Walhallavagen

Just an ordinary girl's life

Resolutions and plans – but most importantly, just feeling good

It’s 4:20pm of Monday 15th of January. It’s a Monday. And it’s a 15th. How incredibly motivating is that? Am I the only one who gets excited about this things? No Blue Monday for me, definitely.

The apartment is sparkling clean and it smells like Marseille soap and winter spices from the candle I’ve been burning in the last couple of hours. I’ve just brewed one of my favourite teas in the entire world, I have my pre-shampoo hair mask on and we’re expecting snow in the next couple of hours.

I feel good, and I feel motivated.

I’ve been reading about people giving up on their 2018 goals already and looking for ways to keep them up. I personally feel like it’s still Jan 1st in terms of good vibes and enthusiasm, I can’t even conceive to feel tired about my goals already. Everything still needs to start, pretty much.

This is the point actually – I am a big daydreamer and I constantly generate thousands of ideas, so much so that sometimes I just forget to start acting upon them. I’ve already drafted out my goals for 2018, of course (I’ve been working on them since November), but I know that for me, now, this is not enough.

That’s way I’ve decided to take the plunge and commit myself to take HSK3 on 21st April.

I had plans to take it in February in Florence (since I would cost me much less there), but the date was too early and I don’t think I’ll actually visit home before March anyway. So, thanks to the plus one’s support, I’ve decided to take it here in April and call it a day.

I haven’t signed up for it yet and I think I’ll wait a bit longer just to be super super super sure I can actually attend (the plus one is on the job interviews phase and it’s kind of intense here in the UK ._.), but I’ve already made up my mind and that’s what really counts.

So now I really need to study hard.

And, you know what? I love it. I love the feeling of having a deadline, a plan, a clear specific goal to reach. I’ve been working towards HSK3 for 80% of 2017 and come up to almost nothing. Now I have a date and it’s like the world has changed entirely for me.

I feel motivated but I also need to create motivation around me. Am I making any sense?

Truth is, no matter what happens in my life I will always love to study languages and feel good about it. I’m immensely grateful for all the good things that I’ve experienced these last few years thanks to LL and for the amazing people I’ve met here on the blog or on twitter/instagram.

And because of my love for studying languages, I’ve also started revamping my French over on Memrise lately – and I’m not going to apologise for that.

Why would I stop doing the things that I love?

Oh, and as of yesterday I’ve also picked up Goblin again from where I left it back in September. I have to admit, I’m not exactly loving it but I’m curious enough to see where the story is heading. More updates on that as well!

Listening to: Miami Beach Force ~ Silent Strike
Currently Watching: Goblin (Korean drama)
Currently Reading: Neil Oliver ~ Master of Shadows

 

 

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Happy 2018 ~ Year of the Dog!

新年快乐!

It’s a gloomy and super cold day here in the outskirts of Europe, so I’m spending the first day of the year at home with books and hot chocolate (and mini marshmallows!) 😋

This year Jan 1st is also a Monday, which gives me a lot of motivation to be productive 😀

So, my goals for 2018:

  1. wear nail polish or lipstick at least once a week
  2. take (and pass!) HSK3
  3. finish 10 skincare products from my collection
  4. read 25 books (3rd year in a row)
  5. use my Legami planner for the entire year
  6. watch at least 6 Asian dramas (1 every 2 months, seems doable)
  7. buy a new pair of high heels
  8. go to a festival (the Uk has a very large selection!)
  9. get a second piercing
  10. buy a luxurious edition of one of my favourite classics
  11. grow my hair longer and dye my ends pink (again), purple (again), blue and teal!
  12. be a  better instagramer (though I already know I’ll fail)

The underlying project for this year is : close all my open loops (more on this soon!).

I’m gonna end my first day of the year with a bubble bath and a nachos&movie night to enjoy with the significant other 🙂

Happy new year to all my dear blog and twitter friends! 🎉

 

Year in Review ~ 2017

Personal

2017 has been a turning point in my personal life – I’m moved to a foreign country (Scotland) and I’ve married, so yes, I can say that it is a year that made an impression. There have been no improvements with regards to my work situation unfortunately, but tbh as everything else was going on I didn’t focus on that so much. It’s definitely going to be my number one priority in 2018.

