Lifelong Learning: Languages

Recently, I was given the opportunity to read and grammatically edit through a friend’s friend’s masters dissertation on the topic of Lifelong Learning in Macau. I took the job, because I thought, “Why the heck not? I’m not doing anything much anyway. Might learn something as well.”

And I did indeed learn quite a lot about the whole system. I also found it quite a fascinating read. I’m not going to mention anything that was written in her paper, but all I can disclose is that she has many good ideas on what could be improved in Macau’s education system; her SWOT analysis pinpointed a lot of valid weaknesses that are very obvious and it really is quite frustrating to know that they just haven’t been…eh…giatiman…I’m thinking in the wrong language…

Taken care of? I think that’s the right translation in English…but I know there’s a better phrase. I just can’t remember what it is.

Well, anyway.

I never met her before and while I was going through her paper with her, we got to talking — or rather, she kept talking, while I kept on working while listening to her (and I think I just made a new friend!). Since she works at the university’s Lifelong Learning Office, she knows a lot of things about the university and the other universities in Macau. And because of that, she noticed a specific behaviour among the students of Macau (or rather, the students at the university) that didn’t exactly help improve tertiary education in Macau; students weren’t willing to take initiative in their own education and were lazy as f***. It was a generalisation, but I saw her point. Then she said that the only department where students weren’t like that was in architecture (made me feel quite proud, in a way, when she said that).

This then segwayed into a conversation — a one-sided one, where most of my input were affirmatives to her points (it’s becoming quite obvious that I just am weak in debate, despite my interest in it. I see both sides and would rather agree than disagree just to keep the peace) — about making learning part of one’s lifestyle. Which I totally agreed on, since I feel the same way. We bonded over that fact most of the time I was editing her paper and I really do hope that her paper could lead to some positive changes to the current education system here. There’s potential, as she pointed out, but there’s still so much work to do to bring it all up a notch.

Her point about making learning a part of one’s whole life stands though. We can never actually stop learning and if we do ever stop caring about learning, then, really, all hope is lost. Okay, an exaggeration maybe, but still. Constant self-improvement will not only help one’s own self, but could also potentially lead us to contribute some small little things to society in some way.

Hmmm…this was a very…pointless post without any focus…but I’m keeping it up here, merely because I did put a few minutes into it’s creation.

On a related note to constant self-improvement, I’ve gotten myself a Portuguese teacher and she’s taught me quite a lot already. I’ve always wanted to learn some European language and I’m doing it right now! I initially just relied on Duolingo to learn Portuguese, but then I realised I just wasn’t getting enough grammar lessons from it, as it only teaches short phrases. Plus, it just sank in that I was learning Brazilian Portuguese, and not Portuguese Portuguese, and being a stickler for the proper proper of languages, I prefer learning the original form of Portuguese from Portugal; Brazilian Portuguese can come after.

My last lesson with her focused a lot on the different ways the letter “s” can be pronounced and boy does it feel nice to know the differences now.

“Ate próxima vez em Março. Em 13-28, eu estarei nas Filipinas. Bom fim de semana!”

That was the first message I wrote to her in full Portuguese. I doubt the grammar is right, but I am trying. Plus, she’s given me homework and I should get started on them.

So, yeah. Lifelong learning! Simultaneously, I’m learning Tagalog and Cebuano from my parents, and polishing up my Cantonese and Mandarin by listening to random people on the streets and from the choir people at church. Oh! And I’m also mastering the British accent from my boss at work.

Fim

Life Stories 003

Rachael sat on a bench near a bus stop waiting for her friend, Amanda, to arrive. She had just gotten off work and as pre-scheduled, that afternoon was for her to spend some time with Amanda.

Now, Amanda always had an affinity towards excessive purchases — a shopaholic, if you will — and she could never differentiate between the things she needed as necessities for living and the things that were lavishly unimportant; what she sees and likes, she will get. If she doesn’t, her whole mood goes awry. Having come from a very well-off family, this is a typical characteristic of her financial and social standing. But, as it is, as money comes, it will always go, especially if not managed well. And it came to pass that her family fell on hard times, and it became a necessity for them to scrimp, a skill she never learned and found very hard to learn.

Rachael, who is and always was used to less, always had to work hard for what she needed and wanted (making her more discriminatory when it came to spending her energy to go after her material needs and wants) finds Amanda’s lifestyle irrelative to surviving and living. To her, it is a complete waste of time and effort to shop excessively. This doesn’t mean that she doesn’t shop. It only means that when she shops, she weighs everything when regarding a purchase, and would rather buy things at cheaper places that offer up the same quality as expensive and branded things, than buy things for their brand name. She was more of a scavenger when it came to looking for the things that she needed. If anything, she did not want to associate herself exclusively to any one style. Or brand names as a whole group.

Two very different approaches to shopping from two very different people.

Amanda had expressed a wish to meet at Venetian instead of at the Taipa Stadium, but Rachael, knowing her friend, had a premonition that Amanda wanted to go on another shopping spree that would cost her a lot of money that she highly needed to survive in this ever increasingly inflation-filled world. To prevent that from happening, she had pointedly asked Amanda what they would do at Venetian without spending any money (Rachael had selective frugality). Amanda had sensed her disapproval of the meeting venue and had changed it to the Taipa Stadium instead.

