Studying While on Vacation

All work and no play makes bats a dull boy...all work and n--

Despite lifestyle changes, organization methods, personal goals, or study methods, sometimes life gets in the way of language learning.

As I’m writing this blog, I am in Chicago visiting family.  This is a trip I make semi-regularly, especially this time of year, and it being what it is, I haven’t had much free time for myself.  Of course, my schedule isn’t totally monopolized, I have snippets of time in-between meals and sightseeing, but that time is fleeting and often not opportune for doing much work, and while here I’ve basically had to put everything on the back-burner.  I’ve gotten some stuff done every day while here, but it’s reduced from what I normally aim for per-day, and isn’t the same things I would be doing were I at home.

And this is, ultimately, fine.  Stuff like this happens to everyone who has a long-form project like learning a language.  Sometimes life gets in the way.  I’ve had it happen before during the time I’ve run this blog, though usually for single days within an otherwise normal week.  This time around it’s single normal days surrounding a week of disturbed time.  Even my travel day leaving Denver was messed up, despite my plan to read on the flight and have a normal, if super reading-heavy study day, thanks to the flight being miserably hot and uncomfortable, making reading for any real period of time untenable.  I got some work done, plus the bit that I managed to do in the morning before my flight, and just had to make do with that.

Other days it’s been more about stealing snippets where available.  I’m an early-riser, so I managed to snatch some time away in the morning to get a touch of reading and watching in, and there’s almost always a bit of wind-down time in the evening, even if the rest of the day was spent out and about away from my electronics.  Plus, I’ve long since fallen in the habit of opening the kindle app on my phone whenever there’s a lull out in the world, waiting in line for a coffee or whatever.  It’s been pleasing to see that when working like that, with no real effort I’m still getting in an hour and a half to two hours of work per day, which feels about right with my normal schedule day-to-day at home.  My days here certainly feel more packed, so it’s nice to know that the sensation of being over-busy doesn’t necessarily translate to being actually too busy to get anything done.

Points of time when “life gets in the way,” either for individual days or for stretches of time like this can be deadly to long-term learning projects for a lot of people.  A big part of success on these things is momentum, maintaining a streak of productivity that carries you from one day to the next with a certain sense of attachment or pride in not wanting to break a chain of success, and sometimes you are forced to break a chain due to things beyond your control.  It’s usually easier to forgive yourself a lapse if the thing beyond your control is an emergency or something, but stuff like a vacation, or a big social event with friends, might feel like an indulgence, and that classifying it as something “beyond your control” is disingenuous.  After all, I’m here visiting family, not dealing with a broken-down car or an emergency trip to the hospital, this isn’t business, it’s pleasure.

And the fact is that a lot of day-to-day is made up of similar things that are an indulgence, little trade-offs where you might opt to go to the movies instead of watching a Netflix movie in your target language, or go out with friends instead of grabbing an extra hour of reading.  It’s one thing to set a study plan for yourself, and another thing to try and keep it, and often your biggest enemy is yourself.  Having a skeptical eye open checking yourself for those indulgences is a useful skill to develop.

But on the other side of the coin, I am not an ascetic monk.  I devote a heavy amount of time each day to language learning in the normal swing of my life because I find it rewarding and interesting, but visiting family, hanging out with friends, and occasionally indulging is a rewarding part of life, too.  It isn’t something that I’d be willing to totally give up, and ended up being something that I had in mind and accepted when planning out this trip.  I was going to be sacrificing time to work by going on this trip.  I knew that when I agreed to the timeframe.  I wasn’t sure how much time I’d end up sacrificing, and I’m pleased to see that it wasn’t a drastically high amount, but I knew it would be a reduction.  And that’s okay,  If I didn’t allow myself the chance to have some lower days here and there and still engage in my life, I’m not sure I’d be able to stick to a big project like this in the long-run.  Sometimes life gets in the way, because life has to just keep happening.

Let’s look at the numbers for this life-in-the-way week.

Tuesday 7/09

  • Duolingo: 20 XP earned, ~0 minutes
  • Reading: 11% of Los Pequeños Hombres Libres, ~60 minutes
  • Watching/Listening: 2 episodes of Neon Genesis Evangelion, 5 episodes of Daniel San GMR, 1 episode of Los Simpson, ~120 minutes
  • Speaking: reading out loud, ~30 minutes

Wednesday 7/10

  • Duolingo: 20 XP earned, ~0 minutes
  • Reading: 11% of Los Pequeños Hombres Libres, ~60 minutes
  • Watching/Listening: 1 episode of Neon Genesis Evangelion, 8 episodes of Daniel San GMR, 1 episode of Los Simpson, ~120 minutes
  • Speaking: reading out loud, ~30 minutes