This year I seriously engaged in a process of making my life simpler, with less unwanted commitments and less stuff. This project has brought me to pay greater attention to where my money and my time goes – particularly significant since I moved house twice this year and I’ll have to repeat it next July.

In 2017 I also moved in permanently with the significant other (a few months before the wedding) and finally had the chance to pick our own place. It’s definitely a work in progress but I’m developing a clearer idea of what I want my house to look like and how to best take care of it. Plus I finally have a dedicated place for all my beauty products, my books and my shoes – which after years of shared space is an utter bliss.

Technology

I replaced an old product (my 2011 iPhone 4, may it rest in peace) with an iPhone SE (rose gold, because details matter). It’s a excellent product and I’m very impressed by the battery life. On the other side, I’m still ‘stuck’ with my 2011 13-inch MacBook Pro and my 4th generation iPad – which lately has become quite difficult to deal with, and no longer receives software update. I’m a bit pissed by the fact that I can’t even start enjoying a new product that I immediately have another one going rogue – I guess it’s the way things are managed now, but I’m definitely not happy with that (especially since Apple products are everything but cheap).

In terms of apps I’ve been downsizing a lot this year. In 2016 I was all about experimenting and trying out new things – well, 2017 has definitely inverted this trend. I’ve cut down a lot of the things I was using (or actually, not using) all at the same time, and most importantly every time I felt like a needed some new functionality I tried to figure out how to get it from the apps I was already using instead of looking for something external.

Apps survived to the purge this year are: Trello (of course), Wunderlist (of course), Apple Notes and Apple Reminders, Google Keep and OneNote. I still use Evernote but I’ve cut down a lot its purpose, as it’s now mainly a repository of my scanned documents, receipts and other boring stuff. I don’t agree with Evernote (not so) recent policy regarding the free plan and honestly, as good as it may be, I don’t find it irreplaceable.

Though I still use Shoebox to backup photos, I recently added Google Foto to the system as it’s super fast, super convenient with the free space it offers and it also backups unlimited video (which Shoebox does not, at least for the free plan). I’ve also introduced Zoho’s Notebook app in my system as it now has a desktop app for Mac, but I’m not sure whether I’ll keep it. I like the idea but I’ve already found many flaws that I don’t know if I’ll be able to overcome.

In general, during 2017 I’ve worked hard to streamline my system a lot in order to make it more efficient and pain-free; in 2018 I’m going to focus on maintaining it and making it even more functional.

Planning

2017 will be remembered as The Worst Year Ever in terms of planners. I started with a lovely A5 Muji weekly planner (week on one page plus notes) that I used for 2/3 months and then it went mostly wasted for the rest of the year. I tried and used a billion of different things (Strikethru system, GTD in a Filofax etc etc) and nothing really stuck – apart from my Paperblanks weekly slim agenda, which has been the only constant in this huge mess. I’m very disappointed at myself and as a consequence I’ve decided to (1) stay away from 99% of planner material on the web (blog posts, YT videos, Pinterest images etc etc) (2) strictly stick to one and only one paper planner for the entire 2018. No excuses admitted.

Study (Chinese, Japanese, etc.)

Main highlights for my studies in 2017 have been passing HSK2 at the beginning of the year and finishing Remembering Simplified Hanzi back in July. They were big achievements for me and I felt very proud of myself – unfortunately, the rest of the year hasn’t been as good in terms of study results. I aim at taking HSK3 in 2018 and realising how much I could have done and just didn’t has been a huge wakeup call for me. I’m definitely using my time more wisely in 2018.

I’m also determined to retrieve my professional training in the new year so this is another field I’ll engage myself in.

