Book Review: Lay’s (EXO) Standing Firm at 24

Book Review: Lay’s (EXO) Standing Firm at 24

Gosh! What a read!

I have always been curious about the idol life in South Korea, because I know they are made to work a little too hard. The successful idols are not only versed in dance and singing, they get to learn multiple languages and stuff, and I always wonder where they find time for all the extra things apart from training the whole day. Some of them are big gamers, some know whole lot of musical instruments, some are trained in multiple languages, some are amazing cooks etc. etc. And I always always admire them for all these skills they have. Of course, they have acquired those skills with hard work.

Lay 1

So anyway, I was actually looking for some of my favorite idols’ and actors’ pics to put as my desktop wallpaper and I stumbled upon the fact that Zhang Yixing aka Lay of EXO has written an autobiography in 2015. And all hail the multilingual fans, some of them have actually translated the whole book of 91 pages for people like us who cannot read Chinese. Well, it was just 91 pages, how long could it take to read anyway? But the emotional roller coaster it took me on, was beyond expected. I haven’t read many autobiographies to be honest, so I am not sure how they really work.

But this one, I say roller coaster because it was so relatable, not just in the terms of how Asian parents generally are, nor how there is a competition among your peers since your childhood, but everything. From his desire to find what was right for him, from his fears about being in another country without any help, from jealousy and concerns about his peers being better than him to his regrets of not being able to do much for his parents, every single thing struck a chord with feelings inside my heart.

lay2

As a review, I would just say, it’s worth a read, not because as a fan one should but because he made it big in life, and he was just 24 when he wrote the book. A whole bunch of 24 year old would find a bit inspiration and a way out to their feelings, if they’re not able to express them well. I actually went through my whole 24 years of life while reading the book (*cue: flashback again*). The structure of book is a bit weird, probably some things are lost in translation. A few things would not make sense, again probably due to language differences. Although, most of the things are chronologically listed, he still jumps from one incident to another which might put off some people. It’s just like reading a person’s personal diary, really. It feels like he’s talking to the reader. And some of the things he says are too profound.

What I took from the book? That he is far more intelligent than he is able to show on TV. It shows his humility as well. Everyone knows Lay as a dork, especially from “Go! Fighting” but as he rightly says, anyone would be like that before the super seniors he worked with in the show. His craving for learning stuff is at another level. I have a new found respect for him, not that I did not respect him earlier.

The book also gives a sneak peek into SM’s training regime. Well, don’t know how much to trust him on it, but it sounded about right.

lay3

What touched me the most was the last part, where he tells about his mother. I could really picture my parents there. Having sacrificed everything for me and my sister, they just worry about us. Even a slight scratch to us pains them. And here we are, we haven’t really done anything for them till now. The one sentence, that pinched me the most was “The first thing she asks me is not how my day went but if I have eaten and slept well.” I am pretty sure most of the parents are the same. Mine also don’t ask about my studies or anything, that’s one of the last worries they have. All they are concerned about is my health and well-being. Shucks, something went into my eyes, aaarggghh…

And since it’s just 91 pages, it won’t take much of your time. So go and google and you’ll find the first link is to the fan translation (The translators don’t want to distribute their work without credits and I am not sure if posting the link here would be just. It’s really easy to find though, so while it is still out there, do give it a try!) And if you are able to read Chinese and can buy his book, please do so!

Happy reading!!

P.S.: Is it just me or there is a resemblance between Baekhyun and Ji Chang Wook? Btw, I am only following Lay in all EXO songs these days ūüėź

Today’s song: Obviously Lay’s song:

I am tired of just updates?

I am tired of just updates?

Hello everyone, ‘sup?

Yes, I am tired of providing just updates of my life but it so happens that I am entangled in so many things, that even though I wanna write regularly, I just am unable to. You do understand that ‘so many things’ includes¬†anime and drama watching, right?

Also, my 2nd semester at CMU is over now, so I am a bit relaxed. Work starts again in one week, although I am still giving time to library work till the end of month. Pretty good hiring manager we have in the library, he let me work for extra 2 weeks.

Anyway, I just thought I would post a reflection of my last sem before moving on on this blog as well as in my life. These 5 months have been the most hectic months of¬†my life. I have never had such a mess of my routine, not even when I was preparing for those gruesome engineering entrance tests. But after everything, I have a decent GPA, had good food throughout the semester, time for language classes and CMU anime club and I was successful in earning my daily expenses for all five months. I am very proud of the fact that I was kind of able to juggle everything despite the belief around me that I won’t be able to (including me and my family, just to add). I’ve probably never enjoyed my tremendous work this much as well.

