Just an ordinary girl's life

Tag: life updates

Quick life update

If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you’ll know by now that I’ve been busy with some life changes lately, so there’s been no much language learning activity around here. I’m starting a new job next week and these last 10 days or so have been just so hectic that I’ve barely had the time to eat and sleep properly 😅 (in fact, often I haven’t).

I count on being back on a somewhat acceptable study routine by the end of next week, so hopefully by that time I’ll also be able to resume a more regular blog activity. I’ll be working full time from now on so I’ll have to rethink my priorities and set different goals for myself, but there’s no way I’m giving up on language learning!

Hope you’re all doing great and making great progresses in your language studies!




Happy New Year my dear friends! 🍾

I sincerely hope you’re having a wonderful festive season with time for relax, good food and, of course, language learning 🙂

Last year I shared my not-too-serious goals for 2018 and I’m going to do the same this time!

2019 goals:

  1. decide whether or not I want to take JLPT this year and, in that case, go for it!
  2. start saving for Japan travel
  3. read a 漫画 in Chinese
  4. get that second piercing (I didn’t in 2018!)
  5. go to a festival! (same)
  6. watch 8 Asian dramas
  7. Ireland trip with the plus one
  8. get myself a luxurious skincare product
  9. read 45 books

I feel positive for this 2019, the last couple of years have brought a lot of (good) changes in my life and I’m ready for more 🙂

Plans for the rest of the day: read my current sci-fi novel, treat my hair to a glorious hair mask and order Japanese on Deliveroo!


Year in Review ~ 2018

What did I do this year?

2018 has been another important year in my personal life. I’ve actively started working towards some specific goals of mine and I also brought myself to finally face some anxiety-inducing issues, which has improved greatly the quality of my life. There is still a lot of work to do and one thing to absolutely do this year is decide once and for all which career direction I intend to take and do my best to follow along until the end. But I’m very happy to say that by December 31st 2018 I’ve accomplished all the main goals I had set for myself this year, and I feel a lot more content and at ease.

I’ve been fairly good at crossing off some day-to-day goals that I set for myself last year (the lipstick and nail polish challenge having been particularly successful), which may seem silly but that, at the end of the day, makes the difference between feeling like you’re taking care of yourself or not. I also feel like I’ve been giving a sort of second chance at life, and I’m definitely going to work even harder on my health and wellbeing in 2019.


A new entry this year has been my long-longed-for iMac, which I’ve been using constantly since I got it for my birthday in May. I still have my iPhone SE and have no intention of replacing it any time soon since it still works perfectly. In 2019 I plan to replace my iPad (after many years of very good service) and to make a decision about my very old but very beloved MacBook pro. I’m debating whether or not to buy a new one, since I don’t need it for work and I definitely don’t bring my laptop with me when I’m on vacation.

In terms of apps, if in 2017 I started downsizing, in 2018 I’ve downsized even more. I’ve talked briefly here about the apps that have survived my minimalistic fervour and I will surely talk about it more in the future. Less is more is increasingly becoming my daily mantra as I’ve witnessed a tremendous improvement in my overall life quality by having less stuff (both physically and digitally) around me.


I reviewed my 2018 planning system here so I don’t think it’s appropriate to repeat myself. I’m happy to report that I managed to really use just one planner for the entire year as I vowed to do last December, and that I’ve used to experience to learn a lot about bad planning habits and vices. I’m sure 2019 is going to be even more successful in this regard.

Study (Chinese, Japanese, etc.)

I’ve learnt a lot also about learning this year. I had a rollercoaster of very high and very low moments in my language learning journey (especially for Chinese), until I finally managed to settle into a regular routine around the end of September. Focusing my study on preparing for HSK 3 has finally helped me finding a framework within which I could track my actual progresses and achieve a sense of accomplishment.

I think I’m going to start from here in 2019 and expand my self discipline in both language learning and other forms of self education that’s I have been putting off for too long. I will have to decide whether to go for the JLPT or not, since I’m giving myself a 2 year deadline for HSK4 (December 2020).