Books, TV Series, Dramas and Music

TV

2017 has been thumb up for American TV series, and thumb down for Asian dramas in general (I talked about that here). I had many lonely evenings waiting for the plus one to finish work and Netflix has been my No. 1 companion (bad, I know). TV series I watched this year:

  • Gilmore Girls S3
  • Gilmore Girls S4
  • Gilmore Girls S5
  • Gilmore Girls S6
  • Gilmore Girls S7
  • Gilmore Girls – A Year in the Life
  • The OA S1
  • The Good Wife S3
  • The Good Wife S4
  • The Good Wife S5
  • The Good Wife S6
  • The Good Wife S7
  • The Expanse S1
  • The Expanse S2
  • Suits S1
  • Suits S2
  • Suits S3
  • Suits S4
  • Suits S5 (in progress)
  • Riverdale S1
  • Riverdale S2 (in progress)
  • The Good Place S1
  • The Good Place S2 (in progress)
  • Cold Case S5
  • Cold Case S6 (in progress)
  • 13 Reasons Why S1
  • Gypsy S1
  • That 70s Show S1
  • That 70s Show S2
  • That 70s Show S3 (in progress)
  • You, Me, Her S1
  • You, Me, Her S2
  • Orange is The New Black S2
  • Orange is The New Black S3
  • Orange is The New Black S4
  • Orange is The New Black S5
  • Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries S1
  • Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries S2
  • Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries S3
  • Stranger Things S1 (rewatch)
  • Stranger Things S2
  • Twin Peaks S1
  • Twin Peaks S2 (in progress)

I watched one entire anime (Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day) and about half of another one (Gurren Lagann, but it’s boring me to death). I also watched the anime-movie Your Name, which I loved – so much that I got myself both the manga and the novel version.

Books

Best book of 2017 is probably The Lady of the Sorrows (so Cecilia Dart-Thornton features as my most enjoyed writer for the second year in a row). I love everything about her writing style – the descriptive passages, the character development, the rhythm at which the story unravels, the way characters interact with each other. I honestly can’t wait to finish reading the third book (I started it exactly one year ago, but I left it back in Italy and I’ve retrieved it only now).

I’ve also enjoyed the Avalon saga, which I mentioned many times in my book reviews, and I’ve re-read a few much loved books like HP and the Philosopher’s stone, City and Never let me go. I also tied a couple of different genres, like urban fantasy, cyberpunk and young adult.

Music

2017 has definitely been the synthwave and new retro wave year for me. I’ve discovered some amazing artists and albums, and this will be forever the soundtrack of my first months in Scotland. My absolute favourite bands are FM-84 and Timecop1983, plus Duett (a new entry).
This year I also discovered a certain interest for Asia indie pop culture (mainly Korean, but also Chinese); I find it really soothing and calming, and it’s not wonder that it has become the default soundtrack of my morning and night beauty routine.

Best albums: Atlas by FM-84, Reflections by Timecop1983, Stranger Things 2 OST by Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein (keep up the good work guys!). My top hits:

FM-84 ~ Running in the night
Lord Huron ~ The night we met
Robin Bengtsson ~ I can’t go on
Imagine Dragons ~ Believer
Tanya Chua (蔡健雅) – 呼吸
Timecop1983 ~ Come back
Francesco Gabbani ~ Occidentali’s Karma
Coco Lee (李玟) ~ 能不能
Jost ~ Grab the moment
Double2 (樂團) ~零距離
Kristian Kostov ~ Beautiful Mess
Home ~ Head first
Pet Shop Boys ~ Love comes quickly
Duett ~ Future hearts
Belle and Sebastien ~ Too much love
Double2 (樂團) ~安全感
Timecop1983 ~ Girl (feat. Seawaves)
30 Seconds to Mars ~ Alibi
Duett ~ Heat (Luxar original)
Florence + The Machine ~ Never let me go
Kyon Grey ~ Millennials
Penny Tai (戴佩妮) ~ Sing it out
MTNS ~ Fears
Sunstroke Project ~ Hey mamma
Negrita ~ Radio Conga
Timecop1983 ~ Secrets
Dihai ~ Skeletons
Snowmine ~ Columbus
Frances ~ Let it out (KAASI remix)
Blossoms ~ Honey sweet
Lord Huron ~ Meet me in the woods
Timecop1983 ~ Wild love

Closing

2016 has been a good year, because it has been a year of change. I know many people fear change and the consequent feeling of uncertainty and instability, and I myself as an OCD person find it hard sometimes to cope with an unclear schedule.

Nonetheless, I think this is the year that helped me the most to understand many things about myself, which in turn has led to a clearer path of self growth and development. I already know I won’t accomplish everything that is on my goals list in 2018, but at least this year I start with a lot more motivation – and awareness.

