the Diaries of a Caffeinated Squirrel

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Re: the Diaries of a Caffeinated Squirrel

Postby Cavesa » Sun Feb 19, 2017 10:12 pm

I am now starting Themen Aktuell 2.

I am making a Memrise course, like the one I've been using for the TA1. I liked it but there are some things I want to do differently. When I share it, please, let me know about any mistakes. Should I share it unfinished? I'll add words as I progress.

I plan to filter the huge wordlists and not repeat vocab from 1. Is there an easy way to searcht the TA1 list, to make sure whetehr something is there?
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Re: the Diaries of a Caffeinated Squirrel

Postby Teango » Mon Feb 20, 2017 2:42 am

I enjoyed the German gag list - vielen Dank, C! With regards to no. 24 on the list, I always loved the sound and childlike summery feelings evoked by the German word for butterfly...die Schmetterling...ahhh, those little buttermillk thieves! :)
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Re: the Diaries of a Caffeinated Squirrel

Postby the1whoknocks » Tue Feb 21, 2017 5:22 am

Cavesa wrote: Thank you. This is very kind of you.

Yes, my standard may be the problem, especially as I am too lazy. A person capable of wasting so much time cannot afford being a perfectionist:-D
At hospital, I want to be taken for a good student, not just good for an Erasmus. And outside, I would like to not look for words, simply be a good conversation partner. I know there is an ancient discussion like "advanced skills are not just vocabulary" and "you should know fewer words but perfectly" and all the stuff we all probably remember being discussed ad nauseam. The thing is: my grammar is ok. It is much worse in writing or while doing grammar exercises (the less I think about it, the better results). While speaking, I make few mistakes. While I am still a bit "too formal" compared to the natives, I am highly colloquial and natural compared to usual expectations from a foreigner. But I don't want to push this, as being a too colloquial foreigner isn't always a good thing.

The trouble IS the vocabulary. When I cannot remember words like "menacer" or "centrale nucleaire", not even perfect knowledge of the first 2000 (or what was the number) words from a frequency list can help. :-D

I probably need to actively study vocabulary again. And to read more sci-fi. The ideal source for science, philosphy, and other such kinds of vocabulary :-D And perhaps some popular psychology and self-help books. For the vocab and a good laugh :-D

I can definitely relate to the part about being a perfectionist but if you're lazy, I'm not sure what that makes me. :lol:

Regarding vocabulary - I'm dealing with the same issue now, albeit on a smaller scale probably. I've been trying to read much more challenging articles and then write about them before discussing them. My passive knowledge has been improving steadily. Keeping this vocabulary on the tip of my tongue is the challenging part; things are good while working with the article or actively working the the topic for a few weeks but afterwards it's a toss-up on what I'll be able to actively recall. To aid with memory, I often like to debate. I find that the more emotion involved in the discussion (versus just talking) the better recall tends to be - the narrow reading/ watching I tend to do to prepare for these may also be a factor.

Readlang has been working well for me with more technical articles. I don't enjoy making flashcards and for that reason, it has been a nice compromise, for me.

For the moment, I've resigned myself to just reading more (like you have), placing myself in situations that might cause me to need more specific language and leaving the rest to time. All the while trying to ignore that, 'there will always be something' feeling that lingers.

Good luck!
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Re: the Diaries of a Caffeinated Squirrel

Postby Cavesa » Fri Feb 24, 2017 2:15 am

February has been an extremely crappy month, as far as my studies go. I don't know how am I gonna catch up with my plans :-(

Some reading (textbooks and I am nearly at the end of a very enjoyable novel in French), some Aguila Roja, quite a lot of medicine but still one 12th or so of my plan. I finished one memrise course (German) this month, and that's it. Perhaps I forgot something but obviously it wasn't important enough.

So, I don't care about that stupid calendar thing. February is over several days early this year. After all, it is such a moody month, sometimes it has 28 days, sometimes 29, this time it has 23 and so what. How to not mess up the rest of the year? Today is not 24.2., and it cannot be the 1st March, so it is the -5th March. And March is gonna be the month of success!!!!!

Time to catch up with my plans. Back to striving for 10 hours of studying languages per week. It is a goal I am not likely to fulfill most weeks, but striving for it again will keep me going. I hope.

Input goals? Hmm. These are now definitely not too high on the list (after studying) but I need to relax with books and movies a bit anyways.
During the last two months (mostly January), I have read 1328 pages in Spanish and 391 in Italian (+1 and a half book in French. + textbooks in French). Listening: 1743 minutes in Spanish. Hmm, I basically devoured a month and a half worth of input, instead of two. That is less bad than I thought.

Ok, while I may be reading/listening to Italian a bit for fun this year, IF I have time, I'll plan just De+Es input from now on. Those two are a priority. My new weekly "goals" will therefore be lighter:
reading: just 391 pages, instead of 440. One book a week is definitely realistic. Most will be in Spanish, as I need to read a lot in it now.
listening: only 209 minutes instead of 299, mostly in German. I have been postponing this for far too long. :-)

Goodbye February. Welcome March. Yes, Erasmus ends in a few days (which is horrible) but still. March is gonna be hard, but great!