As I was mentioning before, I had a good wake up call back at the beginning of February, and this has been the right chance to step up my game even more in terms of taking care of my health and wellbeing. Being healthy with a busy life is no piece of cake, but the more I grow up (I should probably say grow old) the more I realise this is just something that can’t be put in the back burner.

My goal for 2019 in this regard is to be absolutely strict about the 5-a-day rule and to set into place a solid routine around yoga and the 10.000 daily steps.

Books, TV Series, Dramas and Music


I’m happy to report that I’ve watched much less tv this year, something that is clearly reflected in the increased amount of books I finished instead. I also watched a lot more Asian dramas compared to last year (since Netflix has finally started acknowledging their existence). Sadly, I don’t think I watched any anime in 2018 – and I haven’t read any manga either, which means this is clearly something I need to put more effort in.

For 2019 I want to go along the same lines – less and less American tv series, more Asian dramas and ideally also a lot more anime.


As of today, I’ve read 64 books in 2018 (but I may be able to finish one more between tonight and tomorrow). Needless to say, reading has been my greatest accomplishment for this year, as I’ve finally brought myself to reduce a lot of other insignificant activities while favouring the things I really enjoy doing. In 2018 I’ve read a lot of novels that I’ve been meaning to read for the longest time and never gotten to, and I’ve also stepped out of my comfort zone much more often (I even tried audio books, imagine!).

As for my best books of 2018, I have to say it’s really hard to pick just one or two. The one that left a major impression on me has been Educated by Tara Westover, and Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin has been another significant highlight. Heartbreaker by Claudia Dey is a book that I’m finding difficult to forget, as well as the Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood and Milkman by Anna Burn, and I’ve loved the graphic novel Sabrina by Nick Drnaso.

I’ve also read a lot of interesting novels that were selected for both the Women’s Prize for Fiction and the Man Booker Prize, and I’ve particularly enjoyed the children series Nevermoor (much more than I had anticipated actually). I also started and completed two YA series, The mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare and the Miss Peregrine’s series by Ransom Riggs.

In 2019? I want to keep going! Oh and more non fiction (especially Asia-related) this year!


2018 is still a synthwave / vaporwave / futurewave year, no doubt about that. I’ve taken the chance to listen to the entire discography of some of all-time my favourite artists as well as discover new, less famous bands.

I also really enjoyed watching Eurovision (for the third year in a row), and I’m slowing starting to open my mind more to Asian idols – especially EXO – for cultural and language learning purposes.


2018 has been a good year. A lot has happened in my life, but most of all, I feel like I’ve change my mindset like never before. I love my habits and routines but I can’t stand the idea of being stagnant so, even if it’s tiresome and stressful, I always welcome change. In 2019 I don’t plan on changing anything major – I just aim at keep doing the things I love, slightly better than the year before.

Life Lately (July/August 2018)

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With the house move frenzy finally over, I’m now free to come back to a resemblance of normal life. Still a lot of boxes floating around the house of course – but ALL LANGUAGE LEARNING BOOKS ARRIVED SAFE AND SOUND and that’s what truly matters. 🙃

So before jumping back to a regular blog schedule (hopefully), I would like to make a brief update on what has been going on in my life lately so that I can pick up from there.

Language Learning

Needless to say, during the house move LL has not been my primary focus (especially since all my study resources where packed away). I managed to keep my streak on Duolingo though [I’m now on my 147th consecutive day of practice], which is fine. I’m growing increasingly dissatisfied with D tbh, especially with its Chinese version (the Japanese one has fewer skills but works much better), but I still keep going. Right now a not-so-great study practice is still better than no practice at all, so in a way it has been serving its purpose.
I’m now ready to get back to some more serious study engagement, and as of yesterday I’ve already retrieved my listening practice [though for the moment is a kind of passive activity with Chinese dialogues playing in the background while I’m doing other things – mainly, unboxing]. I was also thinking about doing a proper two-day Chinese full immersion experience with a lot of concentrated reading and listening activities. I’ve been reading a lot about the Listening-Reading method lately and I’m kind of intrigued – so much that I’m eager to give it a try. Maybe over the weekend if things slow down a bit, it’s more a feeling than a plan for now tbh.

