Opps! Two months into 2011 already! Where did my precious time go to?

My apologies for the unintended extended absence from this space. I haven’t been very active in the cyberspace for quite a while, actually. Unfortunately, I haven’t been very been taking the initiative to do self-study either. I have “LAZY” and “GUILTY” printed all over my face when it comes to my resolutions and promises. =(

My cousin and I had made plans (since the Jurassic period) to head down to Arirang restaurant @ Liang Seah Street for Bibimbap. I can’t compare to the authentic ones from Korea (seeing that I haven’t been there before…), but Arirang has the best Bibimbap I have ever tasted so far in Singapore. I haven’t tried many, but those that I’d tried failed to satisfy because there wasn’t the crispy ‘overcooked’ rice (at the side of the hotpot) which was one of the reason why I loved to eat Bibimbap.

Arirang Bibimbap
My favourite bibimbap! =)

Since I was already there, I pulled my cousin along to Bras Basah Complex and found this book…

TOPIK Vocab Compilation
《韩语能力测试频点词汇》/ TOPIK Vocabulary Compilation

It’s divided into “Beginner”, “Intermediate” and “Advanced” which is helpful. I might do a short review later, but for now, it strongly reminded me of how I used to study Chinese during my secondary school days. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with these guidebooks, where they summarised all the vocabulary you need to know from each chapter of the textbook, completed with the definition in English and Chinese, some other similar words which contained the character as well as sample sentences. It was my ‘bible’ those days!

Okay, enough of skiving. Back to work! Until I update again, 안녕히 계세요.

=)

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잘가요, 2010

December 31, 2010

안녕하세요! 오래만이죠? ^_^Y
미안해요! 일때문에 정말 바빴거든요!
이젠 크리스마스 지나서 좀 쉴 수 있을것 같은데요.

Unknowingly, Christmas has come and gone and I suppose many are on their way to some sort of countdown party or gathering. Well, I’m on my way home after an extremely long day at work, and I can’t wait to get home and hop right into bed and sleep because I am really, really really tired and I’m working the first shift tomorrow. =(

As you know, New Year Eve is always a time for reflections and although it’s really cliche, I believe it helps me to grow up in some way or another. Since this blog is dedicated to my Korean obsessions, I shall reflect on things only related to those obsessions!

Achievements
1) I was blessed with one, fruitful year of Korean lessons, which means I have gained another year of knowledge (regardless of “size” and “quantity”)! There is nothing more I can ask for.
2) Hence, I can remember more lyrics to my favourite K-Pop melodies than before.
3) 2AM 보았다.
4) TOPIK 보았다.
5) I set up this blog.

Believe it or not, I cannot think of any unpleasant memories linked to Korean. Everything that I did in the name of learning Korean has been a wonderful experience, from the lessons, to the friends I met in school. They are the best part of my life since I entered the workforce, the only thing that kept the falling sky from tumbling on me when I was going through some rough patches. If I really have to pick one, it would be moment I decided to discontinue my classes. As the saying goes, when there’s a will there’s a way. So I will get my lazy brains moving again once the whole festive period (I fervently hope workload will be significantly reduced) is over.

Resolutions
1) 꼭(!) 한국에 가보겠습니다!!!
2) 혼자서도 계속 열심히 공부할겠다!
3) 드라마를 많이 볼겠다.

I will try to make sure all these are not empty promises! I promise!

If you don’t find me too boring, if you find that I am helpful occasionally, do be generous with comments, encouragements or even just to nag at me to study.

I hope 2010 had been kind to everyone. 2011 can only get better!
잘가요, 2010.
나쁘지 않지만 2011 더 잘해 주세요.
2011에 꼭 행복하세요!
해피뉴이어! 새해 복 많이 받으세요!

PS: It took me 45 minutes to write this on a bus ride home! I am so not talented in writing!

3 Promising Days

December 4, 2010

I’m going to sit for my Korean test on coming Tuesday.

I have missed 3 lessons, late for one and half the time, my brains weren’t really there where I was physically. I have 33 grammar rules, around 300 vocabulary, a short script and 2 essays to memorise/ practice. Not forgetting the homework debt I’ve owed. So I’m off work for the next 3 days, and I’m going to do nothing but study and study and study.

This is my last test with SKS for now. I really want to do well. OK. I should stop being so emo. Sorry.

Actually, I’m earnestly excited to have 3 days dedicated exclusively to studying Korean. I really haven’t been as diligent as I should be.

I’m now going to retreat into my cave and be a hermit.
I’ll return an improved person.
기다려보세요. =)

김치찌개

November 29, 2010

I’m sorry for the extended silence – blame it on work and the fatigue just swollow me whole whenever I get home. All I ever do when I’m at home nowadays is sleep. I’m getting seriously boring.

Anyway, I had my rare offday on last Wednesday, and I had a sudden craving for 김치찌개 (I love soups and stews). So I decided to make 김치찌개 with whatever stuff I have in my fridge.

