1st week of Uni in Hitotsubashi.

September 28th, 2015

notice: this post is only useful to foreign students who wish to go for an exchange in Japan. but if you’re bored you may read it to learn a little about the living expenses and MY EXPERIENCES! ^^.

okay, I have been.. quite 정신없어 (so hectic that I can’t concentrate..?) for the past one week because the first week of Uni’s just.. super tiring. more so for students traveling from Europe, Scandinavia or America because of the time difference. despite the jet lag, they had to wake up early in the morning AFTER dragging their heavy suitcases to the University that’s located pretty far away from the heart of Tokyo. but it’s still INSIDE Tokyo. never knew Tokyo was this huge T_T.

so the first day, I came from Kansai with the night bus and… heck I am not sure if I should’ve not been stingy about the extra 4,000yen (and take a Shinkansen which costs 10,4000yen with online booking) because the bus gave me a neck pain. whatever it is. I had 60KGs worth of bags and suitcases with me and I reached in the morning. little did I know, there are no elevators nor escalators in the morning. so.. I had to drag my 60kgs worth of stuff down the stairs. ALL BY MYSELF. two flight of stairs T_T. PLEASE don’t arrive in the morning.. well that’s not all. the train that goes to my uni.. there’s another flight of stairs UP. thank goodness some nice people helped me along the way.. although I did 90% of everything still. I had neck, back, leg, arm pain for the following few days. =S. so on the first day, these are a few things we had to settle.

1. Internet: I’d die without it. it costs 7,000yen for one semester. it gets cheaper if you take a year.
2. Bedding: tell me why they do not recycle them gah. it may be dirty? well we can always wash them T_T. it costed me a little below 7,000yen and I got most of my beddings from Konan (コナン) which is located 20minutes away by foot. because I didn’t like any of those sold at the Uni. I got them a day after actually. BY THE WAY, if you’re lucky you may get curtains from the past owners. if you don’t.. you either get woken up by the sun everyday at 630 or.. buy that curtain! I’m a cheapskate so I am getting tan every morning.
3. Necessities: shampoo, soap, cotton buds, cotton, breakfast, hangers (but I got them from the recycle box hahaha), hair dryer… etc. basically all that. they costed me at least 3-4,000yen.  I bought more groceries later which costed me around 3,500 in total =S.

so that’s all for the first night. ended up pretty broke. there was a welcome party at least where food was free T_T. thank goodness.

the second day. orientation finally begun and we had to go register ourselves, orientation was fine, but the toughest of all? the placement test. I didn’t know why did I take it since I forgot most of my Japanese. but… I was in between of two of the basic levels so.. I guess I hadn’t forgotten too much. so basically after that super difficult placement test, everyone’s all drained out and everyone just want to go home. but because my awesome German girlfriend who’s being very ambitious, we went to Konan to get our blankets (thicker! for winter!) after the long day at uni. returned home super tired pfft.

third day. another orientation day. it goes on for 3 days by the way. we had an info session on the courses.. which is quite ironic because it was what we already know. well unless somebody did not read the information sent to them carefully I guess. and we had the course registration and scholarship session which was very important. THEN.. our Japanese results got out. I actually got into the basic 2 class but.. I don’t know.. it’s a little above my level and I want to be lazy. =S. then there’s an orientation at the residence hall where we were told what to do in case of an earthquake, the rules of the dorm, made our bank accounts and.. that’s probably it. pretty informative.

fourth day. more registrations. this time at the city hall 시청. got our insurance done. I currently don’t know much because they hadn’t ask us to pay or anything. I hope it’s all paid for T_T. super broke already sigh. we then head to our campus and did ANOTHER BODY CHECK UP. basically we had to get our stool, urine, xray, eye, weight, height everything done BEFORE coming to Japan to get the visa. and after arriving, we had to do it all over again. but this time, thank goodness they excluded the stool. that was disgusting =(. urine was disgusting enough sigh. we also had a campus tour but it was raining cats and dogs. not the best day for an outdoor tour!