Tv Shows

Before moving to Edinburgh I managed to finish watching Reply 1997 and I really, really enjoyed it 😀 it was exactly the kind of drama I was in the mood for. Since then I’ve been watching a few episodes of Midnight Diner with the plus one [though I would like to rewatch them by myself with Japanese subtitles as I feel like it could be an excellent listening practice], and kind of binge watching Orange is the New Black (for some reason I keep watching it every year when a new season comes out even though I don’t particularly like it).
Now that things have somewhat settled down I’m motivated to pick up a new Asian drama for my entertainment. I surely want to watch Reply 1994 before the end of the year, but I would like to mix up genres a bit since I know I tend to get bored easily. I was thinking about Black since it has been on my TBW list for a while now, but there’s also a new Taiwanese drama (On Children) on Netflix which has a super intriguing / disturbing plot AND is also in Chinese, so it gets double points for language practice. Hard to choose! #firstworldproblems


If you are invested in culture and general intellectual / artistic activities, Edinburgh is your city. One of the first things I did once I grabbed my proof of address here has been subscribing to the Edinburgh Libraries System and OH BOY THERE’S SO MUCH CHOICE HERE (of both digital and physical resources). I think I already reserved something like 7 items between ebooks and paper versions, and dowloaded a couple.

In these last months of quite intense reading activity, I’ve unconsciously established a sort of pattern for my reading choices. What I usually do is reading 3 books at the same time (I swore for years that I couldn’t bare the idea of reading multiple books simultaneously, which goes to show how we really shouldn’t use words like ‘always’ and ‘never’ and ‘everything’):
1. one ‘serious’ novel, either a classic or a contemporary author
2. one non fiction
3. one ‘entertaining’ novel (crime, science fiction, fantasy, YA etc)
I discovered that more than 3 books make things unmanageable as I end up focusing on just a couple – meaning, I’m not actually reading 5 books at the same time. Three seems like the perfect number to keep me entertained enough and supplied with the necessary amount of variety, but without overdoing it.


I’ve been branching out a little lately, especially with all those hours of unpacking and re-shelving (I needed to be entertained, and I needed it badly). Synthwave and Retrowave are still my absolute favourite, but this month I’ve also been listening quite a lot to シティーポップ, or Japanese City Pop, which yes, it kinda make sense from a consistency point of view. Many tracks also have lyrics (in Japanese), which again is super good for listening practice. I’ve been also delving more into K Indie music (I did the same last year, it must be a summer thing) and I’ve found some very nice playlists on Youtube [there are tons of good mixes out there, but this one has been my absolute favourite since the beginning of summer].


Chai tea & chai latte all the way!


It’s been a while since my last post on the topic of planners. What I can say is that 2018 has been one of my best planner years so far, even more so since 2017 was probably the worst -.- I have a planner-related post that I’ve been willing to write for a while now, so I’ll save all the juicy details for that one; for now I can say that my planning system is becoming increasingly simple and goal-oriented, with less and less apps and notebooks used and a much more functional approach to the whole idea of planning.


There’s nothing as disruptive as a prolonged period of scattered schedules for the good functioning of regular routines, but I’m getting back to them one by one and I’m also working on implementing some ameliorations. The significant other will be working in another town for a few days per week during these first 6 months, which gives me room to be a bit more experimental with the way I want to structure my days. I’ve managed to keep my early-bed=early-rise schedule, which is good good, so now the main focus will be on Chinese study and yoga practice.


How is everyone’s summer going? I hope you’re having a fulfilling and relaxing time with your family and friends, and also some good moments of language learning of course 😉


Mid year review {June 2018}

[Slightly late in posting this]

With half a year already behind us it’s nice to take the time for sitting down and dedicating a few minutes to think about how things have gone so far – and even more importantly, how we want them to go in the following 6 months. Because honestly, planning for an entire year in advance is kind of optimistic. Many of the things we thought were important in January are no longer on the horizon by March, so readjusting and reevaluating is always a good practice.