Ingredients

I recommend firm pressed tofu instead of the silken tofu I had used (it’s the only one available in the fridge) so that it won’t break apart. Also, instead of the (already-cooked) minced meat, you should use raw pork. The taste will be better I promise! The 고추가루 (gochugaru/ Korean chili powder) and 고추장 (gochujang/ hot chili paste) can be bought from the korean minimarts in Singapore.

Gosh. I almost forgot. What’s Kimchi JJigae without this?

김치
Kimchi of course!

Most of my friends were very surprised when they heard this: my mum knows how to make Kimchi and she does it every now and then, when we can find cabbage from Australia (instead of the China ones we usually find in the supermarkets). Just a little extra information, the reason why we preferred Australian cabbages is because they will retain the “crunchiness” after the whole fermentation process whereas the Chinese cabbages tend to be more chewy. 손맛 있으니까 엄마는 만든 김치가 정말 최고이다! The one I used this time was bought.

Did I ever say how much I love Korean food? It’s an acquired taste, because I couldn’t stand 김치 when I first tried it. I haven’t looked back since. To prove my point, I bought this (a few months ago, but haven’t got the chance to use it until now):

돌섯

I believe it’s called a 돌섯 (Dolsot/ stone pot) and I think it’s beautiful!

Instructions

1) I started with heating up the pot on my stove (picture #1).
2) Then I dumped in some garlic, the onions, gochujang, gochugaru and the minced meat (raw meat, if you are using that) and stir-fry for a little while (picture #2) over low heat. If you’re using raw meat, fry until the meat is half cooked.
3) Add enough water to over the ingredients (picture #3). Let it boil (still over low heat), and allow the meat and gochujang to flavour the water (to become soup).
4) After about 5-8 minutes, the meat should be cooked and the soup flavored. Throw in the (pressed) tofu, shiitake and enoki mushrooms. Add more water until all the ingredients are covered. Continue to simmer over low heat for the next 10 minutes (picture #4). Meanwhile, you can enjoy the bubbling sound made from the simmering. It’s really music to a foodie’s ear!
5) Finally, cut some spring onions into long chunks and place it on top of the stew. Your kimchi jjigae is done and ready to serve!

Done!
Tada!

All you have to do now, is to scoop a huge bowl of rice, sit comfortably at the table, and DIG IN!

P.S: I’m not a professional cook, so forgive me if you try and it turn out.. Well… It’s enough for me to satisfy my craving at least.
P.P.S: I think I had more ingredients than soup, but that’s the best part of home-cooked food, don’t you think so?
P.P.P.S: Sorry for the blurry photos, it was taken with my iPhone.

Back To Basics

November 15, 2010

It seems like a trend that if you are picking up Korean (Japanese) now, you’ll end up picking up Japanese (Korean) some time later in your life as well.

Yes, I’m now trying to pick up Japanese (although my Korean is still so far from fluency).

I’ve probably mentioned before that I’m in the service frontline. As such, I get to meet people from all over the world. I’m always praying for Korean guests who can’t speak English so I can practice my speaking but as fate would have it, my workplace is flooded with Japanese guests. Majority of these guests can’t speak English, so whenever they try to ask for directions, both them and I have lots of “???”s floating above our heads. I can’t understand what they are trying to ask, they don’t understand my directions. So, aiming to provide the best service (H-A-H-A), I decided to learn to pick up a few useful phrases.

I have always wanted to learn Japanese, but the passion for it just cannot be compared with Korean. I only want to learn how to speak, not to write (is that possible..?). There are just far too many scripts (Japanese) and too little brain cells (me). Whatever it is, learning to give directions is my topmost priority and I don’t have the time to learn the scripts and thus… *drum rolls* I’m learning through romanisations!

OK. I know it’s not the best way to learn any language, but it’s one that I’m most comfortable with. We have to live with the fact that we cannot have perfect pronunciation right from the beginning so romanisation is how we can at least kickstart something. For me, (close-enough) perfect pronunciation comes from a lot of listening, and even more imitation (I’m working on that for Korean).

I’m not exactly dreaming of perfect pronunciation now, I just hope that whatever I’m (trying to) remember and use will be of a help to my service and my customers.

Yoroshiku onegaishimasu!

Huge Dilema

November 13, 2010

O.M.G
MY. BOYS. ARE. COMING.

I don’t know to be happy or sad. They are coming (YAY!) on a Thursday (…..).
My boys or my class. I am really really really troubled.

I know it shouldn’t be a dilema, of course, class comes first. But I’m such a fangirl, I really feel the panic. To top it off, I have to work that day and it’s obvious things won’t work out anyway unless I can split myself into at least 3 bodies. To be honest, I’m reluctant to spend that money because I’m not happy with how the record labels are trying exploit the fans by jacking up the prices so high. It’s sickening how local entertainment labels/ stores/ concert organizers intentionally up the price of CDs and concerts of Korean artistes just because they are from Korea and anything labelled “Korean” can sell in Singapore.

OK. Forgive my whining and angst. This is just a fangirl trying to get it out of her system and surrender to reality.

