2017 Book Haul Part 1

It’s been a while!

I have been busy with work and my Korean classes until a few weeks ago. I’m visiting my hometown in a couple of weeks so I started organizing the things I want to leave at my mom’s. There’s a lot of books I have bought in the past 11 months LOL. 

This part is dedicated to novels and other reading materials. 

I. Japanese Books:

I went to Japan back in February and my goal was to buy some more volumes from the Sailor Moon the Complete Edition (now it’s going to be released officially in English as the Eternal Edition)

This time I bought 2, 4 and 7. I still need 3 or 4 more and I will be done lol. 

A. Translation of Japanese Books:


I loved reading The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino. I can’t stop recommending it to people. I can’t even say anything or it would be a spoiler. On the other hand, Six Four by Hideo Yokohama was an okay read, it’s really slow and it’s more about police politics than anything else.


I loved Your Name and wanted to read the novel, but the English version was going to take forever so I bought the Korean one lol. The other one, I bought at the Seoul International Book Festival(?)

I also bought the manga and other titles.

II. Korean Books:

I bought 언어의 온도 per the recommendation of a friend. He failed to mention it could sometimes be a bit hard to read. Regardless, it’s more like a diary/essay kind of book so you don’t have to follow an order. 

In the case of 살인자의 기역법 by 김영하, I was browsing around and the title caught my attention. I started reading and was totally immersed in it. It’s good, short and not too hard to read. I had no idea a movie based on it would come out. The last one, 재미있는 이야기 한국사 조선에서 근대까지 is meant for kids which makes it easier (lots of pictures as well).

I bought the 2nd part of 성균관 유생들의 나날 and 홍천기 part 1 by 정은궐. I have history with this author LOL. It’s because of her that I started learning Korean in the first place. I also bought 사랑의 온도, but have yet to read it. I realized most of the novels and manhwa I’ve read in Korean are historical which is hard to read, yet I have gotten used to them lol. Now, I find it strange to buy novels set in the modern era.

If there was a Korean drama that had me riveted this year, it was Globlin. I couldn’t wait for subs or anything so I would watch it live LOL. Imagine my happiness when I learned they were doing a novelization of it. I also bought Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban in Korean. Still have a couple more to go until I have them all. 

That’s it for this part. Next part is about books to learn Korean and Japanese.

TOPIK 53 Results

I took TOPIK II again this past July. I thought it would take a month to see the results but, for those who took the test in Korea the results would come out earlier (August 2nd).

I was sure I would pass level 4 but, barely -at least that’s how I felt. I was really surprised when I saw my scores. I was just 10 points short of getting level 5. I’m still feeling amazed lol. That’s the thing about learning a foreign language, it never feels like you have improved until you look back.

I improved a lot in everything I think. What surprised me the most was my listening score. I didn’t think I would get 70 points. I guess that’s what happens when you watch Abnormal Summit (비정상히담) without any subtitles (and look up a lot of vocab). Also, I focused a lot in listening because last time my score was lower than I expected. My writing also improved so I was sure I would get a slightly higher score but, not that high lol. However, I’m unsatisfied with my reading score but, I guess that’s what I will concentrate on next time.

For now, I’m extremely happy about my TOPIK overall score and level. That doesn’t mean I will be satisfied with just that. It motivates me to work harder and become better.

Until next time!~

It’s Been a Long Time

A few days ago, I was scrolling through the apps in my phone and I remembered I hadn’t written anything in a while. Imagine my surprise when I realized my last post was actually from last year! I have been extremely busy with life, I guess.

After taking TOPIK last November, I realized I wanted to change my routine while I was living here in Korea. Usually, I would just work, go to my Gayageum class and study Korean. I almost never socialized with anyone besides my neighbors -other English teachers-. I also wished I could improve my Korean in a more organized manner and meet others with the same passion. Those became my New Year’s resolutions.

I registered at a language academy in January and I’ve been taking the classes since then. At first, I did the level 4 Korean class -for 3 months- and while I liked it, I found it to be quite easy so it didn’t require much effort on my part. But, after completing the first part of the course, the teacher recommended me to go to the level 5 class. Then I started level 5, but the class was already on the latter half of the book so I had a lot of catching up to do. I could follow the class, but the vocabulary was hard and abstract. Sometimes, I had problems understanding our task LOL. It also didn’t help that I was in the intermediate range while my classmates were already on the advanced one. It’s been a challenge, but I’m enjoying it so far and I actually feel like I have improved.