4. Transportation: so far, I’ve commuted to and fro via train which costs 300yen (with a Pasmo) so a round trip costs me 600yen. and… in 3 days, I went through only 3 stops. 4.5km. and it costed me 1800yen. mmhmm. plus I went to the bigger stations to get some stuff during the first day. don’t do that. go on the second because you’ll HAVE to spend that money anyway. so in total.. my train fee was.. 2,7ooyen for 4 days. absurd. I know. if you pre-download google maps, you can actually take the train from Shin-Kodaira. it’s around 15-20minutes walk away but it only costs 154yen per one way. I mean, walking to the nearest station already take 7-10minutes. why not walk double and save your cost by half. it’s almost 50% cheaper! exercise.

many of my friends know this but.. I can’t ride the bike. and everyone in Japan seems to grow up ON THEIR BIKES. and getting a bike is definitely the cheapest option. why? because one month of transportation to school itself will cost you 12,000yen. 6,160 if you walk to Shin-Kodaira station. how much does a bike cost? 10,000yen. how much does RENTING a bike cost? 1,000yen. at orientation you will get a Kunitachi newsletter where they’d post about this awesome lady who runs “maho no lamp” and you should call/email her ASAP to get a spot. there aren’t many for rent so be quick. I got a bike despite not knowing how. but because I was lucky enough to meet the most awesome German girl on earth, she guided me through it and today, I rode my bike for the first time and….. I made it home. in around an hour (it’ll take you 15-20 if you’re a pro) but still! I almost crashed into some cars and made so much stops. I was a total public nuisance. T_T. please forgive me wuwuwuwuwuwu.

so on the fifth and sixth day, I just.. well.. stayed at home to rest my aching body. but we cleaned our super dirty flat (one flat consists of 6 rooms with 2 shared showers and 2 toilets. yes it’s separate.) squeaky clean  (did the dishes for 2 hours. can you imagine that?!) and made dinner together! Hayashi Rice yum yum!

seventh day.. first day of “shopping” for the classes. you can basically sit in 2 classes as each class has 2 orientation sessions and you can sit for 2 classes of the same hour to choose which you want. I went for.. all 5 periods of classes. super tired. U_U. and that’s today where I biked. I feel so bad for not knowing how to bike. seriously, if you’re coming here make SURE you can bike in a straight line and not like me. =(.

5. Jasso Scholarship: just apply for it. chances are pretty high! Japan’s super expensive seriously. if you get it, the stipend are banked in at the end of each month so prepare around 100,000yen when you come. rent for the first 3 months is payable later so don’t worry about not having enough money at first.

6. Living expenses: food in uni is cheap and delicious. it can go as low as 200yen if you eat little. for me, it’s always around 300yen. you pay as you eat. literally. there’s many sizes of rice so you can always choose one that fits you! food outside is the basic Japanese price. around 600yen per meal at the very least? goes up to 1,000yen. the restaurants near Hitotsubashi are pretty expensive. they do not have any Gyudon (牛丼) shops nearby. but there’s a MOS burger shop! I absolutely adore MOS burgers. super yummy. and it’s coming from a girl who don’t eat McD. whatever it is. save money, eat at the cafeteria! you can get a phone sim with internet of 3GB at Bic Camera for 900yen I think. total bargain. then uh… other living expenses is as of below (prices are approx. excluding 8%tax):

milk – 160yen
1 pear/apple – 100yen
2L water – 76yen
1kg pasta – 370yen
Calbee granola cereal – 800yen
bananas (4-5) – 110yen
shampoo refill – 300yen
container – 100yen (at DAISO! please go there for everything you need. except for cotton buds, they’re the cheapest at Donki-hote/Picasso located at Kokubunji)
a bowl of Gyudon – 350yen
one mackerel – 200yen
can of tuna – 130yen
instant noodles – 130yen
instant rice – 120yen
pack of instant curry – 70yen

you get the picture right? when rent in Tokyo generally costs you 70,000-80,000yen, the dorm here costs around 11,000yen (without bills. another 4,000-5,000yen for it I heard). very very affordable. which is why I love my Uni already. the catch is that it’s far from both the city and the university. a trip to Shinjuku will set you back at 340yen for the cheapest route. and 540yen for the normal route. sigh.

and here’s some pictures.

