You guys will not believe how many drafts I have for this blog at the moment. I know it seems like I have forgotten everything but no. I stumbled upon a few difficulties and I don't know how to bounce back from it and continue writing my Chapter 21 series. I just need to settle a lot of things that's going on at the moment and I will refine and publish those drafts. I am quite demotivated because the memories are not that fresh and my feelings and thoughts might not be as raw as my previous posts. I also have trouble putting it into words and into this blog. So it sometimes needs me to be in the right mood for it. Another problem I might encounter is when I am in the mood, I might choose to write my book instead of my blog. So that would delay the whole blog post publishing as well.


Plus, Chapter 21 has not ended yet. I have so many more to say about my journey into being 21 and I am still experiencing it, writing my own path and what not. It is on going. With that, I might be publishing things out of order though the archive would still be in order depending on when it happened and when I started writing them. So ya da ya da ya da. I don't know why I am explaining this to you. Maybe I am so frustrated seeing all these drafts and this long hiatus is KILLING me.


I don't know, I am sure I will get all of this arranged. It's so hard to maintain and commit to something, isn't it?

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Why Learn Language and How?



If you are reading this, it can only mean 3 things, a) you want to learn a language and you want to know how, b) you are learning a language and you want to know how you can improve or c) you're a friend of mine and you found this link in my social medias. Either way, you come to the right place! Well, I don't mean that in a way that make me sound like a language expert (because I am so sooo not) but at least I have experience in the said department and I want to share that with you! But if you came for neither of those reasons, well, let me tell you why you should read till the end and start picking up a new language!

Having an additional skill is always fun if not useful. Not only you can try to impress people with them (wink wink) but it also gives you something to do in your free time. If you are the kind of person who likes to interact with people, that additional skill might as well be learning a new language. You'll find yourself having friends from places you'd never thought of and learn new exciting cultures and behaviors. If you are not the type to go around meeting new people, I still recommend you to take up a new language because there are many many artistic materials out there that are created in other languages. Movies, songs, poems and the list goes on. You might be able to enjoy the beauty of it if you understand the language it was created in.

Another reason why I recommend you to do this is because it does something to your brain too. Good things. First of all, our brain networks will become better integrated, which means they'll become more flexible and it helps in faster and more efficient learning. Next, our brains' density in grey matter may increase and the white matter tissue also tends to strengthen. These grey matter are important for muscle control, memory formation, emotions, decision making and sensory perception while the white matter helps connect the grey matter regions together. Since I am not an expert on brains, I am not going to tell you what that means exactly. But one thing is for sure, learning a new language is like an exercise but for the brain.


I, myself, am not a native English speaker at first. I grew up speaking Malay but I was lucky enough to be highly exposed with English. Not only do we learn English at school, all my books, my TV shows are in English and guess what, my mom is an English teacher. So basically, after 20 years, I am bilingual now. I think in Malay, I think in English, I can switch whenever! Well... most times. There are times when one language decide to take over my brain and gag the other one at the corner of the room but that's a whole other story. Now that I realize I am not learning anything new, I decided to take up Spanish. Si, puedo hablar español (Yes, I can speak Spanish). Kind of. And my only regret is to why didn't I take it up sooner like... when I was 17? I could have been awesome at it by now. However, in this almost 4 months journey of trying to master Spanish, I learned a lot on how to properly learn a language.

So how do you start? Well, here is how I did it. (Note that all these tips are for verbal languages. Sign languages are languages too, I know. I use to learn sign language for a few months (I believe it was not more than 6 months) before I forgot everything. So as you can see, I failed terribly trying to learn sign language so you don't want advice from someone who failed doing something. If I find a way to learn ASL again and actually succeed, I will make a whole new blog post for that.)

1. Have a notebook
You start here. Keep a notebook that is just the right size to write words and sentences. I suggest an A5 spiral bound notebook but it is really up to you. If you open my book from the front, you can see that I write new words that I learn. I have 2 pages for different categories starting with frequently used words followed by verbs then nouns or adjectives also by categories (time, food, feelings, clothes etc). Yes, only 2 pages for each category because you can always do a part 2 on a new page. If you open my book from the back, you will see I have sentences and frequently used phrases in there. Divide your pages in half so it will look cleaner and it will be easier for you to read and look for the words. I suggest you put the words/sentences on the left and the translation on the right. Except if you are learning languages that read from right to left like Arabic. Then, you should do it the other way.