What I don’t enjoy is the only day I could go to Seoul to take the classes are on Saturdays during the afternoon. It’s a two hour ride by bus each way and then another 20 minutes in the subway. I already got used to traveling so much that I don’t feel it anymore.

I also joined an English club in a city near me. I’ve been attending since the beginning of March. At first, I wondered why I was joining a club for Koreans to speak and discuss things in English, but honestly I like the fact I have met good friends. It’s also nice to have actual conversations where I don’t have to simplify anything. The downside is I spend way less time speaking Korean in my daily life. I already feel my speaking ability is suffering.

I also got into my head it would be good to have something like the English Club, but for Korean language learners. Discuss different topics made by us, discussed exclusively in Korean and at the end to summarize our discussions. I might decide to actually organize it and see where it goes from there. I don’t know many language learners in my province so I might do it in Seoul since I have to go there every Saturday anyways. It would be a great opportunity to meet other learners here and learn from them as well. If someone thinks it’s a great idea, let’s discuss it!

I also registered again for TOPIK in July since when I tried to register for the one in April is was full in Seoul and Gyeonggi Province. My goal this time is to pass level 4, but we’ll see what happens LOL. I also have some writing templates for the short essay I used for the test (I made them myself using some books). I thought maybe I could share it so you could have an idea of how it should be written -more or less-. Hopefully, I will also have time to write a post of useful vocabulary for those questions.

That’s it!

Until next time~

Book Haul October-December 2016

I think December has been my most active month of the year LOL. I have always been a sparse kind of writer, but I feel like writing recently. I have been on a book-buying spree and even if I tell myself not to do that as it will just make everything harder once I move away, but I can’t seem to help myself hahaha.

I. Korean Language Learning Books:

I found about TOPIK VOCA Mind Map about two weeks before the TOPIK test, but I somehow managed to retain most of what I learned from it. I love it so far. I usually use it everyday on my way to work. It also includes some hanja at the end of each chapter so you can better link words together, and it works marvelously for me.


Each chapter is for a day so there’s around 80 days and the following is the format of each chapter:

I bought 한국어 문장 쓰기의 모든 것 (All About Writing Korean Sentences) on a whim when I was in Kyobo after I got out of the TOPIK test. It is really comprehensive and sort of tiring as you practice writing a lot. Each chapter focuses on different aspects and it also has some TOPIK writing relevance (answering the short essay), but I think it will just improve your writing skills in general.


I took pictures of some random pages and you will see some of my handwriting lol.

*Sorry some are kind of blurry.

II. Korean Books:

As some of you probably know, I have been reading 구르미 그린 달빛 novel for a while. I had to stop for a while to dedicate all my free time to study for TOPIK II. Now that I’m done with the test (sort of), I started reading it again. I’m already half-through the first book so I bought the second volume.


I also bought the Korean hardcover version of Harry Potter (just the first two books) and 어쩌면 별들이 너의 슬픔을 가져갈지도 몰라 which is a collection of poems from different authors. I really liked how Gong Yoo read it, and I find myself re-reading it out loud as well  LOL. I decided to use the right side to annotate words I don’t know and translate it into English and Spanish (I’m a translator after all) to keep practicing.


That’s all for now! Until next time~

49th TOPIK II Results


I have never been one to hide my scores as I think it’s good to share.


I’m really happy and excited despite just passing level 3. I’m also extremely surprised because of my writing score (I only wrote a paragraph for the long essay LOL). Honestly, I did not expect to score so high above the average (it was 31). However, I was slightly disappointed with my listening score (but that’s another story). I’m okay with the reading score though. It could have been better, but it was my fault for not timing myself correctly. I think achieving level 4 in January seems attainable as I was just 15 points short. Overall, I’m really happy since my expectations were kind of low.

I think I should focus more on listening and reading for the remaining 3 weeks. Perhaps I’ll be able to barely pass level 4.

Until next time!~

The Chronicles of TOPIK II

Hello! It’s been a while since I last posted anything. I was busy studying like crazy for TOPIK II. I have no idea whether I passed or not and I will not know until tomorrow after 3pm KST. Although I took the test about a month ago, I still feel drained LOL.

