In an earlier post, I talked about my constant attempt to find the right balance in my life. And today I came across this quote on the interweb: “The quest for balance is universal, but perfect balance is a myth.” And as you can imagine, I am absolutely in love with it. It could be my quote for the year. Heck, I’ll make it my quote for the year! πŸ˜† It made me feel better about not getting the balance right, and that I shouldn’t be so hard on myself.

I remembered Randi Zuckerberg’s book Pick Three: You Can Have It All (Just Not Every Day), and she proposes choosing three areas each day that you want to focus on, and her categories were work, sleep, family, friends and fitness. I’m going to try and bring this back into my daily routine, but change the categories to better suit my own personal focus areas, and keep track in my Bullet Journal to make sure I don’t focus too much on any one area at the expense of other areas. June is about to start, so I’ll incorporate it into my monthly tracking for the new month. How exciting! 😊

And I finally finished Nice Witch, my current Korean drama. I will have to decide on what my next drama will be, as I have a huge backlog to choose from! πŸ˜† Maybe I’ll switch to a Chinese drama, to get some listening practice in… The only problem is that the Korean dramas are just sooo good, it’s hard to tear yourself away from them…! Maybe I should learn Korean instead… πŸ˜† Well… Taiwan, Korea and Japan are my favourite countries in Asia (and Singapore, now, of course 😊), so it’s actually not a half-bad idea to add Korean to my Asian language repertoire… Well I have learnt the Korean alphabet, so it wouldn’t hurt to learn a few basics from here, right? πŸ˜‰

  • Nah, languages is one area where I can’t take a balanced approach. I am dedicating as much time to Chinese as possible, so I can work on my proficiency in this language as quickly as possible. And I already have Japanese lined up after it, so if I do want to learn some Korean, it may have to slot in to third place. That is, if Spanish or French don’t call me with greater urgency before then…! πŸ˜† #polyglotdream
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    Chinese Taipei controversy

    I looked up “Chinese Taipei“, as they were one of the countries participating in the karate comp on the weekend. So N and I were wondering why they are officially known as Chinese Taipei at these Olympic type events, but they are known as Taiwan to the rest of the world. Well it’s all in the above very interesting Wikipedia link! It’s all very complicated, if you ask me, but I now understand the situation that they find themselves in. It’s all so hard!

    I continued studying the Chinese version of The Little Prince tonight. I’m reading about a page a day at the moment. At this rate, it’s going to take me the rest of the year to finish it! 😱😩 I’m still hoping that there will come a point where I will know enough words that I don’t have to constantly refer to the dictionary anymore, and that I can just figure out the words that I don’t know from the context 🀞

    Someone mentioned in one of the language exchange apps that I should read an official Chinese version, not the version that I am reading (which happens to be from Taiwan), as it will ruin my learning of the language. Hmmm… I don’t quite agree with that. It’s like saying that reading a British version of it will ruin my understanding of English. So it may have slightly different ways of expressing certain things, but by and large, it’s still Chinese! Anyway, I suspect there is an element of what is mentioned in the Wikipedia article influencing them… and I shall leave it at that 🀐

    They also feel strongly about traditional vs simplified Chinese characters, and a lot of people persuade me not to bother learning the former. I am actually learning both styles, as I have friends who can read one or the other, but not necessarily both, and I’d like to be able to message everyone πŸ˜† Plus I like Taiwan, and we now live in HK, and both these places use traditional characters. AND Japanese uses them both in their kanji πŸ˜‚ So basically I don’t want to restrict my learning to just one style. And the simplified characters are usually derived from its traditional equivalent anyway, so it’s not really all that hard to learn them. But yes, there is the occasional character that is like whaaaat, that’s an insane looking mother F! 🀣 🀣 Case in point is this character:

    The left hand side is the traditional, the one in brackets is simplified. Good luck with that one! 🀣🀣

    Foreign language progress (or lack thereof…?!)

