The language journey continues…

I went to my first language exchange meetup in HK today, and it wasn’t too bad at all. I didn’t speak that much Mandarin, but when I did, people understood me, so that was promising. I felt a bit better with my language progress knowing that people can understand me 😊 But my listening is still sooo far off. And I still speak way too slowly. A lot of the people at the Meetup are Hong Kongers, so they can already speak Cantonese. And I still think that if you can already speak one Chinese dialect (and at native speaker level, at that), then adding another one to your repertoire is way simpler than for someone who is going directly from English. So even though a lot of them claim that their Mandarin isn’t very good and they want to improve it, they can at least still follow a conversation relatively easily and contribute to it without slowing down the pace. I am still trying to work my way to being able to do that πŸ˜”

Nonetheless, everyone was really nice, and luckily I was sitting next to people who could speak Mandarin well enough to follow, but also spoke fantastic English to be able to translate for me whenever I was floundering (which was pretty damn often!). But as usual, because English is such a universal language, people eventually revert to it, and so for perhaps the last hour or so of the Meetup, we were all just chatting in English. So it was great to have met all these people, but my Mandarin probably didn’t improve all that much tonight πŸ˜”

So maybe I’m wondering if I should just take some private lessons to improve my listening and speaking, so I can at least get it up to a level where I can converse a little better than where I am at the moment, and so I can actually contribute to these sorts of Meetups a bit more than what I am currently able to – ie not have to drastically slow down the pace of the conversation whenever it’s my turn to talk! Or perhaps do both. I’ll do a bit of research on private teachers and see if there’s anything I’d like to try. Online is definitely one option, I’ll definitely look into this.

And so the language journey continues…

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Meetups

I went to a social entrepreneurship meetup today, my first meetup in HK. I went to a few in SG, mainly (only?) language meetups, which weren’t too bad. But today’s meetup was awesome, really inspiring. I want to do something in this space, but still not sure what, but today’s meetup inspired me to really spend some time on this interest and actually see if I can actually make some meaningful contribution somehow. A few different organisations were mentioned today, and that has already given me enough to research for the short term. These guys were so full of passion and ideas, I really just wanted to join in the movement and actually do something too! So watch this space, there may be something that comes out from this 😊 I’m really glad I went today. Hopefully their future meetups will be just as informative and inspiring 🀞

And speaking of language meetups, there’s a few here for Mandarin language learners as well. And given the positive experience I had today, I’m more inclined to try a few of these other meetups now too πŸ‘

Biting the bullet

We tried to catch up with one of N’s mates from Oz today and go and have yum cha with him and his wife; they’re in HK for a few days for his wife’s work. But it didn’t quite pan out that way, so we just ended up having our usual weekend brunch on our own πŸ˜†

We were a bit adventurous today and thought we’d try a place that didn’t have an English menu 😱

Yum cha menu all in Chinese 😱

I know the Chinese for most of the dishes that we like now, so I’m relatively more comfortable walking into these places nowadays, and seeing a yum cha menu entirely in Chinese isn’t as intimidating anymore. Plus it gives me the opportunity to learn a few new dishes, so it’s all good 😊 Dinner menus, on the other hand, are a different story… But we don’t tend to do Chinese for dinner; and if we do, we would normally go with friends who can read Chinese anyway, so they end up doing the ordering πŸ˜†

We went to Muji afterwards to buy a portable essential oil diffuser. I’ve been wanting one for ages now, but the under-buyer in me continually stopped me from buying one. But for some reason, something just compelled me to go and buy it today, so I bit the bullet and just went for it. And I absolutely love it! People go on about the health benefits of essential oils, but I just love the smell of bergamot and can’t sniff enough of it, it’s like a drug for me 🀣 And if it’s a drug that’s good for me, then even better! πŸ‘ I won’t say no to the stuff *sniff sniff* hehehe

My new Muji portable aroma diffuser 😊

Is food a compelling enough reason??

We met up with a friend from Oz who’s in HK for a few days this week. She flies back tomorrow night, actually, so I’m glad we got to catch up. We went to Man Kee Cart Noodle in Sham Shui Po, which apparently is featured in the Michelin Guide. I didn’t know this until today, which probably explains the ridiculous queue here. According to Google Maps, this place gets busier as the night goes on, so I suggested we get there early (6:30pm), as apparently it’s not too busy yet at this time. We did have to wait a little, but the queue still wasn’t too bad when we were there. Plus you have to wait outside – in the HK heat, which can be quite unpleasant for some people. So while my two companions were melting, I was happily waiting in what I could possibly describe as my ideal weather πŸ˜†

The menu here is entirely in Chinese, and there are no pictures anywhere to help you 😱 But before we suggested this place, I had to check if our friend could read Chinese, otherwise all three of us would just be happily circling random things on the menu for pot luck 🀣 Well that’s not true, as I can read some stuff, just not all of it. But luckily she can read Chinese, and so she helped us along 😊 I think one of my language goals should be to be able to read these damn menus! 😩

