One month of speaking French everyday

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Another month is gone. I don’t know about you, but these days I feel like time is running away from me. It could be because I try to do too many things, or because I do a lot of unnecessary things. One thing is clear: April is gone way to fast.

If you read my previous articles, you may already know that I made a habit of picking a new goal/challenge every month, something that I would focus on for the whole month. The goal I chose for the month of April was speaking French everyday for the whole month.

The main purpose of choosing a goal and focusing on it for one whole month is not only related to improving that activity or skill in itself, but also a way of educating myself to become more disciplined, more consistent, more intentional, and, the most important aspect, to keep the promises I make to myself.

Working to achieve a monthly goal brings a lot of benefits. Practicing this daily brings a lot of satisfaction and when you see the results, you know that your work paid it off. Also, the fact that I write about my goals and I share them with you on my blog makes it also a promise to the people who read my blog. This is actually one of the reasons I write about my goals: it makes the promise harder to break. Writing about my goals and my results is also a nice method of tracing my progress and keeping my motivation to start new projects. But back to my April goal.

The reason I chose this goal was mainly because my French got a bit rusty since I didn’t have too many occasions to use it. The importance of speaking the language you want to learn or to improve is tremendous. Trying to learn more languages, but not making a habit of practicing regularly will only make you feel tired because of a pointless effort and demotivated. I actually felt a bit demotivated when trying to polish my French because I can’t seem to find original content that I like and that would make me want to advance my French. However, I like to talk a lot in other languages, so I started from there.

One month of speaking a language daily even for 10 minutes can help by a lot to improve your level. Keep in mind that we are talking mostly about intermediate and even advanced learners whose language got rusty because of a lack of practice for a while. In my case it was more than a year. However, only one month of practicing your language won’t do wonders, not if you only practice for 10 minutes a day. There were days when 10 minutes became 15 or 20 minutes, but that was rare because I tend to get bored. Talking to a language partner is a lot more interesting and more challenging.

After one month of speaking French daily I regained my confidence of speaking the language which means that the words flow more naturally and I don’t have to think too much to find my words, my accent softened a bit more and observed some aspects that I need to working more like vocabulary and grammar.

As a conclusion, speaking French for one whole month was the perfect workout for my brain that took a long break from practicing French in particular and gave me the idea for a new goal. This month I will focus on practicing Japanese daily. Nothing too difficult; I will try to keep up with the writing systems and practicing with reading activities. I can’t wait to see the results.

Thank you for reading and I will see you around.

I almost forgot why I started this blog

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When I decided to move back to my hometown I was so drained that even the decision to move back was extremely difficult to make. I was emotionally exhausted and all I could think of was running away and hiding until I got better. Sometimes I think that I ran away, but I don’t regret my decision. Rather than running with no purpose only because you don’t want to hurt your pride and give up, I think it’s better to know when it’s the time to take a step back and watch the whole situation from a distance.

I remember that it was so difficult to decide to move back here that I couldn’t sleep for the whole month prior to my moving. I was extremely stressed because it was the first time I was giving up. It felt so strange and new. Sometimes I felt like a coward. I was ashamed of running away. I was ashamed that I needed a break at the age where I was suppossed to move mountains and conquer the world with youth and boldness. I was taught that this is what young people are supposed to do.

When I arrived home, it was summer. The green grass, the flowers were everywhere and the beautiful trees surrounding our house, it was like everything was calling me here, to come and rest for as much as I needed. I felt so much peace like I never felt before. Drinking coffee on the bacony with the most rural and beautiful view, cooking outside with the most delicious vegetables, watching the night sky where you can actually see the stars. Everything was so perfect and calm. But it lasted for about 3 months.

Soon the summer was about to end and I felt again restless. I wanted to rest more, but at the same time I felt like I was going to be left behind. Also, I realized that I had missed so much the countryside that I got to romanticize it in the first months. Then reality hit me again and I knew that living in the countryside doesn’t always equate to watching beautiful flowers, laying on the grass in the garden or smelling the nice air after a good summer rain. No, countryside is also about weeding the garden, watering the plants, and other hard works that your parents do and you can’t simply watch.

Soon enough I started to do both my full-time job and help my parents outside as much as time allowed me. Doing only those things, I started to think that I neglected my personal development. The pressure was always there. The pressure that you must not stay behind. The society is extremely competitive and hardworking people can be found everywhere. I thought that I must rethink my methods and start a plan to develop myself as much as I could. I started journaling, blogging, reading more, losing weight, learning a new language, involve in extra activities at work. I tried to do my best in any situation.