I chose to relax the day before the test because it’s not like it would improve anything even if I did some last minute review. I watched Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them with a friend of mine. I realized during the movie I had forgotten my ARC so I had to go back to my apartment in Pyeongchang. It takes about 2.5 hours to get there and I had to make twice more ㅠㅠ. I’m usually very thorough with the things I really need so I was really stressed out about it, but thankfully I decided to go to Seoul on Saturday instead of just getting there Sunday morning.

Despite going to bed late, I still woke up early and went to eat a strong breakfast. After that, I checked out and went to my test site. I wanted to scout the area, buy some power snacks to eat during the break and find a coffee shop where I could wait. I tend to be paranoid so I like being around the place I’m supposed to be at early. I left the coffee shop around 11:00am so I could walk to the building  I was supposed to take the test. I took it at Konkuk University and like pretty much every other university in Korea, I had to walk uphill. It took a bit longer that I anticipated and I certainly did not like the trek. There were a lot of people handing different promotions and interviewing students.

Once inside the classroom, I realized -to my horror- I was the only western foreigner in the classroom. Curiously, there was a Korean high school student sitting next to me. To be honest, I’m still curious of why he took the test and apparently it was quite easy for him because he always finished early and he would take a nap. Surprisingly, I was not nervous at all, but I already wanted it to end hahaha.

I don’t know if the proctors were new to administering the test, but there were a lot hiccups during the preparation time. I also smeared ink on the sheet (I have no idea how) so they had to give a new sheet and the senior proctor was telling me I had to write my name in bigger letters and showed me the test sheet of another test taker. I was quite annoyed because my name is very long and I told him so; our names shouldn’t be outside the box. Then during break time, he told me he found my writing habits weird. I always turn slightly sideways (my paper too) so I can write because I’m left handed and I’m afraid of smudging my papers and I really hated the attention.

The proctors started playing the music of the listening section beforehand, and stopped it on the verge of starting the questions (not really questions, but you get it). That made it harder for me during the listening part, because I didn’t know the answers slightly beforehand, so I didn’t have any idea of what I should look out for. I had practiced beforehand, but here it was slightly faster and I barely had time write down the answers so I was really frustrated. We literally finished 5 minutes ahead of time and continued to the writing portion. I think it was slightly easier than I expected. I had finished the short essay, but still had like 30 minutes so I decided to attempt writing the long essay. I think I also miscalculated during the reading section because I was just halfway through the reading sections when there was like 20 minutes left so I had to read really fast (which is never a good idea for me) and answer more or less what I thought it could be.

Overall, the experience was quite interesting and I think I’ll be fine even if I don’t pass and that’s okay. I also decided that I won’t ever take a test at Konkuk University. I know for sure that I improved my writing a lot and my vocabulary increased too. How was your experience taking TOPIK II?

Until next time!~


August-September 2016 Book Haul

Hi! I have been out for a long while! All I can say is that working at a school is specially exhausting during summer. I still can’t believe I taught 3 (week-long) English camps. Also, my free time has been spent studying Korean and traveling a bit hahaha.

Over the past 2 months I have bought a couple of books. This time around I bought some more books to help me to study for TOPIK II.

I. TOPIK related books:

I have talked before about how my writing skills suck in Korean so I ended up getting 유학생을 위한 A+ 글쓰기. The  book is divided in two sections. The first one is to learn sentence patterns according to what you are trying to do. Then on section two, you read examples and practice it. So far I haven’t used section two. I like it because in HOT TOPIK II 쓰기, they assume you know it so they give you little practice. Below there’s some more pictures.

I also bought TOPIK 어휘•문법 다자기. I like their vocabulary as they give you a list, then you practice that vocabulary briefly, then they give you their synonyms and antonyms.  More practice, then some proverbs or idiomatic expressions. After that the grammar section starts. They give you a set of grammar points with similar functions (like reason, cause, etc.). Now, their grammar explanation sucks for the most part but it has a good grammar practice section and a lot of examples. Some more pictures below:



I also bought New 스타일 한국어 관용 표현. I like it, it’s cute and sort of understandable.

II. Korean books:

I’m an avid reader and an impulsive buyer so I also ended getting new reading material LOL.