{Movies} II Semester 2017

Since we moved to Scotland, Doctor L. and I have established a sacred ritual called ‘nachos and movie night‘. Once a week (his schedule permitting) we sit in front of the screen and we choose a movie to watch while savouring our plate of homemade loaded nachos and a bottle of apple cider. We don’t always actually watch a movie (sometimes we break the rule and just watch the current tv series), but in many cases, we do. And at least twice a year, I like to take stock of what we watch.

  • World War Z ~ Zombie movie. I don’t like zombies, and I don’t particularly like Brad Pitt, but is was ok.
  • Godzilla (1998) ~ for me, worst movie ever. I can’t believe it was so famous back in the days.
  • Rogue One ~ a very nice sideline story in the Star Wars universe. I enjoyed watching it, and the story was pleasant to follow.
  • Van Helsing ~ Oh gosh ._. so boring and badly made that we couldn’t finish watching it.
  • Journey to to center of the earth ~ a funny family movie =)
  • Blade Runner 2049 ~ a very difficult movie to review. Photography and soundtrack were excellent, while the story and character development progressed incredibly slowly. Overall, I can say that I highly appreciate personal film making styles and I find it to be a bold move to make something this huge outside the usual Hollywood clichés.
  • What happened to Monday ~ liked it! First, I love Naomi Rapace, second, I enjoyed an European-style action movie for once. I didn’t find it predictable, which is a real exception for me.
  • John Wick ~ very disappointed in Keanu Reeves for accepting this part. I like action movies but this is just gunfires with no plot whatsoever. The story ends basically after the first 10 minutes and the rest of the movie is just people shooting at each other in ridiculous ways. Pass.
  • Bright ~ I thought I was going to hate it and I was ready to demolish it for L’s displease – turns out, it’s actually pretty cool. There was more story than shooting (at least compared to what I was expecting, see previous movie), so it was kind of a surprise.

 

Notably absent is, of course, The Last Jedi – but has I’ve been complaining about multiple times, the plus one is working for the whole holiday season so it’ll have to wait until the beginning of the new year. I know everyone has already seen it so no spoilers please XD

{Mini Book Reviews} October ~ December 2017

 

So here we are, ready for the last book instalment of the year. 2017 has been ok – meaning, I did fine, I could have done more. As I’m more and more focusing on my self development in general, I’ve started noticing how much time I actually don’t spend doing the things that I like and the make me feel good. So, in 2018: keep reading, and read a bit more.

Rachel Wilkerson Miller – How to bullet plan
|Original Language|

This book is the Bible of every planner maniac out there, I gotta tell you that. I don’t bullet journal at the moment but it’s still something I deeply enjoyed reading and that I know will turn out to be very useful and inspirational in the future. The graphic is amazing and the research of all the different possible layouts is impressively thorough.

Rated 5/5 stars on Goodreads

 

Danu Forest – The Druid Shaman
|Original Language|

I have a long-term interest in shamanism, and since moving to Scotland and reading the entire Avalon saga I’ve been intrigued about druids believes and practices. I don’t plan to become a shaman myself so the part of the book focused on practical druid exercises wan’t that useful to me, but the introduction was a very interesting overview of the topic as a whole.

Kazuo Ishiguro – Never Let Me Go
|Original Language|

This is my favourite contemporary novel and one of my most loved books of all times. I’m ashamed to admit it’s the only piece I read from Ishiguro’s work, but I plan to make up for it in 2018. Uber recommended.

Rated 5/5 stars on Goodreads

 

J. K. Rowling – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
|Original Language|

I was 11 when this book was published, so I can safely say I grew up with HP novels. They are a huge part of the culture that raised me and they have a significant impact on my development and personality. I meant to re-read them in English and I’m so happy I did because it’s just so worth it. After all this time? Always.

Rated 5/5 stars on Goodreads

 

Graeme Macrae Burnet – His Bloody Project
|Original Language|

An interesting and somewhat controversial reading. The plot takes place in the Highlands, which is where I live at the moment, so it was particularly significant for me to read something that could help me understand better the history and geography of the area. The author is particularly clever in making you understand the whole context in which the tragedy took place. I expected it to be a little more about the mental condition of the main character rather than the background story, but it was a good reading nonetheless.

