My Language Learning Journey: German (Log: 05)

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I’m slowly getting through the German I Pimsleur thanks to my library’s overdrive. It’s actually quite fun to listen to while doing the dishes. I try to repeat when I can, but sometimes I’m hearing it but my tongue gets tied, but I move on. I’m kind of treating Pimsleur like I would a slow class in the sense that I have no choice but to move on even if I don’t completely understand the first time around. However, the repetition helps but sometimes the pronunciation is so different that it, as it seems to me, registers to me differently than English and then it’s hard for me to say and understand what’s being said due to a lack of understanding without a written aid to help me.

Throughout all my language learning thus far, I’ve come to realize that having written aids accompanying the audio is best. Sometimes even the pure writing supplements are better than the audio and visual combination ones, but for the most part, a combination of audio and visual is best for the language to really get home into my head. Although, the audio and visual doesn’t have to be simultaneous learning, but it’s important to learn both. I prefer using my Essential German Grammar book alongside using SRS apps like Memrise to help me with vocabulary. I also use the Rosetta Stone supplementary German workbook with the answer key to use as practice (1). I’m still only on level 1, but I hope to be finished with it by the end of the year if I study diligently, but we’ll see how it goes. Knowing me with my ADHD mind, it’ll probably be a whole year from now or longer, which, hopefully, it doesn’t come to that. But language learning is a lifetime activity, so there’s no rush in the end. Plus, having the answer key accompanying it is a godsend. I rarely get perfects but I get a lot right, and so far it’s simple enough that I can understand the errors that I’m making after a while, especially since I don’t actually have the accompanying audio with the Rosetta Stone supplementary education material. Moreover, The Essential German Grammar is broken down into little sections that I can go through each time I’m studying that helps to know if I’m done for the day or if it’s possible to do one more after a small break – it’s nice. Duolingo and Pimsleur are fun, but I don’t think they help nearly as much as others. If there are any particular beginners German text and workbook for independent learners that you’d like to recommend, please do so in the comments!

I’ve also recently spent a lot of time reading language learning posts on blogs or subreddits. It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one struggling at times, but despite that, many continue on to learning the language they want regardless. I mostly like to go on Reddit to read on language learning, and I was thinking of getting into Tumblr too, but haven’t really looked into it yet.

Lastly, I doubt I’ll ever move to Germany. I might not even visit. Moreover, I don’t get out much nor do I really want to, so I don’t know any German speakers. Speaking German is not a priority for me, but knowing pronunciation or having an inkling of how it sounds is important, which is why I listen to German songs on YouTube or go through the Pimsleur course, however slow I’m trudging through it via during chore time. I’ve also watched a few episodes of BoJack Horseman in German on Netflix, which is something that I should continue doing so but haven’t gotten around to it. In the end, reading German is my priority; it’s the focus and reason why I want to learn German in the first place.

 

(1) You can find the link to the resources for the Rosetta Stone in the middle of my Log: 02. The supplemental education materials are only available in English (American or British), French, German, Latin, and Spanish (Latin America). Each have up to different levels.

My Personal Ideology: My Way of Living (1)

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“The thing is to understand myself: the thing is to find a truth which is true for me, to find the idea for which I can live and die. That is what I now recognize as the most important thing.” – Søren Kierkegaard.

To know who you are is important as who you are shapes your life. Existence precedes essence, and that it’s up to us to make do with what we have and form our essence based on that. We exist, and then we create, but what we create is different because no two people are the same.

Everyone has their own unique perspective – we witness the same events but we remember and recall through our perspective which may differ from the perspective of others who were also witnesses. In writing, there are multiple points of view. On the basic level, there is: first, second, and third point of view. There’s also omniscient and limited point of views which you’ll use depending on which person point of view that you’re using. All of this goes back to that there’s a lot that everyone can offer because we view things differently from one another. There’s a truth that’s true for you, and that can be used to find the ideology that you feel strongly about.

