Life · reflection

Since I was on an English kick…

Yes, the significance of learning a second language has been discussed a lot for decades. As for me, I didn’t realize it until one year ago, when it occurred to me that I had never actually taken anything seriously, just reluctantly dealing with assignments and examinations without passion. Therefore, as many years ago a thought stroke Murakami that he should write novels, I started to learn English, which is becoming globalish, on my own.

I’ve been on the endless bilingual journey for about one year, and I want to write down what I’ve benefited from learning English as a second language.

In fact, this post talks about two aspects. First, learn on my own. Second, learn a new language, which is, for me, English.

Learning is therapeutic

As a sensitive person who usually can’t help but overthink, I think I’ve benefited a lot from taking action. Taking action calms me down. The moment I get going, I begin to focus on real world, and new experiences ensue. The moment I take action, I gradually find it is not as difficult as I expected.

And learning, which posts a challenge to me, is an act of creating.

It requires concentration, encouraging me to immerse myself in what I am learning. It inspires me to think, to interact with knowledge.

It gives me new knowledge, new perspectives, and new tools to cope with everyday life, broadening my horizons.

What the most fantastic part of learning is, all I’ve learned is achieved through my efforts! How inspiring! It builds up my confidence.

Knowledge is not like makeup, money and luxury items. It mostly works wonders for our inner world. Once we master something, it’ll keep us company for the rest of our life.

What’s more, learning a second language is not a loading bar, instead, it’s a long wonderful journey. I have something new to learn everyday. Each day there’s something fun awaiting me!

As Mr Chen said in the Psychology of Self-development, there are two kinds of happiness. One is happiness of consumption, and the other is happiness of creation. Both can make us happy. The latter one, however, is generally more difficult to achieve, and it will last longer than the former.

It allows me to explore my learning style

To be frank, I’ve got sick of the learning mode at school, though I admit there’s something worth learning about it. However, for me, the learning mode at school in China is far from fascinating. What I can remember is sitting with my classmates, listening to teachers, finishing assignments before dealine, and trying my best to get close to standard answers… I confess that I learned very passively during my school days, and I was never into English before.

Things have changed a lot since I realized the importantance of self- teaching and began to take English seriously. I started to take responsibility myself, and got more positive when learning. I feel I can take more control of my life.

Self-teaching is difficult. It is more than learning a second language. It is about self management.

No one pushes me. No one forces me to repeat and go over what I’ve learned. No one gives me assignments and quizzes. No one tells me what to learn and how to learn. No one makes plans and schedules for me. With freedom comes self discipline.

It was not until I began to be on an English kick that I realized there was something wrong with my learning mode and then I started to explore and adjust.

It was not until I began to hunker down for English that I found repeating and reviewing was a significant process of study, and it was not as terrible as I thought before as long as I became patient and creative.

It was not until I started to dig into English that I got many useful tips and tricks about learning English from some great English teachers online, such as learning phonetic, paying attention to my mouth shape, my tongue position and placement when practicing speaking, and using the method of echo when practicing listening etc… Some useful tips can be applied to learning other languages.

It was not until I started to take learning English seriously that I found making mistakes was not that horrible.

It is not just about learning English, becoming bilingual, or learning per se.

It is also about getting a good habit, managing my time, learning discipline and also, exploring myself and taking responsibility for my own life.

A new world!

I always believe that languages are bridges connecting people, countries and cultures.

Thus, learning a foreign language is more than the language itself. It’s about learning culture, like customs and ways of thinking, and people there.

Cutural difference is intriguing!

What the difference I found between Chinese and English, is that we tend to put the most important thing in the last position when speaking Chinese while we tend to put the most important thing first when speaking English. This is the difference of ways of thinking, which is showed in languages! To some degree, Learning a second language helps me get a deeper understanding of Chinese and Chinese culture.

In addition, believe it or not, learning English affects my personality and make me more rational!

Let me explain. I am learning American English mostly from Coach Shane‘s free videos. Coach Shane is a great English coach! He is very humorous, optimistic, and passionate, which impresses me a lot. And American English, somehow, sounds enthusiastic and energetic to me. So when I speak English or write in English, I feel myself more energetic, positive and extroverted…… Weird, but it’s true! I don’t know if you feel the same way.

