Cooking, Food, Japanese, JLPT N2, Miscellaneous

twenty.

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I remember not long after starting this blog that I wrote a post celebrating my 18th birthday…how time flies! I had just gotten my exam results and I was celebrating about how my marks would get me into a good course of my choice. And now here I am, going into my third year of university next year! Why did I ever grow up T_T

We don’t really do much by way of celebrating birthdays in my family (although they really should, why would you not want to celebrate me guys pls) so I baked my own birthday cake. But I sort of wish I didn’t because I only had one cake tin and thus the three layers and frosting etc. took me the entire day >_< It tastes delicious though! It’s a matcha cake with white chocolate whipped cream frosting and I made a separate green tea ganache to go on top. The flowers I picked from the garden ^_^

I recently returned from a week-long family holiday so it’s been a lazy couple of days. I did do the N2 exam before I left though and it was a pretty…yolo experience. As in I didn’t work very hard for it and I’m pretty sure the results will reflect that. So I don’t really know where that leaves me now. I’m pretty sure that the listening was a disaster. But the vocabulary and grammar section, which I struggled with during N3 , didn’t feel as bad. So maybe with some work I can slay next time 😀 But I’ll keep working and studying my languages while I have free time these holidays.

Do any of you guys bake? If you do, please share cake recipes with me! Because birthday cake duty usually falls to me in this house 😀 And did any of you take the N2 as well? How did you find it?

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Miscellaneous

no chill.

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Chinese Gardens of Friendship, Sydney

Hello everybody! I’m extremely glad to report that my exams, and the academic year, have now finished :3 Sweet, sweet relief T.T

I don’t know about you guys but I’m fairly introverted and I take great pleasure in spending time by myself. Usually I’d go shopping or eat something yummy by myself but I decided to do something a bit more special so last week I headed to the Sydney Sea Life Aquarium and the Chinese Gardens of Friendship. I’ve always loved aquariums for an inexplicable reason. I find underwater life extremely beautiful, if a little intimidating! My trip was only ruined by one school excursion group, which is always a bonus. If you’re in Sydney, or if you’re visiting, I’d highly recommend checking out these gems for yourself (particularly the Gardens! They are an inexpensive treat for the soul).

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And the Aquarium… 🐠

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Always take some time to enjoy your own hometown – as they say, there’s truly no place like home.

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Food, Miscellaneous

panic.

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Hi guys! Just a quick post because my exams (doomsday) start very soon and I should be studying. I can’t wait to be free from November 17th! Then I can have more time to cram for the JLPT and get stuck into some good old-fashioned language learning, solo trips to the aquarium, ramen (or maybe tsukemen? given the Sydney summer heat) slurping etc. In the meantime, here’s a calming picture of my university, which does not reflect my state of mind at the moment.

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Can’t leave you guys without some gratuitous food photos though right? Unfortunately, I did not eat these three wonderful bowls by myself – I took my parents on a ramen date! 😀 This was at Chase Kojima’s Sokyo Ramen pop-up at The Star Casino. I’m not sure if it’s still running (if it is, it won’t be for much longer!) but if the queues are anything to judge by I reckon he’s onto something good and if he’s smart he’ll find a way to make this permanent (and in a more central location than Darling Harbour). I also made a new video for my student videojournalism team USYD Update about the Sydney Night Noodle Markets here. But SBS Food has not given me my own food show yet 😦

On a finishing note, and if you’re into this sort of thing, happy Halloween! I have some special Halloween nail art 🙂

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I hope you guys have been doing well – I love hearing what you are all up to ^^ See you on the other side ~

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Learning Tips, Miscellaneous, Resources

rhetoric.

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Hi guys! I realised that I was due in for my monthly update on this blog, so here I am 😀 Thankfully, it’s my 1 week mid-semester break at the moment so I have a minute to bash out this post.