My constantly shaping ideology that I live by is: taking personal responsibility for myself, continue towards self-improvement, there’s always something to be learned, and doing my best to not consciously harm another person for whatever reason besides to defend myself. Treat thy neighbor as thou would treat thyself. My religious values play a large part in my philosophy – I believe in a benevolent God who through Jesus Christ forgave us for our sins and through belief in our lord savior, we will be saved. Treating others well, or at least being cordial to them even if I don’t feel warmly towards them, is a goal of mine that I try to implement as best as possible. I seek to live a life that’s dedicated to keeping my promises and being a good servant to my Lord Father which includes spreading love and kindness to others. People have been using God to spread their evil and hatred when Jesus tells us to love all. “He said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’” (Matthew 22:37-40, NRSV w/A). These two commandments were emphasized by Jesus and both speak of love.

In addition, Jean-Paul Sartre has it right when he states: “Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does. It is up to you to give [life] a meaning.” We must take personal responsibility for ourselves because we are free. We are free to choose who we get to be. Even with my mental illnesses, I chose to seek help and be medicated when I desperately needed to be who I wanted to be and not what my mental illnesses wanted me to be. It’s up to me to give my life meaning, and through my hobbies, passions, and surrounding myself with people who help me think critically about my ideas, I find myself developing my philosophy that’s ever changing but solid in its foundation of: personal choice and freedom. In a sense, I do identify with being a Christian Existentialist.

I still have a problem with not letting my illnesses shape everything in my life, but it’s hard when my life is significantly impacted with how limiting my physical capabilities are now. However, I am moving on with getting my tests done including MRIs of my brain and cervical spine to see if there’s any lesions in my brain as my neurologist also thinks multiple sclerosis is a possibility, so we’re going to be thorough to be sure. It’s relieving how fast things are moving now to figure out what’s going on with me. I’m tired of feeling ill all day while being in a good amount of pain without knowing what’s causing all of it. Hopefully once we figure out the diagnosis, it’ll be something that’s curable. I need to keep the faith otherwise I’ll be lost in this pain, and I refuse to let pain be everything about me. I still have my hobbies. I still have a great relationship. I have a lot to be grateful for, and gratitude is an important way of looking at life as it’s just that wonderful to be grateful for things.

Coping with My Chronic Illnesses: A Pain-Filled World (02)

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“Of pain you could wish only one thing: that it should stop. Nothing in the world was so bad as physical pain. In the face of pain there are no heroes.” ― George Orwell, 1984.

I don’t recall ever being in this much pain before without respite. The pain started at the end of June and hasn’t gone away and it’s already nearing the end of July. Normally, there would be a day or two of pain respite, but that hasn’t happened since it started, which is driving me insane. This pain-filled world is what I think hell is like. I watched House M.D. about half a year ago when it was still on Netflix, and I identified a part of myself with Gregory House. Pain changes a person, especially when it’s always there and severely limits their ability to do something. It definitely can make them meaner. I don’t have enough energy to pretend that things are okay anymore. I can forget for a little while when I indulge in my hobbies or hang out with my SO or my friends, but the pain is always there at the back of my mind.

I can’t sleep well without medication anymore; otherwise, I’m waking up in the middle of the night due to pain. At least now I can sleep for several hours undisturbed by pain. I’m close to giving up and going to the emergency room due to the sheer amount of pain I’m in, but luckily, I managed to snag a doctor’s appointment at the neurologist on Monday, so hopefully that goes well! I just want the pain to stop. It’s consuming a lot of my thoughts lately even when I try to push them away.

On a happier note, for coping partly comes from finding good in tough situations, I’m blessed that my SO tries his best to make my life as comfortable as possible right now. I’d be lost without his support. The daily massages are a blessing and knowing that he has my back and is willing to see my illnesses through with me is a great comfort. I am cherished, and though my mind likes to play tricks and make me think otherwise, it always comes back to: “I am cherished.”

