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Cat Academy: Learn Spanish from Cats

4 Dec

The Memrise site has been down for maintenance since yesterday or so. It has given me some times to focus on Duolingo for my language learning. However, I have learned of a side project for Spanish learning (French is on back burner because of an upcoming move to Chile!) from Memrise through the site being down called: Cat Academy. Where cats teach you Spanish. Unfortunately it is not available for Android yet but all you iPhone users can talk advantage of it now. This is worth a watch because it is hilarious.


Pajeon and a Travel Update (Mostly Pajeon)

27 Nov
It is so delicious.  This one, from Gwangwhamun Square was served on a hot platter.  It was crispy and so good.

It is so delicious. This one, from Gwangwhamun Square was served on a hot platter. It was crispy and so good.

Let’s take a minute to talk about pajeon here.  Pajeon is a traditional Korean cuisine.  It is best described (in my opinion) as a seafood pancake.  It is hands down one of my favourite Korean foods.  Pancakes in any form are definitely on my top food of all time so keep that in mind when I give it my five star rating.

A friend told me that pajeon is a comfort food to eat on a rainy day with Makgeolli, a Korean rice wine. Maekgeolli is alright, the price is right for sure.  I also find it fun to shake up.  It has to be shaken becuase there is white silt that settles to the bottom. IT is a little sweet and carbonated. It is like a milky white colour.  It throws me off a little bit.  Like beer and wine, maybe I just need to aquire a taste for it.

Back to pajeon: it is made like pancakes, with batter, fried with oil in a griddle.  It has seafood and green onions and it is often served with soy sauce to dip it in.  I like it because it is hot, crispy, oily and there are tentacles in it.

Tentacles are the type of food that you think you should be averse to trying, but then you eat them and they are completely unoffensive and delightful.  I have been a tentacle fan for years.

On a note about the status of the blog:  If have been on hiatus for a couple of weeks here (despite saying that it wouldn’t happen).  Things have been a little bit hectic around here with my job and trying to move on with my career.  BUT in three weeks I am on vacation and in four weeks I am off to NEW ZEALAND.  I am really excited so there will surely be lots of posts about that.

But wait, there is more.  As you all know (probably not even true) I have been trying to improve my career prospects (life skills) by learning french which I have not updated, but it was going very well for the 30 days that I committed.  I feel like I am grasping the basics now.  I can answer questions and think of how to say things in French much easier.  I also feel like I have been more productive in my evenings.  French is continuing, but slower.

I am moving to Santiago, Chile in MARCH!  So, last week I started learning Spanish.  I have never studied Spanish before.  But it is coming along I think.  So in the next four months I am going from Seoul to New Zealand to Seoul to Canada to Chile.  I am really excited to start this new chapter.  These next four months are going to be a whirlwind!

Back to pajeon: Please try this.  You are supposed to share with the people you are eating with.  THAT pajeon in the picture was actually only eaten by me.  No, I was not travelling solo.  No, everyone didn’t order their own meal to consume by themselves Western Style.  We were eating communal shared dishes mostly.  I ordered that pajeon and I ate it all.  That’s how I roll sometimes.


Learning French: A 30 Day Challenge

14 Oct Coffee coffee coffee

I watched a TED talk recently about 30 Day Challenges.  It inspired me to try a challenge myself.  I have some spare time, I might spend a bit too much time watching television or just browsing the internet.  (I might have watched about 20 hours of Ugly Betty in the last two weeks; I probably could have done something more productive at the very least, simultaneously, if not instead).  With the amount of free software, tutorials and courses available on the internet, I should be able to add or improve a new skill to my repertoire every 30 days. 

I have committed to learning as much French as I can in the next 30 Days.

I have been thinking about his for a while.  When I came to Korea I tried to learn some of the language so that I could do things like order food and talk to taxi drivers.  I studied pretty hard for a few months and it was really hard at times.  I don’t study much anymore because of a combination of things, life, laziness, contentment.

I know enough to read, order food and drink in a restaurant and to generally get by comfortably. Seoul is a very English friendly city, I know people who have lived year for over five years and can barely read a menu or say, “Hello.”  It just was not necessary.

