Lotte World (Chuseok 2016)

Posted in Free-Range Tampa, Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , on September 23, 2016 by shenanitim


Chuseok (Korea’s Thanksgiving) was last week. During Chuseok, most Koreans visit their families back home, which means the major metropolitan areas (re: Seoul) become ghost towns. Or as close to a “ghost town” as a city of 12 million can become. So, having an extended weekend off, I decided to head off to Seoul.

One of my stops this weekend was Korea’s version of Disney World, Lotte World. Lotte World is, of course, an offshoot of Lotte – the company that owns everything in Korea. They own department stores, supermarkets, and they make most of the products sold in said department stores and supermarkets. Hell, other major department stores (Emart, HomePlus) sell Lotte stuff. So even if you tried to boycott Lotte, you’d fail. They’re everywhere.

Lotte World is three stories tall (indoors), with an ice-skating rink on the bottom, sky ride and a roller coaster on the top floor, and various sitting rides in the middle. (Sitting rides like Busch Gardens used to have. Ones where you sit on a moving platform (similar to how 4D movies do it now) and watch a movie.) That’s just the indoor portion.

Along with the indoor section, there’s an equally large outdoor portion. More roller coasters, a gyrodrop, kiddie rides, and the strangest Bumpers Car [sic] ride ever. (Seriously, you’d sit in a bumper car and drive around the course while not hitting any other cars. Yes, that’s right, it’s bumper cars without the bumping.) In short, it’s the usual amusement park experience, just condensed into a Korean-sized package. Imagine Disney World crammed into half the space, and you’re there.

Naturally, I loved every moment of it.

A warning though, it will be crowded. You will need to pay extra for a fast pass. (The wait for one of the roller coasters was 2.5 hours. And that’s just for one ride. On a weekend that was supposed to be slow.) You will get bumped, and you will be surrounded.

Granted, this is Korea. That’s going to happen in the aforementioned department stores anyway. This was just my first exploratory run, I’m definitely looking forward to heading back.

ShenaniTims Vs. Anki: Round 14

Posted in Free-Range Tampa, Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , , on September 19, 2016 by shenanitim

Good news, conveniently summed up in the following picture:


That’s right, less than one week left and all my “Unseen” cards will be gone! Just in time for the latest flood of new “new” words! Up one hill to find myself at the base of another, steeper, incline.

Not that I’m complaining though. Looking at the start of my backwards stint, I see that I had 77 “Suspended” back then. (“Suspended” cards are flashcards you’ve missed more than seven times. After that happens, the program pulls the card from the general population so that you can focus on words you’ll actually learn rather than wasting your time with cards your brain is clearly refusing to accept.) Now I’m down to just 66 “Suspended” cards. I’m not sure how the numbers worked out the way they did, or why I clearly thought adding cards that I already know are difficult to a pile of existing “to do” cards would be a good idea, but apparently the gambled paid off.

Now I’m looking forward to the overage of “Forecast” cards finally being eliminated. Normally my “Forecast” cards for a day (0d) should be 0 once I’ve completed all the cards. But do to the large number of cards I was dealing with daily, I was unable to complete them all once my “Young+Learn” cards started flooding the scene. Now things should return back to normal.


Speaking of returning to normal, this was the first week in awhile where I had a traditional class. Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving) was last week, so many students were still on vacation when Sunday rolled around, but surprisingly our teachers weren’t. I had skipped a unit ahead a couple weeks ago because I was hating Chapter 5 (Hobbies). (Another holdover of internalizing Anki’s “skip the parts you don’t want to/can’t learn.” I hated it, didn’t want to learn it, and found moving on rather than spend time/resources stuggling through it brought more gains.) So we finished both chapters off, but I had become lax about adding the new vocabulary. Thus this week’s homework of learning the remaining bits of Chapter 6 still floating around.

Also, I brought the “Hourly Breakdown” graph back just to show the further evolution of my Anki deck. My Anki schedule has formalized enough that I’m doing my daily workload around 6AM, which makes showing any time past 10AM pointless now as they’d all have nothing to report.