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the beautiful Hitotsubashi University. it’s small but considering the limited majors offered here, there are pretty many students! they only offer commerce, econs, law and political studies but there are over 5,000 students! and over 100 exchange students. the halls and classrooms are mostly pretty old school hence it’s really really special. I felt like I’m studying in Hogwarts. well not so super nice but.. you get me.

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my Korean and German housemate!

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we’re not short. the German girl is tall! her name is Eileen. you’ll see her often from now on because she’s my best buddy here! I can’t live without her already U_U.

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orientation folder~

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the grand hall. apparently only open during super special occasions.

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curry rice! everything here’s just 280yen.

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library tour~ there’s a place that’s really pretty but we can’t take pictures of it pfft. google for Hitotsubashi Library and you’ll see. that place is like legit Hogwarts. I think because camera phones makes a sound in Japan. but mine doesn’t!! =S. I shall try to sneak one =X.

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our first housemate bonding night! missing one girl from China =(. we have Nathalie from Canada/France (only 18 T_T.), Eileen from Germany, Rika from Japan (prettiest Japanese girl! =3.), Eunseo from Korea and myself =D.

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we made Hayashi rice. it looks like curry but it tastes nothing like it. it’s very very tasty actually. I think I’ll stock some when I go back!

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just wanted to point out how that ice cream look like goguma and there are so many Ghana ice creams here!

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and a random cute kindergarten bus I saw on the way to the station today. CHO KAWAII!


September 25th, 2015

SO! I was supposed to go “touch cockles” which means to collect cockles at the beach but the weather was crazy so at a last minute change of plan, we went to Tai O which is at Ngong Ping, where the big Buddha is! except you need a LONG bus ride to Tai O. one way costs around 20HKD but it is cheaper on the weekdays. haha.

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so the thing is, I wasn’t really there for there Pink Dolphin because according to the internet it costs over 400HKD but HERE, it costs only 25HKD (got mine for only 20HKD though!!). probably because it’s a small boat and they don’t stop for a long time to watch the dolphins but trust me, it’s long enough.

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well basically it’s a fishing village so there are a lot of dried fish, scallops etc.

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oh hello!

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the famous Tai O view!

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need a picture here!

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is that shark skin I’m seeing @@…

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and are those dried puffer fish?!

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and more?!

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Tin Hau Temple!

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there’s also this famous “kai dan zai” shop there. the uncle’s literally wearing a sunglasses while he’s working. indoors.


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what makes this place special is actually these houses built above water. no it isn’t anything like Venice but because HK is well known for only high rise apartments, this is quite a rare sight.

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it was very old school. just like how HK drama’s are. like.. when they kidnap someone and bring them to a house located in no where lol.

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it was incredulously hot.

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someone please tell me what these are? I was thinking it’s some roots but.. I don’t know =S.

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this is completely unrelated but let me say something. the cheapest drink in HK other than expensive plain water is probably this particular orange juice which costs 7HKD. plain water costs at least 5 already and in the airport, water costs over 10 bucks!!! holy mother of………….. please drink only an adequate amount of water while you’re there.

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oh hi again!

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Chinese bridge!

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peeking into a fisherman’s home. I actually really like this picture. credits to Bon Bong for taking it!

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the neighbourhood! I find people here pretty nice compared to the people of the city. well.. it sounds like common knowledge but there are a high percentage of mean people everywhere in HK. especially the older ones =S.

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so who wants to be her husband?!


IMG_5086 copy this place reminds me of Penang’s Armenian street minus the street art. maybe someone should start drawing on these walls here!

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and finally! my boat ride out to the ocean to spot for pink dolphins! they are very rare and I think they can only be seen in HK (?) so take your chances!

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old school restaurant there.

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I would’ve never knew that this is HK. well, it is!

and some pictures with my Casio camera!

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love the art mode!

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quiet small alleys but they feel really safe!

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more dried fish!

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again, the boat ride was awesome so you GOT to try it.

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thank you to my long time HK friend Bong Bong for taking me here!

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when nice clean pretty buildings look out of place.

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the subway station to get to Tai O(by bus) is right next to the City Gate Outlet and.. if you’re a shopper, then this would be your heaven.

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or if you have kids, you may even consider bringing them to the fountain area! looks super fun to me!