But how come learning English makes more rational?

I think it’s because it’s my second language! I don’t have a very large vocabulary. I can’t transfer from Chinese to English very quickly. Instead, when thinking in a second language, I have to slow down, search among the expressions I’ve learned and try to express myself as accurately as possible. It gives me more time to think, especially think in a different language. Instead of getting overwhelmed by emotions and responding quickly, I have to wait. I feel as if I’m both an observer and a bystander when I’m using English. I start to figure out why Murakami likes to write his draft in English and then translates it into Japanese.

However, as an ESL student, I can’t get the nuance of English like native speakers. I’m not sensitive to the nuance when I use English. If I sound offensive or inappropriate sometimes, please forgive me. I don’t mean it. 🙂 And feel free to point out my mistakes!

Of course, my journey isn’t lonely. I feel as if I’m surrounded with a bigger world. So many amazing people. A lot of interesting information. My journey has got more and more wonderful since I started this blog.

And it’s thanks to you, my friends on wordpress!

I really appreciate every like and every comment from you. I really enjoy visting your amazing blogs and talking with you. I’m so happy to meet you on my journey. I can’t thank you enough!

Are you learning a second language, such as English? Or are you going to learn a second language? What’s your story of learning? What do you think of learning a second language? I’d love to know your thoughts in the comment!

Thank you for reading my ramble all the way through. Happy learning! I wish you all the best!

Vera from China

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Life

A tiny stray puppy

It’s been a couple of days since my mom began to leave some leftovers in the courtyard every day in case that they could tide over some stray dogs here.

Every time after my mom left food and closed the door, some secret guests polished it off in a few minutes.

Usually we had no idea who the mysterious guest exactly was. There are several dogs here. But an hour ago, at lunch time, we met our guests today!

What’s all the racket? I heard that two dogs were fighting. I opened the door, only to find two dogs. One was white with light yellow spot, and the other is dark black. There was no food left on the yard, and it seemed the white one was the winner. If only each dog could have enough food!

About three minutes later, a tiny puppy showed up. The small dog looked starving, keeping sniffing on the yard.

My mom then went back to the house and took out some steamed rice mixed with a little fish soup as well as a little bit of fish to treat the puppy.

The puppy looked shy, nervous and scared, not getting close to eat in the beginning. After we left, it ( I have no idea whether the puppy is male or female ) wolved the food down!

And it was the first time for me to take a clear photo of this cute puppy!

The puppy really cherished every bite of food. It was still sniffing when there was no food left.

After a while it turned up again, accompanied by another dog. Guess who? The white dog with yellow spot mentioned above! They’re not mother and kid, I’m quite sure. It’s a lovely scene that they get along well!

Above is a photo taken several days ago.

There is a book titled Return to the Wolves which really impressed me. If there is no English translation of the book, I highly recommend the movie based on it! It follows an artist named Li Weiyi rescuing a baby wolf named Green and helping Green return to the wolves. Not only the great book documented the moving story between Green and humans, the difficulties they overcame together, and the virtues of wolves, but it also documents how other creatures are struggling just for survival. It was through the book that I realized how hard life can be for those living in the wild on their own, especially in winter when food is quite valuable and difficult to get.

Spring is approaching. I hope it’s getting warmer and warmer!

Thank you for reading! I wish you all the best!

Vera from China

Life

I’m the cook today!

Above is a photo of a simple dish with chicken drumsticks and mushrooms cooked by me.

When it comes to cooking, I’m still a noobie.

I happened to be in the mood for Teriyaki Chicken today. The drumsticks, however, had been boiled well-done by my mother, the talented cook in my family who wanted to cook Fried chicken yesterday, only to find one spice needed was past its expiration date…
So I found a brief recipe for Teriyaki Chicken online.
Main procedures are as follows:

Wash the raw chicken drumsticks and remove bones. Scratch the surface with knife.
Season drumsticks with a little salt and some rice wine. Put them aside for about 30 minutes or longer.
Then make the sauce! You can also buy the specific sauce for Teriyaki Chicken in the supermarket. But I don’t have it on hand. So I need to make the sauce. Add some light soy sauce, rice wine (cooking wine), oyster sauce and honey ( honey can be replaced with sugar) into a clean bowl. The proportion, according to the recipe, is 2:2:1:1. It’s up to your taste! Mix them up.
Fry drumsticks with soft fire. Fry the side with chicken skin first until it looks golden yellow. Then fry another side.
Then pour the sauce into the frying pan. Increase the fire. Keep stir-frying until there is a little sauce left.

