that milky broth. I always find it amazing how there are both noodles and rice in the soup, but hahaha just eat.

0 In 中文部落格/ 宅女心聲

學會休息

前幾年一直處在忙碌奔波的狀態中,感覺時時刻刻都必須鞭策自己。這樣的日子過久了,也似乎忘了如何善待自己。雖然一直否認自己是工作狂,但是面對工作期限時,還是會對自己有一定的要求。今日的事情,今日必須完成,明日又有明日的事要做。總覺得一旦鬆懈,工作就會堆積如山,反倒更難應付。雖然這樣的態度也不是不好,但是某種層面來看,就是無法放鬆。

疫情期間一直小心翼翼,但終究還是“中招”了。這幾天身體的不適雖難受,但是更難負荷的應該是自己給予的心理壓力和一些負面情緒。生病時還能一再告誡自己一定要在X天內康復,哈哈哈哈活脫脫是個神經病。因為生病了,很多東西也開始堆積,整個人更加焦慮。今天一整天心情就是特別難受,特別鬱悶。不是不懂得必須放鬆自己的道理,我是「逼」著自己放鬆的。

面對自己的負面情緒,唯一能做的就是把自己投入另一個「世界」,盡量讓自己暫且告別現實生活。不久前重看了「宸汐緣」和「步步驚心」,所以這次選擇重溫了「風中奇緣」。身體不舒服時,我喜歡看陳年舊劇。就是有種心靈雞湯的功效吧。

看完了「風中奇緣」, 今天選擇看我最最最愛的「惡作劇之吻」。這部劇真的是我從小看到大, 怎麼看都看不膩。台詞我都差不多能背了。這部劇可以說是陪伴我走過不少人生起伏。它承載了很多回憶,也帶給我莫大的啟發和感動。其實我最喜歡的是整部劇的節奏。很舒服的節奏。

慶幸現在官方youtube上就能找到,還是高清版的。/感動流淚/

希望這部劇能幫我一掃鬱悶的心情,把自己的精神狀態調好,才能讓身體恢復健康。:)

希望正在閱讀這篇流水帳的你能一直快樂、健康。

0 In Thai Learning Journey :)

How I incorporate language immersion into my workouts

In an attempt to be healthier and shed the pandemic weight gain, I’m starting to be a little more conscientious of exercising every (other) day. It’s horrendous to see how much I’ve let myself go in the past couple of years, and I would very much love to get back my discipline and a sharper jawline lolol. I always say my face is like a moon. 有时圆,有时又不圆。

*sings* 乌拉博士,来说明,十万个为什么告诉你

hahaha if you know you know 🙂

Friends would know that I generally don’t do much sports, and the kind of exercises I do are really just like mat workouts at home + dance workouts. Not that I can dance, but it’s just more fun. My favourites are of course The Marshall Fitness and Pamela Reif workouts, but just the other day, I decided to shake things up a little bit–by searching for Thai dance workouts!

It’s a good way to know more Thai songs and frankly speaking, I’m really more motivated to move /动起来/.

Here’s a couple I like:

I don’t really listen to English songs, so literally the ones I know well are associated with the workouts. Literally when the songs play somewhere, I immediately visualise the dance moves and can even remember the YouTuber’s voiceover at the exact bits lolol

These days I’m living a language-filled life and it gives me inner peace. ✨

2 In Others / General

好久不見

生活忙忙碌碌,又過了三個月。2022年早已步入下半年,眼看就是九月了。這幾個月時而過得混沌,時而又特別積極。但是這幾週好像又到了怠惰期哈哈哈,整個人超沒有精神,也變得很懶得跟人溝通。簡直就是散發著「生人勿近,熟人勿擾」的氣息。煩人也煩自己,索性藉由書籍和文字暫時離開喧擾的生活,躲進只有自己一人的世界。

