Blog of Sara Jakša

6 Ways To Take Notes

There exist a lot of ways to take notes. The one that people chooses depends on their goals, and familiarity with a chosen note taking method.

The first type of note taking is transcribing note taking. It means noting down everything, that is said and written on the table.

The positive side of these notes are, that even if a note taker didn't remember anything from the lecture, they are still complete, so learning can take place from them. They are also the best for people, that would like to borrow it and learn from them.

The negative side of this note taking is time. Because it takes so much time, the person taking the notes have no time to reflect on the lecture learned or build his or her own connections to the material presented.

The second type of note taking is linear note taking. Instead of transcribing everything, the person notes bullet points of everything he or she finds important.

Here, the person already have to think during lecture, what is important and what isn't. The notes are also complete enough, that learning from them, in case of misunderstanding the material, is easy.

The negative side is still, that person is not reflecting and building connections.

The upgrade of that method is the notes with thinking. This method is mostly used with bullet point method, but it can be used with any method.

Dividing the page to two parts. The bigger part is the one of taking notes. The smaller part is for all the ideas, that a note taker gets during the lecture.

Here the learner starts to process the material on the deeper level, but is mostly by intuition, than deliberately. They are still good to learn. But borrowing them to schoolmates might be embarrassing, depending on the ideas, gotten during lecture.

The next method is flow note taking. Write the concepts and the connect them between themselves. Similar to flow chart.

Here the note taker have to make connections between concepts, by himself or by being pointed up by the teacher. The notes are still understandable, but the process the process is making the reasoning of the note taker go deeper (except in the case, that all the connections are pointed out by the teacher).

Then we have a famous mind map note taking. You write the most upper concept in the middle, and the further the branches, the less important they are.

They are good, if the person is using the deeper level of thinking while making them. But they are the pain in the ass to understand later, if not. Also not good for transcribing, I find them good for remembering things on a smaller scale.

The last method is the picture method. Similar to the mind map method, except that only pictures are allowed. Any the hierarchy is not that important. Could be also used as flow note taking, but with only pictures.

I like it, because it makes me do the deep level thinking and it forces me to bring all the abstract concepts on concrete level. I also have to make connections on the fly. But if you feel to process any information on the deep level, than that information is lost. There is no way to get any missing information from this method. It is also useless for anybody else.

As I said on the beginning, the method used depends on the goals and the familiarity. But sometimes, try a different method and see how it goes.

Installing Learning With Texts on Ubuntu

For language learning, one of the best program, that I use is Learning with text. It is a program, that help with reading and make the online lookup of words much easier.

The only problem would be, that it need to have a server, in order for the program to work. The documentation have a nice way showing, how to do it in Windows and on Macs. Here is a way for Ubuntu users to enjoy the benefits of the program as well.

To start the installation, first the local server has to be installed on the computer. To do that, the easiest way for Linux users is to install tasksel, and then LAMP software. That is accomplished by witting in the terminal:

sudo apt-get install tasksel sudo tasksel install lamp-server

While installing the lamp-server, the user is promoted to give the user root (for MySQL) a password. User just needs to input password twice and the process can continue.

After that, the database for the lwt has to be created. The easiest way for me is, to enter the MySQL prompt and do it with the code. Entering happens by writting in the terminal:

sudo mysql -u root -p

-p is a switch, that is used to input password. Here the password is used, that was chosen in the lamp installation. If the password wasn't chosen at the time, the line used is:

sudo mysql -u root

Now, the user has entered the MySQL prompt. In order to create a database, the user inputs the next line:

CREATE DATABASE {the name of the database};

where the {the name of the database} is substituted with the name of the database, that you want to use. I used the name lwt. In configuration is the name learning-with-texts.

If the user want to add another user, who will be able to use that database, the next line is used:

GRAND ALL PRIVILEGES ON . TO '{name}'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY {password} WITH GRANT OPTION;

To exit MySQL prompt, the next line is used:

EXIT;

Then the learning with texts program has to be download to the computer. The program can be found on 'http://sourceforge.net/projects/lwt/'.