And, I have come to fall for books once again, though my internet addiction doesn’t leave time to take up many. I am trying to avoid my laptop these days and pick up some more books including some bilingual books. I hope I am able to stick to my plan. Also, been trying to get back to 9-4 sleep schedule. It got messed up thanks to my 2 night shifts per week. I don’t regret my 2nd sem at all though, like I have some regrets in the first sem in terms of courses taken and work I did. I could’ve definitely done more and I discovered my immense capacity last sem.

Regarding my language learning journey, well, I have stopped giving time to Japanese altogether. I want to start again with Wanikani but it will take some courage to see those 1400 reviews and 400 new lessons. As I said in previous post, I took up Russian out of pure curiosity and although, now I know the alphabets, I am still losing interest. I don’t know if it was Duolingo or just me being lazy. I’ll try to attend the whole beginners course again in summers, hopefully I’ll regain the interest. Since, I had experience with Italian, I decided to try Spanish this summer and it’s super easy thanks to the 5 months I dedicated to Italian, though I don’t remember much there, to be honest.¬†I do, however, recognize the similar words in Spanish and Italian. I am still continuing with my Korean classes, and have moved to intermediate level. Just need more practice. The pace of the classes I am attending is amazing. Just that I need to practice all those somewhere.

All in all, I have come to realize CMU community is one of those, which inspires you to achieve new heights. I have never been that eager to absorb knowledge through reading/ surfing. I keep pestering my friends at Indian Anime Club to study with me so that they and I, all remain motivated. I never had that urge to improve my knowledge in BITS (not that I am furious about that or anything, it had its own pros. If not for BITS, I would have never discovered my passion for East Asian culture and foreign languages). So anyway, I want to read more and more books now. My job at library has made me discover so many books, I can simply spend my whole summer holed up in library and reading books. I obviously, cannot be Elon Musk, reading 2 books per day, but I wanna keep my pace at 3 books per week now. Of course, my research would take up majority of my time, but hopefully I’ll utilize my weekends then. Not only I have access to CMU’s library, I know what books to find where in Carnegie Library as well. So, I can just go there, find a corner and start reading. Argh, it’s so frustrating, why didn’t I rediscover my love for books sooner? Anyway, it’s time for me to go finish the latest book I am reading.

See you guys next time, hopefully with a review.

P.S.: As I said above, it’s a matter of proper time management and help around you. If a lazy person can juggle research, 5 courses, 2 night shifts per week with classes on the same¬†day when the night shift ended (including one compulsory presentation on one of those days) and cooking at home, any one can! I have always been an advocate of good home cooked healthy food and I managed them all. And this is coming from a person who used to spend all her time in bed watching anime all the time, once. It won’t be wrong to say that what I did last sem was a kind of an experiment, and a successful one at that, to test my limits and to prove to myself that it’s not impossible as I was told by people around. There are a whole lot of people who say, all hail frozen stuff, they become your life because no time. Well, honestly, to each their own. But I definitely did it. Also, I had lots of help from my friends ¬†when it came to courses. So right help and right techniques, do help.

Free Language Classes in Pittsburgh

Free Language Classes in Pittsburgh

Hi dear readers,

It’s been a while, as usual. This time, I have been actually really very busy. As I stated in some previous post (or did I at all?), I have taken some 5 grad courses, I have research to do and then I have a part time job for which I have to pull all-nighters twice a week. So, I am pretty busy. I have been unable to keep up with new anime even. However, I do find time to go to anime club every week. I have missed only twice this semester. I have been to quite a few movies as well and meet friends not from my department at least bi-weekly. Now that I have written it down, I realize I am really enjoying this sem. And then, I have joined these free language classes which will be the main focus of this post.

One of my Chinese friends knew how interested I was in languages (she herself is a big fan of Big Bang and hence is interested in learning Korean) and she took me to these free language classes that are held in Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (by volunteers I think, not sure). I have joined Korean, which is held every Saturday, Japanese which happens every other Monday and the Russian which happens every alternate Thursday. There are options for Chinese, French, German and Spanish as well. I wanted to join Spanish but had already missed number of classes so gave up on it.

First of all, let me review Korean classes. I joined Korean classes when they had already done 8 weeks of work, out of which 4 weeks were spent in learning the alphabet supposedly. Thank God for that. The best part about these classes is that there is structure, there is review and there are buddies to practice with. We have learnt the general stuff in Korean till now: Where do you go?, Your family, What do you like?, making verbs out of nouns etc. etc. This time, the grammar sticks! Because we’re continuously using it in practice. We form pairs and try to talk. The teacher is really helpful and cute as well. And since she is not actually a teacher, we get to learn from a commoner’s perspective: the commoner’s language. I have been to 2-3 classes and enjoyed them thoroughly. This is the most fun class out of three.