I bought volume 3 of 우리 사이 느은 and I don’t feel any guilt over it hahaha. I’m a big Potterhead so I also bought 해리포터 마법사의 둘 1. I decided to buy 너에게 하고 싶은 말 when I read an excerpt and I just find myself reading it a lot.

III. Chinese Language Books:

I started learning Chinese at the end of summer or so. I went to China during Chuseok so I got some more books to learn. The series it’s called New Practical Chinese Reader 3rd. Edition. I got the textbook and the Reader’s Companion book (I couldn’t find the workbook though). Then when I came back to Korea, I bought the 하루 5분 중국어 쓰기노트 초급. I really hate that it doesn’t give me stroke order so I just go by the general stroke order rule LOL.

That’s pretty much it. I believe my next post will be about TOPIK II writing, but don’t wait for it hahaha. Until next time~

How I’m Studying Korean, Japanese and Chinese

I always try to be as organized as possible when I’m studying foreign languages. I started learning Korean a bit over three years ago- I think-; I picked up Japanese again last year and started learning Chinese about a month ago. I still remember when I first started Korean I was all over the place and it took me almost a year to get some semblance of progress and order. I think all my trials and errors during that time helped me figure out how to plan efficiently for the additional two languages. I usually try to tailor most of studies to a specific goal, but still maintain some sort of balance between skills.

My first step is to establish a definite short term goal (something you can actually measure and test). Right now these are my goals for each language:

Korean: Pass at least TOPIK II Level 3 in October/ November 2016.

Japanese: Be able to write a simple 5-sentence-long paragraph.

Chinese: Master the Chinese tones and be able to distinguish between them when I hear them.

My second step consists of figuring out where I was failing. First by asking myself what are my weaknesses and then how to remedy that using my strengths (and change strategies if one doesn’t work).


Problem: I can’t do the writing section of TOPIK because I lack vocabulary.

Solution: Read, read, read and read. Then, write, write, write and write.


Problem: I can hear the difference but I can’t produce it.

Solution: Listen and practice the tones as much as possible while a friend corrects me.


Problem: Lack of pretty much everything, but especially vocabulary.

Solution: Write the vocabulary down and make up simple sentences using the vocabulary.

My third step is to figure out how much free time I have and how much I can dedicate to each language. In this case, Korean is my main language so I tend to devote a lot of time daily to it and alternate between dates among the other two. For example, I dedicate 3 hours daily to Korean and study the rest for an hour on alternate days.

My last step consists of figuring out the material I will be using and then spreading them out. At the end I get something like this:

Korean (each block 1 hour):

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Textbook Textbook Textbook Textbook Textbook Textbook Textbook
Grammar V: list/quiz R: Yonsei Grammar V: list/quiz R: News W: TOPIK
R: Novel R: News Writing L: Drama R: Novel W: TOPIK L: Drama

Chinese/ Japanese (each block 30 mins): 

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Japanese Chinese Japanese Chinese Japanese J/Ch J/Ch
V: review Tones Writing Tones Grammar Textbook Textbook
Listening Vocab. Writing Writing Listening Tones/ W T/W/Gr

My study blocks change once I have accomplished my goal and set another one. That’s pretty much how I manage to study all three. Then find out how much time I have during a period of time.

That’s it! Until next time!~

March- July 2016 Book Haul

Hi! I’m back -sort of-. I have been on a non-stop lazy mode the last two months (more like moping). Maybe because my new friends are leaving in August and I decided to stay longer in Korea. Also, work has made me become busier LOL. 

Not that stopped me from buying books. 

Learn Korean Books

I mentioned that I was on the verge of finishing Ewha Korean 3-2.  I bought the 4th level texbook, workbook and study guide. I think my pocket might have cried a bit. I also bought Yonsei Reading 3 and I have to say that it’s perfect for me because I don’t have to look up in the dictionary for words I don’t know.

Ewha 4, unlike the lower level books, has a discussion section. I think it’s pretty neat because it includes the sort of expressions you should use to express whatever the section is about as well as you can practice them. The drawback is that the section is designed to be used in the classroom so there isn’t much you can do.

I chose Yonsei Reading 3 because I thought it would be challenging enough. Imagine my surprise when I started reading it and I pretty much knew almost everything hahaha. I really like that you get a variety of excersices before and after reading. I use the questions as writing prompts since that’s my weakest skill. 

