My journey of learning English as a second language

People often think I grew up speaking/writing English like this, which is so not true. I’ve come a long way from being born to parents who speak ZERO English to this.

I recalled many years ago when I first began college in America I had to pretend I understood what my American classmate said when I understand close to nothing. I had to use a MD player (if you know what it is) to record my lectures. Although I did get an A in English in HKCEE, it took me a while to get used to the American accent and the normal talking speed. Needless to say, humor was complete lost on me.

However, I was determined to learn and to assimilate. I’d talk to strangers on the bus, stayed away from Hong Kongers and Chinese as much as I could, and watched Disney Channel with subtitle as an adult. My learning curve was very steep. Every small talk was a personal victory. I went from understanding 10% to being able go on dates in 6 months to moving away from my cousin to a 100% English environment by myself thousands of miles away.

I went all in. The only time I would speak Cantonese was when my mom called. I even went to speech therapy to correct my accent along with my other speech predicaments. For every website that was available in both Chinese and English, I always chose the English version. I always learned something new while I was teaching English and writing my English novel in Hong Kong. I still Google grammar rules now!

There is no shortcut in learning a language. Even native speakers make TONS of mistakes. The only way to get better is to continuously put yourself in situations that stimulate learning and take you out of your comfort zone.

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Ghost from the past suddenly comes back

Two weeks ago I got a Facebook friend request from my ex from 5 years ago. My heart skipped a bit. I didn’t think this day would come. He was the only guy who didn’t at least try to knock on my (metaphorical) door after we broke it off. For many years, I’ve hated him for that, for giving up on us, for not wanting to try harder. I’ve dreamed about him many, many times over the years even after I have completely moved on from him. In my dreams, sometimes we are still together, sometimes we are fighting, and sometimes he is crawling back to me.

We were young. We both had the worst temper. We had strong chemistry at the start, but there was nothing to sustain that passion. He thought he could love me, but he wasn’t ready to be the boyfriend he wanted to be. I was desperate for his love, but I didn’t even “like” him that much as a friend. There were so many tears and fights through out the relationship. We could barely hang out one day without getting into a fight. Every date, every phone call, every sentence, and every sigh could be a trigger of the next big clash. Eventually I got too tired of walking on egg shells. I asked to leave even though deep down I wished he could ask me to stay.

He didn’t. He let me go. I hated him for that. It made me feel unwanted and worthless, but it was also a wakeup call for me. Our relationship had broken and awakened me. It made me question myself worth and examine what was wrong about the way I behaved. It took me weeks to stop stalking him on the internet and months to remove him from my conscious mind. For years, every time something or someone reminds me of him, I’d get all tensed up. Slowly I accepted the fact that we were wrong for each other and that it taught me a very good lesson on when to give up on a broken relationship and the importance of self-love. I recognised that what we had was an illusion of love rather than love.

I told myself I would never let myself get involved with someone I was so incompatible with.

Many years later, I would overcorrect. I would fall head over heel for someone who I thought was the opposite of him, only to find that it didn’t work either. Then I would overcorrect again and date someone who was incompatible with me again.

Fortunately I did learn from my mistakes and see the resemblance in the relationships, so I could pull the trigger fast enough before any more harm could be done.

My counsellor asked me a few days ago if there had been any past experience that I had thought was awful but later turned out to be not that bad. I thought about him and the friend request. Yes, five years ago I thought that was grievously bad, but it made me who I am now. I grew and matured from it. I am a good girlfriend and know how to appreciate the man I have now because of what I went through five years ago.

I did wonder why this person who didn’t want to have anything to do with me suddenly want to be my Facebook friend again. Five, four or even three years ago, I may have welcomed him back to my cyber life, just to show him how good I have turned out. I don’t even want that anymore. I don’t want him in my life, and I don’t need to tell him that. No response was my response.

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I have decided to seek help for my PhD “depression”

This post is long overdue. I have been unable to write anything that is unrelated to work/PhD for a while. I have lost motivations in many things that I used to love for about two months. I am not sad-sad as there really isn’t much for me to actually get upset about, but in general I haven’t been happy with my PhD and (lack of) career. I have always prided myself as a dreamer, a planner, a go getter. I haven’t been feeling like myself. Since I’m no longer teaching part time for various reason, my self-worth has taken a toll. I feel aimless and empty. I don’t know whether what I do matters anymore. I’m no longer inspiring people like I used to. In essence, I no longer feel relevant.

I was trying to deal with this by myself. I didn’t want my family to get worried. I didn’t know which friend to turn to as I feel very distant from some of my good friends now. I also lost my best friend last year over something petty. I tried to confide in my loving boyfriend, but he got really worried and started blaming himself for being unable to make me happy. I’m not the kind of woman who gets all her happiness from a relationship. Relationship is a dessert to me, not the entree in life. Even though I’m in a wonderful relationship, I still can’t be 100% happy if I’m not getting the fulfillment in other aspects of life.