I shared at the beginning of the year some of the ‘silly’ things I wanted to do in 2018, but I actually have four main areas of self growth in which I put my focus every year: language learning, health & wellness, books, and screen time (movies as well as tv shows).

I’m going to review each of them in order of increasing difficulty, meaning, from the activity that requires the least will power to the one that I almost have to force myself to do.

1. Movies, Asian Dramas, TV series

Paradoxically, this year my main goal in this sector was to watch less stuff. Last year I spent a lot of my free time with my nose glued on the iPad screen, only to feel disappointed in the end for not accomplish much in terms of Chinese and everything else (surprise surprise). Another goal of mine this year was to decrease the amount of American tv series I watch and start focusing more on Asian dramas.

I’m happy to report that I’ve been quite successful with both these goals. I now watch American tv series almost exclusively when I’m cooking / washing the dishes / ironing (I also watch them with my significant other, but not every night). I wanted to watch a minimum of 6 Asian dramas in 2018, and at the time I’m writing this I’m close to finish my 5th. I’ve also been watching more movies, something I used to do a lot in my teen years but for which I’ve kinda been lazy lately.

All in all, it’s a much welcomed change that has improved my life quality a lot, and has allowed me to find room for other more important and satisfying activities.

2. Books (novels and non fiction)

Reading is definitely the sector that has been more successful this year. In 2017 I barely managed to reach my goal of 25 books, and not because I didn’t have the time to; I was devoting my free time to the wrong activities (see above) and I wasn’t even making all that conscious choices in terms of what I wanted to read.

So I went for 25 books again in 2018, just to play it safe, and I actually reached my goal by June, 15th. Not only I have achieved it in less than half the expected time – I’m also much more satisfied by the reading choices I’m making. This year I finally read a lot of books that had been on my wish list for the longest time, I’m switching between genres and reading different things a lot more, and I’ve been keeping myself up to date with the latest trends and bookshop releases. Now every time that I go Waterstones or Blackwell’s I know the majority of titles that are on display, and I’ve often read a few of them already.

I don’t want 2018 to be a rare bird but rather to become the standard way I approach my reading time. It’s not so much about the numbers, but mostly about making intentional choices and be aware of how I spend my own free time.

3. Language learning

Here comes the sore point of this list. Despite my best efforts, I cannot honestly say that my language study routine has improved much since the lows of last year. I’m starting now to be a little more consistent with my study and to see the first serious progresses, but these first 6 months have been mostly trials and errors.

Honestly, I would have never though that self-learning would have been this hard. I was so motivated and positive when I fist decided not to go back to Chinese classes and to start the solo-journey – where has all that good energy gone? I’m still passionate about language learning but I’m struggling a lot in finding my own way. Which means that the road towards fluency is still very long.

On a more positive note, I can say that at least this year I’ve spend a lot much time studying that in 2017. It may not be extremely successful, but at least I’ve brought myself more times than not to do the work. Another good thing of 2018 is the fact that, after much toying with the idea, I finally started studying Japanese again. It’s only a 10 min daily practice on Duolingo, so definitely nothing mind-blowing, but for now it’s enough to bring me in touch with the language again.

4. Health and wellness

I like being healthy and I like the idea of being healthy, but sometimes I find it hard to keep it up to my expectations (especially when living with someone who craves junk food all the time). I’m fairly good at eating healthy [water intake, 5 a day, no refined sugars etc.] but when it comes to do physical exercise, except for walking, I have to really push myself to do it.

In January I had to investigate a potentially bad health condition which thankfully didn’t happen in the end – this was the much-needed wakeup call to finally face the physical activity issue and change my mind frame once and for all.

I can’t say that now I’m the queen of workouts and, yes, I could always do more, but since then I’ve been making a conscious effort in trying and being more active. A very important thing for me in this process has been finding the sort of activity that I actually like doing; so no gym, no I-want-to-be-slimmer workouts, not hiit – yes yoga, yes pilates, yes qi gong. I want to be able to enjoy what I’m doing, not just appreciate the results.