My 9-week Italian course finished recently. We had a little class party with lots of food and we did a fun speaking activity to cap things off – we were split into groups and we had to invent our own pub, before introducing it to the rest of the class in Italian. Somebody brought wine and needless to say, I have never cried so hard with laughter in class before – I have subsequently learned that alcohol and language learning mixes molto bene! My voucher actually covers two terms so I think I will enrol for the next 9-week session. In the meantime, the teacher has given us some ‘holiday homework’ to do so I am hoping to tackle that before lessons kick off again in mid-October.

did end up signing up for JLPT N2…but to be honest, I really wasn’t sure about it. But then Dad was just like, “yolo, it can’t hurt” so here I am, $90 poorer (after paying that damn registration fee). I haven’t started studying for it though. This is terrible! I have listening materials and kanji and vocabulary flashcards lined up…but does anybody know if there are any free reading practice materials for N2 floating around on the Net? If you do, please leave a comment and I will give you a beautiful ramen photo in my next post 😛

But in more proactive language learning land, I have recently signed up to Conversation Exchange! I decided that it was finally time to grab the bull by the horns and just open my mouth lol. I have had a Skype session with a French guy living in Paris. I am using Wechat to talk to and send Mandarin messages to somebody living in Tianjin, China. And I met up with a Japanese girl here in Sydney to have a chat in person! She likes ramen too!!1! We have started a two-person ramen club (pls join guys!). I was really hesitant about getting that first message and having these first meetings but the site is really busy (I get several messages everyday) and although you will get some weird messages, you aren’t obliged to respond to them and it’s all very safe and positive – because nearly everybody else just wants a language exchange partner too! I’d recommend the site ^^ If you’re on the site as well, just leave me a comment and I’ll happily link you my profile details 🙂

Conversation Exchange

So that’s about it from me. Just super burned out from university and super hyped up from language exchange. What a wonderful state of mind to be in. But I hope that you guys are well at least – let me know what you’ve been up to do, and happy language learning ^^

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Food, Italian, Japanese, Miscellaneous

diversify.

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Black garlic tonkotsu ramen at Yasaka Ramen

It could perhaps be ironic that I begin this post about diversification with yet another photo of ramen but I see no other way to keep any readers I may have interested in my sporadic posts! 😀 If I really have to comment on this ramen, it was expensive and the soup unfortunately lacked flavour 😦

Anyway, I’ve been going to my Italian night classes every Monday. I’m really enjoying it. It’s really jogging my memory and my teacher is very kind and knowledgeable. She speaks almost exclusively in Italian and encourages us to speak in the target language. I don’t know if I would bother paying for such classes if I didn’t have my voucher but they have been worthwhile so far. Speaking of, I need to do the homework soon in time for the coming Monday!

Japanese at uni isn’t bad. I have a kanji and grammar test in about…2 weeks? A week and a half? I have been revising my kanji regularly but the grammar…I don’t know…I find it very hard for grammar to stay in my head? Especially since some Japanese grammar points have very similar structures and/or nuances. I know that the best way to remember is to probably see the grammar in context but having time to read is another matter entirely….But I will figure it out because my marks are good so far and I would like for it to stay that way! The JLPT registration deadline is also in about a week? But I’m not sure if I should do it – I haven’t had time to study for it basically all year. Either that, or I haven’t made time for it (I don’t want to deny responsibility in my own shortfalls haha).

The reason why I am writing about branching out is that my life has gotten busier and there are new things that I am exploring. I study Law and Media & Communications at university, so I have two different jobs in those respective fields. I have learnt a lot and spending time on these things has meant less time for my original hobby of language learning. In some ways, that makes me feel sad but not as sad as it might have once done (if that makes sense?). Sometimes I feel very stretched thin between all my commitments but it’s been worthwhile and I’m enjoying myself – it’s an exciting time for me right now because I feel as if things are making sense and I could be forming some sort of an idea of where I want my life to take me. Ideally, I would learn to balance all these happenings and incorporate language learning flawlessly into my  life as I polyglot my way to world domination but that is obviously still a work in progress. But in the meantime, it doesn’t trouble me as much.