I should just study the above menu, as all these dishes should come up in various menus all around HK, right?? For example, I can read “chicken”, but not “wings”. And then I need to learn the different words for how chicken could be cooked; and the types of broths they can be cooked in… And the different types of noodles that are available… etc etc… Surely I’ll slowly pick these things up if I make a conscious effort to learn food words?!? πŸ˜† And if we want to have real, authentic HK food, most of them won’t have English menus, just like this place. And we won’t always have a Chinese speaking person with us to help us order. Is that a strong enough reason for me to learn these words?? πŸ€”

Flowers and Korean dramas

I learnt two kinds of flowers in Chinese today: azaleas (ζœιΉƒ dΓΉ juān) and camellias (茢花 chΓ‘ huā). I don’t know much about flowers, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to Google them and see what they actually look like 😊

Azalea

It turns out that I’ve liked camellias all this time, I just didn’t realise that they were called camellias πŸ˜† You learn something every day!

And I’ve almost finished The Heirs! I have two episodes left of my current Korean drama, and then I need to find a new one. But as I’ve mentioned before, I have a huuuge backlog, so I just need to choose one from that πŸ˜† This series was good, I really enjoyed it. Barring a really baaad ending, I’d rank this drama right up there πŸ‘ Korean dramas are the best, I tell you! πŸ˜†

For 5-year-olds or 9-year-olds?

I think I’ve mentioned this before in an earlier post, but there’s this bookstore here called The Commercial Press, and they have one store in Causeway Bay that is dedicated specifically for children. They have both Chinese and English books, but of course I only care about the former. Some (most?!) of the Chinese books are still too advanced for me, but there are more than enough books that are at my level (or just a bit beyond) to keep me occupied for aaages, so I’m always tempted to buy a bajillion books every time I walk in there – so I always try and avoid the temptation to walk in! πŸ˜‚

But I couldn’t resist today. And of course I found something: a manga that seems to be right at my level – ie one that seems like I will be able to read without the use of a dictionary πŸ‘ Where I know about 80-90% of the words. So you can imagine that this manga is probably aimed at 5-year-olds πŸ˜‚ OK, perhaps a sight exaggeration, maybe 9-year-olds, then πŸ˜†

But having said that, I can’t even read the title! πŸ€£πŸ˜” But I could read “small princess”, and the drawings are really cute, and that was enough to win me over. OK, it must definitely be for 9-year-old girls, then πŸ˜‚

I started reading it when I got home, and the main character is actually 12 years old! OK, so my Chinese is actually a little more advanced than I thought πŸ‘ That’s freaking awesome! That’s basically end of primary school, right? Awe-some! So I’m starting to feel a little better again, after feeling like I’ve stagnated with my Chinese and thought that I was perpetually stuck at my current level. But 12 years old?! Wowww, happy with that! 😎

I’m still reading the Chinese version of The Little Prince, don’t worry, I haven’t given up on that (yet?!), but that’s more intensive studying rather than a casual read. I want something that is more for review, for cementing what I already know, and making sure I get some decent practice using material specifically for native speakers, and not just the dumbed down versions for language learners – even if the native speakers in this instance are still in primary school! πŸ˜‚

I bought a manga while we were still in SG, actually (I got it from Takashimaya. I loved that store, I miss it so much πŸ˜”), but it has somehow gotten lost in the move, and I can no longer find it. I’m a bit disappointed with that, as I really wanted to finish that manga series. But that too was a bit more advanced, so it wasn’t as leisurely a read as I suspect the above one will be.

Really enjoying this immersion with “real life” materials! 😊

A pretty uneventful day

It was a pretty uneventful day. I just watched an episode of my new Korean drama, The Heirs, and then watched a few more YouTube clips from Asian Boss. I’m really enjoying their clips 😊

And then N and I sang to Eric Chou’s γ€Šζ€ŽδΉˆδΊ†γ€‹(What’s Wrong). It’s a relatively easy song, so we’re both trying to learn the lyrics. He sings quite fast at some points, so it’s quite hard to keep up with him, but I’m getting there. I no longer need the pinyin to sing along to this song (pinyin is the romanised spelling for how to pronounce the Chinese characters), so that’s always a huge step.

I’ve been listening to so many Chinese songs lately, to improve my Chinese, that I have no idea what’s trending in the English speaking countries right now! It’s a bit insane, but I’m trying to immerse myself in all things Chinese, and people keep saying that singing to songs in your target language really helps. So it’s one way I’m trying to improve my Chinese 😊

The other thing that I’ve done is switch the language on my phone to Chinese 😱 Now this one is pretty insane, because everything is now in Chinese. I would look up the lyrics to an English song and Google now gives me the option to translate it into Chinese. And then the “translate” button in social media sites like FB and Instagram now gives me the translations in Chinese πŸ˜‚ And anytime I Google something, Google now gives me the Chinese version of Wikipedia first. My Chinese isn’t good enough yet to just “casually” read the Chinese version of Wikipedia, so I always still just scroll down to find the English version, which is also always given, it’s just now further down the list. It’d be nice if I could eventually read the Chinese version one day! #polyglotgoals