Another language meetup and an update on Kitty

I went to another language meetup today. There was supposed to be six of us going tonight, but only four of us turned up, which was a bit disappointing. I can understand that things can crop up at the last minute, so a quick apology to let the organiser know that you can’t make it now would be nice.

Nonetheless, the meetup was great! I learnt a ton of new words, and met two new people (I’d already met the organiser, who was attendee #3). One of them said that there’s another meetup tomorrow night as well, which she’s going to, so I’ve put my name down on the waiting list for that as well. I thought this one was specifically for English learners, but she said that Mandarin learners also turned up last week, so maybe I can still get something out of it. Hopefully the organiser will let me go tomorrow 🤞

The vet rang me today to check up on Kitty, and to give me the results of Kitty’s urine sample. It looked ok, and had no traces of blood, which was a good sign. And I told her that generally, Kitty seemed to be doing better now compared to how she was on the weekend: she’s more alert and is eating a little bit more, which is good to see. Hopefully she’ll continue to improve more and more as she gets through her round of antibiotics 💊

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Trying to be the best toddler I can be!

I went to the library today and spent some time in the children’s section, trying to get back on the language learning wagon. I’ve slackened off a bit on my Chinese language learning, so I’m feeling a bit disappointed in my lack of time management. Well it’s not really a lack of time management, I’ve just chosen to dedicate more time to my trading these past few weeks, so I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. It’s the usual balancing act that I always have a hard time managing. I’m sure a ton of other people in the world have the same problem as me 😔

I got through three kids’ books today:

One was about sharing and looking after loved ones; one was about brushing your teeth; and the last one was about not being afraid of getting an injection 😆 Kids’ books are actually quite good because they repeat sentences over and over – eg “Little Pig wasn’t afraid of getting the injection”, and then “Little Cat also wasn’t afraid of getting an injection” and so on, so you see the same grammar structure over and over again. It’s really good practice! 😊 And even though they’re picture books, there are still a few words that I don’t know, so I get to build on my vocab as well. Any exposure is good! 👍

I’ve also started shadowing podcasts where they speak in Chinese, inspired by my nephew who, in his toddler years, just naturally mimics whatever he hears. So even though I can’t repeat everything the native speaker says, I just try and repeat as much as I can, even if it’s just a few words here and there, and whether or not I know what the words even mean. So basically just trying to be the best toddler that I can be! 😆 So hopefully it’s all adding to my web of Chinese language “stuff” 🤞

A curveball of a Saturday

I got woken up at around 7:30am this morning, with Kitty doing her usual scratching at whatever door took her fancy. Then she went to the bathroom twice, before throwing up 🤮 It wasn’t a great start to our day. I then went to clean up her mess, and put the bathmat that she threw up on into the washing machine. I then went to console her, and that’s when I noticed that she was bleeding, after having gone to the bathroom. So for the next hour, she just paced around the house, looking for somewhere to lie down and hide. She was clearly not comfortable 😔

The vet opened at 10am, which felt like an eternity. And then I wasn’t even sure if we could get an appointment, as I know the clinic gets very busy, especially on the weekend. When I rang, the receptionist did say that they were fully booked today, but because Kitty was bleeding, they squeezed her in somewhere, and we managed to see a vet, phewww

The vet suspects that she has cystitis, and has given her a bajillion meds. The poor little one 😔 And us too, as we have to administer some of these meds orally, and Little Miss is grumpy at the best of times. How are we going to get her to cooperate when she’s sick?? 😒 So let’s see how we go…

The aircon guys were also supposed to come this morning, but there was a bit of an issue with their earlier appointment and so the earliest they could come today ended up being 4pm. They asked if that was still ok, or if we’d prefer to reschedule. I chose the latter and rescheduled the quarterly clean for next Saturday instead.