It’s a bitter pill to swallow that because of some of the things I was born with, I’m not healthy and am in pain sometimes because of it. Without these breakthrough gratitude moments, my life would be the hell my body wants it to be. However, fortunately enough for me, I am able to remember my blessings. I am able to remember God’s greatness and how despite the illnesses, I still have blessings in my life. I said my prayers today and remembered my place as a child of God and felt a little more hopeful that I may bear with all this pain as we figure out what exactly is going on. I have to keep the faith that we will be able to figure out what’s going on and figure out a way to help me with the pain.

Utilizing Patience is More Advantageous Than Not

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“This is one more piece of advice I have for you: don’t get impatient. Even if things are so tangled up you can’t do anything, don’t get desperate or blow a fuse and start yanking on one particular thread before it’s ready to come undone. You have to realize it’s going to be a long process and that you’ll work on things slowly, one at a time.” ― Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood.

Patience is a virtue. It’s a form of delayed gratification knowing that if you endure now, you have a much greater potential for a higher reward in the future than if you didn’t endure in the present time. Patience’s definition per dictionary.com: “(1) the quality of being patient, as the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like. (2) an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay.”

I’ve learned that keeping your cool is important to not escalate the situation further. If I show my frustration to a worker about long wait times who’s not causing the delay but is a convenient target since they work there, I’m only creating a hostile situation. Rarely has being impatient ever helped me out.

With the amount of times that I’ve gone to the doctors and had to wait in the lobby for a few hours past my appointment time a few times (I once had a check-up appointment with a clinic that had strict hours and they ran out of time (even though my appointment was a few hours before closing so I had to go back the next day), that’s patience building right there as I’m forced to endure the wait times. There’s no use getting mad at the nurses or doctors who are just trying to do their jobs as sometimes situations arise that’s out of control that they need to focus more on. My impatience won’t get them to hurry up unless I’m doing it because there’s a genuine emergency that needs immediate attention ala it’s a life or death kind of situation. There is no need to ruin their day as they’re not out to get me with all these delays. Otherwise, utilizing patience to the best of my ability makes things just nicer now that I’m not focusing on the annoyance of being forced to wait hours past my appointment time and instead focus on what I could be doing during those wait times like learning something, planning stuff, or playing a game or reading Reddit. Thank you, smart phones.

Another opportunity that has taught me patience is my exploration into language learning. It’s taught me that I need to continuously and consistently put in the time and effort if I hope to remotely succeed in my endeavors. Learning a language takes time. It’s like starting off as a seed and you continue to grow until you bloom into a flower. I won’t be learning and understanding everything that I learn for the first time, and even with the delay in language learning, being patient and not erupting in anger results in more positive results. By exercising patience despite feeling like my growth is going too slowly, I’ll continue to feel the interest in learning. Learning a language is a lifetime opportunity. I’ve been learning English all my life as a native speaker, and there is still more to the language that I can learn and apply to my communication skills.

Getting frustrated and annoyed at things that causes you delay which are also ultimately out of your control is detrimental to you in the long run. There’s a saying in Hawaii that goes: “If can, can. If no can, no can.” If there’s literally nothing that you can do about the situation until later, then exercise patience in the moment while knowing that there is something you can do in the future. However, that’s not to say that you should block out your emotions when using patience. When you feel the emotions, acknowledge it, but don’t allow it to overtake you. Let it pass.

Of course, patience is easier said than done, but you can build up to having a large repertoire of it. Patience is a deliberate practice that you can exercise and grow. I’m much more patient now than I was as a child, but there’s still a lot that I can work towards being patient with. It’s always a self-improvement experience if your goal is to improve yourself, and patience is something that people who want to improve themselves should strive to attain and maintain.

Coping with My Chronic Illnesses: Some Thoughts (01)

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“Those great wars which the body wages with the mind a slave to it, in the solitude of the bedroom against the assault of fever or the oncome of melancholia, are neglected. Nor is the reason far to seek. To look these things squarely in the face would need the courage of a lion tamer; a robust philosophy; a reason rooted in the bowels of the earth.” – Virginia Woolf, On Being Ill.