[Noksapyeong] Kkaolli pochana

September 15th, 2015

I am pretty hipster myself and that is why I love the alleys of Noksapyeong because it makes me feel super very hipster. for those who is bored of eating Korean food every single day, there’s this place called Kkaolli Pochana where they serve Thai food in a very laid back Thai-looking environment.

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very Thai! I’ve actually wanted to try this place for a LONGGGG time but because the queue was always more than an hour long, I decided not to. but one day, I couldn’t stand it anymore and I queued up for it! but it only took me 30minutes!

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very Thai no?

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the catch to this reasonably priced Thai food is that.. you cannot reserve. and like many other places, you need to arrive earlier and put your name on the waiting list and wait for their call. or you can just wait outside. haha.

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plastic cups, steel chairs and tables. and a huge bucket of beer flew in from Thailand.

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I actually got to know that in Korea, restaurants that look run down is actually MADE with loads of effort to look like that. can you believe it? it actually costs a lot to make a place look run down!

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perhaps the only place to get chili padi in Korea. hahahahah. we literally put it on everything because we love the spice!

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one of my two spicy food buddy in Seoul. who recently left Korea for good so I currently have.. zero spicy food buddy in Seoul since other one left too. tsk.

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Thai glass noodle salad. 8/10. it could be much spicier and maybe more lime. good nevertheless.

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minced pork rice! 9/10. loved this one! but again, wished it could be a bit spicier. but because they have chili padi’s there.. the spiciness was compensated but of course it wouldn’t taste as good to if they mince it together with the pork.

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tomyumkung. 7/10. I don’t know if it’s because I am from Malaysia but I just expect everything to be much more strong in its taste. this was good because they had enough cilantro but.. MyThai have better Tomyum I’m sorry T_T. but on the other hand, this actually tasted pretty original.

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oh hello! totally unrelated but those are glow sticks worn as bangles on my arm! got them from the club party for SKKU’s exchange students. weird thing was a random Korean American (not from our uni) just randomly put it around my neck like a necklace hahaha. but since I love these glow sticks I wore them as bangles until they finally stop glowing.

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let’s dig in!

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the plates and cutlery really reminds me of Thailand. which is a good thing =D. when cheapskate plates, cups and cutlery is a rare sight, they become preciously expensive. weird but true hahahahahha.

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green curry! 8/10. I’d give it a 9 if it was chicken I guess. I’ve never had green curry beef before so I thought why not. but bad decision. it was actually pretty funky. I think I’d prefer it much more with chicken haha.

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so if you miss Thai food in Seoul, you have Kkaolli Pochana! they have another branch in Hapjeong and Shin-Nonhyeon too. use your naver map to look for the location! just look for 까올리포차나 ^^.

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here’s the directions to how to get to the branch I went to which is the original one! from exit 2 of Noksapyeong Station!

[Hongdae] my favourite cake shop! Peony!

September 11th, 2015

OKAY. so there are a lot of nice places in Seoul but good cakes? well.. I’ve not had many good cakes in Seoul that doesn’t cost a bomb. I’m not saying that the cakes from Peony is very cheap but.. it’s average and yet it tastes sooooo heavenly! I love their cakes so much I queued for an hour to get their cake for my birthday last year. yes, their whole cakes requires queuing.

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SO! the bakery is named Peony. lovely name isn’t it? it moved from the old location to this new location still in Hongdae. near Hongik University!

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the previous place, it was clean and nice but this place is MUCH BETTER. the entrance was this pretty and..

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there are so much more seats! I used to wait in line just to get into their cafe but now it’s pretty empty probably because the hype’s over, people don’t know about the new place and there is much more space. the cake’s still good nonetheless!!

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so which is my favourite cake? THE STRAWBERRY CREAM CAKE!!! it is such a simple cake but.. soooooooo gooooood. the cheesecake was dense and creamy too and I loved it but the strawberry cream cake? phenomenal. the cream tastes like milk and it is very light. you’d not feel sick even if you have the whole cake! it’s so light and fluffy and everything just blends in together so well!

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I remembered how my guy friends all said they don’t like cake and would only take a bite of my birthday cake. and in the end? they ate SO MUCH because they all said it was really really really good.