Then the program files has to be moved to the directory /var/www/, since there are the files, that the server is reading. To do that, move the terminal location to download file (cd {location, if home file just ~}), create the folder that will contain the files and then extracting files to /var/www/:

cd {folder name} mkdir /var/www/ unzip {the name of the zip file - in my case lwt_v_1_4_9.zip} -d /var/www/lwt/

In order to make my next work easier, I moved to the folder containing the program. To do that, I used next command:

cd /var/www/lwt/

Next came renaming the files, so that the program is going to recognize them. The file connect_xampp.inc.php has to be renamed to connect.inc.php. That can be achieved with the following command:

mv connect_xampp.inc.php connect.inc.php

Then that file has to be changed. File can be opened with any text editor (gedit, nano, vim,...). I use vim, so I opened it with the command:

sudo vim connect.inc.php

To use other editor just substitute the name vim with the name of your preferred text editor.

Here the information about the user has to be correctly entered. There are for lines starting with $, and these are the one that we are interested in.

$server = "localhost"; $userid = "{name of the user}"; $passwd = "{password of the user}"; $dbname = "{the name of the database}";

Leaving the first line alone, you then enter the name of the user (if another user was created, that user can be used, otherwise it is root), then the password of the above user, and last the name of the database, that was created (in MySQL prompt).

The last thing to do, before the program can be opened, is to restart apache server. That can be accomplished with next line:

sudo service apache2 restart

To start the program, open you favorite browser and then open the site 'http://localhost/lwt/' or 'http://127.0.0.1/lwt'.

One of the problems I encountered was not be able to save words.

The Apache server must have ability to write to the program in order to work. To do that, move to the folder, where the program is installed and give everybody ability to read and change it. The code to accomplishes that is:

cd /var/www/ sudo chmod -R 777 lwt

And again the link to the program is: http://sourceforge.net/projects/lwt/.

Why Learning Kanjis is Easy and Fun

I have been learning Japanese language for years. When other people find out about that, they are mostly surprised, that I also know how to read. Like Japanese writing is unattainable for foreigns to learn.

But learning kanjis (the pictograph Japanese writing system) was always a pleasure to me. Sure, there are a lot of letters or kanjis to learn, but in my opinion, it is the most logical and fun writing system to learn.

To explain the above sentence, we will start with, why kanjis are logical. The first misconception is, that kanjis are actually pictures. The one thing, that advice, that did more harm to me than good.

Does 木 looks anything like a tree? 火 like fire? 日 like sun? 子 like child? 月 like moon? It doesn't to me.

But that doesn't mean, that every kanji had to memorized separately. Remember ? from the last paragraph? Now we only use three tree kanjis, and get 森 meaning forest. So three threes means forest.

We are all aware of the old thinking, that women are home and man work on the field. The thinking is outdated this days, but it is still in kanjis. Because when you add 力 meaning power and 田 meaning filed, you get man (男). The man, that is working in the field. I apologize to all man, but based on their writing, you are mostly good for working.

Then we have the kanji 星 meaning star. Witch gets its meaning from 日 meaning sun and 生 meaning live. So a star is a living sun.

But the concrete kanjis are not the only ones that are logical. The one really logical is the kanji 好 meaning like or love. Since woman (女) loves her child (子), together they represent love.

The good example is also kanji for light up (明). As you can see, it is made of two parts 日 meaning sun and 月 meaning moon. Since both the sun and the moon light us up, the kanji means lightning up.

Or to forget (忘). When the memory inside of heart (心) dies (亡), that means a person can no longer remember it.

Of course, the kanjis were made by Japanese and some culture differences are going to be present. One of my favorite is the word for baby (赤ちゃん). Apparently is means red (赤) thing, that is also cute (ちゃん) - the ending mostly used for kids.

So there is no need to be afraid of kanjis. Just find the beauty in the logic of it.

There is also a great system for learning japanese words. If you wanto to have fun with it, you can check my column Why Kanji Make Japanese Words Easier To Learn.

Why Kanji Make Japanese Words Easier To Learn

The kanji. In opinion of most of the people I talk to, the hardest thing to learn in the Japanese language. There might me a lot of them, and as such, they appear impossible to master.

But knowing the kanjis can simplify learning vocabulary in Japanese. And it does simplify a lot.

The first thing is, that because there is a lot less letters in any given word, there is a lot less chance for misspelling. Hard to misspell a word with only one, two or even three letters.

The second thing is meaning. The words in the Japanese are usually logically arranged. In the logic of the Japanese people from the 10 century, sure, but a lot of that is similar to our.

For example, the word for pirate (海賊). The word for pirate literally means the burglar (海) of the sea (海).