Here I am again. Not as exhausted as before, but somehow tired of trying too much. When I was thinking about this, ironically, I remembered the name of my blog and my original intention of living at a slower pace in a world that encourages competitiveness and a fast rhythm. I almost forgot about the way I wanted to live.

However, I learned that even if my intention is clear, my road will not be always straight, without little stones that might make me trip. The road could be full of obstacles, big or small, thus I have to be prepared to adjust my ways to fit to any situation.

Today, with a clear intention, I take a step back and try to slow down. Today I choose to do one thing at a time and listen to my body. Today I choose to be productive in stillness.

I hope you know when to take a step back and take care of yourselves.

Survival mode on – fighting procrastination

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Some days we might be too busy to work-out, too busy to write that blog post, too busy to write that journal page. Or we might be too lazy to do all those things. There’s nothing wrong with that and it happens to everyone at some point.

That day is today for me. I really didn’t know what to write today. I kept on postponing writing this week’s post for later. I finished eating lunch but my procrastination grew even more. Then I did my manicure and still no change. I had dinner and still nothing. I said to myself that it’s ok to write it tomorrow, but really now, all this postponing got on my nerves. Is it that difficult to write one post for the blog I want so much to see growing?

All I need in this kind of situations is to find a trigger that can make me start doing the job. I was watching my drama so peacefully, but subconsciously I was still thinking what I should choose as a trigger. This situation might seem funny to many of you, but it’s ok. Enjoy!

There was one moment in the drama I was watching where the atmosphere became so serious and that was the moment I decided to make my trigger. I suddenly paused the episode and I started writing like I was possessed.

While writing this post, I remembered something from the days I was stydying for my Master degree. It was the last session of exams and I had one more project to write to finish the year. I was working full-time, thus my energy finished around 3 to 4pm, meaning right after work or an hour before work.

After work I used to take a small break and then start researching and writing for my projects. However, the last project is always the most difficult to finish. I remember that it was quite late and I only had until morning to send the project. I had no ideas about what I should write anymore, no energy and no mood to write whatsoever. Guess what I did. I started watching Korean dramas. But I tried mixing it with the Pomodoro technique: I would watch 10 to 20 minutes from one episode, and then write and read for about half an hour. I did this until 1 or 2 in the morning, until I finished.

I was using the kitchen as a study room and cinema when my roommate came to check up on me. She thought I would die of fatigue, but instead I came up with a survival method. Later, when she had projects and couldn’t cope with the amount of work and projects, she would watch animes like me, in the Pomodoro style. This is how we survived that year.

Sometimes there might be things you feel you don’t want to do and you might keep on postponing until you can’t do it anymore. Don’t despair, find your own method to cope with it and to finish whatever you have to do.

I am curious, do you also have a survival technique that helps you fight procrastination?

Spicy food = my comfort food

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Did this ever happen to you? To crave spicy food? It happens so often to me. I don’t usually crave cakes or cookies, but I do dream of eating again my favorite spicy foods.

I started to eat a lot of spicy food when I was in college. Korean language was my major, so I attented a lot of events where Korean food was served. As a Kdrama lover, I also had a lot of interest in Korean food and I started to cook myself.

For the people who might not know about Korea and its culture, I must tell you that Korean food plays a big role in the culture. If I had to describe Korean food in two words, I would choose delicious and spicy. It’s not that all the food is spicy, but spiciness is the main characteristic, I would say.

And because I mentioned food and culture, I will also say a few things about Kimchi, which means Korean fermented food in spicy sauce. There are over 200 types of Kimchi, so you can already tell that Koreans love their Kimchi. And they are not the only ones.

Kimchi can be made from almost any vegetable, but the most common ones are made with Chinese cabbage, cucumbers, white radish and onion. Practically, the vegetables are firstly pickled in water and salt, and then a special spicy sauce is added to make Kimchi complete. Of course, depending on what vegetable you use, the process and the recipe can be slightly different.

My favorite Kimchi is cucumber Kimchi, but these days I made a lot of green onion Kimchi and I go crazy about it. I used Mangchi’s recipe and I added my favorite garlic, which is a key element in Korean food. I eat it so often these days and it goes well even with Romanian food.

I hope I made you curious about Kimchi and if I succeeded you might want to read more about its benefits and even try making your own. The Internet is full with great information on this subject, and the recipes come in many forms. Who knows, one day you might also choose Kimchi over chocolate.

