Posted in <3

The Power of Stock Knowledge


Little Drops of water can wear away stones.

Saturday was my Japanese Language Assessment Exam at MLC. I was both excited and scared at the same time because it was the first time I will get really tested on my Japanese Language Skill by a professional. Plus, the fact that I knew that I will get by only with my current stock knowledge kinda freaked me out.

I almost didn’t make it. Saturday was annoyingly busy. I had leftover work (the Senpai calling for some workrelated shiz that can’t wait), I was busy with chores and I simply was exhausted from the last week. (I’ve had this tired feeling for a while now). But I managed to get out  and got there in the nick of time.  よかった!

I sat down for the assessment. Ms. Okuda was kind and nice. She reminded me of my Sensei in college. I also spoke to her in Japanese. She was pleasantly surprised. I filled out the information sheet and we got to work on the LEVEL CHECK.

In the end, I was surprised with myself. I could understand most things already. I needed to review a few things (proper usage/ grammar  and conjugation) but I was mostly there. Kanji of couse was more difficult, but I could understand a lot of the advanced ones already as well. (Thank you RTK). Ms. Okuda wanted me to start in the advance class – but looking at the material freaked me out (the amount of kanji in that was insane) and I knew that I wont be ready even if I cram all kanji into my head before July.

So I chose the intermediate class/ business japanese.  It starts July. But before that, sensei advised that I cram kanji into my head.

SO….here we go!!




Posted in <3


18700315_10158887291430085_1663027910990137325_nThe road to fluency is never easy.  Just look at how much blood I lost trying to learn kanji. (Ok, I am kidding – I spilled ink all over my notes). But its a good image of how hard it is to study Japanese, but I do it anyway, because I am a masochist? NO. Because I LOVE IT.

I love Japanese. I love the language and how it sounds and even if it does take a great deal of effort to learn. I will definitely reach my goal of fluency within this year or the next.

I have been listening to FLUENT FOREVER. (Yes, Audiobooking) by Gabriel Wyner. It is a really good and helpful book for those who want to learn a language. His tips are solid and are based off experience – and as a frustrated learner of languages, I find his style and his method enlightening.  Especially since I have done many of the things he has done and have failed dramatically.

He was right in saying that in Learning a Language, one must have the main key INTEREST.  If you’re not interested, no matter what you do, nothing will happen if you are not interested. You have to have a personal connection to the language you are learning. You must LOVE the language or it will only be something that will only remain in your temporary memory. If you Love something it will be etched in you forever.

A language learning process that you love should not be so painful. It should be fun. It should be something you get excited about. It should be something you look forward to even if it is repetetive kanji writing, doing Anki, or creating word lists. I should love it even if GRAMMAR kicks me in the butt, or if I couldn’t do particles. One day, I will definitely wake up and all the effort that I did in drilling all that grammar in will pay off and I will speak natural Japanese.

I can read those books easily. I can read the Japanese newspaper. I can be almost Japanese. Until then, I will continue with the blood sweat and tears til I get there and enjoy every step of the way.

Posted in 日本語

There and Back again, A Language Journey.

I admit I have not been very good at keeping goals and I have failed more than once to achieve my language goals. However, I have been in Japan for more than a quarter of a year now and I have already gotten the go-ahead to stay for more than a year, so it’s definitely now or never.

The goal is to finish N2 on December 2018. Get Kanji Kentei certified (as high as I can go) and to be fluent enough to conduct my business and read and talk in Japanese.  The dream has never faded — only the motivation to do so does.

I have all the tools now. (I do think I have too many books). I am in the country of my dreams … and I am now embarking on this monstrous task of fulfilling my dreams within the time limit.  Yep. The clock is ticking.


  Right now,  I can pretty much speak conversational Japanese. I can even speak it while drunk. I can express myself. I can explain some stuff in Japanese. I can understand generally what they are talking about and what I need to know. But I really want to fully understand them to speak and read like a native.

I am lucky because I am immersed in the language. I use it daily at work. However, it really takes effort to really learn. I can learn from listening, trying to read and writing my daily diary in Japanese. But I guess anyone who wants to learn a language can say that language learning is not just about words and phrases or grammar. It`s about learning a culture. It`s becoming the language or a person who uses the language.