Korean Novels:

I loved the drama 성균관 스캔들 and whenever I’m out of dramas to watch, I go and watch it again. I’m actually surprised it took me this long to buy the novel hahaha. 

The actual title is 성균관 유생들의 나날. It is divided into 2 two volumes and it has a sequel which is also divided in two books. I only bought the first one and haven’t really started reading it LOL.

I also bought 구르미 그린 달빛 which will have a drama coming out in August. It has 5 volumes in total -something I didn’t realized when I bought it hahaha. I have started reading it two weeks ago and I’m already on the second chapter (I’m in page 43). I think I’m reading it quite fast considering that I only read it twice a week (as part of my study blocks).

Korean Webtoon/mahwa, Korean version of Japanese manga and Japanese manga:

I read webtoons like there’s no tomorrow hahahaha. One of my favorite webtoons is 우리 사이 느은. The story is about these friends who fall for each other while they are in college. It’s really funny amd cute~ 

 I also read 밤을 걷는 선비 ( which is really different from the drama). I love the Japanese manga 高嶺と花 so I bought the Korean version of it but it also had another manga called in Korean 불로 남매 by the same author.

These two were a birthday gift from one of my closest friends here in Korea. Sadly, volume two wasn’t in Kyobo so my friend bought me vol. 1 and 3. Now, I’m just missing 6 out the 10 volumes~

That’s it for today! Until next time~

Plain Form -는다/다

I just realized that it’s been over a month since my last post. All I can say is that I’ve been busy studying and traveling he. I’m on the verge of finishing the last Ewha Korean 3-2 (I’m in the last chapter). Once I’m done with the book, I will review all the grammar points I didn’t get and see if I can post them here. I’m also preparing for the writing section in TOPIK II so you will see a lot of posts related to that (some will be long, others short).

Korean, like any other language, has a established format for writing formally. It is usually called the plain form in English. It doesn’t require the usage of any politeness level as it’s not directed at anyone in particular. It is seen in academic writings, novels, newspapers and dictionaries. It is also one of the most important points of the writing portion for TOPIK II. It’s pretty straightforward, but it can be tricky f you confuse action verbs with descriptive verbs. In addition, it uses the plain form pronouns such as 나.

A. Present Tense:

Part 1: Action Verbs

a. Stem ends in a vowel= -ㄴ다.

Ex: 사다–> 사 + ㄴ다= 산다

b. Stem ends in a consonant=  -는다.

Ex: 먹다 –> 먹 + 는다= 먹는다

Important note: If a stem ends with ㄹ, you drop the ㄹ and add -ㄴ다.

Ex: 열다–> 연다.

Part 2: Descriptive Verbs

Stem +다

Note: It doesn’t matter if it ends in a consonant or vowel. The verbs 있다/없다 are treated as descriptive.

Part 3: 이다

If the preceding word (the noun) ends in a consonant: 이다

Ex: 학생이다.

If the preceding word ends in a vowel: -다

Ex: 사과다.


It is something that a lot of people seem to get wrong so I will point it out.

If you’re negating using -지 않다 or even if you’re applying a grammar point at the end, it follows the 3 rules mentioned above.

Action verbs:

Ex: 먹고 싶어 하다 (x)–>먹고 싶어 한다.

Ex: 먹지 않다 (x)–> 먹지 않는다.

Descriptive verbs:

Ex: 예쁘지 않는다 (x)–> 예쁘지 않다

Copula (이다)

Ex: 쉽기 때문인다 (x)–> 쉽기 때문이다.

(even if it’s with an action verb!)

Exception for 있다/없다.

If you use these two verbs, they will always be the focal point of the plain form so it follows their rule.

Ex: 할 수 있는다 (x)–> 할 수 있다.

B. Past tense:

It’s quite simple as every action and descriptive verb are conjugated the same way.

Stem + 았/였다.

a. 이다:

Consonant= 이였다

Vowel= 였다

C. Future tense:

a. Action, descriptive verbs:

Stem +(으)ㄹ 것이다.

note: You have to look out for the exceptions such as the verb 다르다 (it’s conjugated as 다를 것이다).

b. 이다:

Noun +일 것이다


That’s it for today! Until next time~