Anyway, I have recently joined a new student videojournalism group here at my university at USYD Update. We do stories on life, culture and news and I am a presenter/reporter with the Life section. I would like to share my first completed video with you guys: it’s about sleep! All too fitting 😀

So I’ll leave you guys here for the next month or so. I hope that you are all well and that you’re killing your language studies! (unlike me OTL) 頑張って!

PS I can’t believe that I used to be so dedicated and wrote my posts in my target languages =_= I should probably start that again right? 😛

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Food, Miscellaneous

apologies…?

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                                                                           Miso ramen at O-San

As it turns out, I couldn’t even keep my promise to post at least once a month! Ah well.

I must confess that in the last month and a half (?) I haven’t really been able to find the time to do any language study in particular. I am taking a French class at uni so I am at least obliged to prepare for that, but otherwise… I’ve squeezed in a bit of grammar here and there but :/. Language learning is still a hobby and my formal studies must come first unfortunately.

Having said all that, when this semester’s exams finish on 27 June, I plan to get right back into the swing of things. I still think I would like to try the N2 exam in December, so I will continue on with my grammar and vocabulary and start some reading practice. I think I would also like to take the plunge and try Italki. Has anybody used it before? If you have, please let me know how you found it ^^

And yes, as you can see, in a typical me apology I have inserted a healthy dose of food porn in this post. Ramen is definitely…one of my favourite foods I can safely say. It’s too rich to eat regularly, but when I do save my appetite and take that first mouthful…it’s magic and reminds me all over again why I love it so much. Ramen is a culinary hug in a bowl, a hug for the stomach and soul *w* Sometimes I wonder if I should just give up on language blogging and make this a ramen blog xD What do you guys think? 😛 I’ve been going to Ramen O-San quite a bit recently, but only because it’s so reasonable and the eggs are always so. damn. on. point. I hope that you can understand me.

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I might leave you guys here for today. I’m looking forward to blogging more during my holidays, but in the mean time, please let me know what you’ve been up to!! ^_^

PS So Benny Lewis commented on my blog ?!?

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Food, Italian, Japanese, Miscellaneous

sign here please.

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Hello everybody! As I had predicted, this blog isn’t being updated as regularly now that university has started up again 😦 But I think I will try my best to update it at least once a month (instead of the posts once a week).

So I went to Benny Lewis’ free talk and book signing at Kinokuniya here in Sydney on Thursday! To say I was excited is probably an understatement. It was just weird to see somebody that I admired so much in real life I guess. He’s a great speaker and I could see that a lot of the casual passers-by were totally feeling pumped to amp up their language learning game 😀 He did a summary of his book (so there wasn’t anything new there) and then he answered questions. Then we got our books signed! The Kinokuniya lady was very impressed that I had already made the effort to write a sticky note with my name on it before coming. I felt very organised in that respect! I was really nervous waiting my turn (I don’t know why though? There was literally no reason to be lol) and when I got to the front of the line I thanked him for finally making his way down under. He asked me what languages I was learning, so I told him the ones I know and he said he’d sign my book in French and Italian because they were his strongest languages out of the ones that we had in common. I thanked him in French and Italian and he said I have a beautiful Italian accent (“che bel accento!”) and I nearly died on the spot, I was so happy!! He said I’d be a polyglot of the future so I told him to keep a look out, and he said I should make my way to polyglot meeting someday 😀 I debated whether to ask him to drop by my blog sometime but I was too shy to do so in the end. But he’s a very friendly person and seemed genuinely happy to meet all his readers.

I’ll also drop this photo of ramen here. It’s Ramen O-San’s black garlic tonkotsu ramen with shallots and tamago. I really like shallots? Plus in a ramen context, shallots and black garlic help smooth out the richness of the tonkotsu. I had to drink a lot of water afterwards though because I was concerned that Benny might catch my garlic/shallot breath T.T Oh dear. So another ramen recommendation from me! It’s in Dixon House Food Court in Chinatown – if you’re a foodie, white food court lighting makes for excellent photos, so all the more incentive to get yourself over there.

