At the end of last year – call it end of the year blues – call it exhaustion – call it what you will but I felt sick of Mandarin, sick of studying it, sick of little progress and rather just sick of the whole experience of being involved in it. I even wanted to kill my blog and my Twitter profile. Yes indeed.
There were a few reasons for this of which a few of them can certainly be shared with you:
- I sustained some rather major “sports related” injuries and other interesting side-effects that really messed up my last quarter of 2012.
- During and prior to this – I believe I got so stuck into flashcards with Anki that just doing them constantly (ad nauseum ad infinitum) eventually led me to feel very frustrated with my language studies. I could explore this in another post but will keep it short and sweet for now – I just really wasn’t enjoying this aspect of studying anymore.
- As I’m not a formal student with semesters and breaks in between, I had set no breaks or planned time away from my Mandarin studies and I never really “willingly scheduled” any breaks from it during the year unless there were certain unfortunate events that interfered. I was even doing flash cards on my holiday in South Africa and Singapore. I mean seriously – what the hell was I thinking? It was my first time I visited South Africa (my birth country) in four years.
- When I wanted to study but couldn’t because I was too tired and my body was recovering from these injuries, I had also felt incredibly frustrated. It seems there’s just no pleasing me – I know. Please hear me out.
- Of course the non-Mandarin environment counts against me and naturally has a way of putting a lot of doubt in my mind. Such as “if I don’t get any speaking practice – is this really worth it?” etc. etc.
- My language exchange gem cancelled on me. I do prefer meeting in person rather than having online sessions with strangers…
- Last but not least – I need VARIETY and I don’t think I am coming up with excuses: I even started “exploring” Korean. (Not something I regret and definitely not something I’m going to stop doing either – in fact I think I will explore it a lot more – but where Mandarin can be compared to a main course, I will think of and treat Korean as a tray of very spicy condiments on the side…)
So for this year – with renewed vigour in my veins, I’d like to say just two things about me progressing on this path in Mandarin. There are just two things I’d love to do this year with regards to my Mandarin studies: I’d love to relax a bit and enjoy the journey and ensure that I am ENJOYING every thing I’m doing that has anything to do with learning Mandarin. I will not focus on the destination nor will I allow any frustration to develop for me during this journey.
Secondly, I WILL at least write an HSK exam level 3 this year and if I feel I am ready and well prepared for a level 4 HSK test before 2014 comes around then great – fantastic – but I am not even going to allow any stress to affect the enjoyment I intend to derive from progressing in Mandarin this year.
I mentioned before that learning a language is much like the building of Rome. The latter wasn’t done in a day – not even in a few years. As I’ve said it – is about the journey – not the destination and that will be my reminder for the rest of this year. It definitely should be yours too!