아품하고 대 자고 있다

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks! with tags , , , , , on September 18, 2016 by shenanitim

Translation: Yawning Vs. Sleeping.

As I’ve mentioned before, one of the advantages to making your own Anki flashcards is the memory boost you receive from doing something yourself. You’ll think “I did this” every time that card comes up, and feel good about it. “That was me.”

Another advantage to making your own cards is you get control of the content. Really want to remember a word? Make your own card using either a.) a photo you’ve taken, or b.) a photo of you!

(Disclaimer: this boost may only apply to egomaniacs such as myself. Your own personal results may vary.)

One disadvantage is the time you’ll waste trying to track down “the perfect photo.” You know, that one picture that’s just going to burn the new vocabulary word into your memory.

For me the word was 자다 (to sleep), and the date was last Monday. I needed a photo of (preferably) me sleeping, but that’s a tall order as I can’t very well photograph myself sleeping. (Or else I wouldn’t exactly be sleeping; correct?) Then I remembered the photo on the right; which I couldn’t unearth no matter how many times I searched Dropbox/Facebook.

Luckily an argument over elephant profile pics led me to rediscovering the picture in question. 코끼리 (Elephants) really do know it all!

ShenaniTims Vs. Anki: Round 13

Posted in Free-Range Tampa, Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , , on September 11, 2016 by shenanitim

Last week saw me completing something I’ve been meaning to do for a long time; finish the first chapter of the Korean book I’ve been using since I started my learn Korean (한국어 배워요) campaign. Now the reason I’m only finishing the first chapter now is because I didn’t do the first chapter in class. My teacher and I had already covered the Korean alphabet before starting the book, so we had little reason to revisit something so basic.

Unfortunately the first chapter is split into four parts, and each part has its own vocabulary section. So I was starting off on the wrong foot by not knowing words the book assumed I had already seen. I’m not mad though, since as of this week I’m once again caught up. Once and for all (I hope).

This also explained away a lot of (quality control) questions I had about the book. Each chapter ends with a question-and-answer section to test your knowledge. The first few chapters left me perplexed as the questions being asked were completely incompatible with the vocabulary the chapters provided. It would have made more sense if I had known that I was missing four chapters’ worth of vocabulary. Live and learn.

And learn I have! My Anki deck is now down to 11% “Unseen” cards, a huge improvement over just a few weeks ago. And that’s including the 2% I added this week with the aforementioned vocab.

Another interesting learning aspect I’ve seen develop is the unification of my accuracy percentages. As you can see in the graph below, nearly all my accuracy scores (Unseen, Young+Learn, and Mature) are the same (80%, 83%, and 85% respectively).

Mr. Friend Says “굉장한망고 라떼가 않아요” (#3)

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , , , , , on September 10, 2016 by shenanitim

Translation: Mango lattes are not great.



오늘에 저는 망고 라떼 한 병을 샀어요. (Today I bought a mango latte.)
그것이 응가인 듯했어요. (It looked like poo water.)
그것은 순한 초컬릿 우유와 망고 맛 같았어요. (It tasted like chocolate milk with mango.)
그것은 맛있지는 않았어요. (It was not delicious.)




모악산에 다시

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , on September 10, 2016 by shenanitim

Translation: Moak mountain again.


I love Moak-San. I’m sure any of you who have read my previous attempts at describing its majesty realize this. I also love my new camera. The photos are so much clearer! So here it is, my (most recent) attempt at bringing it all together once again.

This was an exhausting trip. It started off on a bad foot with me overpacking my messenger bag. (Something I really wish I’d be able to learn from, but each trip finds me repeating the same mistakes again and again.) Ebook, camera, snacks, drinks – all things that add up before you know it. While I enjoyed being able to take breaks whenever I wanted and relax while reading a book, I most certainly did not enjoy the following three days of back pain (mainly soreness).