And then my brother rang just before we were about to head out for some dance practice. I was speaking to my nephew as well, who’s almost three years old. He picks up English words really quickly and easily! I need to mimic like he does: just have whatever Chinese show on in the background, and repeat whatever they say, even if what I say is not perfect and I have no idea what they’re saying. The more I do it, the more phrases will come naturally to me, and hopefully over time, they will eventually start actually meaning something and not just be random sounds. You really just have to expect to be starting from scratch when it comes to learning a foreign language! 😆

And dance practice was good, although I couldn’t say the same about the quality of the actual dancing 😂 We had only booked the room for an hour, and when you essentially have eight dances to practice, one hour just ain’t enough. We managed to get through four dances, and even then, only superficially. We need to do these sorts of sessions more often.

On the way home, the streets seemed really quiet tonight, for HK standards, anyway. Normally this city is bustling, with lots of people everywhere. But tonight, where we were, it just seemed quite dead. And for this area to be dead at 9:30pm is highly unusual. I wonder if there was another protest today that everyone had gone to…

So it was quite an unexpected Saturday!

Feeling all pumped, and then…

I had my first online Chinese lesson today. It actually wasn’t too bad! She was on time; the video and audio had no issues; and we had a relatively good conversation. Being a teacher, she slowed down her pace for me, and chose words that she knows students would know. So I could follow pretty much everything she said, and that gave me some confidence. And she could also follow what I was saying, apparently my grammar is pretty good! And I’ve spent a lot of time on my tones, so obviously that’s not too bad either. So I walked away from that lesson / chat feeling quite happy with my Chinese 😊

And then I went to the Meetup 😔 It was the same Meetup that I went to last week, but this week a lot of new people turned up. And today, I was surrounded by a lot of local Hong Kongers who, although they say they only know some Mandarin, know a hell of a lot more than I do! At least they can hold their own in a conversation. So a lot more Mandarin was spoken around me today, and at a much higher level than what I know, so I felt quite lost most of the time and couldn’t contribute to the conversation at all 😔 So that was quite disappointing, especially after feeling all pumped after the online lesson. Obviously much more practice for me!

Prep

I felt better today, thankfully. It’s amazing what a good night’s sleep can do sometimes 😊

The online language lesson that I was supposed to have got cancelled at the last minute because the teacher had to take her son to the doctor today. Such a shame, I was so looking forward to it 😔 So I went looking for another teacher, as my first choice is pretty much booked out on the days and times that I wanted. So I’ve booked a lesson for tomorrow with another teacher, fingers crossed the lesson goes well! 🤞 I sent her a quick message in Chinese, so hopefully she has a bit of an idea of my level before we even get started, so she’s not going in completely blind into the lesson.

I put myself on the waiting list for tomorrow’s Chinese-English language meetup, as it was already at capacity by the time I registered. But then I found out today that I was taken off the waiting list – I am now officially going! So basically I have the online lesson, and then straight after that, I have to head out to go to the Meetup. That’s a lot of Chinese in one day! 😱 My brain is going to hurt by the end of the evening! But I need this to improve, so I just have to keep pushing myself, it’s all good 💪💪

So I need to do some Chinese prep between now and tomorrow night to make the most out of these interactions…! 😄

Practice

I booked an online one-on-one Chinese lesson for this coming Thursday! I’m a little nervous and excited at the same time, as I’ve never had an online lesson like this before. I wonder just how effective it will be. It’s US$16 for a 45min lesson, but it was 50% off as it’s my trial lesson with the company, so US$8 is not too bad a loss if the lesson is a complete waste of time.

It was actually quite hard to choose a teacher, as there is quite a few listed on the website. I eventually chose a teacher, as she specifically mentioned “dialogue, dialogue, dialogue” as her focus during her lessons, which is exactly what I need. Plus reviewers were saying that she’s very thorough, and I like people who also notice details, so I thought I’d give her a go. So let’s see…

I actually know quite a lot of Chinese words and phrases, but I don’t practise it enough to have them really internalised. So even though I know much fewer words and sentence structures in Japanese, I can still hold a basic conversation in the language because the words that I do know are internalised, and words come to me much faster when I need them. It’s all about fluency. So maybe I need to do the same with Chinese: repeat the basics to buggery, until they are well and truly internalised.

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 😔

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 😔

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…