Post-Trip Life

Finally the longest trip and the first trip to Thailand since COVID, I have to say that everything I have known about this country for the last two years has been calling me back and I have finally made myself back.

However, the trip to Bangkok was very intense indeed, having planned to visit many cities during the two and a half weeks in Thailand, but once I arrived everything about the city fascinated me, the longer I stayed the more places I wanted to visit and it felt like I would never run out of things to do, places to go or friends to see in Bangkok. It really is a city that embraces every aspect of me and no matter what I want to do or what situation I put myself in, I can always have my best time in Bangkok. I’m not free enough to stay for as long as I want, but I’ll definitely be back, really soon.

Because of this intense trip, daily workouts and studying couldn’t happen like I did at home, and I didn’t even get a full 8.5 hours of sleep while I was there, but I slept soundly and deeply every night while I was there because my body was so tired. After a week back, we finally paid off all the sleep debt and resumed all the exercise and study routines. The weekly study thing hasn’t resumed yet, but here I have a long weekend to get things organised.

After more experience and talking to different people in Bangkok, I’ve become more sure of what I really want and am after. But what we need to do or should do is prepare for more amazing explorations in the future. There are  things really important or totally meaningless, it’s important to differentiate. Everything is changing, so we really need to reflect on what is the right thing to do for the current situation. Be honest and make sure you have self-control. You’ll get yourself to the right destination.

The daily schedule is already tight, plus entertainment and social, so for the 3 working days of the week, just make sure to complete all the assigned tasks and make satisfactory progress on work. Then do more studying, self-improvement and other things afterwards. Get information efficiently and enjoy the weekend. But remember, even if you don’t do anything extra, your language skills, including English, Japanese, Thai, Cantonese are improving every day and this will really change your life in the future. Also for the appearance, including body muscles, body fat, hair, everything is getting better.  You’ll see results in a very short time and you’ve seen the results, haven’t you?

The only thing left, and also the thing that takes up most of my time, is still social media, which I stopped for the whole month in order to live our reflections, and now it’s time to think about how to use it. So basically, we need to cut down on unnecessary spending while staying in touch with close friends, fetching the information we want and documenting the best parts of my life. So the main goal is to centralise time and stop fragmented time consumption.

We have now been home for a month and everything has settled down. This week was the first time ever that we have completed our daily studies and exercises, as well as the weekly English and work skills training. We now have real weekends to do whatever I want to do and keep myself entertained. I should be very happy and satisfied with the results I have achieved. I can see straight away the changes I’ve made, both in terms of work and language, which is great. I’ve also caught up on a lot of things on the to-do lists, and after finishing all the rest, I can watch things, read and write, post and even enjoy time on social networks while relaxing as much as possible before returning to another productive week.

I’ve also put myself on a fast track to learning and it’s great to know that I’m learning lots of new things every week and I’m getting close to the goal of getting myself back to being a student before I go back to uni full time in a year.

For the social networking thing, so far we’ve taken a break from all our main accounts for a few weeks and we’re settling into life without feeds, which has really saved me a lot of time. In the future, I will only be using social media at the weekends, after I have finished the three days of work and 10 hours of study a week.

Well, since things are going so well, let’s enjoy the real first real weekend and read books in preparation for next week’s study.

Tommy 23 Sep / 21 Oct 2022

The Fourth Week

We will quickly take a recap of the week and a preview of what’s to come next week.

We have to say that it has been a very productive week as it brings the current great isolation into its final stages. We have completed our reflections on our recent lives, particularly on English language learning, student life and we have also done the plan for this ‘throwback cultural journey’ which is all very meaningful to me and I know I will enjoy learning and entertaining. As most parts of life have been reviewed, suggestions for improvement have been written down. In the remaining two weeks (estimated) of isolation, we will catch up on all the things to do, say all the things we want to say, prepare a plan of action for the future and make sure that our study and exercise habits are stable.

The week went really well and we completed all our daily learning tasks on time and I did a lot of extra English learning. I do feel that there has been a lot of progress. I can tell that my fluency is much better than it was a few weeks ago, but only after about 20 hours of study. This is probably because I started with very low conditions, so the progress was great and very easy to see. However, it is going to be a very long journey and it must be harder for us to improve from 90-95% than from 60-80%. 

I remember when we first prepared for the IELTS test, the textbook said that students needed to spend 200 hours to improve one band of the IELTS test, does that mean I need to spend another 400 hours studying to get my current level of 7.0 to a full 9.0?Then I would only need to spend six months. Well, stop thinking about what you will achieve and just focus on each lesson you take, we will see the results.

We also did a weekly English high school course. As well as coding training, however we only did 1 hour out of the 5 hours planned. So we will make sure that all of our study plan goes well and we will finish it and then we will have more time to have fun. However, when I was doing my Year 7 English homework, I realised that I was giving worse answers than the boys who were ten years younger than me. I had no idea what the writer was trying to convey when he used certain techniques. Well, that’s something I always struggled with when I was learning my mother tongue back to school age. I always got high marks in maths and I was much better at English, oh well, maybe I’m not a good reader and writer at all, but we still need all the processes to train our brains for English literature, so let’s get on with it. The more we read, the better answers we will be able to give.