For Japanese, since it happens once in two weeks, I have gone to only 2 classes. They were teaching very basic stuff: What do you like, time etc. I was planning on dropping this class because I thought my level was definitely above than that. However, yesterday, when I got to know that minutes in Japanese are ‘„ĀĶ„āď’ and not ‘„Ā∂„āď’ which I had thought was the case all along (for like 5 years! Gosh!), I realized I have never really paid attention to the details. I was also struggling with numbers greater than 10 somehow (THESE ARE SUCH ELEMENTARY THINGS!! No wonder I don’t pass my JLPT exams ;-;). Well, it gave a huge blow to my confidence but after the practice session, I did get a little bit of it back. So now I am planning to go through it till the end. And if I end up interning in summers in CMU only, then I’ll have access to the new semester of classes, so I can join Spanish and French and second level classes for the ones I am learning already.

Third is Russian. The first class for me was a disaster. Not because the classes were bad, but because I had missed more classes than I had thought I had. I joined them in probably 5th class and though the class was small (like 8 people) all of them were proficient with the alphabet. I had learnt their alphabet 2 years ago, so obviously I didn’t remember anything. But the teacher was quite patient with me and let me attend the classes. I promised her to learn the alphabet before next class and I did well with reading in the next class (a small yay!). I have no clue what happened in the classes I missed though. The one I attended, we talked about family,¬†pronouns and gender. I have also started with duolingo for Russian. Russian is totally alien to me except one song I hear in Ukrainian which is distantly related to Russian language including similar alphabet. But I am enjoying learning it thus far because the teacher is interesting as well.

Here is a link for if you’re in Pittsburgh and interested in attending the free classes:¬†Pittsburgh Free Language Classes
They will start new ‘semester’ of classes in summer, May I think. Check their website for more info.

So, this is what I am doing apart from all the academic stuff. I would have loved to post pics of worksheets but it might be copyright violation so I won’t do that. I’ll post the song I talked about above.

Planning to Plan in 2017

Planning to Plan in 2017

I am not one of those who plan their days, weeks and months. Like, I do make a mental note of what to do in the day but I am unable to follow most of it. Even if I do start making to-do lists, that goes on for one week, may be two at max. This time I decided to change it and went for weekly planner.

Best part is, I got it for FREE! Yup, that’s right. I went for this one:¬†How Life Unfolds Printable Weekly Planner. At CMU, we get a semester quota of 40$ for printing and I had some amount left at the end of the semester. I decided to print these for 26 weeks. Although, colored prints would’ve looked good I didn’t have enough balance to go for that. Nonetheless, black and white does the same work as colored one, so that’s that.

Anyway, I don’t have one of the written ones with me right now but the one I use¬†looks something like this:

weekly-planner-front
Front
weekly-planner-back
Back

There are other templates on the above link, so you can try out whatever suits your taste.

I generally start with writing my weekly goals down on top of front page. Then for each day, I write my agenda on the left hand side and what I actually did on the right hand side at the end of the day. In back, I use the space for notes to list down the groceries I need to buy and my meal plan based on what is available to me and what groceries I am planning to buy and on which day of the week (since due to meetings and extra classes the day of grocery shopping might change).

As I said earlier, I am quite inconsistent when it comes to to-do lists. That is why I only printed 26 sheets. I already skipped last week because it was the first full week of the semester with my on-campus job and loads of meetings. Now I can settle down and plan my stuff accordingly. When I am able to accomplish what I set for the day, the sense of achievement is heavenly.

Not that I am not procrastinating. I definitely am. Given the new hectic schedule, many things are going on back burner. I need to gear up more.

By the way, when I made my time table for the semester this time, including major stuff which cannot be skipped in any way, like meal prep, classes, sleep, job, I realised I had so much free time to study. I hadn’t really ever counted how much I was wasting out of it. Unsurprisingly, max was going into social media and addiction to my east Asian entertainment (after cutting some of it for meal prep). I decided to use pomodoro technique to keep me on the track. Let’s see for how many days it works.

What are your planning techniques this year?

My Penny Pinching Secrets

My Penny Pinching Secrets

Continuing from¬†my last post I think it’s about time that I write a bit about my finances. I won’t elaborate much but I am glad I am maintaining at about (500 +/- 30)$ per month including rent, utilities and groceries.