  • I went to a cafe near home today, and I had to wait for a table because they were all occupied. While I was waiting, one of the waiters came up to me and asked me something in Cantonese, and pointed to their lunch set board. I asked in my usual bogan Australian accent if I could have a look at their regular menu, and of course he didn’t understand me. So I put together some dodgy Mandarin and said something that could possibly resemble “regular menu”. I don’t even know if what I said was right or not, and of course I struggled with my tones, as I always do, but he eventually understood what I meant and gave me their regular menu πŸ˜† Sighhh… So obviously my speaking skills still need some work! I’m going to talk to myself more often in Chinese from now on, just to get used to saying things out loud. So whenever the time comes in the real world when I need to use it on the spur of the moment, something more coherent will hopefully come out! πŸ˜‚
  • Interestingly, I don’t have this problem with Japanese, this language just comes more naturally to me. My knowledge of Chinese is actually much greater, but I can somehow converse better in Japanese. It is so weird. Maybe I’ve had more speaking practice in Japanese than I have in Chinese… So in summary: I need to practise speaking more in Chinese!!

  • And speaking of speaking πŸ˜‰ I posted something in HelloTalk, that language exchange app that I’ve been using lately. I’ve been posting both text and a voice recording so native speakers can hear my spoken Chinese and comment on my pronunciation and what I need to work on. One person today commented that my pronunciation is good, and that next time I should focus on the pace at which I spoke. Little does she know that I was already pushing myself to speak faster in today’s recording! I was pushing myself to speak faster while at the same time retaining my tones. So maybe I need to focus less on the tones – which is what I’ve been doing up until now – and start working on speed. Small steps! But it seems like I’m heading in the right direction πŸ‘
  • Another polyglot

    I still felt pretty shite today, and so I ended up sleeping for most of it. But it paid off, and I’m feeling somewhat better now.

    And in the evening, I just watched a few more YouTube clips that polyglots have posted. I came across Lindie Botes today, and came across this clip of her time in SG. It made me miss that country so much! πŸ˜”

    She absolutely LOVES Korean, and she also seems to gravitate towards various Asian languages. And what I like about her the most out of all the other polyglots I’ve come across on YouTube so far is that she’s learning my top three Asian languages: Chinese, Korean and Japanese. She’s even made clips about learning all three, which is sooo inspiring! She’s most advanced in Korean, which – despite all the fantabulous dramas that they make – is actually the language I’m least interested in out of the three! πŸ˜† But she says Japanese and Korean are so close that it sounds like you’d sorta get a 2-for-1 package deal if you learn these two languages πŸ˜‚ So I may consider picking up Korean later on down the track when I get a better handle on the first two πŸ˜ƒ

    Asian dramas and languages

    I came across this on Twitter today, which I really needed to see. I’ve been mentioning my shite trading the last few days, and I’ve been feeling rather dejected with my recent results. So seeing this has actually perked me up a little. Maybe I should make a printout of this and paste it up on the wall, so I can see it every day… 😊

    I finished my current Korean drama today, Devilish Joy. I really enjoyed the last episode – in complete contrast to the very first one! The first episode was so bad that I actually gave up on the series initially, but then decided to give it a second chance, as I couldn’t find anything else better to watch. I’m so glad I gave it a second chance, as every subsequent episode was way better than that first one! πŸ˜‚

    But now I am back to feeling empty again, with no Asian drama to keep me entertained. I would like to watch a Chinese drama next, to help me with my listening skills. But it’s only the Korean dramas that are luring me in! Damn, why are their dramas so good?!? πŸ˜†

    I’m reading Benny Lewis’ Fluent in 3 Months, it’s my non-fiction book at the moment. It’s given me a few tips so far, and is motivating me to push on with my Mandarin. In fact, it’s making me want to venture into Korean and Cantonese now as well! The former because of all these Korean dramas that I’m watching at the moment 😊 and the latter because we’re currently living in a Cantonese speaking city. And of course continue to improve on my existing Japanese knowledge. Never mind the fact that these three languages (Chinese, Japanese and Korean) are notoriously the hardest to learn (along with Arabic) for a native English speaker 🀣🀣 Of all the languages in the world, why do my target ones have to fall into this hard basket?!? 😩 So let me continue reading his book and see what other tips he has about learning foreign languages…

    Goals, family and friends

    I got my haircut today! I’ve been so excited waiting for this day to come. I didn’t even get anything drastic done, it was really just to tidy up my hair, since I hadn’t cut my hair in probably over two months, so it was looking rather shabby. It’s so nice to get excited about the smallest of things, it’s as if I’m a kid again 😊

