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Archive for May 2012

Elementary Korean 1: How I grabbed an opportunity to learn a language

If you're a frequent reader of this blog, you'll know that most of the entries here are composed because of boredom - the constant feeling of being stuck and not knowing what to do because I feel I've done everything that Manila has to offer.

Then an opportunity arose a week ago (it's May 12th as I type this), where I could enroll in Korean lessons for only P800 (roughly around $20), within a walking distance from where I work, and the end of which is a diagnostic exam where if I pass, I could move on to Level Two.

The idea was first sprung to me by my colleague (Hullo Ash), who was addicted to Korean Television Shows. She wanted to learn Korean as a way to understand what the actors are saying without reading the subtitles. Me? Why do I want to learn Korean? Hmmm.. let me count the ways.

1. A chance to learn something new.
On my travels, I realized that the world is so big, full of different cultures, speaking a ton of different languages. Of course, since my time on earth is limited, I want to soak up whatever the world has, and hence, learning new languages is part of my goal.
Ultimately, I would have preferred to have learned something more useful, like Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, or French, but I wouldn't complain :) At least I'm learning a new language that I can use when I do go back to Korea.

2. The beauty of being able to communicate abroad

Sure I could only use Korean whenever I travel to Korea, but on my February 2012 trip there, I have learned to appreciate the place. This country will always be memorable to me as it where I got my first taste of solo international backpacking was like, and was also the first place where I had encountered winter. I live in a tropical country with only two seasons!

When I was trudging along Korea the first time around, I found that knowing how to say Hello and Thank You in Korean really did go a long way. Now, learning more basic terms, I'm ready to go back and converse more with the locals.

3. The ability to read something completely out of the ordinary. 

The Korean language, much like Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, among others uses a completely different writing system. While it may look like a bunch of circles and straight lines to foreigners, I am more than excited to learn how to read them! I've studied Japanese before for two years in high school, and a term in Uni and there's nothing like trying to memorize all those symbols, which would in effect, make up words, and sentences. It's amazing.

And so, since the excitement and anticipation begins. My classes start on May 28th, from 9:30-11:30AM. (Good thing work has allowed me to change my schedule so I could work and study at the same time) Unfortunately, given that the online enrollment was a bit of a nightmare (it was next to impossible to get slots, but luckily I managed to get one), I was not in the same class as Ash (she is taking the 6:00-8:00pm class, along with a few others in a different team in the office) but maybe it's a blessing in disguise as we can concentrate more on the classes, and I can get to meet more people.

I'll be pulling in later work hours for three days a week for two months but it's well worth it :) I hope I get to pass the exams!

Hmmm... I do have to take two days off from class as I already have booked trips out of town while the courses are being held. But no matter, hopefully it won't conflict with any exam dates - if that is the case, I could probably request for another exam date then~

The Advantages of Travelling Alone

I am feeling a bit pissed off today as there are a lot of factors that are making an upcoming group trip quite annoying and unbearable. Since I had just travelled solo recently and love it, let me present the pros and cons of being a solo traveller.

1) you don't have to factor anyone else in your plans.

When you plan for your own trip, you only think about yourself and what you like- do you like going to the beah and just hanging out? Go for it! Want to go out and party? Okay!
Is it raining cats and dogs and you still want To go outand explore a certain place? Go for it! No one to stop you, no one you have to consult with or compromise your plans with.

This is specially useful if there is a seat sale: just book and buy to a particular destination that you want to go to without waiting for someone else to reply. If you have met a travel buddy that thinks the same as you and also decides on the spot then good for you!!

2) you get to meet new people Along the way

If you travel alone, you get to meet other solo travellers who might be headed the same way ad you are and/or have the same travel ideas and philosophies that you have. You get more insights on where to go next or just continue travelling. Adding new
People to your network could also
Be a good thing :)

3) con: no one to take your photos!
If you met some new people then good for you! You could ask your new friends to take photos. If not, you could ask random people in the street to take your photo for you. Just make sure that they don't look seedy enough that they will run off with your camera!!