Thanks for reading and happy spring.

Implementing habits

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It takes time to build habits. This is what I know from experience, not because I read it from a book. I also believe that the time to implement a certain habit is different from person to person. It depends on one’s determination, it depends on the context, on what motivates you to implement a certain habit, it also depends on the you at a certain time. See? There are so many external conditions that might make you decide that this is not the right time or even give up in the middle.

There were many times when I thought I succeeded in implementing a new habit and it made me so proud. But I get bored quite easily, and I am always searching for new and more efficient ways to implement good habits and improve my life. I guess we are all searching for what’s best for us and this is in itself a great achievement. You are doing great even if you are not where you want to be yet. Remember that all great things need time. And great is different from one to another. For me great is what is important to me, what makes me feel good and what I really like doing for a long time.

I think I found my own way of discovering what habits I can implement for a long time. Of course, it also depends on my own determination and the effort I put in, but I want to live more freely and to do more of the things that I really like. And the first step to know what you really like is to try everything. Do you really like something because it looks cool and it make you seem like a cool person when you talk to others about it? Or you like it because it makes you feel more like yourself or a better you? Well, this is what I try to do.

Back at the part where I was talking about my own way of discovering what habits I can implement for a long time… I don’t really remember when I started doing it, but one day I decided to establish one big goal that I would focus on for a whole month. This is how I came up with the one month goal idea. I think this works best for me because I have more time to transform it into a habit for a long period of time. However, I am not trying to transform all these goals into habits, because it would be impossible to do so many things regularly at one point. The idea is to challenge myself and discover how far I can go, or what I like to do.

Whenever I think about what I want to do for the next month, I think about what I need to improve next, about things that I would like to try etc. I decided to continue this one month goal idea this year as well, because I really like the way it helps me to find out more about myself. For January I chose to do one month daily workout with my friend because I wanted to motivate her to exercise hoping this would help her to sleep better. At the beginning we would send photos to motivate each other, but after 2 weeks we would stop sending photos, but continue working out daily and talk about it. We also promised to eat 3 times a day, but some days were more hectic than others and eating 3 meals was our promise for the next day.

However, working out daily made me realize that I like to work out, but because I tend to get bored easily I would soon give up. As I promised myself to become a more active person and to exercise more, I thought that for the month of February I should try to replace my yoga routine with dance. This is how I realized that I really like to dance and since February I could dance daily for about 30 to 40 minutes without getting bored even for one minute. I was surprised that I liked it so much and I would see how certain parts of my body became more flexible. Dance is so much fun and I do it without thinking that it is another form of physical exercise. Dance is my happy time with myself.

For the month of March I decided to spend more time blogging and to actually post one blog post per week. You might have already observed that I’ve been more visible this month and I am curious to see if I will be able to keep this habit from now on and for how long. My goal is not only related to posting weekly, but also to learning more about SEO and blogging in general. I love how it went until now and I am curious to see how I will improve from now on.

It’s still March, but I can tell you that I already thought what I want to do for the month of April. I observed that my French speaking skills got rusty, so I decided that I will try speaking daily for one month. This is not something difficult to do, because monologue is one of the methods I use to practice speaking in other languages, but somehow French was not really my priority. Well, speaking in French will become my priority for the next month.

These are the goals I focused on since the beginning of the year and I am really pleased that I can see progress and new ideas that came with practicing these habits.

I wish you can achieve anything you decide on and enjoy the process.

Until next time, sunny days.

The stories that will never be told

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When I first started blogging, I had two or three articles that I have already written and that helped me to feel less stressed about posting for about two weeks. When I finished posting all these articles, I felt like “ok, and now what?“. I felt like my resources were over and I wasn’t sure that starting a blog was the right thing to do.

However, I was thinking of ways to always have topics prepared, so I started doing what I do best: lists.
Every time an idea pops in my head, I try to write it down immediately on my list in my phone, and as I keep my phone by my side at all times, this is not that hard to do.

By now the list got longer. Truth to be told, there are many things to write about even if I don’t have that list. However, knowing that I have a back up plan for the “just in case situations” makes me feel less stressed and concentrate on what I really want to write about at a certain moment.

Having a big list with ideas to write about, doesn’t mean that I will write about all those topics. Why? Because there are ideas that pop up instantly, but when I think about them, I don’t feel the spark to write about them after a period of time. Actually, going through my list with topics from time to time, I got to eliminate many ideas that felt wow at the moment of popping up, but after I while I felt like I couldn’t or wouldn’t want to write about anymore. So I would eliminate them and concentrate on what inspires me at the moment, be it on the list or not.