Rated 4/5 stars on Goodreads

 

Richard K. Morgan – Altered Carbon
|Original Language|

I’m amazed by this book and I honestly can’t wait for the tv series to come out. It was quite complex for me to read it in English and I probably didn’t get 100% of the descriptions, but it’s just so cleverly told that I could enjoy the story even if I didn’t know all the words. This was my first proper cyberpunk novel and it was a true baptism of fire – but well worth it.

Rated 4/5 stars on Goodreads

 

Naomi Alderman – The Liars’ Gospel
|Original Language|

This is the only book in this batch that really disappointed me. Naomi Alderman clearly knows how to write and to make an impression, and she could have made much more out of this story. I agree with someone who on Goodreads commented how all the characters are basically 21st century people relocated in Roman-dominated Galilea. It didn’t work for me.

Rated 2/5 stars on Goodreads

 

J. K. Rowling – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
|Original Language|

I’ve waited more than a year to read this book because I knew already I wasn’t going to love it. I never enjoyed reading theatre, not even in high school when they made us read Shakespeare or the Greek tragedy. I liked the baseline but I think it lacked a lot of character introspection compared to the traditional novel format.

Rated 3/5 stars on Goodreads

 

The new year hasn’t even started yet and my reading list is already packed with ideas and suggestions and reading goals 😅 I decided to go with 25 books for my 3rd year in a row, if I perform well I may decide to upgrade to 30 for 2019! Wish me luck 😀

 

Christmas and languages and family and food

 

This is the most wonderful time of the year and I’m blessed enough to get to spend it with my loved ones (though the significant other is working on all major holidays -.- bummer).

I guess this year I got a lot of wake up calls about, well, a lot of things. I’m much more aware, in general, of the reasons behind many of the things I do. I don’t plan to change my life dramatically from January 1st, but I honestly feel like doing things with a different approach – and I already started.

Language learning wise, I’ve managed to study 1.5h of Chinese almost everyday in December. Studying everyday is not only essential to acquire new knowledge – it’s also key to keep up the motivation and love for the language itself.

I would like to create a even deeper level of language and culture immersion in the upcoming year – if anyone has recommendations on books about Chinese (intended as both PRC and Taiwan of course) society and culture please please please let me know!

I hope you can spend a peaceful Christmas with your loved ones eating super succulent food, listening to Michael Bubble festive compilation and, of course, studying your favourite Asian language!

Merry Christmas everyone ❤️🎄🎅🏼

The Simple Life Project: 2017 review

This year I got very serious about making my life simpler and, as a result, more enjoyable. We live in a world of endless possibilities and the amount of information we’re exposed to everyday is simply overwhelming; clutter, overcommitment and FOMO are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to making our lives (unnecessarily) difficult.

One of the first things I knew I had to implement in order to properly start my simplifying process was a twofold approach: stop buying new things, and start using those I already had.

The fields in which I tend to buy the most are (a) stationery (b) books (c) teas and herbal teas (d) beauty (especially skincare and body care) products. Since the first two are a bit tricky and require a more articulated approach, this year I decided to focus on second two.

As a way of keeping better track of how much I can actually use in a year, from April I started to keep a bag of all the products I was gradually finishing. I thought this was a pretty original idea, before discovering that at least two other bloggers I follow where doing the same 😅 it’s probably a natural evolution of the process.

This said, there are some caveats about this experiment:
– I started my bag in April, when I had not formed a clear plan yet about how and what I wanted to simplify / get done with, so some things that were relevant ended up been thrown away
– I started saving empty bottles and jars after about a month I moved to Scotland, so everything I used or finished back home is not included here, and the same goes for some products I finished in March
– both in May and August/September I went back home and stayed for little less than a month each time – so this is not a 100% accurate representation of how much I used up in a year
– in June, July and a good part of August I dealt with a very tenacious and unpleasant eye infection, which prevented me from using most of my makeup and skincare products. So, again, not a totally reliable guide of my consumption levels.