這個部落格好似我的避風港。雖然因我的怠惰,讀者遠不如昔日的多,但是這裡依舊是我最喜歡的空間。它是我的分身,陪我走過人生起伏。很多的回憶在腦海裡淡了,但這裡卻很真切的紀錄當時的情緒和想法。這裡能讓我整理好雜亂的思緒,雖然前提是我能有精力寫下來哈哈。 往往打開新的檔案,還沒寫幾句就無法繼續了,也就只好刪了。希望這篇文能寫到最後。

很久沒有認真的坐下來學習語言。每次寫部落格時都會提到「最近都沒在學習」,真是慚愧哈哈哈。也可能因為如此,所以也不常更新這個「外語學習」部落格哈哈。也如往常一樣,希望不久的將來能夠找到一些幹勁。:)

就先這樣啦。

0 In Korean learning journey (:/ TOPIK

81st TOPIK II 2022 Results

The last post I wrote was about taking the exam and now I’m writing about my results. This blog is collecting virtual dust ):

It’s interesting how the process of getting results has evolved over the years, and honestly I can’t tell if it’s for better or worse. I still recall those days where it was simply impossible to check results on a Mac device between the website insists on IE (lol) and you need to download (what’s that called again?) a script / program / certificate or sth for it to work. Well, in those days, smartphones was not really a thing yet. But it was very fast, and only on the rare occasion would the site be down, for a few minutes, at 3pm KST. But still it was like an immediate thing. AND they post the physical cert to you.

Somewhere down the road, the popularity of Hallyu and its ripple effects led to a surge of TOPIK takers which overwhelmed the poor system. At some point, there was a waiting-room system installed, similar to those where you camp for concert tix of the biggest stars. TOPIK is a megastar indeed, because in recent years, it’s impossible to check your results at 3pm KST. It’s not even an hour’s wait or something, it’s like HOURS AND HOURS.

I was quite entertained looking up the relevant social media hashtags and seeing people complain about how there are THIRTY THOUSAND people in the queue before them. Talk about megastars.

This time round, I thought I was already erring on the safe side when I checked it about 6 hours after the release time and yeah there were 1000 people in front and after waiting for the bar to inch forward, for a full hour, the site crashed again when it was finally my turn. lol.

So I ended up checking my results at 230am in the morning, about 12 hours after results release. Yeah and it was immediate. Okay, so all good. The good news is that somewhere sometime, they had upgraded their system so it’s possible to check on Safari on an iPhone. But I didn’t manage to download the TOPIK certificate on the phone, so boo. Oh in case you’re wondering, I was up at 230am not to check results.

So time for results!

hahahaha

This might been my worst score in a while. To think I felt rather confident for the writing heh.

But I always take TOPIK results with a pinch of salt, so I still don’t think I’ve in any way become worse in writing / listening / writing Korean. I’m terrible at speaking Korean these days too, that I would acknowledge.

Hope everyone got the results you’ve been aiming for!! xoxo

0 In Korean learning journey (:/ TOPIK

81st TOPIK II 2022 Experience and Tips

It’s the mandatory TOPIK experience post again! It’s a 3-hour exam but in reality, we have to spend about 4 hours at the exam venue and adding the commute time etc, it’s like my whole day is gone. I’m now typing this at about 930pm, 5.5 hours after the exam. In between, I spent about 3 hours on the sofa. I am this tired lol.

It’s my nth time taking TOPIK (lost count) and this is also my second TOPIK since COVID started. I last took it in Apr 2020. It feels weird that the pandemic is in its third year, and that we have to take the ART test, fill in a declaration form etc to take the exam.

I think there were lesser people taking TOPIK II this time round, compared to two years ago. No, it’s not that Korean is losing popularity in Singapore or whatsoever. My friend and I suspect that it’s because the test fees, which used to be SGD80 for the longest time, became SGD120. I don’t know if it’s a pandemic increase, or inflation or whatever, but omg I don’t know whether I want to spend SGD120 every two years taking a proficiency test that I personally don’t have much need for. My friend also conveniently reminded me that after a few more TOPIK exams and we’ll hit our forties. Maybe one day I’ll be taking TOPIK as a granny, and I think that’s pretty cool. My first TOPIK was in 2009 and I wonder when my last TOPIK will be . . . okay I digressed.