Don’t forget to make sure the drumsticks are not burned.

Use some broccoli which have been cooked as decoration. There you have it!
By the way, I’m wondering whether it would taste better if I just seasoned raw drumsticks in the sauce for one day and then fried them… Anyway, I have little experience.
However, as you can see above in the photo, I failed to go by the book. Because the meat had been cooked, and my mom asked me to cook the mushrooms as well. Therefore, I made the sauce first ( I also added some black pepper because I’m a big fan of it! ), and seasoned the drumsticks with the sauce for a while. Meanwhile, I added mushrooms to boiling water, cooking until they were done. Then I took mushrooms out of the water.
Something horrible happened when I tried to fry the meat! I don’t know if it was because the meat was cooked or honey was sticky or whatever, the surface of drumsticks burned within 30 seconds… My mom helped me remove the burned parts. And then I just put in boiled mushrooms, poured in the sauce and stir fried them quickly! When there was only a little sauce left, the simple dish was finished!

In the end, I scattered some porret, which is the green one above in the photo. You can also scatter some chopped Spring onion.

Though it didn’t look mouthwatering, luckily, it tasted good! It could have tasted even better, I suppose, if I had added more honey in the sause.
Homemade dishes are hard to beat ( as long as we don’t screw it up …)! It is healthy, to say the least.
As a big fan of tasty food, I love cooking! Cooking requires good ingredients, a good balance of different ingredients, great control of fire, and, of cource, creativity! It’s an art that not only feeds us but also gives us a sense of accomplishment! I’m still working on cooking.
Are you into cooking? What are your favourite dishes? Do you have any dishes you are good at cooking? Leave a comment down below!
Thank you for reading! I wish you all the best!
Vera from China
Life

Too cute!🐶

Dear readers, please get ready to be smitten with tons of cuteness!

I dropped by my friend’s house today. Two new members has joined her family since last December —— two adorable puppies!

They’re beautiful girls with very different appearances and personalities.

The white one, like a snowball, is Xiao Bai, whose name means little white. With a little white smooth fur, Xiao Bai looks slender, but don’t Judge a book by its cover. Actually, She really is an avid foodie! As an extrovert, she seems to have a lot of energy. Her hobby is playing with her loyal friend ——Xiao huang—— and people, especially the children in the community!

Reader/ Viewer discretion is advised.

The snow white.

Lol, this photo is really funny! It cracks me up after I took the photo!

Gal, you eat way too much. No more food.

Different from Xiao Bai, the yellow puppy called Xiao Huang, whose name means little yellow, is a really fluffy beauty! She looks roly-poly, but actually it’s due to her hairy fur. She looks almost like a tiny bear. Xiao Huang is an introvert. She is shy, cautious, humble and low key. Also, she appears to be very generous when it comes to having meals. Sometimes, Xiao Bai tends to “bully” Xiao Huang, just for fun.

Look at the innocent expression~

My heart melts because of Xiao Huang’s cuteness!

Lol, to be fair, I must post this funny yet fuzzy photo of Xiao Huang.

Here are more adorable photos. Enjoy!

We are live wires! No Camera can catch us!

You know, for the sake of fairness.

A fuzzy shot.

After pigging out, Xiao Bai felt sleepy.

Curious babies.

Snuggle up with each other.

We shot some videos. I’m trying uploading them. I don’t know if I can make it. Anyway, enjoy!

Why the third video shows upside down? I’m sorry.

Kudos to my friend’s family. They take care good of them!

Bonus: A shot of snowman in the neighborhood.

That’s it. But who can get enough of puppies?! Xiao Bai and Xiao Huang, may you be healthy and happy!

Thank you for reading.😄 I wish you all the best!