Spanish: Finish the damn GdUdE asap, than we'll see.
German: Themen Aktuell 2+ create a memrise deck

P.S. Just bits from a small conversation from fb of other Erasmus students here, to illustrate how much " French practice opportunity" I have been missing by not spending time with them :-D :-D :-D :
-Better late than never: Thank you so much for making my day special!
Mejor tarde que nunca: Muchisimas gracias por hacer mi dia especial!
Blaablaa: Merci beaucoup blaa!
-Ahha ha hahah this is my french level
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Re: the Diaries of a Caffeinated Squirrel

Postby PeterMollenburg » Fri Feb 24, 2017 5:10 am

Cavesa you sound rather disappointed in your French. I haven't been following your progress at every turn to understand all the details, although I suspect from what I have followed that you've been too busy, can't learn much decent from fellow international Erasmus students, and have had little time for decent chunks of study- and when you had that time, you lacked motivation. Still, I hope you get more out of March and are able to feel good about your languages, in terms of progress, again soon.
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Re: the Diaries of a Caffeinated Squirrel

Postby tarvos » Fri Feb 24, 2017 5:21 pm

Funny thing is, from what I remember her French is pretty all right.
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Re: the Diaries of a Caffeinated Squirrel

Postby Cavesa » Sun Feb 26, 2017 12:53 am

Yes, it is pretty alright and better than back then. After all, I didn't get the speaking high score in DALF for nothing. But I still would expect more from myself. After all, what else must I do, if spending 6 months in the country doesn't seem to leave impact on the language skills? :-D

Update, -5th and -4th March 2017:
1. 56 minutes of German studying, Lektion 1. Adjectives declination. One of the things I had failed at and given up at least twice or three times already. But it seems like Themen Aktuell might actually present it in a digestable way.

2. 3 episodes of Aguila Roja. With these, I finished the listening part of my Spanish challenge!!! Which is a problem, I don't have any excuse to continue devouring this series now :-D I want that adictive German series.

3. And I finished reading Muerto para siempre, the last book of the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris. For some weird reasons, fans were disappointed with the ending a few years ago and many were even behaving in an unacceptable way with their criticisms and really crossing the line. Why? I liked it. I liked the story, I loved the sense of humour, I think the series ended at a good point (I don't think further books would have been good), I learned tons of very natural and nice Spanish and French from those translations. And I am happy about the romantic ending some of the fans hated so much, Sookie chose well in the end. :-D

Ch.Harris is the only author of this genre that I like. Yes, I should feel ashamed, but I definitely read it just for language studying reasons (yeah, definitely, not even I believe myself now). :-D

I am definitely gonna read other of her books, now in German. She has written at least two more series. One of them is being adapted by HBO now and might be darker and bloodier than True Blood. Hmm.
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Re: the Diaries of a Caffeinated Squirrel

Postby Cavesa » Tue Feb 28, 2017 12:08 am

-1st March, 00:16

It is so said. In nine hours, my last day in the CHU Bordeaux begins. I will try not to create a monster post. But I might fail. You've been warned.

1.My language "progress". I have just finished the final language assessment online. I have already described the test, it is probably the best online level test available. My results haven't changed much. Reading comprehension+ Listening comprehension+Vocabulary are still C2, no change. Grammar is still B2. It is sad, but true, and it is no surprise. I'll need to slowly continue working with grammar books and exercises, to maintain and improve it. I know I apply the grammar better in speaking (and even writing) than I click it into tests. But B2 result is still too low to be a coincidence and I know my weak spots :-D The only change: "Key communication phrases" are now C2 instead of C1. Either I have improved or it is just the test format and I had better luck on questions, no clue. I still don't get what is their definition of "key" but ok. I got a nice level label, that's something :-D

You know my struggles, I might even be writing about those too much. I still miss some important vocabulary here and there, I make occassional grammar mistakes, I sound to myself like a moron sometimes. Curiously, the vocab in the test seemed easy. In a few cases, I thought "Heh, and people think sci-fi reading is useless". :-D But I miss some of the things I shouldn't in real life. When I have time (so in 50 years from now), there are many things I would love to "restudy". Not just vocabulary, but as well history, physics, and tons of other stuff. Till then, I'll need to accept the holes in stuff I used to know.

2.Nope, I don't have dozens of photos with a happy mixed international group partying. I have made very few friends, but I value them. It is not easy to make friends with the extremely busy local medecine students (I mean profound friendships, not fb friendships). I have made a lot of acquitances and I value those a lot, I have met many people I admire. I have been very lucky, my classmates have been great, I had been a bit nervous about this. I have been very lucky, my teachers were mostly great. Those not great were "just" good, and that is something awesome. People-wise, my cardio group and nephro group were the best, with neuro group being just one cm behind.