This said, I still learnt some good lessons from this experience, and I honestly can’t wait to be more mindful about this in 2018. Plus having a bag full of empties is SO rewarding 😎

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Skincare
Bottega Verde argan oil face moisturizer (liked it)
Botanics All Bright face serum (reviewed here)
Botanics Radiant Youth eye cream (reviewed here)
Perlier Kelemata sweet almond eye makeup remover (not impressed)
Bottega Verde Ialuron Plus face serum (liked it)
Viverde Coop face gel cleanser (liked it)
Bottega Verde rose water face tonic (loved it)

Body & Hair care
Lee Stafford Coco Loco hair mask (hated it)
Imperial Leather cherry blossom and peony hand wash (liked it)
Intra shea butter shower gel (hated it)
Intra shea butter body cream (hated it)
Kind Natured coconut and monoi sugar scrub (loved it)
Nivea almond oil hand cream (loved it)
Bottega Verde pink pepper hand cream (loved it)
Baptiste dry shampoo for brunettes (I definitely used more than one bottle, I probably just forgot to save the others)
Bottega Verde shea butter super concentrate balm for super dry skin (loved it)
Ragdale Hall fresh blossom sugar scrub (loved it)
Bottega Verde chocolate fragrance shower cream (liked it)
Bottega Verde chocolate fragrance body cream (liked it)
Perlier Kelemata green apple shower gel (liked it)
Ragdale Hall fresh blossom foot cream (hated it)
Femfresh pure and fresh intimate wash (liked it)
Bottega Verde green tea deodorant stick (loved it)
Garnier Ultimate Blends argan & camelia body lotion (not impressed)
Dove almond cream and hybiscus body lotion (loved it)
Bottega Verde vanilla hair perfume (not impressed)

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Make up
L’Oréal Eau de Teint Nude liquid foundation (loved it)
Stay Natural Essence concealer (liked it)

Misc
Bottega Verde Argan candle (liked it)
Apricot and champagne black artisan tea (loved it)
Pomegranate, pineapple and green apple artisan herbal tea (loved it)
Twinings salted caramel tea (not impressed)
Drink Me Chai Vanilla Chai latte (liked it)

Considerations

Even though I know that this is not a 100% accurate representation of my yearly beauty/makeup/tea etc. consumption, I was still able to draw some significant conclusions on my consumer behaviour.

Body lotions and scrubs + hand creams are the products I use the most. Shower gels and hand washes are a bit trickier to evaluate since I share them with the plus one (here I included only those that were given to me as a gift or that I bought for my personal use only). Skincare products rank second (though I use much less face scrubs than I thought).

Hair products are the great absent here, as I only have one perfume and hair mask finished in 2017. It is true that since I don’t have greasy hair I only shampoo every 3 or 4 days, and that I alternate between three different shampoos and conditioners sets; still, considering I have pretty long hair now I expected my consumption levels to be higher. This means that if I buy hair products in excess is going to take me a very long time to use them up. Something to take note of.

It also takes me quite a long time to finish up makeup products. I bought my L’Oréal foundation last year in the summer and, even though I used it intensively from August to March, it still took me almost a year and a half to get done with it. Same with concealer, which is something I use also in my more bare naked face days. Eye pencils, eye shadows, mascaras, lipsticks etc last a even longer time. Bottom line: I seriously don’t need to buy any makeup in 2018.

I guess I can draw the same conclusions for teas and herbal teas as well: I use them pretty often, but they still tend to last quite a long time. I also realised I tend to buy products tempted by the name or the image on the label, just to realise that I don’t really like them that much. Since, on the other side, I have a little selection of teas and infuses that I really like, I think I should cut down the amount of new things to try and concentrate more on my few selected favourites.

This year I also got into a serious samples terminator mindset and I got rid of a good chunk of them. In general I don’t particularly enjoy using samples as they’re always either too much or too less for me to use and they make me feel uncomfortable 😅 I have to admit though they are useful to skim potential beauty purchases – especially with face moisturizers, there were some that I would have considered but that now I’m definitely crossing off my wishlist!

I also enjoy trying out new perfumes, especially considering that they’re by no means cheap products and I like to have the chance to test how they perform on my skin/clothes before buying. In fact I’m a bit sad that here in the UK no one gives me perfume samples ☹️ I tried two this year, and I sincerely hated both of them.

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This journey is going to take a very long time – but I already feel more light, more conscious and  more aware of a LOT of things. Things to follow up in 2018:

  1. keep dismantling my teas and beauty storage
  2. invest in a few good quality items if I run out of something
  3. tackle the book and stationery sectors (hard hard hard!!!!)