2. Download phone apps
We are constantly on that smart phone of ours so why not make the most out of it? Download the "most famous and talked about app at the moment" for new language learning users. DuoLingo. This app is not only free, it also creates a fun environment in learning new languages. It keeps track of your progress (you'd know if you are 5% fluent in Spanish), show you when you have to refresh certain words (because let's face it, we always forget what we have learned before when we learn something new) and constantly remind you to practice (the notification might get annoying but DuoLingo is only trying to help). The layout and the graphics of this app are also very clean so it is very soothing to the eyes and user friendly. In my opinion, this app is a good way to increase your vocabulary.


Another good application that I use is Memrise. However, I don't prefer this because I do not like the layout that much. It is a good app if you want to make sure you remember everything you learn and you want it to be planted in your memory. It has exercises that always repeat the words you have learned and translation exercises against time. Another reason why I recommend it is because it will start with common use words and phrases first compared to DuoLingo that will start with everyday things. However, Memrise has some features that will require you to pay. A cheap skate like me will skip the exercises that requires payment, of course. This app is also a good way to increase your vocabulary.

3. Visit websites
If you are in front of the computer, visit Language Zen. This website provides lessons that also start with commonly use words and phrases. You will be leveling up as you learn and translate sentences. If you know the words they are introducing, you do not have to go through the exercises made for that word. You can skip to new words that you haven't heard of or not familiar with. Besides learning vocabulary, these lessons are also a good platform to get some grammar knowledge because they even have articles that explains the rules. Language Zen also has a "Learn From Music" feature. In this feature, each song that they list will have a bar that will show how many percent of the lyrics that you actually know from your lessons. You can listen to the song and start learning the phrases starting with the ones that you should have known from your lessons. Language Zen also keep track of your strongest words, weakest words and accuracy in your translation. You will require to have a weekly goal and the website will keep track of that too. I actually highly recommend Language Zen. They even have Premium version (requires payment of course) that will give you unlimited learning. But the free version is not bad too.

You can also go to Google and just type "learn [insert language here]" to look for websites with articles and lessons on the language you want. However, these websites are usually a little dry because they use the read and learn approach but I still think it is worth mentioning. What other way to learn if not from reading? Which brings us to...

4. Borrow/Buy books
There are many books that is customized for beginners. I bought a "Spanish Lesson" box which included 2 books and and 4 CDs to help with my pronunciation. This is an addition to all those websites and apps you are using or as an alternative if you don't want or can't use technology to learn. Other than that, you can also start looking for kids books. Yes, those with pictures and pretty drawings. They use very simple sentences and since our language ability is the same as a little child at the moment, it is best that we read materials that suits our abilities.

5. Videos, movies and songs
So you are not the "book" kind? Big deal. There are other ways! You can watch movies in the language that you know with a subtitle of the language you are learning or the other way round. You can try looking for subtitles online for that movie you are about to watch on your laptop. You can also look for videos on YouTube that provides language lessons or children shows in the language you are learning. Yes, once again I am suggesting you to use materials for kids. Since I am learning Spanish, I watch Mundo Pocoyo. It really helps but it does get kind of boring sometimes. You can start checking out nursery rhymes too. My first Spanish nursery rhyme was "Arroz Con Leche" just because I know what the title meant at that time. Haha! If you get bored of humming to those kid songs, look for songs you know which was also sang in the other language. Many international artists do that for their songs that are very popular. For example, Beyoncé did "Irremplazable" for "Irreplaceable" and Selena did "Dices" for "Who Says". Usually it's not a direct translation so do find the direct meaning for the songs in the other language to learn more. Start paying attention to international artists that speaks your language of choice as their first language and look more into their work. I had always like Enrique Iglasias so I just had to look for his other songs and I hit the jackpot. He has so many good Spanish songs! Pay attention to the lyrics. These methods will help improve your pronunciation and mental translation (I call it mental translation, I don't know what it is really called when you translate things in your head).