As I said last time, I have heard and read many stories where a lot of students couldn’t afford their rent or food. Hence, they would live in shabby places and eat noodles to save on time and money. Honestly speaking, I draw my inspiration from them. I am fortunate to have enough to live in an apartment and eat all my meals everyday. However, I won’t deny that I still live a frugal lifestyle, without spending much on luxuries. But if I do find something which I would regret not buying later, I do go ahead with that purchase. Before I start, I would say that after my rent, phone, internet and electricity bills, I am left with about 80$ a month for groceries and other things.

Now, it is not to say that I cannot ask for more. I definitely can. But, to be honest, loans scare me. Debt is always scary, even if you have a job with you. Also, it doesn’t fit right with me that I ask my parents for money beyond absolute¬†necessity (this is the Indian scenario and parents support their children financially till whenever parents¬†wish). Hence, I try. Keeping my budget under 500 has been difficult. It means less occasional outings whether for food or vacations or just shopping. I did try some things to earn from here and there, since I was a new student and couldn’t really get an on campus job last sem. So, what did I do? Here is a list:

  1. I got my rent reduced because I agreed to live in living room: We are three students sharing a 2 bed 2 bath apartment (sharing an apartment rather than having your own studio apartment is always cheaper). Hence, the third person had to manage with living room. I agreed to live in the living room for a reduction of 50$ per month in my rent. With a separator, it pretty much feels like a room/ private space to me. So, I am happy. For that, your flatmates need to be adjusting though. My flatmate who has a private bath in her room was fine with her rent increasing by 50$ per month, then only I could do this.
    rent-reduced
  2. I signed up for various apps where I could save/ earn money: Ok, so this is bit of a stretch, but I signed up for various grocery cashback apps which give cashback on select grocery items in their catalogs. They are¬†especially useful for people who eat (especially cook) non-veg and have drinks. I haven’t cashed out anything from these apps yet apart from an Amazon Gift card of very small amount from ReceiptPal and 27$ worth check from InboxDollars very recently. I won’t review any of those because there are plenty reviews out there. However, I would list down what all I use: 

    a. InboxDollars: This is a survey site where you can earn money doing various activities apart from taking surveys. The thing I like the most about them is their TV section. I put the TV on on the website and keep doing my work. After sometime, it does ask to click a button to confirm if I have been watching the videos, but even if I am not, I can just refresh the page and the playlist of videos starts all over again. (They have put a cap of 50 cents per day recently which is disappointing!)
    I recently cashed out a 27$ check from them after three months of joining. That too, because I did not know about the earnings from TV section. Earnings from occasional surveys add up too.
    Beware that this is not a place where you can become rich or earn your rent. But it’s enough to make about 30 bucks per two months passively. If you do surveys (which are hard to qualify for, just a heads up) and other stuff actively, you can earn more. People say they have made upto 70$ per month on the site being more active. Well, grad students don’t have that much time.
    Right now they’re giving 5$ to any new member who joins. And if you’re interested, you can use my referral as well:¬†InboxDollar Referral
    inboxdollar


    b. Apps like Checkout51, Ibotta, Shopmium, SavingStar: They all are apps which give cashback on groceries you buy. They have new list of items every week and you just have to unlock that particular item and scan your receipt. While Ibotta has many selections, they generally need membership details for the given store and Aldi is not there (the place where I do my major grocery shopping from.)
    Checkout51 has number of stores but their variety ¬†in items is dropping down. However, these both would be my go to cashback¬†apps. I haven’t cashed out anything from these yet but it never hurts to get some cents back on your purchase every time passively. One day, they will all add up. Walmart’s Saving Catcher is another option if you do your major shopping from Walmart. I’ll write down the referral codes for these too –
    Ibotta: rflsgnl (if you sign up using this code, you earn 10$ and I get 5$).
    I still don’t know how coupons work, but if I ever get time, I would like to try those too!

    c. Apps like ReceiptPal, Yaarlo: I particularly like Receiptpal because you get a 1$¬†increment in Amazon Gift card for each 16¬†receipts you upload on their app. It can be anything whatever you buy. You read it right! I did sign up for Yaarlo but I am not very happy with its earnings. Nonetheless, nothing goes in snapping a picture or two of your grocery receipts. Another app is ReceiptHog, similar ot ReceiptPal, however they don’t have any space with them and I have been on the waiting list for 3 months already. I won’t really recommend that.
    Referral Code: Yaarlo: 4AUCKPG1667

    The only catch here is, none of them is super fast. For some, it might be time consuming to just check out offers too. I check them out on bus or when I am idling around with social media etc. But trust me, when I received that 27$ check on 5th Jan from InboxDollars (I had won a 10$ worth target gift card too earlier), and when I deposited it to my account, I was overjoyed. Seeing that account balance going up always makes one happy.

