How I Failed to Learn Chinese at First But Succeeded 10 Years Later

5 comments Languages

Chinese Fast Food and a Book

I’ve had a complicated relationship with Chinese languages. I acquired my first Mandarin words when I was in junior high school, about 14 years ago. And I managed to gather a number of words and expressions but never really got to any point where I could say that I was actually studying the language. I was just dabbling in it.

Then came Cantonese. I was enamored by Jet Li’s early kung fu flicks as a teenager (which also kindled my interest in Chinese kung fu), so I naturally started picking up words from movies like Shaolin Temple and Fong Sai Yuk. But as with Mandarin, I remained in the same ditch, immobilized.

How to Travel Light: What’s in My Backpack?

2 comments Travel

Camel Driver

I used to think that packing five novels, a flashlight, two bottles of deodorant, and a pillow would come in handy when I’m on the road. Now I would call it madness.

I’ve been using my current travel checklist religiously as a blueprint for the past three years, and I’ve never had the need to add anything to it. Don’t let the length of your journey hold you back; I battle-tested this checklist when I was traveling in Europe for two months and every subsequent trip (each spanning over at least three weeks), and it has never given me any problems—quite the contrary.

Here, take a look. I’ve bolded the items that should be worn on your person.

Let’s Be Responsible for Our Own Education

4 comments Approaching Learning, Work & Career


Why do people choose to go to college?

I’ll start by answering the question myself. I went to college because I wanted to learn how to create better websites. I’ve had a background in web development since elementary school, but I used to believe that going to university was the best (and only way?) to become a qualified professional in the field. I at least thought you needed some kind of degree in web development if you wanted to get a job in the field.

Simple Productivity Boost: Write a Short To-Do List for the Next Workday

1 comment Getting Organized, Productivity


As always, this tip applies to all kinds of projects and tasks. I’m merely using web development as a personal example.

I’ve been working as a full-time web developer for the past four months. This means that I have to deal with project management all the time. I’ll often be working on a project alone, and have to design a rough plan for what I need to do in order to create the final product. The list usually starts to snowball as I progress and keep jotting down additional tasks.

These general to-do lists are important for coordinating your work and reminding you to complete tasks at appropriate times. But what I’ve noticed is that when I have a big project on my desk that includes dozens of different tasks and features that need to be implemented, I often lose track of where I have to go the next day—especially if it’s a Monday morning. So every time I go to work, I have to reorient myself to pick up from where I left off the previous workday.

Write Down Your Language Questions to Learn Personalized Expressions

Leave a comment Getting Organized, Languages


Learning a language takes time. Depending on how much time you have at your disposal, learning how to communicate in a foreign language can take anywhere from a month to several years. From what I’ve noticed, one year of consistent effort (daily practice) is usually enough to have a casual conversation in a new language.

Today we’re not gonna be talking about how often you should study a language (we’ll leave that for another time), although I’d like to point out that in a lot of cases daily practice is counter-productive because you can easily burn yourself out.

So today, I’d like to deal with an important practice that many people seem to dismiss. That is, keeping a record of language-related questions.

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