For those taking TOPIK II in Singapore, I recommend signing up for the exam early enough (they fill the big hall first and then the classrooms), and I prefer being in the hall cos it’s just airier and more space. It’s best to dress light (because outside damn hot please) and bring a jacket to the venue. I always bring a hoodie, which is great because the aircon was blowing directly at me (-.-) throughout the exam and I’m one of those people who hate that and I get a headache very easily. So the hoodie helped a lot!

We also have to surrender our electronic devices, so it’s best to follow the instructions and bring minimal electronic devices and leave the smartwatches at home for the day if possible.

Listening

We’re expected to be seated quite early (which I understand), but I got very restless and sleepy in the time that we had to sit there (without devices hahaha), so by the time listening started, my mind was pretty out of it. My concentration level is definitely not at its peak like 10 years ago lol.

Listening used to be a brain-cracking section as I had to concentrate a lot on the audio, as well as read through the options, but hahah this is my 14th year of learning Korean. What I do is that usually I read the options for the questions ahead. For the earlier questions where each audio is played once, I can possibly read about 4-5 questions ahead, but for those questions at the back where the audio is played twice, I could read about 7-8 questions ahead.

What I like to do is to underline the key parts in the options, so I know where to zoom in when the audio plays. I usually will only listen to the audio once, then when it plays for the second time, I’ll be reading the questions ahead! For those familiar with the exam format, you would know that for the later questions where an audio passage is linked to two questions, one is usually on “which statement is true / best described what the audio is about” and the other one about the attitude / feelings of one of the speakers. The first type of question is harder, so usually I’ll concentrate on the options / details for this question as the audio plays and I’ll answer this one first (even if it’s the second question). Then it’s easier to do the other question, which is more broad.

My problem these days with the listening section is that I have a very short attention span and there were really moments during the test where I literally just spaced out hahaha. Exams are a test of stamina, not just knowledge.

And I have no stamina.

Writing

Writing follows listening immediately and I was sooo glad when the listening was over. I shall not jinx it but dare I say that this was pretty manageable, a lot better than the two-years-ago paper? mmm can I just pretend that I miraculously got better at writing? hahaha. I guess we’re not supposed to share the question here, so I won’t (anyway I can’t remember exactly), but my problem was thinking about the points rather than expressing them in Korean oops. The essay question is usually about some social issue and it’s kinda like an expository essay.

I think I did fine for the the graph description writing. I think?

I finished the writing with about 15 mins to spare, and I managed to write neatly yay! A huge difference from my earlier TOPIK experiences, where writing killed me all.the.time. hahaha like I said, it’s been 14 years.

I don’t really have writing tips, just that the graph description write up can be very manageable when you read enough sample answers and also remember set phrases. So it’s possible to study for it. The essay is a better test of your core proficiency I think, and harder to “study”. I mean, you can technically study and memorize for anything, but I prefer to keep it organic (?) in some sense. Which means I am highly unlikely to study specifically for an exam. But that’s just me, and I also don’t face the pressure of needing to pass the language exams I take 🙂

Reading

Reading is always my favourite section in a language proficiency test and I always look forward to learning more from the passages and getting to know more interesting facts! It’s also the section where I *kinda* have expectations for myself and I hope to get a three-digit score HAHAHA. We’ll see. 🙂

Again, not many tips for reading, just that it’s important to read a lot during your free time and build the stamina of being able to read for 70 mins straight hahaha. I used to feel my brain energy fading away towards the end of the exam (where I can sound all the syllables and not understand a single thing) but that has gotten a lot better in the last few years!

So I had a lot of fun with this part hahaha.

Overall, it was great. Although sitting for 3 hours in an exam hall is not quite something that my poor bones can take. I have to rethink whether I want to take it every two years (it is valid for two years), and the cost really deters me.

If you have also taken the 81st TOPIK, please leave a comment and say hiiii.

