Friends, language learning and generally just having fun

We met up with a friend who’s here in HK for the weekend. We took her to yum cha, of course ๐Ÿ˜Š She apparently just turned 21! I didn’t realise she was so young. I made a comment saying that we are probably as old as her parents, which she agreed with ๐Ÿ˜‚ So not sure why she likes hanging out with us oldies. I guess dancing just brings everyone together, regardless of age ๐Ÿ˜Š

N went to karate, while I practised some more of my Chinese. I’ve been really focusing on my speaking and listening, to get it up to the same level as my reading and writing. I don’t want to get to a point where I can read a Chinese novel, and still not be able to hold a basic conversation! I’m still learning new words, so I’m automatically still working on my reading, but it’s just not where my focus is right now. I just want to speak more and listen more at this stage, and be as exposed to the spoken language as much as I can.

YouTube has been an absolute goldmine, a seemingly endless resource for all things related to improving these very skills. There is a ton of stuff specifically for my level, and then of course there’s more stuff that’s aimed at native speakers. I’m obviously just looking for Chinese resources, but I’m sure you could find almost any other language on there. It’s pretty crazy.

And then in the evening, we watched an episode of The Exorcist’s Meter, our current Cantonese drama. We’re getting close to the end, so we’ll have to find a new one soon! ๐Ÿ˜Š

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A wet start to the Easter long weekend

We got quite a fair bit of heavy rain today, so much so that we had to stop by 7-Eleven to buy an umbrella and one of those el cheapo raincoats that I seem to like for some reason โ˜”๏ธ We would’ve been drenched otherwise. It deterred us from doing much at all, unfortunately, and after yet another yum cha brunch ๐Ÿ˜‹ we just went home afterwards.

The heavy rain persisted all afternoon, which made for perfect stay-at-home weather. I just watched YouTube clips posted by another polyglot, Luca Lampariello, while N took a nap. All these polyglots inspire me to keep going, to keep pushing on, so it was quite timely to come across this guy now, actually, after feeling a bit down yesterday with my lack of improvement. He kept saying that the most important thing is to work at it every day, which I am, so I must be on the right track. I just need to continue focussing on the process, not the goal – much like with all my other goals, really! ๐Ÿ˜Š

We were actually planning on going to Shenzhen tomorrow, but the forecast is for thunderstorms there tomorrow, so now I don’t really want to go, especially since the things that I want to do are all outdoor activities. But even if it is raining, we can still just go and do general shopping and other more indoor stuff like eating ๐Ÿ˜‹ Let’s see if we can get ourselves to the train station first thing tomorrow morning, to avoid the crowds ๐Ÿ˜Š

A bit discouraged

There are days when I feed Kitty a can of food, she’ll sniff it, and then walk away without touching it, as if she could smell poison in her bowl ๐Ÿ™„ Today was not one of those days, thankfully. She was devouring it all, and I actually gave her a third can this evening, which will take her through the night. She is so unpredictable. I never know when I’ll have wasted money on supposed poison, or when I’ve hit the jackpot. But even when she seems to like something, she will eventually get sick of it, and that flavour will eventually become poison too ๐Ÿ™„ And then I have to go and find some new flavour for her. Such a fusspot!

I was getting a bit discouraged with my Chinese today, I felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere with my listening, it feels like it hasn’t improved whatsoever. But objectively, I know it has, as I’m slowly starting to hear the odd few words, and I can also hear the other words more distinctly now, whereas before it was just a jumble of sounds with nothing discernible within it. I just don’t know that many words yet, and I also can’t process entire sentences that quickly. I need to have listening practice as part of my daily routine, in order to improve in this area. I don’t think I’m exposed enough to the language at the moment.

It is Good Friday tomorrow, the start of a four-day weekend – YEAH! We lost Easter Monday in SG, so it’s good to have it back now ๐Ÿ‘

My focus on consistency

I had yet another productive day today. This detailed schedule is doing absolute wonders to my productivity! I’m so glad I started this schedule a few weeks ago ๐Ÿ‘

I’ve been watching a few YouTube clips uploaded by Dr Alexander Arguelles on foreign language learning. This guy is a polyglot, and his whole life has been filled with languages. He speaks with a bit (!) of a monotone, which makes it quite hard to concentrate on his videos, but if you do, you can get some little nuggets of useful information, not just for language learners, but for general personal development as well, which I am also quite keen on. And there is no marketing BS in his videos, it’s just him happily giving information out to the general public, if they wish to listen to what he has to say. He’s quite eloquent – and verbose: some of his videos go for about an hour! So I’m still working through these longer ones. He’s obviously very knowledgeable about learning foreign languages. I’m glad I came across him, he’s quite inspirational – except perhaps for the monotone bit ๐Ÿ˜„

I ended up going to the gym again tonight. I keep saying I’ll cut my session short, so I can go have dinner, but I somehow manage to stay for about an hour each time. I’ve been spending about half an hour on weight training, then the second half hour on dancing, and a bit of stretching at the end. It’s not bad, and more importantly, I’ve being consistently going. I’m still quite proud of my consistency effort lately ๐Ÿ˜Š

Bathroom issues and a breakthrough

I went to bed quite late last night, close to around 2am. But then half an hour later, N unintentionally woke me up: he apparently has food poisoning. Greeeat. I know the drill, this has happened so many times before, but it doesn’t make me feel any better each time it happens. So basically for the next three hours, he was pretty much heading to the bathroom every half an hour, as if on a schedule ๐Ÿคฎ And of course, I’m getting more and more worried each time it happens, as he’s getting more and more dehydrated. And all I can do is just sit / lie there and watch it happen ๐Ÿ˜”

The most recent serious case of food poisoning was in SG. That time we actually went to the hospital. But now we’re in a brand new city, and it suddenly dawned on me that I don’t know anything about how their medical system works here! So I’m on my phone at 4am trying to locate the nearest hospital, and trying to figure out whether our health insurance will cover the cost. And then I realise that I don’t know how to say “hospital” in Cantonese, and “accident and emergency” in either Mandarin or Cantonese, which I will need in case we need to catch a cab there, if N’s condition worsens. Taxi drivers, by and large, do not speak English here, so I had to be ready to say it in Cantonese just in case.