We also got out a bit more this week as we relaxed our restrictions. I’m sure we’ll get all our thoughts organised and clear out the to-do list in the next two weeks so we can finally see all my lovely friends next weekend and then we’ll be packing for our trip to Thailand which has been delayed for two months. After that we’ll probably relaunch all social media in a week or two, but we still have a lot to do before then, including setting up rules for using social networks.

Well, it’s time for a shower and a book until we’re sleepy enough to have a good dream.

Tommy 7 Aug 2022 (After Midnight)

Continue reading The Fourth Week

Throwback Cultural Journey

We are going to talk about the Cultural and entertainment context reinvention scheme, which is an extension of the English Language Learning Programme.

I recently saw Moulin Rouge the Musical and it was a lot of fun, I kept singing along and it feels really good when almost every song is something you are familiar with, it makes you enjoy it. I’ve realised that a different background in entertainment is another major gap between me and most people. What people watch for entertainment establishes the context for their little conversations and topics, which would be something shared by a large number of people in the general public. That’s why I always try to find textbooks as the main source of improving my English, because it will teach you what other people were told growing up, and it’s the basis of their identity. However, we don’t have a centralised textbook publisher here, but I started a high school course anyway and started reading what other people had read. I have recently realised that not only what we learn from school, but also the music, films and TV shows we watch connect us.

I said I was fascinated by the late 70s to early 90s stuff, basically I mean music, whether it’s from the US, UK or Japan. Well, yeah, I mean the 80s stuff is really important to me. What we’ve done recently is to systematically take stock of what we want and need to do and act on it. So here we bring in our long cultural journey to fill in the missing pieces.

So what we’re going to do is we’re going to have a theme of a year every fortnight, and during that time we’re listening to all the popular music and getting to know these songs that I’ve heard many times and getting to know the artists. Then we’ll watch popular movies from that year and also see if there are any major events that happened that year in Australia and in the world. We might not have enough stuff to know all the TV shows, but at least we’d know the name of it and some of the plots. It felt like we were going to take a ride in a time machine to see how the world had developed and to hear my favourite songs and the pop culture of the time.

I quite like the timeless love songs of the 60s, but that’s probably too far away from me. So we’ll start with 1970. I want to spend a week a year listening to all the hits and then I realise it might be a rush and there might be more stuff to see, especially in the 80s and 90s, we might speed up to four weeks a year, so it’s going to be a very long journey along my English studies and I’m basically rebuilding my cultural background.

I would have to say that the dominant culture in the world is led by the Anglophones, as many of the things I loved as a child, such as Harry Potter, or my favourite baby cartoon Teletubbies, so I would be aware of the pop culture in the global market. I can now understand why Singapore turned itself into an English-speaking country in the 80s, even though the Anglosphere is not very populated, they still dominate the whole world.

Well August will be the month of 1970 and 1971, Elton John has been on my radar a lot lately, I have listened to a few of his albums and I am sure we will be listening to him a lot by then. There’s also Mia in LA LA LAND called Seb George Michael, I recently learned that the really famous song Careless Whisper is from this singer and listened to some of his work, he was gay like Elton John but passed away a few years ago. I’ve heard these less familiar musicians on occasion and now I’ve had the chance to listen to them all! I will be able to understand them all. I will be able to understand the stuff they talk about in films and in the theatre. I will also know some singers or bands when someone says their name, well, that happens a lot when Paul says some names, haha.

I believe this will be another thing that will change my life, just like the learning of English, all of which will be the foundational background for my future life. When I watched Guardians of the Galaxy back in 2014, I really enjoyed its soundtrack and all the artists such as David Bowie, 10cc and Jackson 5 are all very familiar to me now, yet I haven’t listened to them much. Oh and they even feature “Mr Blue Sky” which kept playing in my head one morning last month but I couldn’t tell which song it was, then I played all the songs in my shazamed list and finally found it. I also love Bee Gee, I listened to them when I stayed at Monkey Nap Hostel Bangkok, which is where I stayed most of the time in Thailand, but after COVID it was closed. They were playing Bee Gee’s Best of album and I really liked some of the songs on it. There are really a lot of songs from the 70s and 80s on my shazamed playlist and I’m glad I’m going to come across all of them on my upcoming cultural tour. San Junipero from Black Mirror introduced me to the song “Heaven is a Place on Earth”, which I recently talked to a friend about. And ABBA, I don’t need to say anything about it, but it’s a big part of my life.

When the journey reaches the millennium, this takes place after I was born, so I’ll be rewatching my childhood to see what the western world was like back then. Cool, I’ve already played up ‘Pop Hits: 1970’ and really can’t wait to play more.

Ooga-Chaka Ooga-Ooga
Ooga-Chaka Ooga-Ooga

Oh I love this song! I’m hooked on a feeling! 🎵

Tommy 6 Aug 2022 After Midnight