6. Practice!
Final step! It's time for you to start putting all those lessons to use. Look for a friend (or many friends) to practice with. Looking for a friend online can be difficult, believe me I was there but I highly suggest Coeffee.com. There, you will have a profile where they will ask for your native language and learning language. If you feel it is hard to find a friend on that website, here's how. You will see who are online in the "Language Exchange" page. You can use the filter to look for people. I suggest you use the filter to look for native speakers of the language you are learning who wants to learn your native language. This way, both of you will gain something out of the conversations and it helps when there are some things you do not know how to say in the language you are learning. You can just use your native language to keep the conversation going. If your friend use words you do not understand, you don't have to go to Google and ask the meaning. You can just right-click the word and the meaning will appear. It is that simple!

Oh, there's one thing left to do. MAKE MISTAKES. Don't be afraid to just talk to people and be wrong. Be bold and make those mistakes You learn through them because mistakes go away but what you gain through those mistakes stays forever.

So now that I have shared my methods of language learning, I hope you would give it a try. Never say there's nothing to do because this world is a very big and wonderful place for us to continue discovering. So why not have fun and give it a go. Good luck!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Zootopia

This is way way overdue but I want to put a light back into my blog so... let's start!



Zootopia! I went watching this movie without watching the trailer before hand. My roommate invited me to the movies (even though we just went to the cinema the day before haha!) and I always say yes to some time out of the campus. I did not have any expectation for this movie. After all, it is Disney, always an enjoyable enough watch, if not amazing. But... I did not expect to absolutely love love love this movie! Nowadays, when anyone say the word Zootopia, my head would turn to the direction of that word faster than you can say Judy Hopps! My eyes would lit up, my hands would start doing this little clap and I would probably shriek a little accompanied with the phrase "öh my god" some how. Also, I said yes to another invitation to watch this movie (yes, my second time... at the movies... my money... yup).

Since I am no movie expert, of course I am not going to talk about how good the plot was or the graphics or whatever. What is important to me in a movie, especially that primarily targets children, is the values and message it tries to spread. Honestly, that's the main reason I was enticed (and yes, the cute characters are a bonus)! I probably look like this the whole time I was watching!


So here is my list of "Things I Learnt From Zootopia"

1. Dream big and follow them
If you are not scared of your dreams, it means you are not dreaming big enough. When we were younger, we are convinced that there's all these possibilities in front of us, that we can be anything and achieve everything we put our mind to. As life happen, we shy away from that idea and now everything seems impossible! To see a character that is so determine and passionate with gleams of hope in her eyes remind us that we can still have that naive thinking that we once had, and that it is only impossible until we give it a try.

2. People will always doubt you, until you prove them wrong
You'll get beaten down and discourage when you try to do something big. When that happens, there's nothing you can do if you are weak enough to let them get to you. Pure determination is the only thing that will help you get through. At the end of the day, it is your life and only you have the power over it. Words are nothing, they will go away.

3. Hard work gets you where you need to go
Determination doesn't only give you the strength to continue but also give you that push you need to make sure you achieve what you have always wanted. There is no other way to be successful other than hard work. That's how we come over any blunder, no matter how big or small because one thing we are sure of is that nothing comes easy.

4. Respecting diversity
Looking at Zootopia, it is very unique how the city tries it best to respect all differences in needs and sizes of the mammals.There's little rodent town like part of the city for little mice to live and shop, the smoothie bar didn't forget to include a convenient way to serve the tall giraffes, there's multiple sizes of cars and houses. This had me excited because I believe that we always forgot minorities in designing anything nowadays. Left-handed, disabled, children. Products that are meant to be used by everyone or meant for the public are suppose to consider all of their users as much as possible to avoid anyone feeling left out by the social norms over things they do not have control of.