Thursday 7/11

  • Duolingo: 20 XP earned, ~0 minutes
  • Reading: 7% of Regimiento Monstruoso, ~70 minutes
  • Watching/Listening: 1 episode of Vacía tu Bandeja1 episode of Juegos Con Mostacho, ~25 minutes
  • Speaking: reading out loud, ~30 minutes

Friday 7/12

  • Duolingo: 20 XP earned, ~0 minutes
  • Reading: 7% of Regimiento Monstruoso, ~70 minutes
  • Watching/Listening: 1 episode of No Hay Tos1 episode of Neon Genesis Evangelion, ~25 minutes
  • Speaking: reading out loud, ~30 minutes

Saturday 7/13

  • Duolingo: 20 XP earned, ~0 minutes
  • Reading: 9% of Regimiento Monstruoso, ~90 minutes
  • Watching/Listening: 1 episode of Neon Genesis Evangelion, 1 episode of Juegos Con Mostacho, ~35 minutes
  • Speaking: reading out loud, ~30 minutes

Sunday 7/14

  • Duolingo: 20 XP earned, ~0 minutes
  • Reading: 7% of Regimiento Monstruoso, ~70 minutes
  • Watching/Listening: 1 episode of Neon Genesis Evangelion, 1 episode of No Hay Tos1 episode of Arte Master, ~50 minutes
  • Speaking: reading out loud, ~30 minutes

Monday 7/15

  • Duolingo: 20 XP earned, ~0 minutes
  • Reading: 7% of Regimiento Monstruoso, ~70 minutes
  • Watching/Listening: 1 episode of Neon Genesis Evangelion, 1 episode of Pernocte, ~40 minutes
  • Speaking: reading out loud, ~30 minutes

 

  • Total Duolingo: 140 XP, 0 minutes
  • Total reading: 2/3 books, 490 minutes
  • Total watching/listening: 16 youtube episodes, 4 podcasts, and 9 tv episodes watched, 425 minutes
  • Total speaking: reading out loud, 210 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 hours 15 minutes

And as you can see, we’ve got what I’d normally call a terrible week, but which I’m not going to this time, because there were some damn good reasons for why it turned out the way it did.  Tuesday and Wednesday were normal days, and then I flew out Thursday and stayed in Chicago through the rest of the week.  I return on Tuesday, the day this blog goes live, so next week will likely start poorly (unless that return flight isn’t so unbearably hot that I can think straight and spend the whole time reading), then return to normalcy as I resume real life.

I finished Los Pequeños Hombres Libreswhich was quite enjoyable with a main character I rather liked (which is good considering a lot of the remaining books in the Discworld series follow her), and started in on Regimiento Monstruosowhich is another one-off series.  I haven’t gotten terribly far yet considering my reduced time for the week, but I’ve been enjoying it.  It’s a little depressing looking forward at the books left in the series, because I’m in the final stretch of them, which means I’m nearly out.  I suppose it was inevitable.  I need to start figuring out what I’m going to read next pretty soon here.

I continued on with the same watching pattern at the start, with an episode or two of Neon Genesis Evangelion, which I’m enjoying and am glad I finally got around to watching, a big chunk of Daniel San GMR Let’s Play episodes, and an episode of Los Simpson.  Then, on the trip itself, things got sort of complicated.  I sampled some new stuff, some of which I’ve liked, like episodes of Juegos Con Mostachoanother video game youtube channel, and Pernoctean interesting podcast that’s a real challenge thanks to the fairly unique Argentinian accent of the host and guests, and other stuff I’m not so sure of, like an episode of the podcast Vacía tu Bandejawhich was fine but maybe not my style.  I have in general been enjoying the greater focus on listening, even if this week didn’t feature very much of it.  It’s been in my mind to squeeze in, otherwise I probably would have only read while in Chicago, and getting the variety in while on vacation felt good.

I didn’t think that I’d miss a beat on Duolingo while on the trip, since it’s such a low amount of effort, and I succeeded at that.  I also managed to stay on top of my helping-explain-English on the forums, which I was pretty sure I’d have to drop, so I’m very happy with that result.  I stayed on top of it enough, I even have a fun silly-thing-about-English to share this week.

On a sentence that translated to “Do they have another telephone number?” it was asked why it was “another” and not “other.”  In Spanish, there isn’t a distinction, it’s just otrowith slight variation for gender and plurality, so this is one of those sticking points where it’s not readily apparent when learning why it might be one or the other, and it was something I had to think through to explain.  The fast part of the answer is that you use another for singular objects (another phone number, another cookie, another example), while other is used for plural and uncountable objects (other phone numbers, other examples), but that leaves out when there’s the definite article or a pronoun (my other cookie, the other example), which happily barges in and makes the whole thing even more complicated.  English is an abyss.

Anyway, that’s enough for this week, I can barely believe I managed to get a full blog written for it.  Next week will be the double-post blog in Spanish with translation entry that got delayed thanks to this vacation.  TTFN.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s