So how am I assessing the achievements in this sector for the first half of the year? I’d say that I can and I want to do more, but I’ve also made important progresses and I now feel a lot more engaged in my overall health and wellbeing. In the end it’s a kind of holistic practice – I can’t really be healthy if I don’t take care of my nutrition as well as physical exercise as well as self love and self care. You know the I treat my body like a temple meme? Exactly, just, for real.


Blog. I’ve been more relaxed about blogging this year, which sometimes has turned out as ‘I would like to write this on my blog but naaaah‘, but in general it’s worked better for me. I often think about giving up since I’d rather spend time actually studying than writing about studying, but for now I can’t really bring myself to do it.

Instagram. I’ve been a lot better this year. I’ve had my good share of non-active periods, but I’ve kept it up fairly well and I’ve shared a lot more compared to 2017. I love the language learning community there and it’s definitely one of my main source of inspiration for when I’m feeling down (LL-wise).

Things that I would like to implement in my routine

Photography: it’s always been a great passion of mine and I also have a super classy sassy DSLR camera waiting for me to release my inner artist (much inner), but I just seem to never find the time for it. It’s actually a bit of a controversial point, because I know that, when it come to focus and attention, less is more – but it’s also something I really really want to do, so I’ll definitely take it into consideration.

I’ve been also quite good at my simple life project this year (there will be a dedicated post on this topic), so for the rest of 2018 I hope to be able to declutter even more and to be able to streamline my routines by cutting down all the different time-wasting activities I still carry out.


2018 has been a surprisingly satisfactory year so far, and honestly I think this is the first time I feel like I’m really getting closer to where I want to be in life. I think that reflecting on how things have gone so far is extremely useful, and it’ll help a lot in making the right choices in the upcoming months.

Glimpses of an Edinburgh life

Last week we were in Edinburgh for a house hunting session (dreading dreading dreading), and being the first time we were in the city after having been notified that this would be our home for the next 3 years (at least), I couldn’t help but looking at it under a new light.

I have to admit that I felt kind of underwhelmed at first by the sheer amount of fellow countrymen and women I found there -.- then I guess that being Edinburgh a highly touristic city I shouldn’t have expected anything less [I had already noticed the same thing all the other times I was there tbh]. It’s by no means a major issue, of course; let’s just say that after two year living in an almost Italian-free environment, hearing my mother tongue spoken so often on the streets is kind of unsettling 😅

[nonsense ranting ends here]

But after a couple of hours strolling about (a bit more far away from the city centre and the main tourist attractions), I just couldn’t help but falling in love all over again.

The thing what I probably love the most about Edinburgh is the incredible amount of local cafes, bars, restaurant and bistros that it offers; I hate when you can only find standardised food offers [the usual Starbucks/Costa/Caffe Nero on one side, Nandos/Pret a manger/Bella Italia on the other] and I’m all in for local or traditional small-scale business.

There’s also a huge huge huge selection of ethnic food, like, real ethnic food (no Pizza Hut and the likes). We had the best pitagyros ever there, and I’ve been to Greece so I know how a pitagyros is supposed to taste. The choice is just amhazing. I’m a foodie so, yes, feed me please!

There are of course tons of other cool stuff for which is more than worth living in Edinburgh, but the original subject of this post (before trailing off talking about food) was something else.

Edinburgh is actually great for a language learner and Asian cultures lover like me.

Just to let you have an idea, the first thing I noticed after 5 minutes we got off the train was a poster advertising a course to learn playing taiku. Can you even start to imagine it??

There are language learning courses, culture exchange clubs, bookshops, food (of course!) and everything else a language learner can dream of. This comes in handy specifically for me, after almost two years of complete isolation in terms of study pals [except for the lovely people of the studyblr community on Instagram].

I really hope this can be the right chance for me to 1) exit my comfort zone of books and dramas once and for all 2) feel more connected to both my purpose and the overall learning community.

Oh, almost forgot: amazing Asian supermarkets everywhere!!!