It didn’t help that in a flash of “brilliance,” I decided to climb up first right-hand path I saw, reach the summit, and then climb down the left-hand path. Using a trail whose overgrowth seems to indicate that it’s long been abandoned.

But what a trip. On the way down I ran across this guy:

Daegam Rock (대감 – lord) named after its resemblance to the daegam sitting besides it. Look, even while climbing down a mountain, I still can’t avoid learning new vocabulary words!

As an added bonus, the summit has those big binoculars you find at zoos set up for public use. “Public use” as in “free to use so that you can scope out the (total) distance you had to ride your bike to get there.


네, 이제 찰 있고 싶어요

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , , on September 8, 2016 by shenanitim

Translation: “Yeah, now I wanna be well.” (Technically this line could also be spoken as, “네, 이제 찰 지내고 싶어요.”


I don’t want to say I’ve been killing it on Lang-8, but I am extremely proud of myself. I’ve talked before about the dangers of having one’s reach far exceed one’s grasp. So I’ve been trying to reel myself in; by focusing on simpler sentences. Sentences that reflect my Korean ability, instead of my English ability. (Difficult to do when you’re modeling sentences in your head in your primary language and then converting them.)

Last week my results weren’t horrible, nor were they great.


Corrections pertaining to the placement of subject and object markers, before I really went reaching towards the end. By no means perfect, but a definite indication that I am capable of succeeding if I work hard enough at it.

Work hard enough or lower the bar sufficiently…

This week I’ve learned how to conjugate verbs to create the phrase “I want to [verb]” ([V]고 싶어요). Finally, a conjugation I can honestly use! While I have no issues with the present tense, trying to write sentences in the present tense is futile. No one says, “I eat a pizza” (저는 피자를 먹어요) or anything else that simplistic.

Learning the past tense was a step in the right direction; as it gave my sentences a semblance of normalcy. Unfortunately, when paired with the (practically useless) present tense, even the past tense seemed to be showing serious limitations.


Enter the Ramones.

Nearly every Ramones song (at least on their first four albums) uses a variation of “I wanna…” or “I don’t wanna…” making them instant translation buddies. Can’t think of a sentence to convert? Just pull any random Ramones lyric out of my longterm memory and use that! Hence this week’s title, “I Wanna Be Well.”

The Ramones open up tons of translation opportunities, all while being simplistic enough for me to handle. Not to mention they sound great. So my childhood spent memorizing first generation punk rock lyrics is finally starting to pay off!

Hell, I’m not entirely convinced that I couldn’t make a faithful translation of the Ramones first album by myself!


Evidence of this lies in my performance on Lang-8. Four lines written Wednesday morning while riding my bike, with three of the four being deemed “perfect” by a native speaker. The only sticking point is the Ramones’ lyric, and even that point is contentious. As noted in my opening “Translation” segment, both 있고 싶어요 and 지내고 싶어요 work; their differences being similar to choosing between “How are you doing?,” and “How have you been?”

So I’ll give myself half credit here, as neither is wrong, but both can make claims to being “right.”

ShenaniTims Vs. Anki: Round 12

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , , on September 5, 2016 by shenanitim

The end is in sight! This week saw the “Learning” pile surpass the “Unknown/Unseen” pile, making for hopes that everything will soon be returning to normal. (Hopefully no more weeks of 120+ cards a day, everyday.) This impending normalcy is now starting to scare me though, since making it through 120+ cards/day usually only takes me around 40 minutes. Which means returning to a sub-100 set of cards daily will also be giving me a lot more free time in the mornings.

More time to study I guess…

Which would definitely be a good thing looking back on yesterday’s post. My frustration levels seem to be cyclical. I start taking it easy, stop studying material alone as I should, and then get slapped upside the head by reality shortly thereafter. I need to remember that I need to push myself harder than my teachers are pushing me.

All in all, I feel including the reversed cards into my deck has been a step forward. Now I’m seeing and using the cards as both concepts (picture cards) as well as written (great for when I read). I’ve seen this already, as there’s plenty of Korean words I can easily say, but once I see them my mind goes blank. “What is that?” is all I can think. Being able to understand these words (my primary concern; obviously), use these words, and spell these words is going to help immensely.