I found that learning about the Korean language benefitted me for several reasons:

Everyday life was easier and I was more confident about the things I could do.

I was not nervous taking the subway or the bus because I could read and understand all of the stops (the subway is very English friendly, buses are not always).  I could order food and drinks at a restaurant.  I can tell a taxi driver where I wanted to go.  I could ask where the bathroom was and understand the directions I was being given.

It gave me a better understanding of the culture I was living in.

I was teaching very young children and I could make sense of the mistakes they were making in English because they were thinking in the context of the Korean language. Also, there are untranslatable words that give you insight into things that are important in one culture, but may not be in another.  Like, there is a special word for the top part of your foot.  A kid in my Tae Kwon Do class was trying to translate this part of his foot to explain a better kicking technique.  He kept pointing at it and I would say, “Foot. You are talking about your foot.”

“No, THIS part, “ he would respond, obviously annoyed that I was not understanding.  He knew the word for the whole foot, it was this particular part.

“The top part of your foot?”

“Yes, what is it called?”

“I don’t know, I never really talked about it before.  I guess I would just call it the top part of your foot.”

He was obviously not satisfied with this answer. Maybe there is a name for it.  The point is I did not know what it was. Whether there was a medical term for the top part of your foot, I do not know.  All I know is that I would not talk about it in normal conversation.  In a country where Tae Kwon Do originated, it makes sense that there is a name for that part of your foot.

Local people appreciated that I made the effort.

It is definitely more convenient to interact with someone who can understand at least a little bit of the language that you speak.  Many Korean people that I speak to seem very impressed and appreciative at even the minimal amount of Korean that I know.  I am immersed in their culture, I am interested and I want to make an effort to learn more about it. That’s understandable; I love to talk about what life was like growing up in Nova Scotia.  I especially like when people enjoy to hearing about it because I am going to tell them about it anyway.

Coffee coffee coffee

Studying a language can be a great excuse to have a really fancy overpriced drink. If you have a friend to share it with it is a fun way to spend an evening, especially when it is really cold outside and you can drink something hot and sweet.

Why did I stop studying Korean?  I have kind of given it up.  I learn a little bit here and there, I like to learn new phrases now and again.  But I am comfortable at the level that I am at and I know that I won’t live here much longer and that I will never be fluent.  I stopped because I was trying so hard to learn and moving forward very slowly.  I thought that if I put an effort into something else, I might have a useful skill in the future.

Now I am not saying that it is not useful to learn Korean.  Maybe one day I will have an opportunity to learn to speak Korean more fluently. If I had a job offer that required it, I would jump at the chance in a heartbeat!  Alas, it is just not something that I foresee, my efforts might be better spent towards learning a language that would put me further ahead in my career in the future.  I am a Canadian, that language is French.

French is one of the two official languages of Canada (the other language being English).  There are many languages spoken in Canada (Korean is most definitely one of them).  However, French is an official language and if I can speak French then my opportunities to work in Canada (which I eventually want to do) will most certainly increase.  I have always wanted to learn French; I have been exposed to the French language my whole life and I do know a little.  I can (will) become a French speaker.

I think that learning French will come a lot easier than Korean.  I learned a lot about learning languages when I was studying Korean and that will certainly come in handy.

This is my 30 Day Challenge to me: Learn as much French as possible using the resources that are free and readily available to me here.  These are the ones that I plan to use:

Memrise – a free, online language learning website and Android App

Duolingo – another free, online language learning website Android App – A Canadian News app to read news in French

Television Programs/Movies – I will keep a list of the ones that I watch that I have found useful

Bilingual Fiancée – I really have no excuse here.  He couldn’t speak the language when I met him now he is bilingual.

So I am going to start this challenge.  I will keep notes and update in 30 Days how my French has improved.

My Goal: Do something to enhance my french learning for at least 45 minutes everyday.  It can be a combination of things.  I will keep a log of what I do each day.

If you are also on Memrise my name is Jennytrips (I fall all the time, so this name is hilarious BTW) you can follow me and I would love to follow you back.

Is anyone else learning a language right now that has any tips, or would anyone like to join me in this 30 Day Challenge?