  3. I stopped eating outside: Not exactly. But yeah, I do my cooking entirely at home. Not only do I save money but my diet restrictions also has something to do with it. I am a vegetarian. I don’t eat eggs even in things like cake etc. but in US even pasta can have egg. Hence, I avoid all outside food whenever I can. A lot of people complain they don’t get time to cook because cooking takes up a lot of time. I have observed that with time, you start taking less and less time in cooking. Also, you can always¬†spend less time on facebook.
    Home cooked food is fresh, healthy and cheap (I did some calculations and one meal comes out to be less than a dollar when I cook all the meals in a month by myself). And I will emphasize on healthy. My parents, who have always had healthy food in their youth are struggling in their 40s. I can’t imagine maintaining my body that long given all the junk I have already consumed. I want to keep fit with exercise and good diet. That is also one motivation behind me cooking everyday. I also save time when I make all my meals for the day in the morning. Or may be on Sunday and use them till Tuesday. Whatever arrangement works for you. That one hour affair pays me for the whole day(s). Proper nutrition also means more energy and better concentration.
  4. I¬†participated in researches: A lot of colleges are involved in researches where they need help of human subjects. Not talking about experiments on you but just interviewing, aptitude tests kind of thing. Try to find if that happens in your college. Mine has a huge system where various studies are available. They don’t pay much but if doing fun activities for 20 minutes is giving me 10-15 bucks, I am totally up for it. The mistake I did was, I was too ashamed¬†and egoistic to sign up for them for a meager amount. But when I participated for the first time, I found it to be a relaxing activity. The hospital and another university near me pays as high as 600$ for some studies. Without an SSN, that particular study would have paid me 150$. Not bad for 6 hours of your life. (I didn’t qualify for it though, so that’s that).
  5. Find an on-campus job: Goes without saying. It is the best way to earn money and add something on your resume. Because I did not have one last sem, I tried all of the above to make/ save some extra.

Some more things you can do is to stay away from subscriptions you don’t need. I don’t really watch TV, so I don’t have any netflix or hulu subscription. I use WhatsApp or free video calling apps to call home. Another thing I have heard about is, you can, in general negotiate your monthly bills in US. I have no experience in that at all though. Investment? Well sure, if you can. I don’t have that much money or aptitude to start investing in US yet, but some day soon.

Initial expenditures can blow anyone away. I spent whopping 2000$ in my first one and a half month here. After that, I have been trying to take care of my budget. I did start noting down all my expenditures. Writing down keeps my desire to spend more in check (or checking your account balance frequently ūüėõ). I am not bothered about people saying that I am stingy. Because at the end of the day, I want to be in less and less debt without ruining my health. I know the feeling of spending my¬†hard earned money without any pressure of loans on me and I would like to achieve that state as soon as possible. Hence, I am not afraid, not concerned of ‘missing out on stuff’ right now. Nor do I forget to reward myself once in a while with good food or something I really wish to buy. I rewarded myself with food from my favorite restaurant very recently on finally landing an on-campus job. These kind of rewards keep me motivated to do better as well.

So, these were some of the things I have been following till now to manage my finances in US. What are your pet peeves?

(Pics credits to their respective owners)

K-movie review: Penny Pinchers (ŪčįŽĀĆŽ™®žēĄ Ž°úŽß®žä§)

K-movie review: Penny Pinchers (ŪčįŽĀĆŽ™®žēĄ Ž°úŽß®žä§)

Being an international student in US from a modest family background, I like¬†to think a lot about how and where to spend my money, especially when it is coming out of my parents’ pockets and student loan. The movies suggested by various websites to me, it seems, are¬†also related to the topic (given the infamous issue of data collection for the websites visited by users, it comes as no surprise). And hence, I stumbled upon this romantic comedy¬†starring Song Joong Ki and Han Ye Seul.

Penny pinchers 3

Plot: Chun Ji Woong (Song Joong Ki) comes from a not so rich family where his mother owns a small diner. Being the pampered child, he has never had a problem with money. He lives off the allowance from his mother and is looking for a job. Not to say, he keeps failing the job interviews on account of his carefree and careless personality.

On the other hand,¬†Gu Hong Sil (Han Ye Seul) is very diligent when it comes to money, having been brought up by a gambler father. She doesn’t shy away from stealing sugar sachets from¬†cafes to save pennies. She even goes and salvages whatever she can from destroyed homes to earn small amounts and lives frugally. Thus, in five years, she has managed to save almost $200,000 which has been her goal since the beginning.