Edit: I also have a mini video here 😀

June plans

After 10 days spent visiting family and friends, I’m now back to Scotland and kind of ready to face the most stressful time of the year for us – house hunting, job hunting, house move, travel across Europe and everything else.

I’m trying not to get completely swallowed up by all these technicalities and to still find time for my language studies, yoga and reading/drama watching time.

With only 178 days to go before HSK3, I know that this is the time to get seriously serious about my preparation. Either I do it now, or I don’t.

But I still have to attend to all these other grown-up matters so planning, timing and prioritising are essential skills right now. Things to focus on during this month will be:

  1. find a house in Edinburgh, something that should be exciting but is actually boring and stress-inducing. I hope to be done with it asap
  2. complete decluttering process, as I don’t want to waste time packing crap I don’t even use anymore
  3. go on a trip to Edinburgh with L. (house hunting, again) and try to enjoy it rather than stressing out
  4. keep up with Duolingo for both J and C (I’m currently on a 84 day streak)
  5. empty the freezer
  6. manage to complete my Goodreads challenge of 25 books by June 30th
  7. go on a cinema & Burger King date with L. (though our schedule is so packed it honestly won’t be that easy)
  8. finish listening course on Hello HSK

I’ll try to come back to this page every couple of days to keep myself as accountable as possible. Plans don’t really work if you don’t constantly reference back to them.

On a completely different note, we’re having the best weather possible here in Scotland and I’m feeling so blessed 🤩 I have a huge window in my living room with a seatable (? it’s probably not a word) windowsill on which I spend most of my afternoons looking at ducks and herons. Summer was already setting off while I was in Italy, but here it’s like the perfect endless spring at the moment and I’m so loving it ❤️

Listening to: FM Attack – Astrowave [full album]
Weather: sunny and windy
Drinking: champagne and apricot loose leaf black tea

Hello again

It’s been a while – more than I wanted, as usual – but I’m back more or less. I’m dealing with some life stuff at the moment, nothing life-threatening of course but stress-inducing and annoying nonetheless. Let’s say that I have a few months of hustle and bustle ahead, and this will inevitably impact my study commitment as well as my presence on the blog (and my mental health… that’s for sure -.-).

I have a couple of longer posts that I’ve been willing to write for a while now, but I guess they’ll have to keep waiting. I don’t have the mental energy to engage in bigger undertakings right now, and I’d rather spend my spare time studying Chinese (or Japanese!), if I have to be honest.

Plus we just had the best springy (and probably warmest) week of the entire year and now we’re back to kind of winter so I definitely need some time to cope with that.

I think I’ll focus on shorter and more regular study updates for a while. Oh, and I’ve also been pretty active on Instagram lately, in case anyone is interested.

My approach towards pretty much everything right now is less talk, more action (though in my case ‘less plan more action’ would probably be more appropriate). Like, how long I have been thinking about starting studying Japanese again? If I’d used the time I talked or even thought about that for actually studying I’d be fluent by now. So I stopped talking about that, and started studying Japanese again for real.

On Duolingo, which kind of sucks, ok, but we all know that getting started is always the hardest part. Chi ben comincia è a metà dell’opera.


On totally random news – I finished two fruit infusions last week (thanks goodness, one was Whittard’s Toffee Apple and I truly hated that) and started three new teas in the last two days. I also finished reading two books last week and I’m about to finish another one, I decluttered part of my wardrobe and defrosted the fridge, started watching Twin Peaks season 3 with the plus one and finished up a couple of skincare products.

Keeping active and getting things done prevents me from freaking out too much.

Speaking on tv series, I’m on episode 11 of Strong Girl Do Bong-soon (and, honestly, I’m getting bored), while today I watched the first episode of a new Korean drama produced by Netflix (this) and I loved it! Would this be The One Drama for 2018? It’s definitely too early to say, but I got a really good feeling from it 🙂


Listening to: Amarante – Don’t Look Back
Drinking: Peach Dream Tea



Life updates and various bits&pieces

I’ve been away from this blog for longer than I thought/wanted, as it often happens. But I’m not gonna bore you people with all the ‘things will be different from now on’ (they won’t) pep talks.