4) con: If you are travelling solo, some activities tend to be more expensive. Ie: if you live in the Philippines, it tends to be more expensive to travel alone to some of the provinces. The transportation system is definitely one of the worst here. Most of the time, as you travel, you need to have a vehicle chauffer you around from place tk place to make the most of your time. It is hard enough to commute around! Then there's the accomodations too: without anyone to share with, costs go up relatively higher!

So there, some benefits of solo travel. If ever I think of any more, I'll put it in a part two :)

The Plights of Living in the Third World

It's May 5th as I type this and my plans for the weekend have subsequently been cancelled, leaving me alone at home, and two hours after waking up on a hot summer Saturday morning in the PH, I found myself bored. I really need to go out every weekend with a distinctive purpose of what I'll do, and no, not just head out to the mall just for the sake of it. I want a new experience entirely, which doesn't really happen often.

And so, stuck at home, I decided to try and research my Shanghai trip, and was disappointed that the NBI Clearance - a requirement for the Chinese visa - is a bloody nightmare to get nowadays. As a brief background to non-Filipinos reading this blog, an NBI Clearance is simply a police clearance to state that you did not commit any crime. Way back when (let's say 6 years ago, when I first started working), you just have to go to the main office and if you don't have a namesake, you could get your clearance within the day, but now ugh. Apparently, and I read from some blogs, that the old database or hardware provider or whatever of the NBI had pulled out their equipment and data because the contract has already expired, leading all the previous residents to apply as first timers (AGAIN). UGH. I hate queueing up in hot, humid situations! But then, of course, I don't have a choice, do I? I want to go to China!

Anyway, it just struck me how inneficient things can be in the PH. ANd yes, this is another disgruntled post written by me about this country I live in, and how disappointed I am in everything. And how I just wish I could leave and go live somewhere else.

Unfortunately, this is not the case. Unlike the first world countries out there, I simply cannot just apply for a visa when I decide to settle in one country and expect them to grant it. Which brings me to one of the blog posts I've read recently about how not everyone can travel.

Most of the people who go aorund the world are typically from the first world countries where they're lucky enough to have visas on arrival on almost every country in the world. Except for maybe China, when I was having a discussion with one of my British friends and I stated, "Finally! A country where you're required to have a visa, that way you'll know how we feel whenever we try to apply for visas in the first world countries we like to go to."

Ahhh the plights of living in a third world country. I find it really funny too the way the business analysts call the Philippines as an Emerging economy. Really?? Really?? What's so emerging about this economy?

Review: One Fifth Avenue - Candace Bushnell

Summary from Goodreads:
Bushnell traces the lives and loves of aspiring sophisticates in New York City, using the trendiest areas of Manhattan as the backdrop for the stories of five women living in the same swanky downtown apartment building.


Got this book from Bookmooch before, when I was an active user of the site. I haven't read any of Candace Bushnell's books before, I only know she was the author of the books Sex & the City and Lipstick Jungle, which were turned into popular American telly series (and yes, which I've watched too).

One Fifth Avenue follows the lives of the residents of this historic building in Fifth Avenue in New York. It used to be the home of various artists, and the residents were stinking rich. After all, the real estate and cost of living in New York is not for the faint of heart. Their lives are all intertwined in one way or another, and each character brings a quirky new dimension in this tale.

However, this novel did not really deliver for me, nor was it something that I enjoyed. I thought it would be something along the lines of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, but there were certain elements in it that really annoyed me. There's too much sex told in detail, Lola Fabrikant is an annoying little character who I wanted to throw out the window, and some of the other characters are just really shallow and for show. What I loved though, is the Schiffer Diamond and Philip Oakland love affair. Now that's very interesting.

While this novel was not a pageturner or something that would be in a top 100 best books of all time, it is a nice escape from the world I am living in, a life where everything seems so much possible, and keeping up with the Joneses isn't really an ideal thing to do. Some will definitely have everything, some won't.

Overall, this 500+ page novel was ok, it was not good, it was not horribly bad either.
Just a way to pass the time as I commute to and from work on a daily basis.

Rating: 2/5

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