Sorry for the long and boring post, but I really needed to get all of this out of my mind. Hope you’re still alive after reading it 🙂

 

2017 Asian Dramas

 

You already know what I’m going to say: I could have done better this year (again). As much as I like watching them, for some reason Asian dramas never get to the top of my priorities list. I regret it every year, but the following one I do the same.

Things are changing though, (hopefully) for the better.

I mentioned before that one of the reasons I don’t watch that many dramas is because I don’t like using weird streaming websites. But recently Netflix has started taking an interest in them (even directly producing a few), which makes it much easier for me to get access and watch.

It also means shifting my attention away from what the people that I trust are watching (Asian dramas on Netflix are not exactly mainstream, at least for now) and from the most popular ones in general. But I can still make a lot out of it, especially in terms of language learning (subtitles options!!!).

So this is what I’ve done this year.

A good wife (finished). It took me ages to finish this drama – which is a pity, because in the end, I quite liked it. I had a few totally unnecessary stereotypical drama-like situations that wish they had left out, but overall it was a good sentimental drama – not too cheesy, but not too dry either. I particularly appreciated the fact the in the latter episodes they focused more on the wife/husband feelings towards each other.

The good wife (finished). I talked briefly about this drama here. Apart from the storytelling and directing style (with I loved), it was super interesting to see the cultural differences in adapting an US story to a Korean environment. The anthropologist that is in me couldn’t help noticing all the social and cultural nuances of workplace, family and gender interactions. I would love to see more Korean adaptations of western tv series. Plus Korean dramas are just the best, did I mention this already?

9 Seconds / Eternal Time (finished). A suuuuper mini series on Netflix. The ending was a little meh IMHO, but the project per se was well written and well directed. And being somewhat experimental, I appreciated the fact that they kept things short.

The day after we broke up (finished). Another Netflix production. I watched this one without particular enthusiasm. There were a few nice moments and some scenes were pretty hilarious, but in general the story was too much angst on one side, and not enough characters introspection on the other. Forgettable.

Goblin (sort of watching). I started watching it in August and then the wedding and everything else happened and I just lost track. I like it, but I’m finding the episodes a little too long to bear. I want to try and finish it before the end of the year though.

CSIC (currently watching). I think it’s pretty clear that I generally enjoy crime stories (both in books and on the screen), and since I can’t stand 90% of romance dramas out there, I tend to fall back on this genre when I just want to watch something to train my Chinese listening skills. This series is pretty average, but the characters don’t bother me too much and some of the cases are quite interesting. I’ll strive to finish this one before 2018 as well.

 

It’s not a drama, but I would like to mention that I also managed to finally watch an anime I’ve been willing to watch for a very long time (Ano Hana). I discovered it through its soundtrack many years ago, while I was in the midst of my Japanese crisis. This song has a special sentimental meaning for me and I’m happy I finally got the chance to watch it (on Netflix Italia, curious enough).

Let’s look forward to a better drama and anime season in 2018!!

 

{Books} Clearing my reading list & TBR bookshelf project

Since my last post on the topic, I’ve been trying to read as often and as widely as I can. I’ve started a few novels that had been sitting on the shelf for too long and picked up a couple of non-fiction books as well.

I’ve also tried to fit more reading time throughout the day. In my living room I have a huge window facing the woods and that tiny waterfall where I often spot herons busy fishing (the beauty of living in the Highlands, ha!); sitting on the windowsill with the book-blanket-teacup trio is the uttermost pleasure for me 😆

This said, I think I’ve thrown even too much on my plate in terms of reading materials, so I would like to clean things a bit. Plus, I had a kind of revelation book-wise yesterday, which is going to become my next personal reading project.

I was printing off a couple of reading lists / challenges (like the BBC ‘100 books to read in your life’ list, or the Rory Gilmore book list), and going quickly through them I realised with a certain degree of bitterness that I haven’t read most of those books. But then I thought struck me – how many books have I read of my own reading list? Meaning, how many of the books on my bookshelf have I read so far?

The answer is even more depressing 😅

I think it’s a little weird that I keep reading what other people are reading without taking much into account my own taste and interests. I’m always open to new discoveries and I love book recommendations, but honestly, what’s the point of having a bookshelf full of books that I never read?