There are some days that you feel ill from the very moment you wake up. Your body is waging a war with your mind. How can you face it? You know something is not right; you’re unhealthy. You’re not at the top shape you know you could be if your body and/or your mind wasn’t failing you. The constant onslaught of a chronic illness is enough to drive people crazy, and as Woolf puts it: “To look these things squarely in the face would need the courage of a lion tamer; a robust philosophy; a reason rooted in the bowels of the earth.” Finding that reason can be hard, but it’s achievable. And then it’s being gritty and persisting in the direction you want your life to continue going despite the uncertainty of how the illness affects you on the timeline it affects you.

I can only plan as appropriately as I can, even if it’s not that far in advance, but that’s okay. I’m going by my timeline because my timeline involves being chronically ill that has no pattern beyond being every day. The intensity of the illnesses aren’t always the same on a day to day basis, but even on the better days, dealing with the illnesses is still stressful.

Still, slowly, you must fight on through the chronic illness. It’s tempting to give up. There’s nothing sweeter than temptation. I want to give up a lot, but I can’t. I refuse to. Taking each day, sometimes each hour, one at a time and slowing down is what’s best for me. That’s all I can handle sometimes, and that’s alright. Sometimes I’m so hard on myself even when everyone is telling me to take it easy. Truly, sometimes, you are your worst critic. Practicing self-compassion is another strategy to help with this.

Sometimes, my mind is hazy in the morning. It feels like I can’t quite understand what’s going on and nothing registers in me because of it. This feeling doesn’t last long, but sometimes it’s a little scary in retrospect. Moreover, my anxiety heightens the scariness as well when I can’t get it under control. Trying these coping methods helps a little, but ultimately when things are really bad, catharsis by crying and praying is the only thing that helps me feel remotely any better. Once the emotions are drained, it’s then possible to look at solutions as to how I can make myself comfortable while dealing with the chronic illness. For me, the pain won’t go away, but I can deal with it by not making it the center of every thought by trying to do the things that I need to get done or do my hobbies like reading or my language learning activities.

Regardless, things have been looking up emotional-wise. I’m glad that things have slowly gotten better over the past few weeks in all my personal relationships even if my physical health is deteriorating to balance out the emotional stability that I’ve slowly gained. However, I do my best to not allow my illnesses to interfere with my personal development as much as possible, and this blog helps me stay accountable while being a place where I feel willing to write down my thoughts.

My goal of self-improvement (among other goals) stems from wanting to have a better relationship with God, my SO, and myself as I deal with the fact that I’m more than likely won’t ever escape my chronic illnesses like I wished desperately to when I was a little girl. It’s a continuous challenge, especially as my illnesses sometimes dominates my mind and body, but as I stated before, achievable. As Albert Einstein said: “You never fail until you stop trying.” I’ll only fail at my goal when I stop trying so as I don’t like failing, I obviously can’t stop trying.

On Learning: Some Thoughts on the Importance of Critical Thinking

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“Whenever we hear an opinion and believe it, we make an agreement, and it becomes part of our belief system.” ― Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom.

“Believe what you like, but don’t believe everything you read without questioning it.”
― Pauline Baynes, Questionable Creatures: A Bestiary.

There are two quotes today because when I came across them, I thought they fit well with each other. Both are based in the thinking process of the absorption of information. Miguel Ruiz reminds us that when we absorb information and believe in it, we’re agreeing with what’s said, and it becomes a part of us. Moreover, Pauline Baynes puts it succinctly in that we can believe in whatever we want, but we probably should not believe in everything that we read without questioning it. Her quote bears an implication that to do so is something negative. In their words, I gain the feeling of needing to be personally responsible for the information I absorb.

Critical thinking is hard. It’s something that’s learned and developed. It’s a skill that can develop into an enlightening lifestyle if you constantly seek it out.

There’s a lot of information out in the web and, often, it’s hard to critically evaluate the information if you aren’t trained to look beyond the first source you see that confirms your bias (otherwise known as confirmation bias). When seeking out information, do you stop to think: “How credible is this source where the information came from? Why?” or “Are there other reputable sources corroborating this story?” There’s obviously more questions to ponder as you contemplate the validity of a source, but it’s a good start to begin thinking why a source is credible and reputable.