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plus this new place has a balcony and the view’s pretty bomb and it looks really really romantic. loved it!

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so if you’re in Hongdae, you HAVE TO DROP BY FOR THIS CAKE. you’ll not regret it!

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2015.9.10 | 지도 크게 보기 ©  NAVER Corp.

directions from Hongdae Station Exit 9 =D.

[Yufuin] Kyushu’s beautiful village

September 7th, 2015

so during my last visit to Fukuoka. around a year ago… *chokes* Megumi’s grandma brought us to this beautiful place called Yufuin which is located 3 hours away by train.

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this view is probably the most staple “look” of Yufuin as this is what you’d see once you step out of the station.

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we took THIS TRAIN! to Yufuin. the famous Yufuin No Mori train that looks nothing like the normal train and it only runs between Fukuoka and Yufuin!

WARNING! long post ahead!

Read the rest of this entry »

GIVEAWAY: Korean Vocab + Grammar Books!

September 3rd, 2015

the long awaited Korean books giveaway is here! and thanks to TUTTLE again, I get to give away two amazing books newly released by Tuttle!

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the last time, I gave away two sets of Japanese books and explained on how I learned Korean. so this time, I have two ultimate books to give away for people who are planning to master Korean by self studying! for those who are starting off with 0, I’d recommend you to get the book “Korean For Beginners” by Tuttle as I’ve used that in my earlier days when I first started learning Korean. you should know the basic stuff like “조사/particles” and how words changes before getting these two books as the Korean For Beginners book teaches more on particles and word structure and very limited vocab and grammar so with mastering that book and these two books, you can easily be as good as anyone in Korea in a normal conversation.

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I got the privilege to get my hands on these two new books and here’s a short review on what I think of it! so let’s start with the Essential Korean Vocabulary book!

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so here’s a sneak peak of the contents of the book! the vocabs are divided into many organized sections that’s easy for learners to search through words they are interested in learning.

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like above, the simple vocabs

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the words are explained with examples and ways to pronounce which is suitable for English speakers. well, these books are made to accommodate English speakers!

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the second book, Essential Korean Grammar! you may be surprised how this book is written by a foreigner. well.. to be honest, of course Koreans know Korean the best. which foreigner could be better?

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the answer is qualified Korean-English Translators.

and how do I know about that? because I know one. there aren’t many certified Korean-English translators around because going through the course is excruciating. it’s basically going through hell for 2 years, studying from 5am till late night and have almost no personal life. because they dedicate themselves to studying Korean and English and they are really really fluent. they probably know much more words and phrases compared to the average Korean too.

anyways, the best thing is that since it’s written by a foreigner, she knows best on where foreigners normally make mistake at and how difficult it is to learn another completely different language with different sentence structures and expressions that are non existence in English.

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this book teaches stuff that are similar to university level books.

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they even include example sentences to differentiate similar words and help you in understanding more about these similar words. which is great!

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who knew that there are so many different expression for just one word?!

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they also have a list of synonyms to help you in writing!

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just a simple picture of the appendix, look at the list of grammars! although I already know most of it as I’ve graduated level 6, but there are still a few I’ve never seen before so I’d absolutely keep this book for future reference. great book all in all =D.

so to the most exciting part!

I will giveaway TWO books by TUTTLE to TWO lucky winners:

1. Essential Korean Vocabulary
2. Essential Korean Grammar

how to enter this giveaway?

just follow these few simple guidelines and.. good luck!

1. leave a comment on this post telling me your Korean progress (how far have you learned) and why these books will help you and anything else you want to tell me! (with your name identical to your facebook name)
2. go to my facebook page
3. like my page!!!
4. leave a comment on the post so that I can contact you if you win!
5. share my giveaway post (it will be the top post on my page)

people from all over the world! because Tuttle is nice enough to send it to you where ever you are =D.

it’s this simple!

I’ll choose the winners based on the person whom I think wants it the most. so be witty with your words and hwating!

PS: I’ll close the giveaway once I get 50 applicants OR if there’s not so many people applying.. I’ll close it on the 1st of October. you have loads of time so quick! ask your brother, your sister, your cousin, your friends whom wanna learn Korean to try their luck!