Anyhow, the shopping spree was inevitable and Rachael could do nothing about it; when Amanda had her whole mind set on something, it was hard to convince her otherwise. Needless to say, a whole lot of money went down the drain that afternoon —in Rachael’s eyes, of course. Amanda felt that shopping was therapeutic, so she was feeling satisfied. Rachael, on the other hand, was feeling completely stressed out by Amanda’s lack of consideration towards the money that just got wasted on things that were impractical and essentially useless for everyday living.

It cannot be said that Rachael did not find it a good passing amusement to walk through aisles of clothing, shoes and accessories and contemplating which pieces would go flatteringly well together on herself, but at the very core of it all, she knew she didn’t need any more clothes than she already had. Also, buying in bulk is against her core principles, because she lived knowing that what she needed will come to her at the right time when she needed it the most.

She knew Amanda got a thrill out of buying things at discounts and sales because it gave off the same feeling when Rachael herself scavenged for things at cheaper stores, finding the exact top she wanted to go with the exact skirt/pants/trousers/shorts she wanted; she could relate in that sense. But she always had guilt when she bought things she did not need, because she knew how difficult it was to come by money. She understood Amanda’s ignorance to that because Amanda always got what she wanted materialistically throughout her whole life, and it is probably a difficult habit to get out of for her. But she felt that Amanda needed to also understand that money could not be spent so thoughtlessly, under the influence of emotions.

Rachael loved her friend. She really did. But sometimes, she frustrated her a lot. By the 3rd or 4th hour at Venetian, already weighed down by 2 huge shopping bags (one held two shoe boxes — the same heeled boot design, mind you, but in two different colours (and heels so high, they are most certainly impractical to walk in…like…WHY?!) — while the other held many, many shirts from Bershka), the two girls were in Victoria’s Secret. Rachael’s nose hurt from the extremely strong scents in the shop and found all the pink and lace too much for her to handle and take seriously; she always thought Victoria’s Secret was all about underwear, but it baffled her to find that the shop had more bags and perfume in stock than lingerie.

Amanda, on the other hand, had zeroed in on the lacy panties on sale, completely in her element. Rachael felt like a fish out of water and decided to stand where she wouldn’t be in the way of people shopping, positioning the shopping bags they arrived with at her feet, while launching a game app on her phone. Her only wish throughout the 30 minutes stuck there was that the shop’s management might consider adding some sort of seating (there was definitely enough room for a small little bench in one corner) in the future for people like her.

Also, she doesn’t get what the point of lace is on underwear. Is it really just for aesthetic appeal alone? How could any of those things be comfortable to wear?!

Once that was done, she was finally relieved that the shopping was done, but was feeling completely awful since she felt like an accomplice in the loss of money towards things not needed. Amanda decided to take a taxi home and Rachael walks her to the taxi stand. They bid each other goodbye and promise to meet up again soon.

Rachael is now brainstorming ways to pass the time sans money in Macau, which is an impossible task in itself. There’s just no free amusement that would be compatible with Amanda, but she won’t give up. Rachael, after all, is always hopeful, even in the face of the impossibly difficult.

Life Stories 002

A group of five friends were sitting at a restaurant together, waiting for the rest of their party to arrive — the total was supposed to tally up to eight.

Alan, Andrew, Matt, Naomi, and Rachael were already present, and the only people that needed to arrive were Carlos, Oliver, and Samuel. They all ordered and kept two menus back for the remaining people that had yet to arrive.

When Oliver came, he sat against the wall, next to Matt, and picked out his burger combo. Rachael then received a call from Samuel, who told her he didn’t know where the place was. So she had to go find him around a one block radius for a whole ten minutes — they had been walking opposite directions most of the time.

And he was his usual bespectacled self — quiet, polite, contemplative, and appeared completely unconcerned about the worries of life. As usual.

Once they got back to Grill Burger, Oliver had already ordered, which left only Samuel’s order to fill, since Carlos had warned them that he didn’t want to eat. Since there were no waitresses to be seen on the floor they were on, Samuel looked humorously at Andrew and Matt and said, “Am I supposed to scream for service here?”

All three of them laughed and then Andrew tells the rest of the group what happened to them at the SoiHangMei Eskimo.

Supposedly, they had called a waiter a couple of times, who saw them each time they waved at him. After having been ignored for the umpteenth time, Samuel had had enough and hollered, “Excuse me!” in Cantonese. The whole restaurant fell silent and the waiter finally scurried over, exasperatedly saying, “What?”

Matt then takes over, saying that Andrew’s reaction was to hide his face in his hands due to embarrassment, and duck down on the table all in one breath. Matt started patting Samuel on the arm to try and calm him down, looking apologetically at the waiter and the other restaurant patrons. Thankfully, Samuel did end up approaching the waiter at the end to apologize quietly.

At the end of the retelling of this tale, the whole group of friends had erupted into laughter. The good thing was that they were the only people on the second floor of the burger place, so they didn’t disturb anyone else with their explosively noisy laughs.

Samuel, as a person, can be described as being a man of very few words. He has always been so extremely laid back that he ended up not doing what he needed to do throughout high school, to the detriment of his grades. But due to his super chill attitude, he didn’t give too much thought about it and continued on with his gaming without a qualm about anything else, even his classes now in Australia.

His reaction at the restaurant was truly something out of character for him.

But from this, one thing was strongly ingrained as a lesson.

A quiet person’s calm exterior may be hiding an explosion that is due to pent-up frustrations that have accumulated from many other past occurrences. This might not always be the case, but it certainly is something that should be considered when encountering a quiet person.

Just don’t push their buttons if you can. You may never know if they are at the end of their fuse or are still just one tenths fed up with people.