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On the learning front, I’ve been working through Kanzen Master’s N2 Grammar. I’m on Chapter 4 now. I have resorted to studying on the train because I don’t really have much time otherwise to dedicate to it, but I feel very proud of my commitment so far. Here’s hoping I can keep it up! I think I’ll make a start on the Kanzen reading book around June/July, during the mid-year break.

That’s about it from me! Did anybody else go to the book sign? Is your language learning going okay? I’d love to know how you guys are doing ^^

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Japanese, Japanese Resources, JLPT N2, Miscellaneous, Resources

in with the new.

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Hello! This is my last post before semester starts again and I neglect the blog. Kinokuniya was having a start-of-semester sale so all Japanese textbooks were 20% off! Bless. So here are the goods! ^^

I’ve started working though the Shin Kanzen Master N2 Grammar book (on Chapter 2!) and this is the series I intend to use to hopefully help me on my way to JLPT N2. I’ve found downloads for all the books in the series except for the listening book, so I thought I may as well buy it. I also decided to buy Unicom’s listening book because I liked what I saw as I flicked through: it appears that Kanzen listening focuses more on improving your listening skills in general, whereas Unicom is more test-specific. So I think they should make a good duo a bit later down the track. I don’t know why both publishers decided to use a red/pink colour for their books though, it’s an odd coincidence! Is there some neurological study linking red and pink with err…listening? I don’t know. Perhaps somebody can shed some light on this 😀

And the third book is of course Benny Lewis’ Fluent in 3 Months. Because I read his blog fairly regularly, I didn’t really feel the need to buy it at the time of its release, but I have since decided to attend his meet up here in Sydney in late March, so I figured the polite thing to do would be to actually have a book for him to sign! A lot of the advice is quite familiar to me, but I’ve been reading it to and from work on the train and I’ve been enjoying it very much. The book is inexpensive and well worth a read. I’m really looking forward to meeting him! But I suspect that I will probably just end up tongue-tied T.T Ah well. We’ll see.

So that’s about it for this week. If any of you have experience with these listening books, or the Shin Kanzen Master books for N2, please let me know – I’d be interested to hear your thoughts. As I mentioned before, I hope that I can keep this blog updated (I’ve been doing so well, this is unusual orz) during semester, but my priority during university is first and foremost not failing law school so we’ll have to see >.< But I’m determined to continue to have time in my life for my beloved languages!

I hope your learning is progressing well, and until next time! ^_^

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fangirling.

So I found out that Benny Lewis has finally made his way down under and he’ll be doing a Sydney meet and greet! The event isn’t until March so I’ll have to see what my uni timetable is like, but I’d really like to go!! I expect that I will feel really inadequate in the face of his epic polyglotting skills though. I’ve been following his blog since I was in high school, and I really look up to him as a language learner (he is my language learning idol)! Reading Fluent in 3 Months inspired me to start up Polyglot Plotting. Although everybody may not necessarily agree with his methods (as learning is highly individual), his suggestions are sound and I appreciate his work ethic and commitment to not just language learning, but making sure it’s for everybody. I really do hope I can make it!

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Japanese, Miscellaneous

summer studying.

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Because that’s what everybody does in summer right? いま 私は 日本語 の 勉強 を 中心に 生活 を している ことにした! 😀 I’m now up to Chapter 8 of Tobira, and am enjoying it thoroughly. I highly recommend the textbook and am looking forward to writing about my experience with it when I am finished.

In other language learning-related matters, I have finished the La Vérité sur l’Affaire Harry Quebert which I think I blogged about a couple of weeks ago, all 800 pages of it! Unashamedly proud ^^ It was a very good book – despite its length, I couldn’t stop reading it (so thank god I’m on holidays right now!). But there were so many plot twists that I felt like I was watching a Christopher Nolan film =.= So if you’re into a little crime and mystery, it’s a good book to read.

Somebody has also just gifted me Victor Hugo’s Notre-Dame de Paris (‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’), so I will now be making a start on it. The timing is just so right haha 🙂 I haven’t actually read any of Hugo’s books, but perhaps it’s time that I become more culturally enlightened T.T

Don’t have much else to report. But I’m happy and learning lots, and I hope you all are too ^^

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