Thinking about how I eliminated so many ideas on the list until know, made me realize that some stories will always stay untold. It made me sad somehow, but I still believe that this filtering must be done for various reasons, and the most important one remains that if I don’t feel like writing about it anymore, than why forcing things.

Sometimes, the ideas that I choose to eliminate give me new ideas that I usually write about immediately. I actually love this recycling thing because it usually gives me ideas that I feel like writing about even after a long period of time. Writing for me is an endless process of transformation and refining anyway, so this is not a bad thing. However today I thought for the first time that when I take out an idea from my list, I choose to not tell a story that could have been told.

I’ll let you think about this.
Until next time, let’s be happy.

My favorite Japanese YouTube channels

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Yes, I love YouTube and the countless sources of learning it offers me. This is how I see YouTube, other than a great source of entertainment, a greater source of learning.

Maybe it is because I learn better trough visual content, I always did so, but be it a skill, a recipe, a language or History, I can better understand and remember the info when the content is also visual.

What I like even better is when the content is not only educational but also fun. A great example for this is the channel Linfamy, where you can find a lot of information on how Japanese people lived in ancient times, on Japanese history and culture etc. The information is not only well documented, but also explained in such a fun way that you wished learning was your real profession. I found this channel when I was searching for more info on yokai (Japanese monsters and spirits) and Japanese mythology. If you are also interested in things like these, I really recommend this channel.

Another channel that I love and I use it for learning Japanese, or better said for fixating the few things I have learned until now, is Learn Japanese with JapanesePod101.com. They have videos for helping people like me to learn and understand the 3 writing systems: Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji, videos for vocabulary and grammar. They also have videos for listening, which I love because the teachers speak clearly and slowly. They have also conversation videos and writing tips, but those videos are for when you already have a pretty good basis in Japanese.

When it comes to warm videos about daily life and food, I love to watch Choki‘s videos. They are slow paced, warm and inspiring. This is one of the channels that I follow without a certain reason, I just love the warmth and the feeling I get from watching so much peace. Choki’s videos give me the feeling I had when I watched Little forest. I wrote a post on this movie, so go check it if you want to read more about the movie.

Btw, I have also wrote a post about my favorite Korean YouTube  channels, so if you are curious, go check it here.

The last channel I want to introduce you to is Anna film production, a channel with walking around videos. The videos are taken in some of the most beautiful regions of Japan. I think I first started watching the videos on this channel after canceling the plans for my travel in Japan (at the beginning of the pandemic). I was a bit sad and I felt the need to watch beautiful places so I feel less disappointed. Since then, every time I watch Anna’s videos I feel like traveling to Japan.

These are some of the Japanese YouTube channels that I like the most, but there are many others that I find enjoyable. I am curious if you knew about these channels and if you have other recommendations, feel free to share in the comments.

I clean so I won’t think

My heart feels heavy and my head is full of worries. I worry and worry until I feel like worrying is even worse. So I think I should do something in order to stop thinking. Or at least to fill my time with something practical, other than worries.

When your heart feels heavy, do something with your hands.

I start by preparing my coffee and the breakfast: a simple omelet with green onion. I watch funny videos on Youtube so I can start my day in a good mood. Then I decide to start moving. I feed my dog, I walk here and there. I go to the greenhouse and I realize I could start planting spinach and lettuce.

While my hands are busy, my head concentrates on what I am doing. Sloppily preparing the place to plant some goodies. I am not the farmer type, but I love to grow things and to surround myself with nature. It’s healing and I feel I at least can do something.

Then I start cleaning. It’s Saturday. It rains with tiny droplets and I like to stay inside on a day like this. Prepare the house for a nice and cozy Sunday.

I like how cleaning clears my mind. While I vaccum the carpets I imagine I vacuum all the bad things and energies. I wipe the dust and I imagine how all the worries are removed. My heart feels a little lighter as my hands keep moving.

Today I clean with no music on. I just concentrate on cleaning. Every spot that I clean makes me feel calmer and lighter. It must be true that when you keep moving your body, your head doesn’t have the time to worry, to imagine disastrous scenarios, to consume you from within. It feels great to do something, to be part of something.

Today I want to keep moving. I clean so I won’t think. I need a break from thinking. The world is busy and I am too. Today busy doesn’t sound bad at all.

Our dog is just great

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There is so much talk on small happiness and gratitude that I feel I don’t need to add more on the topic. However, when it comes to practicing these two, there is more to it than just reading and talking about it.

