2015-01-21

I'm moving!


The wife and I are moving from Missouri to Florida! We have been planning it for several years, but all the pieces needed to start moving didn't fall into place until this last May, and then we didn't get our act together until November to start the process. Things finally started rolling and assuming all goes well, we will be taking a 18+ hour Uhaul drive down there next weekend.

The move has been the main reason my writing has been so sparse these last few months. The good news is, while prepping for this move I have had a few new experiences to ponder on, and make some blog posts about.

One of the things this move did was remind me that I have amazing friends. I am lucky to have some genuinely honest, and caring people as friends. I am mostly finding this out due to past dealings with salesman now coming back to bite me. But that is what it is. Lesson learned, again.

Another interesting bit is how people perceive reasons for moving. I guess I don't fit into an average persons box. The most frequently asked question was "Are you moving for a job opportunity?" This was surprising to me. It seems to me that most people don't think you can choose where you live, but rather your circumstances do. I know that for some people this is reality, but for most I don't think this is the case. Where there is a will, there is a way. As an adult I feel like you should try visiting and living in different places and see what you like more.

After spending 10+ years in Columbia, I have made some great memories here. Also, Columbia will hold a special place in my heart, but those memories will travel with me, they don't stay here.

Ok, enough with the mushy stuff. I'll try and churn out two blog posts next month. :) Wish me luck on the move.

2015-01-02

Chinese Status Update Winter 2014

Happy New Years! I hope everyone had a great holiday! Now that I got a break between travels, I figured now would be a good time to give an update on my Chinese learning. I may have mentioned before in the past I don't really make new years resolutions. I think you should on a fairly frequent basis evaluate your wants and goals and make plans accordingly. Doing it only once a year isn't very frequent.

This is the fifth post of this type. Over the last four posts I accomplished quite a bit during 2014. A few highlights include passing HSK 3 & 4 tests, and finding Rachel on iTalki, who helped me finish the Integrated Chinese lesson series. Also I completed the PAVC 3 book. I completed several online challenges that helped me level up, and found some language partners.

Currently in my personal life things are good, but hectic. My mother in law is staying with us for the next few months. Also we are preparing to move this month. As such these last couple of months I haven't been able to devote as much time to Chinese as I would have liked. That's life tho, ya fall down, and get back up.

Completed Goals

  • iTalki October Challenge
  • Start writing regularly.
  • Work through PAVC 3.

After I finished the Integrated Chinese Series, I was a bit overwhelmed as to what to do next. As I skimmed over the PAVC 3 book I thought that it mostly matched what I just finished. I was proud of myself and thought I could almost skip the PAVC 3 book. I asked some questions to folks on Chinese Forums about what course of action I should take, and several suggested I don't skip it. I would be making a mistake to assume I wouldn't get much out of it. They were right. Before completing this book, I felt like I was already at a B2, and this book wouldn't challenge me enough. My inner devil was throwing around a lot of excuses. The topics were mostly the same. If I just looked at the vocabulary, I had 70%-80% of it down. A lot of the grammar looked familiar, and the rest looked easy. I'm glad I ignored my inner devil, while going through PAVC 3, even before finishing I realized This book was filling in grammar and vocabulary gaps that were actionable that same week and month. Also if you skim my iTalki completed sessions you'll see not all those easy grammar points were so easy.

New Goals

  • Diary in Chinese at least 3 times a week this year.
  • Finish reading Ender's Game in Chinese.
  • Work through PAVC 4, & 5
  • Work through Tales and Traditions volume 2, 3, and 4
  • Take the HSK V
  • Find some Chinese people to interact with after the move.
  • Continue accent reduction research and practice.
  • Find an effective way to start learning my missing words in the 5000 word frequency dictionary I got.

The diary, Ender's Game, and find new people to talk to are all parts of the same goal. That goal is to create and maintain an environment where it is easy to learn Chinese. After we move I won't have the weekly dinners with my Chinese friends, or know the right restaurants to eaves drop on Chinese locals while practicing my Chinese with the staff. Doing these things should help limit skill decay.

For me the HSK test is useful as a benchmark. How far have I come, How do I stack up against this specific notion of fluency. I know I am near that 5 level, but getting a certificate to boost ones confidence is occasionally nice also. I also feel like preparing for this HSK will give me a different way to practice my Chinese. I haven't wrote any simplified Chinese in a while, and they only use simplified. Some common language in mainland isn't the same in Taiwan. While the PAVC books are useful without my mainland teacher I wouldn't know that some words have a different tone usage, or entirely different terms in mainland than the Taiwan style my book is teaching me.

Keep on trucking

I have a hectic upcoming January and February but after that things should calm down. With that in mind I am trying to recognize my limits and in this case skipping the iTalki January challenge, so I won't be overwhelmed. 

I think my plans so far are not too ambitious, but also not too tame. Wish me luck! Whatever your new years plans are I hope they also a success.