Both of them live in the opposite buildings and the neighborhood happens to have been sold for making a mall or something and every one is being evicted. By chance, Chun Ji Woong’s mother’s diner gets destroyed by a boar. Having flunked another job interview he is now penniless. Gu Hong Sil decides to take him in and teach him her penny pinching secrets. There is a catch though. Chun Ji Woong has to listen to whatever she says without questioning her. Gu Hong Sil manages to recruit him in her plans while using his name to open another account and put her hard earned money into it to evade taxes. However,¬†Chun Ji Woong has life lessons for her too. And she learns to spend that money for her own sake. In the meantime, romance develops between both of them which is a given, of course. But is she successful in reaching her goal? That is something you need to find out.

Comments: Having been released in 2012 and Song Joong Ki being such a popular actor, I am surprised at the dearth of English subbed versions of this movie. Comedy is apt. Acting is outstanding. Song Joong Ki has done awesome job to channel the dorky and¬†nonchalant character of Chun Ji Woong. Han Ye Seul’s acting, I found a bit lacking compared to her counterpart when it came to emotional scenes but otherwise, her portrayal of serious and badass Gu Hong Sil is……. just badass. I don’t remember the songs, so they didn’t have much impact for me. There is story and there is a bit of comedy. And that is enough for a one time watch, I think.

Penny pinchers 4

Another subject¬†movie touches¬†is the life of NEETS. There are tons of people like Chun Ji Woong and his friends who are looking or rather pretending to look for jobs to satisfy themselves and those around them that they are putting efforts. The stress of not finding the job pushes them to drink more alcohol and hit gaming arcades etc. all the time. I won’t say much about how Gu Hong Sil actually earns money, because hey, there are all sorts of unconventional ways to do that. Doing a job and earning money does not fit everyone’s style.

Lessons Learnt: Yes yes, it does teach you how to save money, that too subtly, but it goes to extreme ways. The two most important take away from the movie are:
1. Learn to save the money. There are other methods of pinching pennies but yeah, one needs to save money no matter what. It always helps. I personally wouldn’t follow all the ways shown in the movie though.
2. Never trust anyone when it comes to money. If something is too good to be true, it is supposed to be that way only. Learn to read between the lines when investing your money as well.

Penny pinchers 2

Other thoughts: People have told me that I keep whining about money all the time. That is what grad studies do to you, when the future is bleak and you have loans and everyone’s expectations behind you. Nonetheless, if you manage well, you can minimize your expenses. This movie will inspire another post from me telling what all I do to save whatever I can without compromising my health and meals. Not that I am the best source for the same. But given that there are so many examples of students who lived their grad lives on ramen noodles due to lack of time and mostly money, I feel like my perspective to keep myself healthy will be refreshing for some. For my parents don’t want anything else from me but good health and happy life for myself. Since they are spending so much money on me, I personally think that I owe them at least this much.
Penny pinchers 1

Side Story: Nothing much this time, semester starts next week. The vacations came to an end without me doing anything productive. I tried Wanikani after months and for first three levels, I got only 51% correct. So I have forgotten my Japanese and I am afraid to test myself on Italian now. I will need to start afresh :/

Today’s song: I have been listening to trance music these days. However, I think I’ll post another song from Black Pink:

 

(Picture and MV credits go to their respective owners)

New Year Greetings and Updates

New Year Greetings and Updates

Oops! I skipped two weekends again? Oh no!

Anyway, a very warm and happy new year to everyone. Another year has passed by and I already did¬†a review of my 2016. However, I do think I wrote that post a bit early as a lot has happened after that. I won’t bore you with those trivial details, but I wrote¬†in the same post that I would tell everyone a bit about how I came to love blogging again.

Some time last year, no wait, it’s 2017 and I am talking about 2015, so last to last year, I started feeling that posting on my blog at one particular fixed time had become¬†a task. I had never heard of post schedulers and my schedule has always been erratic. Sometimes I¬†had so much to write about, other times, nothing at all. For keeping posting schedule on track, I even tried to rope in some of fellow anime watchers and reviewers to do some guest posting on my blog, but they turned out to be exactly like me lol, and the plan failed. In the end, I was just procrastinating. I did it to the point that I would watch 10 shows, begin with the writing process, forget about the post and the show and the unfinished post would remain in my drafts, forever!

This year, after joining CMU, I took a course in Science Technology and Innovation Policy. It was about 8 weeks course (half a semester) and we were asked to write a weekly blog entry in the latter half of the course. We were also supposed to write a weekly journal describing what we learnt in the class that week.

Now most of the people, including me, would say that when something you like doing becomes a necessary task to be done, it becomes boring, you lose motivation to do it. It was the case in here too, but I don’t know why, it actually became fun later. And I decided to take up blogging here again. I posted one or two posts right after my semester got over and I fell down in the trap of k-dramas and anime again. However, I haven’t lost the motivation to write till now.