Last month, the significant other has been offered a job in Edinburgh, starting August 1st.

So, yeah. We’re going to move to Edinburgh.

>>>insert happy emojis here<<<

Edinburgh is such a vibrant and dynamic city, literally bursting with cultural activities and incredible energy – THERE’S JUST SO MUCH TO DO. Theatres, concerts, events, festivals, fairs, libraries, shops, food, you name it. I’m so so so happy I’ve actually already started looking for accommodation 😆 (and also found and lost my dream house in 24h -.-). I would love love love to find an apartment in Stockbridge or Dean Village, but I think they’ll be out of reach for us in terms of budget (Edinburgh is pretty expensive in terms of house renting, at least for Scotland’s standards).

Of course I’ve already checked the area and found both the local Confucius Institute and Japanese society 😎

At the same time, I know I’m going to miss the Highlands a lot. The nature and scenery here are literally breathtaking, people are lovely, and everything is just so enjoyable. I’m going to miss living close to the city centre and at the same time being able to have river Ness and the parks at only 10 minutes of walk away.

The truth is, I just feel so blessed to live in a country in which we can find ourselves at home everywhere we go. Everything in Scotland is just amazing and I just can’t be grateful enough for how lucky we are.

I just hope this will be our last move for a while since packing and unpacking is seriously exhausting – plus I’d like to settle and start being more involved in local projects and activities, something I can’t do if we keep moving every year.

This said, there are going to be some consequences on my language learning plans as well. I know I said that I was most likely going to take HSK3 in April, and there’s nothing in this world that I hate more than changing plans and go back on my word, but in the light of the recent news I don’t think this would actually be the best course of action.

My plan was to sit the test in Aberdeen (since there are no HSK test centres where I live), which is 2,5h by train away from here. I was doable of course but not ideal, plus it would have been impossible for me to attend the free preparation classes they were offering there. And after the test, I would have had to go back to Aberdeen just to pick up my certificate.

(Which reminds me: I never went to get my HSK2 certificate from Confucius Institute in Florence. HA!)

Now that I know I’ll be living in Edinburgh soon, there’s really no point in going through all this fuss. I can conveniently sign up for the test there, attend all the prep courses I want – and, why not, I may even consider to attend a proper Chinese language course at Confucius institute there, either before or after the test. It’s definitely cheaper, more practical and strees-free for me.

The only downside is the for some reason in Edinburgh they hold examinations only three time a year, which means the fist available spot will be Saturday 1st December ._. considering that I took HSK2 in February of 2016, it would mean almost 2 years later. Oh well. I guess I’ll just swallow my pride and get over it.


It’s never too late to start a new year ~ 2018 goals & stuff

Yesterday I received very good news, which could actually have been very bad news, related to my health. I feel extremely lucky and blessed, as the alternative would have deeply impacted my future life and probably also my mental health. I’m immensely grateful for the chance I’ve been given and I intend to honour it by living a healthy life as much as I can.

I can’t deny that I’ve been living in a kind of limbo during January, no daring to plan as much since I didn’t know how my life would have turned out to be. Now I feel like I can finally take the reins and start making a proper plan for myself.

Plus Chinese New Year is 16th February this year, so I’m still on time right?

2018 Goals and Plans

I already shared my personal goals for 2018 in this post. Those are the most mundane things that I want to think about, but of course they don’t represent the core of what I want to achieve in 2018. I have specific goals for my career and my Chinese studies, but also for my reading activity and, of course, my health (see above).

Truth is, I don’t wanna do things differently in 2018. I want to do things more mindfully, be present, stay in the moment, be aware of my time. This is the most important achievement for me this year, and I think that yoga can be an important exercise in this sense. I’m not much one who lingers in the past, rather, I’m always focused on the future: when things will be better, brighter, more satisfying. I still have to convince my brain that nothing will ever be better and brighter if I just think about it, or plan it, without actually doing it.

Plus there’s the never-ending trap of perfectionism (I talked about it here). 2017 has been great for me to learn about all these patterns of behaviour; I’m ready to work on them in 2018, as difficult as it may be.