In my defence, I can say that

1. 90% of my actual book property is still at my parent’s house in Italy; when I moved to Scotland, apart from a couple of titles I really really love, I made sure to bring with me only those books I hadn’t read yet (hence the low percentage of completed books)

2. some of the unread books I have here are actually original versions of classics I read in translation when I was younger. I remains true though that they still count as books I haven’t read yet.

I’m definitely going to keep looking for book recommendations and borrowing new stuff from the library – but I want to balance it more with what I already have. Plus I’ll be moving again in 8 months, I definitely don’t want to keep packing and unpacking books I’m not even reading!

10 points for those who spot all the typos

 

So, sorting out my current reading list:

. a few weeks ago I finished two of my Hallowreadathon picks (it was about time -.-), which I really enjoyed reading.

. I also finished Never Let Me Go, which was on in my October subscription box. I loved it this time as much as I did the first one. It’s simple one of my favourite books of all times.

. I’m now pretty much focusing on finishing the books I picked up at the library last week. I have two novels and one non fiction on Celtic culture, overall they’re not particularly huge but still I have work to do.

. as for non-fiction, I’ve shared on my socials that I’m currently on a self-learning journey about Scottish history. I think there’s no point in moving to another country when you don’t even try to know its past and culture (plus history and national identity are huge here in Scotland). Around this time last year I also started reading one of the Oxford Very Short Introductions on Postmodernismso I would like to retrieve that at some point in the near future.

. for my upcoming TBR list, I was lucky enough to win the Hallowreadathon hashtag giveaway (my very first one 💜and lovely Imogen sent me The Proposal by Tasmina Perry, together with quite a few reading-time refreshments – so that will be on my list of books to read for December for sure.

. I also plan to pick up a couple of new titles at the library – I promised my dearest Chloe to watch Alias Grace on Netflix and I want to read the book first – plus there are a couples of books by Neil Oliver that I’d like to put my hands on and a book about new religion cults in America as well (my latest obsession) 🙈

 

I’m having my parents visiting for Christmas (thankfully, since the plus one is working BOTH on Christmas and New Year, lucky to be a doctor in the Uk uh?) so let’s see how much time I’ll have available for reading. It’s also almost time to think about my reading goals for 2018, and I couldn’t be more excited about that!

Getting serious about studying: HSK3 prep and Chinese study in general

 

I think I get it now.

After my resolution about getting serious in studying for HSK3, I spent 3 or 4 days wasting time while trying to figure put the best approach to learn new vocabulary / grammar / whatever.

But now I get that HSK3 is a completely different experience from HSK2, for a number of reasons, and I should adjust my study process accordingly.

In essence, my approach ‘if you want to study for HSK3, don’t study for HSK3’.

I’m not trying to be smart or anything 😅

The point is, HSK2 was pretty much at my reach. Considering that at the time I hadn’t been studying Chinese seriously for almost a couple of years (the only activity at the time was RSH), but also considering that while attending classes I studied hard and with a lot of motivation, I had retained enough knowledge to approach that level of examination. And in fact I did pretty well.

All I actually needed to do was reviewing things I already knew (vocabulary and grammar alike); in the vocab section there were 5 or 6 words max that I didn’t previously know, so there was no huge amount of study or memorisation.

HSK3 is a whole different story.

First of all, my classes experience further away in time now – with all their flaws and limits, classes are still a good source of language immersion and self discipline.

HSK3 has three new challenges for the Chinese student: the sentence order exercise, longer texts to read and character writing practice (+ 300 new words and 汉字 to learn by heart). This is not reviewing anymore for me, it’s actual study and memorisation material – and there’s a lot of it.

So here’s my take on the subject: you can study for a specific exam if your overall preparation is more or less at the same level; you can’t do that if you know you still have to progress a lot in the language before reaching your target.

That’s why I was saying I can’t actually study for HSK3 at this time: I need to study Chinese overall, with characters and sentences and listening and reading and grammar and everything else I would do in class. I can keep HSK3 words and characters lists as a reference guide but I can’t focus only on that.

I have to get my bearings of Chinese study in general; then, I will be able to focus more closely on examination papers. And move forward.