You can go even further and contemplate what it might mean to you as a consumer of the source material for having learned about it. What does learning about the source material mean for you? What does it do for you? Are you looking up the information for entertainment purposes? Or perhaps you’re looking for research material for school? One will lead to a more rigorous scrutiny, but there’s something to be said for developing and using the skill that allows you to better think about the information you’re consuming and thinking about the reasons on why you’re consuming that information in the first place.

Being able to critically evaluate information is an important skill in life. Practice makes perfect. Being conscientious of the information you’re absorbing is just as important as well. This is information that you’re willing to accommodate or assimilate into your memory, so be tough on the information and try to seek out variety of sources to corroborate the information if possible and build upon there to critically think on the information.

Without being able to critically evaluate information, your gullibility will cause people to pull fast ones over you because they know they can get you to believe them. However, one thing to remember is that people are human. Humans make mistakes. People will make mistakes, and someone who is typically credible will make a blunder. Essentially, it’s much better to constantly be vigilant and rely on yourself as the final judgment call of your thinking, as you work to critically evaluate the thoughts of others and what figure out what the consumption of the source material means for you.

On Learning: Some Thoughts on Language, Planning, and Resources

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“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” – Confucius

I’m blessed to have the time to dedicate a large amount of time to my intellectual and religious pursuits. Studying and learning about things is something that makes me happy.

Yesterday, I was talking to my SO about language. My SO likes to be concise with his words – if anything, this being one of his favored styles is reflective of how Ernest Hemmingway writes. My SO likes how you can pack a lot of meaning into a few words. I, myself, favor allusive-heavy styles of writing. Whenever I read a literary work that incorporates references that I can recognize (like a Biblical reference where I’ve actually read the Bible chapter the reference came from), I always get giddy. I find myself enjoying the work more. It’s one of the reasons why I enjoyed T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, which I had to read with Norton footnotes, but recognizing Tiresias because I’ve read both Oedipus and Antigone by Sophocles was hype. Is there a style that you enjoy? Do you prefer novels or poetry or nonfiction?

You can add me on Goodreads and check out what I’ve read so far. However, the only book reviews I have besides star ratings are the reviews found on my blog at the moment. I’m planning on putting my reviews both on Goodreads and here for book reviews starting from the next review.

My German is slowly moving along. I found a few grammar sources that I can hopefully pair with all the vocabulary I’ve been learning through Memrise. I’ve always wanted to learn a foreign language besides my native Hawaiian Pidgin English/American Standard English and making progress (even if slow) in German purely by self-study feels great.

In addition, I’ve been scouring my library’s Overdrive collection these past few days and have been adding a lot of books to my wish list. There’s so much to read that I don’t even know where to begin! I’m going for nonfiction as I’m currently reading a fiction (Virgil’s The Aeneid). Go and take a trip out to your local library or if you already have a library card, you can google your library’s website and see if they offer anything online that’s available to those with a library card. You’ll be surprised at the amount resources that suddenly becomes available to you; I know I was. It makes it a little easier to feel like I have more scholarly resources available to me despite not being affiliated with a university anymore as I graduated last year. I didn’t think I’d be looking through EBSCO again since I left university.

I’ve also been diving into Itunes’s podcasts and their university courses – all of which are free. I encourage you all to check it out if you do use Itunes and are wanting to get into listening to podcasts. I’m currently going through Brown University’s From Israelite to Jew by Michael Satlow. I’ve been interested in Ancient Near East lately and listening to Satlow’s course introduces me to the subject pretty well, I’d like to think. Itunes offers a variety of podcasts and university courses and is overall a great resource for learning.

All in all, I’m using the rest of this month to plan for next month. I’m also sampling some of the things I want to do such as skimming over the German grammar book I just got. I want to be a bit more organized with my studying next month including having goals for what I want to achieve for the month, schedule times to study, etc. I think that will definitely take a couple of days. I’d like to compare how I feel after a month of diligent studying that I haven’t done since my university days. I’m excited! Do you plan out your studying schedule for subjects?