    The hairdresser I got today was Japanese (although I think they all are at this salon?!), so I got to practise a bit of my Japanese again. He asked if I could speak Japanese, and I said (in Japanese) that I studied the language in high school. He was surprised that I still remembered some of it. I surprise myself too, as my recall for Japanese can sometimes be wayyy faster than my recall for Chinese, even though I’m currently studying the latter! And my sentences flow much better than my Chinese too, although there are a few Chinese sentences that are becoming much more natural for me to say now – particularly the sentence “can you/he/they speak English?” πŸ˜‚ I just need to practise more, I think. Hopefully it can be on par with my Japanese soon enough – which really isn’t all that good, so it’s not too high a bar to reach! πŸ˜‚

    Trading today was shite, which was unfortunate, because I was hoping to end the week/year on a good note. I doubt I’ll trade next week, as I expect the market to be pretty quiet, so today was my last trading day for the year. Shame it didn’t end on a high, but what can you do. The market is what it is πŸ€·β€β™€οΈ

    And then in the evening, we went and had dinner with N’s brother and his friend, at this rather generous restaurant that handed out JΓ€gerbombs like they were cups of water 😲 The place shouted our table two rounds of these cocktails, and that was on top of the bottle of sake that we ordered with dinner. Those JΓ€gerbombs are pretty easy to drink! Very potent, but deceptively so. It certainly doesn’t give away its potency based on its taste! πŸ˜†

    Weird sh*t coming out of my mouth

    In complete contrast to yesterday, today I was full of energy. No idea how that happened! I was like the Energizer Bunny today, constantly on the go go go! I wish I was pumped with energy like this every day. Must be how kids feel all the time without needing caffeine πŸ˜‚

    Ah caffeine. I think that’s what gave me all my energy! I remember now: I had a large cup of tea from Heeretea, this bubble tea shop here in HK. I wonder how many non-Chinese speaking people actually walk in there, because the guy who served me today looked nervous as hell having to converse with me in English πŸ˜‚ Welcome to my world, dude! You’re probably feeling what I’m feeling whenever I have to pull out my limited Mandarin! 🀣 I ordered in English, and he had to look over at the menu to check that he had entered my order correctly. I probably could’ve said my order in Chinese because I could actually read it for once, but instead “this one” in Mandarin came out of my mouth πŸ˜† It’s so hilarious how the weirdest stuff comes out of my mouth when it comes to Chinese. I don’t have the same problem with Japanese. That language comes much more easily to me in comparison! But I’ve known the basics of that language for a lot longer than Chinese, so it’s not really a fair comparison.

    We got our shower curtain shortened at an alteration place, and I picked it up today. The woman gave me a nice plastic bag, but as I mentioned in an earlier post, I’m used to carrying my own shopping bag now, so I didn’t need theirs. Plus I figured they would re-use it much more than I would, so it made more sense for them to keep it. So I returned it to them. But what came out of my mouth as I gave the bag back to her wasn’t quite as eloquent as that, of course: I said “not ours”. That’s it! OMG. I didn’t even construct a full sentence πŸ˜† Although complete sentences aren’t entirely necessary in Chinese conversation, so what I did say was probably ok. In any case, she did give me this bewildered look, which I didn’t quite understand. Was it because she was surprised I could speak Mandarin, even if it was broken? Or was it because I sounded so weird that she was taken aback, not having heard anyone with that weirdo accent before? Or maybe because native Chinese speakers would never actually say what I said? Was it because I greeted her with “hello” in English and then suddenly reverted to Mandarin? Was it because she herself doesn’t understand Mandarin?? Perhaps a combination of all of these things?? πŸ˜† Nonetheless, they did a nice job with the shower curtain, and it now fits perfectly in our bathroom 😊

    And then I spent the evening looking at Instagram and Pinterest photos for interior design and storage ideas. They’re good sources for ideas and inspiration, since I am pretty hopeless with that sort of stuff. While I was on social media, N half watched Legion (this looks interesting!) and half slept, as he’s still quite sick πŸ€’ Bizarro world, as normally I’m the one who’s sick and he’s the one running around with all the endless energy! But Legion sounds interesting, I may have to catch up on the first few episodes that he saw tonight!