I also know that my biggest weakness is reading. I love looking at kanji. LOOKING but  I cant read all of them. I think my goal should beto be able to read and write and not to speak. So I need to focus on that part better.


So, this is how I plan to do it. I have been studying Japanese seriously for about a year or so without any method (or by experimenting with what works for me) halfway through, I have been losing both focus and motivation to do so.

So I figured, since I am all over the place, I need to streamline my studying to phases.

PHASE 1 : KANJI and VOCAB                            3 months
PHASE 2: GRAMMAR/ READING                     3months

Since I am in Japan and I am exposed, listening has become the easiest part to study.

Time: 3 Months (May-August 2017)/ 2200 kanji in 3 months
Daily time allotment: at least 1-3 hours a day
Tools: Remembering the Kanji 1. Notebook. Kanji 1000. Kanji Dictionary. Vocab Lists for N4-N3. Kodansha Kanji Learning.
  Memrise/Anki. Daily

I use Heisig RTK system because I like how it is a complete system for at least REMEMBERING the Kanji and how to write it. I have to support it with the Kodansha system for the Japanese meanings (since you dont get to do the complete Japanese meanings until RTKII) . I also have several notebooks for drills and another one for RTK/ Kanji I learn daily.

THe goal is to learn at least 25 kanji a day. Meaning and all. I like how RTK has its own app for flashcards. I can at least review on the go.  What I also do is that I try to read as much as I can in Japanese. Right now, I am reading 君の名は in novel form. I am slow, but its fun and I am getting there.

Time: 3 Months (Sept-Dec)
Daily time allotment: at least 1-4 hours a day
Tools:  Genki, Sou Matome Books, etc.

I am not there yet, but I am planning that once I learn kanji, i should be able to go through this. Since I know how to speak and listen, I will seriously sit down with the grammar once there.

For now, I am working on PHASE 1 and will update as soon as I can.




Posted in <3, Japan, JLPT, JLPT N4, 日本語

真剣に日本語を勉強する。The Road to Japanese Fluency

I went to Japan a month ago and it rekindled my spark to be fluent in Japanese. My friends in Japan were all taking the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) which rates the English level skill of the person taking it. They are taking it for work and I were asking me if I had any certification in Japanese Language.

Well… I honestly have to say that I haven’t been officially assessed yet. Aside from a few school assessments that I have gone through which both assessed me as an Intermediate Speaker (about N4-lower N3 level) I do not have the official papers to back up my Japanese Language skills. This made me think.

. I deal with Japanese people daily with the work I do. I can speak ok (in fact most Japanese are impressed by my level of understanding) , but I find that expressing ideas to them has become difficult lately with the language barriers especially once we are talking business. Well, of course we do use English and Japanese but there are things which I cannot clearly explain to them and that they cannot clearly understand. And the other way around.

This made me decide something. I have to get off my lazy ass and check one thing off my bucket list.

I HAVE TO DO IT NOW. Continue reading “真剣に日本語を勉強する。The Road to Japanese Fluency”

Posted in watercolor

A trip into Urban Sketching

City Bike
City Bike, Watercolor and Inks 2015

I have  always loved the style of urban sketchers. They draw as much as they can on a subject on a limited time. The subject is anything they can draw and anything they want on location to capture the time and place they are in . They do it on journals with watercolor, ink, colored pencils and crayons and the emotion, speed and spontaneity of the  style attracts me. It seems fit for a girl like me who is always on the move, always on the go.

You can check out  for samples of the artform.  wish i can do it, but all I can do is emulate the style in the piece on the left.

I was trying to capture a street scene in Italy as fast as I can on a Berkley WC paper, Hotpress. I find that Hotpress paper is best for this because it dries fast and pigments seem to be more vibrant on it. It takes only a little to do a lot.

I first did a sketch thumnail to plan the design (what? Maria is planning a sketch?) and then i dove into drawing. The most complicated are the shadows under the bke and behind the wheels. I just cant seem to get it right. But I really had fun doing this and I think, it does tell a story don’t you think?

I am obsessing over bike pictures so expect more bikes in the near future.