Luckily, N’s condition stabilised by around 5:30am, and we both got a few hours’ sleep from that point.

Until it was time for Kitty to be fed at 8am. She, of course, did not hesitate to let me know that she needed food ๐Ÿ™„ So I got up and gave her breakfast. I normally would just get up and start my day from here, but given the circumstances, I felt like I needed another hour or two of rest. And since N was getting some respite now from this bug, I figured I should let him get some sleep. So rather than head back to bed and risk waking him up by doing so, I decided to just take a nap on the couch ๐Ÿ˜ด

Surprisingly the hour on the couch did wonders. I have no idea what magic happened there, but I felt so much more rejuvenated afterwards, and ended up having a very productive day! Totally not what I was expecting at 5 o’clock this morning!

But then something else had to go awry, in order to keep our lives interesting: the toilets in our bathrooms weren’t working. It wasn’t refilling with water after being flushed. Greeeat. I contacted building management, and they replied back and said that they’re doing an emergency repair. Greeeat x 2. After about an hour, they seemed to have switched the water back on for the spare bathroom, but still no such luck for our bathroom. And even after coming back from dinner, our toilet is still not getting any water. It looks like the engineers will resume their repairs tomorrow. Arghhh! But at least all the taps are still working, so we can still brush our teeth and take a shower ๐Ÿ˜… We just need to go and use the toilet in the spare bathroom. First world problems ๐Ÿ˜„ I’m just grateful we have a second bathroom!

We caught up with a friend from SG tonight. He’s here in HK for a short work trip, and he’s already flying back tomorrow. He gave us a pandan cake, a signature cake from SG. It is so nice, so light and fluffy ๐Ÿ˜‹

I wanted to find out how to say “pandan” in Chinese, and during my search, I stumbled across this article: http://news.nanyangpost.com/2017/04/cnn.html?m=1. This article is in Chinese, but for whatever reason, I decided to try and read the title. And I surprised myself when I realised that I could read most of it. So that gave me some confidence, and thought I’d try and read the actual article itself. Normally after about the first few words, I’m coming across a whole ton of new characters that I don’t know, so I don’t bother trying to read any further. But this didn’t happen with this article. I found myself being able to read almost everything in the first paragraph! So I continued. And continued. And I read about half of the article before stopping, as I had to run over to N to tell him about this totally amazing achievement of mine. My comprehension isn’t entirely there, but I got the general gist. I am sooo happy! So maybe all this effort that I’ve been putting into learning this language is starting to show up now. Perhaps I’ve taken a step up after being on the previous step for so long, and feeling like I will never climb to that next step. And now I may actually have reached it ๐Ÿ˜ฑ BREAKTHROUGH!!

HK food and HK drama

We went and had yum cha again today. We can’t get enough of yum cha, I tell you! And there are sooo many places to try, surely we can’t run out of options, even if we went somewhere new every single day for a whole year ๐Ÿ˜„

We left the house thinking it was quite warm, so we were both wearing shorts. But then as soon as we left the restaurant, the temperature had dropped and it had also started raining! I was freezing! ๐Ÿฅถ

So I decided to stop by one of those bajillion tea places that you can find all over the city to order myself a cup of tea, to help me deal with this sudden onslaught of cold weather that I wasn’t dressed for. But the guy who took my order spoke very poor English, and forgot to ask whether I wanted hot or cold tea – and I forgot to specify – and he chose to give us cold! Arghhh! Why would you do that?? But the good thing about cold tea is that it just stays cold, so I took my time drinking it all afternoon… ๐Ÿ˜Œ

We then just watched a few episodes of our current Cantonese drama, The Exorcist’s Meter, before N headed off to karate. I then spent the rest of the evening on my Chinese, learning a few new words and reviewing recent ones. I still don’t think I’m doing enough practice on my listening. But listening is so haaard and mentally exhausting! ๐Ÿ˜ฉ Native speakers speak so damn fast. But I must persevere and just get to the next level, where I can hear even more words. I still think I’m expecting too much from myself at this stage of my learning. Still, I must push on and expose myself more and more to the language.

So despite the crappy weather that decided to stay all day with us, I think the day didn’t turn out too badly in the end ๐Ÿ˜Š

My poor listening skills

It was a pretty uneventful day, not much happened, really. I did watch an episode of Love O2O, a Chinese drama, to help me with my listening skills, which is by far the worst out of the four (reading, writing, speaking and listening). So my current focus is to listen a whole lot more, even if I understand only 5% of what’s being said. The Chinese sounds are much clearer than before, so I know it’s improving, albeit incrementally. And I’m also slowly adding to my vocab, so I’m hoping that, with time and practice, this will help with the comprehension too.

It’s funny how native speakers always speak so fast. I was talking to a Chinese friend once and for whatever reason, I asked her if she understands N and me when we talk to her. She said that we talk a little too fast sometimes – and that’s with me already slowing down for her, because I know her English isn’t too good! (Which is still wayyy better than my Chinese ๐Ÿ˜”) So I try not to get too discouraged when I can’t understand much at all when native speakers are talking. I just have to keep persevering, listening as often as I can and also adding to my vocab. Over time, with continued focus and study, it should hopefully improve. Hopefully ๐Ÿ˜†