I think the results will be out on May 19. So I’ll probably update on May 20 LOL. It’s impossible these days to check the results on the dot, cos the system keeps crashing and literally you have to camp to get into the system (like those concert tickets queue system) hahahaha. Sorry I’m too embarrassed to ask my friends to do that for me (Mac comps still have issues with accessing the system) and I’ll probably be too lazy to do it too, even if I could.

Till the next post! (sorry my blog reflects my mental state and these days I’m very much offline)

0 In Korean learning journey (:/ Others / General

The years in between

Tonight, I randomly came across a song which I used to love ten years ago and it spurred me to try to recall and find some of the gems of the yesteryear. It was honestly hard to remember many of them, the memories are too hazy. Sometimes, I remember the album cover, a particular scene in the MV, a line in the lyrics or a snippet of the melody. There’s a bit of lingering regret when I realize I might never be able to find them again. Some I managed to recall, which bring a sense of triumph and relief. And a couple more which I rediscovered by digging through the blog, which also bring back another wave of memories.

It’s interesting how songs that I used to listen on repeat daily simply fade out of my life one day without me realizing it. It’s like how people in our lives come and go. Of course, there are special songs that I’ve been listening to almost on a daily basis since I was 13, but the majority are like a phase, no matter how much I may love them at a certain point in time.

Rediscovering them years later again makes me reflect on the years in between. The years which feel like a passing blur. It’s a strange feeling, like you are in such a different position from your old self, and you marvel/lament the changes, although some things never change.

A lot of the Korean songs that I used to listen to are very strongly tied to memories of learning the language and the years of finding myself and growing. Thinking back, it has been an amazing journey instead, but not without its ups and downs. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

As I’m typing this, I’m listening to the songs again. They remind me a lot of how much I love Korean and I am thankful how this reminder comes to me at this point 🙂 Sometimes we do need reminders about 초심 / 初心 and I’m very glad for the reminder tonight.

I hope that reading this post might inspire you to also search for the songs that, for a period of time, meant a lot to you. Perhaps, it’s an opportunity to reflect, to recalibrate and hopefully to get some positive energy 🙂

Till the next post!

0 In Thai Learning Journey :)

It’s okay to have no time

Blogging on the go now and after a blissful couple of days of studying Thai, I’m back to having barely enough time. It was a much needed break to energise, to immerse and I came out of it somewhat more invigorated to get back to normal programming, albeit still not sleeping that well. But baby steps 🙂

I’m actually plagued by a bout of self-doubt these days, which I’m trying to work through. The past few days spent learning Thai was a much-welcomed respite from that abyss and now I feel more ready to face it head on again 🙂

It’s a little sad that I cannot continue the streak of studying, but it’s okay, I don’t need to berate myself. Instead, I’m going to try to watch a bit of The Gifted everyday. Hahaha. Nothing better than fangirling. It’s amazing that with every drama, I understand a little more:) I think that euphoria is what makes me come back for more (language learning)!

Anyway, that show’s amazing!! And there’s Nanon, whom I absolutely adore after Bad Buddy. I was thinking that the teacher in the show looks familiar, and he’s the actor playing Minton in Ugly Duckling: Don’t. OMG. Hahaha he’s become such a hottie. He’s such an enigma in the show, actually all the characters are. I have no idea where the show is going to bring us, but I’m just going to enjoy the ride!

I’m addicted to Bad Buddy’s OST. Ahhhh just friends 🙂 Nanon has such a great voice!

0 In Thai Learning Journey :)

It’s okay to do things at our own pace

I’m studying Thai now, but taking a moment out to blog because I was learning the word ตั้งแต่, which means “from” (time). So I made the sentence:

ฉันเริ่มเรียนภาษาไทยตั้งแต่เดือนเมษายนปี ๒๐๒๐

(I started learning Thai in April 2020)

And it got me thinking. It’s been almost two years since I started learning Thai. I’d be honest and say that part of me doesn’t like to say that I started almost two years ago, because there was a long period in between where I didn’t touch Thai at all, and honestly, it’s only at the start of the year (I think) that I started to be a lot more serious about it. *pauses*

Then I ask myself, why should I be so insistent on giving this whole spiel, and not being able to simply say I started learning “two years ago”? I think it’s because part of me thinks that I could have been faster if I had spent more time on it, and that it feels like I’m not making much progress despite it being two years. And I start to compare it against past me who did a lot more within two years for Korean and Japanese.