I was relunctant to seek professional help because I was afraid to be labeled a “troubled person” or be officially diagnosed with depression. I was waiting for the feeling to go away. I have experienced many ups and downs in my life, as I have documented some in this blog. I remember how I felt when I was very depressed and struggling with eating disorder in my early 20s. I didn’t see a doctor about it back then and I handled it poorly by blaming all my negative feelings on my ex-boyfriend. It took a year of being miserable in a dead-end relationship, episodes of bullemia and switching jobs for me to finally realise I needed to stop all the non sense. I’m proud that I made it through, but it was very hard to do it yourself.

For years I’ve been aware of my state of emotion and tendency to overthink. I’m very self-conscious and try not to let myself go down “that” path again every time I hit a set back. Usually when I face a rejection of any sort, like scholarship rejection, romantic breakup or career problem, I get super sad for a week or two. Then I’m good again. What I’m experiencing now is different. It is a general lack of motivation in things.  The good thing is I don’t like being like this, which is why I’ve decided to see a counsellor to find out what exactly is the problem and what I can do to cope with it.

I hate having to admit that I’m not as happy as I think I should be, but then I remember the promise I made to myself that I wouldn’t be afraid to be show my vulnerability.

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Don’t let the same person hurt you three times

I was hurt by someone who i thought was my best friend twice in two weeks. The first time he did that I was upset, but I valued our friendship enough to not hold any grudge against him because I knew soon enough he would need my friendship again.

I follow this principle in life. People make mistakes. If they do it once, it’s an accident. If they do it twice, it’s a habit.

I forgave my friend when he apologized, but then he hurt me again, but I’m not even going to call him out on that. I’m an adult who can handle shitty situations, but I also have enough self/respect to cut this person off from my life completely. Someone who thinks I’m disposable doesn’t deserve to have in his/her life.

My self-love doesn’t only apply in relationship. I’ll not tolerate being mistreated and disrespected by anyone. I always remember Ronald Reagan’s “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” I will not let there be a third time. My love is conditional.

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Things I have learned in the past month:

Things I have learned in the past month:
1. You don’t need anyone to survive.
2. No one is irreplaceable in your life but your family.
3. Friends drift apart but you can always make new ones.
4. Girlfriends are the fiercely loyal during breakups.
5. A smart women should never try to come between her boyfriend and his hot best friend.
6. A secure woman knows her value and it shows through her action.
7. When a guy tells you he is not looking for a relationship, say good luck and walk away gracefully.
8. You need to get rid of the negative things in your life to make room for good things.
9. Don’t be apologetic for being who you are and wanting what you want.
10. Always dress well to make yourself happy.
11. You are never too old to be a princess, warrior style.
12. If you make a mistake, don’t drill into it. See what you can learn from it and move on.
13. You can’t always get an explanation for everything. Sometimes shit just happens. Don’t waste your time.
14. They always come back, but when they do, you won’t even want them.
15. You don’t have to be mean to show you are not to be messed with. You just need to be firm with your principle.
16. If someone doesn’t like you, it isn’t your loss because you are awesome.
17. Action speaks louder, always.
18. You only have one person to compare to, yourself.
19. Take joy in the process, not the result.
20. Don’t ever change for anyone.

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True love test (when it is over)

On the course of our romantic pursuit, we will encounter many people. Some we like. Some we love. Some we love gently. Some we love deeply. Some seem like love. Some are great loves.

I believe that even if a love has to come to an end, it could still be true love. Some people just aren’t destined to stay for that long.

The way to tell if it was true love is to look back and ask yourself, “Would I still want to do it again if i knew it would end the same way and break my heart over all again?”

If you’d still do it, that love is worth every ounce of the heartbreak.

Looking back, I’d still want to fall in love with two very special people in my life if I had to power to choose differently to spare myself the pain. They were both true love to me. I loved them at different time and in different ways.

I know I was lucky to have met and loved someone like them.

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The Hunger Games is the best YA series to date

Sorry I haven’t posted for so long. I was dealing with some intense professional and personal issues. I had been writing a lot for myself as therapy, but I just haven’t been in the mood to write something for everyone to read.

After spending the past few weeks mourning, I’m doing a lot better. One of things that really, really excite me is the release of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1. I saw it today, the second day of the release, and I’m just so amazed by the story and acting.

As a writer who aims to inspire people with my writing, I have so much respect for Suzanne Collins for creating a young adult series that isn’t just about young women backstabbing each other or waiting to be saved by a hot guy. The Hunger Games is basically a modern take on 1984 with glamor and nice costumes. It challenges big government and critiques sensational “reality” entertainment.

It is clearly about politics and totalitarianism, but it is done through excellent story telling and characterization that young people would find engaging and relatable. Katniss never asks to be the mockingjay, but she is compassionate, smart and moral. She is the perfect manifestation of the average girl with a good heart. Although I’m torn between Peeta and Gale, this series is so much more than a love triangle, so much more superior than anything else in the same genre (like Twilight, which is an overrated piece of crap).

We need more entertainment like The Hunger Games series than trashy reality TV shows for young women.

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