5. Racism
Stereotypes are inevitable but we never want to admit that. Well, not publicly at least. In Zootopia, I love how they handle stereotypes. They either embrace it or prove them wrong. Sure there were many stigmatization going around in the movie, especially of the predators. At one point, that stigmatization actually hurt the social balance, and that's exactly what we should learn from this movie. Some stereotypes or racist thoughts doesn't actually hurt anyone and you can look pass them. In some cases, they are even the reasons why individuals of different races connect. If you ask me, not all racial comments are meant to be taken to the core as hurtful. Nowadays, we consider everything as racial slurs without understanding context or intent. Worse, we like to fight fire with fire instead of having a civilized conversation. However, like anything else, there's always a boundary. We are gifted with a mind that can think of the cause and effects of our actions. Hence, that's how decide on what to say or not to say where and when. Which brings us to...

6. Things you say can have more effect than you meant them to
Before we say anything, especially in front of a large crowd or in an intense moment, always think before saying things we might regret. This is because some people might take your word for it or it may trigger something that was not suppose to be exposed such as violence, phobias or racism. Thank to the Internet, anything said now is very very accessible and you do not know who might be reading. Putting your thought out there has their consequences and always weigh that before you do. Me included.

7. Love and friendship
Biggest lesson from this movie! Well... to me at least, it's the reason why I fell in love with Zootopia. I know, many would think racism is the main message but hear me out. Love is key. Because of much love to Zootopia, Judy Hopps is good at her job and do the best she can to bring Zootopia back at peace. Love and respect is how we look past any stigmatization to live in harmony. And love is the reason people trust and come back to each other. One new thing that I learn from this movie is that love between two people can mean a lot of things and sometimes (even if it is hard for us to admit them) it will reside to very deep and intense friendship and it is okay. Many assume that Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde are more than friends but I refuse to believe that because I have felt such friendship before, but I was scared to label it as 'love'. Seeing Judy admit that she loves Nick make me realize that we have been so scared of that word sometimes when truth is, it may just surprise us how easy it should be.

I would love to see this movie from different views so do share if you have any thoughts. I just want to continue fan-girling. Haha!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

My Own "Green Eyes"?



"Your subconscious is vibrant green! Color psychology tells us that you subconsciously most relate to those vibrant greens, and we don't blame you. Like green, you're full of life and love. You love the outdoors, you're a natural optimist, full of wanderlust. On a deeper level, however, you have a profound need to love and be loved. There's nothing more painful for you than feeling excluded. You're the best kind of best kind of friend or lover anyone could ask for, and you really do deserve nothing but the absolute best. You're sensitive, without being overly emotional, and you're loving, without being overly dramatic. You're truly a breath of fresh, GREEN air!"

I am not sure what to make of this result from a recent Internet quiz I took. It claims to be able to know which color my subconscious mind is more drawn to and make a sense of what kind of person I am. Perhaps if it wasn't so accurate, I would just look pass it and move on. At least, that's how I think I am...

I have been walking with hanged head and slumped shoulders around campus and I don't think people notice. To be honest I find it hard to feel content last semester. I will either be on cloud nine or in the dumps. Rarely in between. This is not the first time I feel like this though, I have been here before, it's just that it got worse. About same time last year, I managed to pick myself up and told myself I would start fresh and do good at school. Turns out it was quite the opposite. I don't think I want to waste a paragraph on what happened but I'd rather discuss n why they happened and the aftermath of my catastrophic year.

Have you ever feel that you are pathetic if you admit that you need people in your life? As if you can't stand the thought of being lonely. No, not alone, but lonely. That's kind of how I feel. The fact that the pillars of my strength are so far away from me and I have no one near I can emotionally attach to kind of make me feel lonely and everything just goes bad from there. I felt trapped in a place I don't want to be in most times and it triggered my need to quit and escape. Honestly, I do not know if this is young and reckless me speaking or is it the tired me, but I know how I feel.

So now I am back at home and once again everything is rainbows and butterflies! I don't want to go back to school, actually. Not like this. I wanted a semester or two off but I don't think my parents, my scholarship and my faculty would approve though I could if I wanted to. It's not that I do not want to study, GOSH NO! I love knowledge as much as the next guy but the environment is just so suffocating for me. It is impossible to start fresh and trying to make things better takes time.

But I know what I need; curación. And I am about to get some time to.