One essential thing I want to do this year is to close all my open loops. I have projects that I never actually concluded, books that I started reading and then left back in Italy, home organisation plans left half completed and so on. The ideal scenario would be to close all my uncompleted project and avoid starting new ones, just focusing on what I have on my plate at the moment, which is more than enough.

In terms of planning system, for the second year in a row I’ll be using Trello to track my goals and progresses. I have a board called ‘2018 goals’ which holds four lists. In the first one I have a card for each area of my life (personal, career, Chinese, wellness and fitness etc), and within each card I have multiple checklists with all the details of the things I want to accomplish this year in that specific area. In the second list I have four cards: winter, spring, summer and autumn, which is basically my quarterly plan. The third list has a card for each month of the year, meaning, monthly goals. The fourth and last list has various cards with motivational images and quotes for those time in which I feel like I need a boost of energy, or I just feel uninspired.

I’m trying to be as specific as I can this year in breaking down my goals, as one of the things that didn’t help me much in 2017 was a lack of specificity and attainability in the way I wrote things down for myself.

Another thing that I’ve finally managed to incorporate in my planning routine is the elusive weekly review. Every Friday I sit down for an hour or so and review all my main boards on Trello, my lists on Wunderlist, Apple Reminders, paper planner and current notebook. I’ve been doing this consistently for a couple of months now, and I can honestly say that even if I can’t really measure its impact on my overall productivity, it has surely increased my awareness of the actual status of things in my life. In short, I know where I stand.


I finished studying a Memrise deck called Mandarin Chinese 2 today (it was in my goals for January to complete it, so yay!), so I’m now in the process of planning my next move.

I think I’ll go on with my Chinese practice on Duolingo (though I haven’t been really loving it tbh – for a number of reasons that I’ll explain in a later post) + I’ll finish the other deck I started on Memrise back in December (Chinese for HSK3 Part I by Peking University, which pairs the course I was attending on Coursera – perfect match 👍🏻).

February is also listening practice challenge month over on Hacking Chinese, and gosh do I need more listening practice in my life right now (I do).

I’ve found a lot of inspiring people on Instagram lately, fellow Asian-languages learners who supply me with a unexpected wave of motivation through their beautiful shots. I plan to be a lot more present on Instagram in February, to suck up all the good vibes and also share my own journey as much as possible.

The plus one is on night shift this weekend so I have Fri, Sat and Sun nights for myself – Chinese study + sushi and drama 😝 though to have sushi I should get out of the house, which with this weather is kind of out of question 😅 I could make onigiri instead though 🤔

General monthly goals

I’ve been good with books this month: I’ve finished two novels and I’ve read 1/3 of my current book (my goal was to finish 2 this month). I read a historical fiction and a Scandinavian thriller, while right now I’m digging in a young adult novel. I’m enjoying the variety in my reading materials, I would like to keep it up in the upcoming months. I’m starting a reading tandem with one of my girlfriends tomorrow (we’re re-reading Cry to Heaven by Anne Rice) and I honestly can’t wait, it’s going to be so much fun!

Oh, by the way: if someone of you lovely readers wants to do a reading session together just drop me a message, I’d love to do that!

I was also pretty good at finishing up stuff like teas (2 boxes), skincare products (a face toner and a night cream) and candles (I finished the one I had bought before Christmas, ‘winter spices’). I guess in February I’ll have a few makeup products I’ll be able to finally get rid of. I’m also going to make a serious effort in exercising more and eating better this month (again, see above), but I’m already on the right path, eating my 5 a day and drinking my water everyday.


This was a lengthy post but it was long due, since my lack of regular updates in January. I’m now off to bed as I want to allow myself some reading time before sleeping at 10pm sharp (for the despair of the significant other 😝). I’ve gone back to a 10pm/7am sleeping pattern, hoping to bring it down to 10/6:30 (maybe even 10/6) – but I guess for that I’ll have to wait for a little more natural light in the morning as the dark still makes me super drowsy and sleepy!