Vera from China

Tags

Blogger Tag

It’s my first time to do a blogger tag. For starters, I’d like to give props to Madame Writer, who creates this interesting blogger tag! And I highly recommend her blog to you! I always have fun reading her informative posts, ranging from book reviews, movies reviews, writing tips to beautiful photos

!😄

Now let me get into it!

Why did you decide to start a blog?

Honestly, I just came across WordPress and I started a blog… It’s typical for me to kick off something on a whim.
Firstly, I really missed those days when I had a blog, wrote whatever I loved and communicated with other bloggers. Blog nowadays in China, however, is becoming a thing of the past. People prefer using Weibo (similar to Twitter) and WeChat official accounts.
Another reason sounds more practical. I’ve been on an English learning kick since 2018. And I’m happy to sharpen my English skills by blogging. It’s a very interesting adventure

😜

What makes me happier is that I haven’t given up blogging yet, though I’m sorry to be irregular on WordPress. 😔
Describe your blog in three words.

Life. Learning. ( and whatever…maybe…) hodgepodge?
(in other words, my blog is a hodgepodge of different strange things… Oh, it’s difficult to describe it in just three words. 😅)
What’s the story behind your blog’s name?

Murmur. To begin with, let’s put its negative definition, such as complain, aside.😓
According to one of the definitions in Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, it means ” a soft low sound made by people speaking quietly or a long way away “. A soft low sound. That’s exactly what I like. I label myself a simple, ordinary, and introverted person. And I tend to be low key. Living in such a fast-paced society where everyone is so busy, if someone drops by the little place and is willing to be my guest, I will feel quite lucky and glad!

Also, there’s a quote, which gets me every time I read it, by a Janpanese author called Natsume Soseki, that goes:” No matter how narrow and small one place is, it has its own bussiness that matters. ” (forgive my terrible translation) Yes, everyone is a individual universe, small, humble, and yet unique.
Additionally, another definition of murmur I love is ” the soft low sound made by water, the wind etc.” The soothing songs of Mother Nature always give us solace, right?
By the way, I also want to talk about My English name —— Vera. During my high school days, our English teacher told us to get an English name. I found “Vera” when scanning the dictionary. Its Chinese translation “薇拉” , which sounds simple yet beautiful to me, catches my attention. However, It is said that Vera is a quite old fashioned English name nowadays. Really?!😨😱 But its Chinese translation is beautiful!😭
Do you prefer writing long blog posts or short ones?

I like both as long as I can convey what I want to talk about! 🙂 But generally, I find myself couldn’t help but write more and more once I get started. Maybe sometimes too much. I’m trying to be more concise!😃
What is your favorite blog post you have ever posted?

Posts about Xiao Ni. Our adorable puppy. Unfortunately, he was severely ill and left us forever on November 22nd, 2018. It was like the last straw. I was so sad and started to keep thinking of the deceased who passed away long time ago, whether pets once I kept or my family members. There was a period of time when I had no courage to visit my blog because the latest post in November was about Xiao Ni, and he was so healthy then… How heartbreaking!
There is a post I began to write in memory of Xiao Ni since the day he passed away, but I never managed to finish it. Somehow I felt as if I once finish it, then it means Xiao Ni truely died, forever. I feel terriblely sorry and guilty for not taking good care of him.
It’s a long goodbye. And I’m getting better now. Every time I see the pictures and videos about this adorable puppy, I really appreaciate it that Xiao Ni once became a member of my family.
Memories do exsist, keeping warming us. And I believe, our loved ones who passed away actually never left us, and they just set off a long journey without the limit of time or torture of pain. Yes, they’ve been already, completely free from time and pain.
What is your favorite thing about blogging?

Interating with other bloggers. Every time I received a like and a comment from you, a wave of happiness swept over me!
Also, I really enjoy reading posts of other bloggers, leaving my comments and communicating with them. One of advantages of WordPress I love is that there are people from all over the world here! It’s intriguing to learn different cultures!

What is your least favorite thing about blogging?

I have to admit that I’m really irregular on blog. One moment I have inspiration sparkles ( this happens mostly when I’m sleepless) , the next moment I’m not in the mood or I just forget what I wanted to write then… Often times Muse tries to befriend me, but I don’t grasp the opportunity. On contrary, procrastination, a loyal fair-weather friend, keeps inviting me to hang out~~~ I know. I Do need to learn discipline.
How much time a week do you spend blogging?