This article is inspired by our dog, Sasha, food addict, just like me. What I love the most about Sasha is the happiness he shows me when I bring him his favorite dog food. He is all over the place, wiggling his tail and running from one corner to another. He makes me feel better in an instant with his silly acting and the way he shows he is grateful for bringing him his favorite food. At least, this is how I see it.

Today, after bringing him his food and playing with him for a while, I have realized that he is teaching me daily about small happiness and gratitude. I should be grateful for the good food I eat every single day, but humans are not as great as animals are, and we often forget how blessed we are.

Sasha is my daily reminder that I should be grateful for the food I eat every single day and, by being grateful I am happy.

Unconventional and fun learning practices

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I am a procrastinator.
I have always been one and I think I will continue being like this all my life.

When I was little, I postponed homework until late at night and I was so sick of studying. I wasn’t a night owl, just a procrastinator. At some point in my school life, something changed and I started to work additionally. I was still a procrastinator, but studying wasn’t so bad. In high-school, I started studying languages as a hobby even if our school system already required too much. I don’t know if this is what overzealous means, but not knowing on what to focus, not being taught what matters and being scared of the future made me do all of these additional things that became one of the causes of my later-to-appear burnout.

Step by step, studying and learning became a routine, better said a lifestyle. Actually, we all do it, we all learn everyday, but we don’t realize. In a way, I am still that overzealous student, or better said a jack of all trades and master of none. Not necessarily a bad thing, but adult life is sometimes an obstacle in the way of my love for learning.

Working a full time job already requires a lot of time and concentration. Adding studying to this routine is in itself something that really makes me proud and motivates me when I am down. I am not very consistent when it comes to routines or habits, but in regards to studying I am pretty consistent. This was the key for me actually. Even if it takes me a lot of time to become good or better at something, consistency always shows the results.

When I started working, I realized that the adult life is so different and that there are more things that you must do than the ones that you want to do. However studying and learning must be there. You can’t do the things that you must do without doing a few of the things that you want to do. Balance is the key here. But how to do them both? Learning is not only something that I want to do and that I love, but also something necessary for progress. The easiest method for me is to learn while having fun. This is not always possible, but I try to use this method everyday.

Soooo, at the middle of this post, I am letting you know that I will talk about some fun and unconventional learning practices I use everyday and that actually worked for me.

Let me share with you some of the techniques I use (as a procrastinator and a lazy person) to learn while having fun. This is mostly related to languages, but I use it for other topics as well.

  • Learning vocabulary with series, books and webtoons.
    This technique is what helped me even with Korean grammar, so I use it a lot to learn expressions and words in context. When I decide to use entertainment for learning purposes, I take a notebook and a pen and I write down words, expressions that I want to use later with my tutor, or I look up new words in the dictionary and write them down. Sometimes, I rewatch series or movies without subtitles to test my understanding in other languages (mostly in Korean). When reading books or webtoons, I look up the new words, write synonyms or write the translation in English or French ( this is when I decide to do a mixed study which I use as a challenge).
  • Reviewing historical events and figures with Korean dramas.
    I am sure you know by now how much I love Korean language, culture and history. Historical movies and series became some sort of a motivation and this is how I started to read again research papers and books on Korean history, something that I neglected since finishing my academic studies. So if I watch a new drama portraying some king and the reforms he adopted, I will do some research and go deeper into the subject. Having a fun visual content as reference, the information stays with me for a longer period of time.
  • Improving writing using journaling or movie/series reviews.
    This is a technique I’ve started using since last year. What I usually do is to write a journal page in the desired language or a review about a movie or a drama that impressed me. Writing about something you like makes you stay consistent and you won’t feel like studying at all.
  • Improving speaking with monologues.
    It might sound strange, but I do this a lot. I was always shy and I found it difficult to talk to natives, so I started using the monologue in other languages as a technique to improve my speaking abilities. While this is not as efficient as talking to natives and it is also different from talking to real people whose reactions, vocabulary usage and way of thinking you can’t anticipate (as in the case of a monologue, where you are the one who prepares and thinks the whole situation), talking to myself helped me so much to improve my speaking and become more confident in real situations like interviews, presentations or conversations with natives.

These are some of the unconventional learning techniques I use almost everyday, if not everyday. They are actually practices that used frequently can help you achieve what you want. I hope my tips will inspire you to find you own practices or that you will practice in my way no matter what subject you are interested in.

Happy learning.