But nah. That’s just me being competitive with myself and for a moment, I forgot that I just want to enjoying studying the language and not quite care about how fast / slow I am. I should care more about how much I enjoy the process.

It’s human nature to be competitive, whether it’s with ourselves or with others. It’s great to hold ourselves to high standards and expectations, but it’s just really sad if we do that for everything in our lives. Discipline is great, but society has placed too much importance on it. We’re just too caught up in the idea that we need to be productive. For what? Sure, there will be areas where it’s great to be productive, but there must always be balance in life. And I hope that learning Thai is the activity where I can just relax and be myself.

So, from now on, I’ll just say that I started learning Thai in April 2020! 🙂

6 In Thai Learning Journey :)

Enthusiasm vs Stamina

These days, I’m very much reminded my past self 14 years ago, when I first started learning Korean. I’ve been pretty much obsessed with learning Thai and try to spend most of my free time on the language, to the extent that I’m procrastinating on other things that I *should* do. Or maybe even using Thai as a ‘legitimate’ excuse to do postpone the dread of facing other stuff. Haha it’s okay, overall it’s still a very healthy relationship with the language.

I haven’t felt this level of enthusiasm for languages for a long time, and I’m just thankful that Thai makes me feel this way. Sometimes I wonder if I can consider myself as a ‘language lover’ in the sense that I enjoy learning languages in general, or I’m a specific-language lover haha. It’s okay, we can do what we want.

I keep thinking back of 14 years ago where I was totally immersed in Korean. It helped to heal some of the hurt I was feeling back then, and anchored me to something. It’s also the calming anchor for me now, although I need to stop myself from literally wanting to ignore every non-necessary thing in my life now to focus on it lol. Balance, girl, balance. But I’m extreme like this and have always been so.

But the one huge thing that’s different? Stamina. Lol. Sorry, 14 years later, I feel it hard to sit in front of the desk for hours and I’m constantly feeling like I should retire to bed lol. I should do something about it, but alas, my enthusiasm has all gone into languages. See? I need balance. *sigh*

I’m watching two absolute Thai drama gems in a row and I’m just super scared that I can’t find the next drama to keep up that level of euphoria I’m feeling. I’m still not over Remember You and my favourite Tanwa—who’s very close to my ideal type, although I can’t quite tell if it’s my ideal fictional type or not. You know, the ultra smart, brooding, logical, aloof, onlynicetohislove type of guys. LOL. But yeah, his half-smiles, half-smirks are killing me. 😂

Then I moved to watching Bad Buddy, which has the best, most wholesome couple ever. I know how everyone is saying this drama tops the BL genre, but I think omg it tops the romance genre. Like woah. Pat and Pran are relationship goals. I love how there’s so much respect for each other and they try to work things out together. And omg the way they look at each other and all. My heart can’t take it. Yeah my fiction type is the cold aloof type, but PatPran is totally what a wholesome and warm relationship is about. Pat is my favourite. He loves wholeheartedly and isn’t afraid to show it, yet he’s so respectful when it comes to boundaries and he waits for Pran to be ready, nudging him gently at times, but never forcing himself on him. Where do we get a partner like him? 😭😭😭😭

I’m super jaded when it comes to people, but I’m so happy to see such an amazing couple, which is rare even in the fictional world. Pat and Pran will stay with me for a long while, and it’s definitely a drama I would love to rewatch, again and again. And can we talk about Korn being the cutest friend and how Ink and Pa needs their own series????

It’s going to be a show that I’m rewatching every year 🙂 Hopefully one day, I’ll understand a lot more without subs!