=(

With All Efforts

November 8, 2010

I have been neglecting my Korean studies. I have missed one lesson, was one-hour late for one, and I’m going to miss another this coming Thursday. I am losing track of what I’m learning (or not) and I owe my 선생님 2 chapters worth of homework. I had decided to do self-study after this term, but at the rate I’m going, I don’t know if I will have the discipline to squeeze time out to do so. It is still ever so precious to me, the whole Korean thing. I cannot emphasize enough how the lessons and my friends are keeping me sane amidst all these craziness I get from work. How much I take pride in the fact that I am able to enjoy at least half the drama I’m watching without subtitles, that I might just have something like an ability or talent that others don’t have. I know there are (many) others out there who are way better than me, and that thought drives me to want to learn more.

Materials

In an attempt to do something, I bought a nice new notebook for myself to do some translations. I have the shortest attention span ever, and I cannot imagine myself sitting down for 2hours at one shot just to translate an article. So I’m going to start short, like a half-page entertainment news. I will 1)Copy the entire passage into the notebook 2)Check out the words I’m not sure of at Naver Dictionary 3)Make some sentences to practice usage of the new vocabulary and finally4)Translate the whole article. I have only started to do my first article, so I’ll update again to see how things go.

I have also rediscovered a free monthly Korean-English magazine “KNOW” (I think it used to be “KOZINE”) which I took from SOL Mart when I was there to buy a bottle of 막걸리. It’s good because all the articles have a Korean and an English version so it’s not difficult to find out what I was reading, and the contents are not too boring.

Ok. So I’ll head back to my translation now (I’m actually skiving off work hehe!).

PS: I wish for an offday so I can dedicate a day to studying… =/

Last night in class, we learnt about Verb + 자고 하다 and Verb+(으)라고 하다. As usual, I got confused. From my 선새님’s explanation, this is what I understand:

Verb + 라고 하다
– Someone said someone else has to do something.
선생님이 오늘 까지 숙제를 내라고 하셨어요. / The teache said that I have to hand in the homework by today.

Verb + 자고 하다
– Someone suggested to someone else to do something.
시간 되면 커피를 한잔 마시자고 해요. / (He said) Let’s drink a cup of coffee if you have the time.

So I asked my friend if “-라고 하다” is the same as “-라” and if “-자고 하다” is the same as “-자”, except that one is a direct speech (active), and the other is quotation (passive).

To illustrate my concern,
우리 식당에 가자. / Let’s go to the restaurant.
VS
우리 식당에 가자고 했다. / (He/ She/ They said) let’s go to the restaurant.

She (my friend) told me is the same thing, and told me not to think too much about it. It’s all the same (all implying a suggestion to do something): -자고 하다 & -자 & (ㅂ)시다.

After much deliberation we concluded that I’m right.

I am… right?

제19회 TOPIK 성적확인

November 4, 2010

SOOOOOO….. It’s out.

TOPIK Results

(Right-bottom corner)
Vocab/ Grammar: 87
Writing: 95
Listening: 97
Reading: 90
Total: 369 Average: 92.25 (Grade 2-passed!)

Clearly, my Vocabulary and Grammar is my weakest link. I am highly disappointed with it because I feel that these are basics and basics are the most important in anything. I admit it, I haven’t been revising hard enough for both, and whatever knowledge I have is fast leaking. Time to study/ practice more! On the other hand, I’m pleasantly surprised with my Writing. It’s mostly luck because we happened to be learning about “Hobbies” then and we had ample practice on writing short essays on that. So all in all, you can say that there’s good and bad.

Time to work hard for Intermediate next year…?

Random

November 3, 2010

So yesterday was a Tuesday and as I did for the past 1.5 year, I went to school. We practiced telephone booking of air tickets for conversational skills. I cleared it relatively OK, except that I stumbled over providing my own mobile number. I don’t know if anyone else ever have such weird habits, but I have a preferred language when it comes to reciting contact numbers. I recite my own mobile in English, my home number in Mandarin, and my aunt’s number in… (****DRUMROLL****) Hokkien. You can call it a habit, because whenever I need my aunt’s number, I’ll ask my Grandma – who will always answer me in Hokkien and so.. 그렇게 되었다. Apparently according to my 선생님, the natives in Korea speak with supersonic speed on the phone, and they have no patience if you can’t recite your number with equal speed.

After class, we took the shuttle bus back to Clementi and then I realised I left my mobile under the desk. Panic, panic. Thankfully, my friends had my teacher’s mobile number and I quickly called her up to ask if it’s ok to go back to school to get it. Later that night, I text my 선생님 to let her know that I’d recovered my lost mobile and and she replied:

“your phone talking was great i was surprised^^”

The last time I spoke to a 선생님 I “forgot to be polite” (remember how I have problems with 존댓말?) and mixed English with Korean. This time round, I managed to converse entirely in Korean, and remember all my “요”s at the same time. So if you can just forgive me for a little smugness, I’m proud of myself. HAHA. I suppose I just have to remind myself that everyone I speak to is a 선생님 and put in extra effort.

OK. You probably got it. I’m just posting this to show off a little.
I’m sorry. I’ll keep in mind that “骄宾必败”.

PS: Oh. I forgot. The results are released tomorrow. Not today. Hehehe!