And, I am yet to discover the reason for that. If I could apply that reason to everything I do, wouldn’t I start enjoying every activity, every task? I hope I will realize that sooner. Till then, I will keep going with sheer determination.

Side Story 1: How did you spend you new year? I spent my new year with running man, and maaaan, it’s so hilarious. The initial episodes are crazy. Finding the subbed episodes is tough of course, but people from respective fandoms of idols guesting on the show have done a great job and I am so thankful to them. I do hope SBS starts officially translating shows like KBS one day so that international fans can enjoy them too. They get to earn through YouTube ads, so why not?

Today’s song: This song has been my solace and motto for quite some time now:

Webtoon Recommendation: Divine Bells (žč†Ž†Ļ)

Webtoon Recommendation: Divine Bells (žč†Ž†Ļ)

I was going through the drafts on my blog today and there is no text in any of my drafts. I don’t understand what happened. Anyway, I see that a lot of people are getting interested in webtoons lately and hence, I decided to rewrite this piece (because the earlier text I wrote is now missing).

Plot: Divine Bells is a historical fantasy by Lee Hye which tells the story of prince of an unknown country in the land of six kingdoms. In this world, if a girl has divine powers, she is considered a priestess but if a guy has divine powers, he’s considered unlucky (ok, some messed up world this is). The story starts with the ceremony of divine bells choosing their owner.

There are eight divine bells which appeared 150 years ago (they were actually made by a powerful witch/ priestess). They choose their masters, mostly kings of the six kingdoms and the number of divine bells possessed by a kingdom determines their influence. Till now, kingdom of Dae Hyun has possessed three divine bells and kingdom of Myung Joo, none. Others have either one or two divine bells with them. The king of Dae Hyun has recently passed away, and hence, our protagonist, king Hong Ryung has come to take part in the ‘divine bells choosing their owner’ ceremony¬†for the same reason. However, everyone is of the opinion that the three divine bells will choose king of Dae Hyun again. Hong Ryung has no interest in the ceremony either.

But, call it fate (or the author), one of the divine bells ends up choosing Hong Ryung. Hong Ryung, himself is a kid and faces opposition from his late dad’s concubine Chui Bi who wants her own son to be the king. The story develops from here to reveal what divine bells actually are, who Hong Ryung’s real enemies and friends are, why he is chosen so suddenly by one of the bells and ultimately, his role in saving/ destroying the world (No spoilers! Phew!).

Art: I love the art. It’s minimal yet portrays everything. There are some scenes which become vertical from horizontal to show the full extent of the cut, which is a bit annoying. But the author changes the drawing style, I would rather say the drawing style evolves throughout the webtoon. The colors become brighter later and it keeps getting better and better (when will I be able to do something like that?).

Characters: There are lots and lots of twists. I read it while it was still publishing, so it seemed slow to me, but since I was writing a review now, I read it once again. 140 chapters aren’t that much. Pace feels okay now. Character development is not bad. Villains become friends and friends become the enemies, there are many many and huuuuuge plot twists. Every character has got time of their own. However, I would have loved it if each divine bell had much more¬†screen time of their own than they were given. You see Hong Ryung transform from a ‘no fucks given’ to the sympathetic guy who prepares to sacrifice himself for the world (well, he is protagonist after all). ¬†Rest you can find out on your own.

On account of not spoiling the story too much, I have to withhold the names, so I cannot say much. But I would highly recommend this one to anyone who has slightest interest in fantasy and history or just general interest in webtoons. There are quite a few elements of comedy as well. Read it here: Divine Bells on EG Scans

Now for today’s song (I don’t even know why I am listening to this one on repeat, it’s neither Korean nor Japanese, it’s an ENGLISH SONG!!!!):

 

(The credits for images goes to their respective owners. None of the images are mine.)

My 2016 In Review

My 2016 In Review

Oops! I realise I have taken too long a break! In the meantime, I have accumulated so much to write about. And I am finally a bit free, like comparably. My semester exams are over and I finally have some time to myself. Not that I wasn’t watching anime or k-dramas before.