너모 학생들 이에요

Posted in Free-Range Tampa with tags , , , , on September 4, 2016 by shenanitim

Translation: Too many students.

One step forward, 19.5 steps back?

Okay, it’s not really that bad. I’m making progress; I’ve seen it, my teachers have seen it, everyone’s seen it. But after class yesterday, that’s still how I’m feeling. Hell, if push were to come to shove, I could prove I’m (slowly) inching forward with my writing exploits from last week. Whenever I get the motivation to actually finish that post.

But onto yesterday. So on Wednesday my friend and I visited the class director’s academy (학원). My friend was picking up a guitar he had purchased, and I came along because hanging around a Korean teacher can’t be bad; right?

So the director showed me the current draft he had to advertise the Korean class to other foreigners. I read it, and it was alright. Perfectly understandable, but it still had that “foreigner feel” to it. It read like it was written by someone who’s writing in a language that wasn’t their own. (Totally true in this case.)

So the red pen comes out, and I start editing. And editing. And editing. At this point the director’s concerned, “Is everything alright?”

“Yeah, everything’s fine. I’m just making it sound ‘right.’ Put the American touches on it.”

I then ask him for a brand new sheet of paper so I can rewrite everything. Combine ideas, elaborate some parts, shorten others. You know, full-on editing. It made me miss the late night days writing for

I thought it turned out pretty well, even if I’m biased:


“Pretty well” is an misnomer. It turned out too well.


We didn’t have class two weeks ago because there were the three “core” students (myself included) and one teacher. Three students, three different levels, one teacher, and no way of putting together a coherent lesson plan. So they listened to and dissected some schmaltzy Korean ballad. I opened my Korean notebook and reviewed vocabulary. I already know the word for “love” (as they did too – 사랑), and thus had no reason to focus on some ball-less man sing the word over strings for a minute and a half.

So nothing learned.

I walked into class this week, and there were already five students, and two teachers. One-on-one is way out the window now, since with me joining the pool, there’s a 3:1 student/teacher ratio. Again, no way to reconcile the differences in ability.

Another teacher eventually showed up, leaving me and my friend to study together. Problem being he’s a few levels higher than I am. So either he’s bored when we’re moving at my pace, or I’m lost when we’re moving at his pace. Another week with absolutely nothing gained.


The icing on the cake was before I left, the director handed me a TOEPIC test to try (it tests your level of Korean). My friend had tried it earlier in the week and did pretty well (he can read Mandarin rather fluently, and Mandarin is the Latin of Asian languages). I made it through the first page of the test fine before the wheels fall off. I just (still) don’t have the vocabulary.

I hate being this depressed about this. I know I’m making progress, even if I can’t see it. Last week’s Lang-8 results are testament to that. I needed to work on subject/object marker placement, I did, and it appears to be working. I’ll just keep focusing on that.

Hogwan Unfunnies: 젤리코끼리 블루스가 이에요

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , on August 29, 2016 by shenanitim

Translation: The Jelly Elephant Blues.


“My neighbor has a jelly elephant.”

“Your neighbor has a jelly elephant? No, I’m not accepting that answer.”

“Yes, teacher!,” followed by a chorus of classmates crying “Yes!”

Such are the pitfalls of playing “My Neighbor’s Dog” with 9 year-olds. Now, “My Neighbor’s Dog” is a game where you start the game by drawing a dog and saying, “My neighbor’s dog is so _________” (insert adjective). Then you go around the room, with the kids filling in the adjectives they know.

Sometimes this works out great. Other times, such as on this occasion, it will start careening into a slow-motion trainwreck.

“Yes teacher!”

“Look, Tim Teacher is gonna have to say ‘No, that answer doesn’t make sense.’ And believe me, that’s a tough thing to get Tim Teacher to admit. But I’m drawing the line at ‘jelly elephant,’ even though it breaks my heart.”