3.Medicine-wise, neuro and nephro were the best. I knew neuro would be great. But spending a whole month with people with strokes was awesome above my expectations! (Don't judge me too harshly, I study medicine. I am not supposed to be normal.) The doctors were awesome, classmates too, I learnt a lot. Nephrologie surprised me. An excellent month. In general, this is the first time I feel like studying, the first time I would love to become a doctor. It suddenly looks like I might love such a job (under normal work conditions, not in the Czech Republic). After years of the love-hate (90% hate) relationship with medicine, it is weird and great. I am afraid everything will change much closer to the norm in a week, when I get back to my archaic and inhuman faculty. And don't forget I'm "looking forward" to 5 (?) partial exams, and 5 big exams, most of which will take place within two months.

4.Yes, I would definitely love to do the internship here. I am leaving France with tons of The Huge Exam preparatory books and will work on this goal. My chances are not high, I know. If I end in the last third in this horror race (highly probable), there will be only places for generalists left and I definitely don't want to do that, I am not the type, I wouldn't be good at it, and I wouldn't be happy doing it. And it will depend a lot on my boyfriend too. He doesn't speak French...yet. Today, a classmate complimented me, that I was "as good as them", well it pleased me (a lot) but I still know my limits very well.

5.My health has been complicating my stay a bit. It is complicating my normal studies too. My immunity, my insomnia, migraines... really awesome, thanks a lot, my dear body, you've really been a support. Fortunately, I was very lucky for understanding doctors-teachers (perhaps my Erasmus statu helped too, ok) and for helpful doctors-doctors. Finally everything is ok on this front, but I am leaving :-(

6.All the housing related stuff was quite nerve wrecking. Visits by people interested in buying the house (many of the reality agents cannot behave), the proprietaire with a few peculiar personality traits (but there are much worse, I know), all the broken things (like a completely blocked door, a non-functioning window, and so on)... but I am happy I had a civilized place to stay. Looking for a place to live at was a very stressful experience.

7.Time to pack everything and clean up the room. :-(

It is sad to leave. Fortunately, there is my boyfriend waiting in Prague. He is really exceptional. If going through this and supporting me isn't a real proof of love, I don't know what is. My friends are there. It was great to read a message "we are looking forward to your return". It pleased me a lot. My family. My family's dog! I skyped with my dad almost every day, but skyping with a dog is of limited value.

My recommendation for people considering Erasmus: Go to Erasmus with as high a language level as possible. Yes, you improve the most noticeably as an intermediate around B1, that is totally possible. (and only if you use your opportunity right) But I think Erasmus shouldn't be seen primarily as a language course. The better prepared you arrive, the more you can profit from the real benefits. From studying your field from a different angle. From hearing the original foreign specialists talk about it, not just their (often inferior) English versions of themselves. From getting to know the locals, not just other Erasmus people. This is not about Erasmus people being bad, not at all. But they are all in an unusual situation, like you. With the langauge, you can get to know people in situ. I am getting annoyed at all those answers about Erasmus benefits starting with langauge improvement. While I am all for learning langauges just for fun and for doing a lot of activities just to learn a langauge, I think this time it should be the opposite. The language should be a tool, not the goal. B1 is already a good level to start at, even though very limiting, in my opinion. B2 is a good base. C1 or C2 will allow you enjoy the experience fully. Of course it is different, when you are going to Finland, Hungary, or Denmark. But I still think learning the langauges to B1 in such cases would be worth it, it would just require long term planning. But I can somehow understand people not learning Finnish before going. I cannot understand people not learning French or German before their Erasmus.
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Re: the Diaries of a Caffeinated Squirrel

Postby Cavesa » Tue Feb 28, 2017 5:03 am

Just two tiny bits to add.

1.I've just finished a Spanish vocabulary test I hadn't seen before: ... e-test/es/

it is based on finding synonymes and antonymes. Have you seen it before?What do you think about it? What results did you get? Do you think it reflects the reality well? My result is suspiciously good. There must be a catch :-D

Tu nivel de vocabulario de español es:
★★★ El mejor 4.67%
¡Tu vocabulario es igual al de un exitoso hombre de negocios español de 30 años!

This test was my fun pause in between packing, tidying the room up, and so on. I have lots to do before leaving at 8am for hospital. No idea how I am gonna survive the day :-D But I have done a lot here. Back to work.

2. Earlier today, I finished a short but very enjoyable book by Henri Courtade: Loup, y es tu? Fairy tales mixed with a thriller. Awesome! It surprised me a lot. And Prague in the book means bonus points. (Ok, but again just as the place where bad guys gather).
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Re: the Diaries of a Caffeinated Squirrel

Postby Brun Ugle » Tue Feb 28, 2017 7:24 am

El mejor 7.08%
¡Tu vocabulario está al nivel de un profesional egresado de una universidad!

I don't believe it either. But I see they have a German one as well. Maybe we should try that too. Later though. I got bored halfway through the Spanish test.
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