Anime updates: For fall anime, as usual, I started with a bunch, dropped quite a few. And hence, I am again remaining withslice of life or sports anime with me: Natsume Yuujinchou, 3-gatsu no lion, Yuri on ice, Haikyuu, Days etc. Haikyuu finished quite early, only 10 episodes, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Days was summer anime, I think. Although many people have been disappointed with the anime, I liked it nonetheless. Yuri on ice is a different one, enjoyable though. Natsume, as usual is the best! I will miss Natsume TT_TT

K-drama updates: I watched quite a few k-dramas this year: DOTS, The K2, W (I loved W by the way. Recommended to a friend as his first k-drama and he fell for the plot as well!! Brought another person to this world, yes!). This time I have picked up Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo and Goblin. I feel Kim Bok Joo is¬†better than Legend of Blue Sea, it might be my personal preference though. Initial episodes of Legend of Blue Sea were hilarious, but I can’t see where the drama is going now. Whereas, it is easier to relate with Kim Bok Joo. Goblin is utterly hilarious! Tvn and JTBC have made some real gems this year.

Other dramas: In the latter half, I watched quite a few other dramas as well. Love O2O, Virtuous queen of Han Dynasty etc. I don’t remember all the names but for rom-com, love O2O is my recommendation, for now. If I remember any other which I found good, will update the post.

Variety updates: Weekly idol had been my top choice for this year as well. However, I am losing interest in it somehow. I finished whatever English subbed episodes were available for Knowing Bros. I took a bit interest in K-pop star 6 as well. The absolute favorite of mine is however Go Fighting! I started watching it for Lay but the comedy is the best. Highly recommended variety show (I am yet to try running man by the way.)

K-pop updates: Infinite! Infinite! Infinite! Yes, my recent favorite boy band came with an album this year and the title song grew up on me as usual. I got into VIXX as well, courtesy to my sister, and now I am a fan. I don’t really listen to YG groups, but black pink has certainly caught my attention. I like Big Bang’s recent song Fxxk it too. Other than that, Lay and Sistar did a good job. Lay’s ‘monodrama’ has been on my playlist for quite sometime.

Webtoons and Manga Updates:¬†I were to release my translations for some manga but then my college started, and I did not find time to put the text in those blurbs at all. And my sister fried the hard disk of my old laptop, so¬†all my work is gone now :/ Many webtoons ended this year, I dropped almost all of the ones I was reading because updates were really slow. Same with manga. I dropped Dice, Thousand Nine Tails, TAL, City of Dead Sorcerer, Skip Beat, Haikyuu (Damnit! Didn’t know they were these many) I am still waiting for Barakamon updates. I started reading Tsubaki-chou lonely planet, again courtesy to my sister. Another one is Fujiwara-kun no Daitai Tadashii, because I was translating it.

Language Learning Updates: Both of my languages are on hold and whatever I learnt till now went down the drain. The revision is on my agenda right now. I borrowed tons of books from my library for some winter reading, I am going to hoard some more. Let’s get some motivation!!

These are my updates for now. In weather updates, Pitts weather is super erratic. One day, it’s sunny with 15 deg C temperature, next day it’s snowing with -5 deg C temperature. Really weird.

Anyway, I need to get back and do some work so that I can write more tomorrow. I will also update a bit about the courses I took this semester and how I came to love blogging once again. See you all and happy holidays!

And for the customary song in each post, here:

I Am Finally At CMU!

I Am Finally At CMU!

Hi guys,

It’s been quite a while since¬†I came to my blog (I have been monitoring my stats though, lol). And the reason is, *drum roll* I have been preparing for higher studies. I finally landed in US three¬†weeks ago. And the college I am going to attend is Carnegie Mellon University. Studying in such a reputed university is a dream come true. Which also means more responsibilities and lesser time.

I couldn’t keep up my schedule while preparing for here, I can’t imagine if I will get time for writing. But I promise, I’ll try my best.¬†So, the classes have started and I am still pretty confused about the classes I should take. I have registered for 4 courses, which everyone says is more than enough for a master student but I just feel like I am too free. May be because it’s just the second day of the classes.

But otherwise, the profs are cool, everyone is really helpful and what I like the most is the collaborative nature of the education here. No wait! On second thought, what I like the most is that you can eat and drink in the class and no one would bother you. Sometimes, when you enter the class, it’s smelling of salad, but yeah, pretty convenient.

Food reminds me, it’s really difficult to get used to American diet. I am vegetarian plus I don’t eat eggs in anything, not even cakes and stuff. On the top of that, I am not very fond of cheese either. So eating outside is no option for me anyway. I generally cook for myself, but I need to improve in this field too *sigh*

Oh, the free goodies! Yesss! I need to brag about it! I am sure this is the culture of US colleges, but there are so many events that take place everyday. And we get so many freebies, like anything. Which is a good thing, I think. I just hope I get funding for my masters from somewhere. That’s a challenge too.

Anyway, I’ll go back to cooking dinner and try to take time out to post some pics from Pittsburgh and CMU. Or maybe some trip I take in US since it’s a new chapter and a new place….