It depends. Sometimes I spend a lot of time reading or writing on WordPress. I remember when I wrote my first post on psychology, it took me about six hours! Sometimes I just check out several posts. Sometimes I forget…… I know I’m not an earnest blogger.😔 One of my resolutions in 2019 is to be more rugular on WordPress. Fingers crossed!
What is Your Goal for Your Blog/What Do You See For Your Blog in the Future?

As a casual and fickle person, I don’t have a specific goal for my blog. I have no idea where this small blog is heading in the future.
Actually, I hope to write more articles in English, share happiness and thoughts with others and make more friends! Of course, progress on my English skills and a disciplined better self are also definitely what I’m longing for. But they, for me, are byproducts. Let them happen in a natural process. And let me wait in patience. It’s a long journey filled with a lot of fun, and let us enjoy!

That’s it! I didn’t mean to write such a long post.😅 It seems I was getting long-winded… I hope it’s not annoyingly long!
Again, huge thanks to Madame Writer for creating such an interesting blogger tag!
Thank you for reading😉! What’s your story of blogging? Feel free to leave a comment. 🌸
I wish you all the best!
Vera from China
Life

The first snow in the Year of the Pig

I didn’t expect snow when I woke up this morning! When did the magic start? It stopped while I was still sound asleep. Everything is covered in snow, like wearing a pure white New Year’s suit. Yes, It is the first snow in the Year of the Pig. In Chinese culture, snow promises a Good harvest. I hope all of us have a fullfilling and prosperous New Year!

Here are some pictures I’d like to share with you! Forgive me. I don’t have the knack for photography!😔

The roof of my neighbor’s house and the camphor trees. Camphor tree is the iconic tree in my hometown Wuxi.

I’d like to introduce the loquat to you all~ Planted by myself, It was almost 20 years old! How time flies! Now it is in blossom, and it will bear fruit, which is very small and sour, in summer!

It occurs to me that there’s a prose written by Gui Youguang in the Ming dynasty, which is selected into our high school textbook. The moving prose is all about recollection. And it ends with a loquat.

Gui wrote: ‘ The loquat in the courtyard, planted by my wife herself in the same year she passed away, is now tall and lush. ‘ He missed her wife very much. It is sad.

I’m sorry for deviating… Now let’s go back to the photos of snow!

My father is done with shoveling. All of my plants now look like this. They look like steam bread! I’ve recued my mint! It is so tough. And the refreshing aroma of mint still lingers on the snow and my fingers! But now I doubt whether it is advisable to remove the snow from it… Perhaps it would feel warmer covered in snow?

Bright green and snow white complement each other!

I know such snow is nothing in comparison with that in other regions around the world. But here in my hometown Wuxi, a city in the southern part of China, strong snow like this is few and far between!

Snow is a naughty, fickle elf. When it is gentle, it’s lovely and welcome. However, when it “throws a temper tantrum”, becomes very strong and leads to disasters, it’s horrible! So everyone, if it is cold where you live, bundle up and keep warm!

As always, I wish you all the best! May the New Year bring you huge blessings!😊

Vera from China

Life

Happy Chinese New Year’s Eve!🐷

How are you doing?😄

Today is Chinese New Year’s Eve! Now it’s almost 9 p.m, February 4th. In the villege where I live, there are few people walking on the street. I can hear someone setting off firecrackers and fireworks!

And the gala, which Chinese people tend to watch on Lunar New Year’s Eve, is being broadcast on the air!

Tonight I’ll stay up with my family to welcome New Year~ Tomorrow we’ll usher in the first day of the Year of the Pig! Believe it or not, I was born in the Year of the Pig! It was 24 years ago…Oh my goodness! How time flies~ And I can still receive red envelopes from my family as an adult… Lucky me! Deep inside I’m still a baby.😉

In China, the Year of the Pig🐷 means a lot of fortune. Happy Lunar New Year to you and yours! I wish you good health, good luck and prosperity!

祝大家猪年吉祥,诸事顺遂!😊

Vera from China