Maybe something a little more common? What about the word for foreign (外人)? Foreign in Japanese literally means the person (人) from the outside (外).

What about the funeral (葬式)? The funeral means the ceremony (式), where we bury (葬) somebody.

Or the volcano (火山), that they are also known for. The volcano is the fire (火) mountain (山).

My favorite is probably the survival of the fittest (弱肉強食). The weak (弱) meat (肉) is eaten (食) by strong (強). The word itself explains the concept.

Or one of the funny ones. The word for warming bottle (魔法瓶). It means the magic (魔) way (法) bottle (瓶). It must have appeared that way to the Japanese people, when they first saw it.

There are always concepts, that are similar in cultures, but the different cultures understand it differently. Freedom (自由) in Japanese means the reason (由) for myself (自).

There are also some words, that don't make that kind of sense, but are still easier to remember. If simply because of asking, what did they meant with that. The example of that is carrot (人参), which means that person (人) is visiting (参).

I hope I made Japanese language at least a little less scary for the people. I hope that eventually, it will no longer be treated as one of the hardest languages, since it is really easy and fun.

If you have troubles with kanjis and not with words, you can read my column Why Learning Kanjis is Easy and Fun.

Can Local Distance Help With Habits

I recently moved to a new country. Germany, to be exact. New city, new language and new people. Bringing forth a lot of new ideas.

But after moving here, I figured it out, that habits could get messed up with the move. But only some of them.

For example, the negative habit that did get stopped was eating. I couldn't get myself to stop eat, when I was at home. If I didn't go into the kitchen every hour, to eat something, I didn't feel so good.

But now, I suddenly realize, that I eat to little. I can eat a breakfast, and then forget until diner to eat something. It doesn't even affect my mood. Now I have to remind myself, to eat. I also experienced hunger for what feels like years. The first time it was a fantastic feeling.

That also got me rid of my biggest food addiction, that I had at home. Chocolate. I become nervous at home, if I didn't get any chocolate. Now, I can go a week with no chocolate, no problems.

But some of the good habits had gotten away as well. Like my habit, to drink at least 3 litters of water per day. Now I sometimes forget to drink a glass a day.

But some habits only get a minor bust.

I used to spend a lot of time on the internet, mostly reading. But just changing the environment, I can go a day or two with no internet and don't feel the need to connect. After two days, I do start to wonder. What did I get for mail? Did I miss anything?

Some habits do stay, no matter the city.

Since it is a new city, all the people here are new. Give it a new language as wee (one I am not fluent with), and meeting people becomes harder again. But this is one habit, to say hallo to new people, that I managed to bring here as well.

One of the negative habits, that came with me are my sleeping arraignments. I had problems waking up at home, and here it is not any easier. I still ignore my alarm clock.

So, enjoyment can be a good or a bad variable in making a new habits and keeping old ones. But if you have problems with a particular habit, than maybe changing a location, at least temporarily, can help. But it is not a sure way. Just to think about it.

Getting Into New Situation Unprepared

Is it really bad to go into new situations unprepared?

I had recently started study exchange. More accurately, I write that from the room inside the student hall, but I had not been enrolled yet. That is for tomorrow.

As I am waiting for tomorrow, I am nervous, but then I asked myself, of what really?

I came a couple of days earlier, even though I was only guarantied the room from today. But that didn't mean, I wasn't able to get in earlier. I probably made people do a couple of phone calls more than necessary, but then, the person in front of me was smiling and was extremely nice, so I didn't have that much of a bad feeling. If I was really annoying them, they should let me know.

I knew that I will have to pay on the spot, and I have to say I miscalculated. I brought too little mo money in cash to pay. But luckily, the counter for paying was in the other room, so I could go and withdraw the missing part, after seeing the end price.

The lady in the office was nice and she explained to me, were I was supposed to go. But I would have still gotten lost if not for the two students. They say me with the flier and offered to help. I hope I thanked them for it. I was so tired, that I don't remember.

They were even so nice, to call to me, even when I managed to get lost, just following them. Then the hall master wasn't there. One of the two called him for me, since I didn't have a German phone number yet (I didn't have any number would be more correct). She even offered to let me stay in her room.

Even though it was not even an opening hours, I got the key and signed everything I had to. Even the hall master was nice, like everybody else (I later realized that he wasn't even a real hall master).

So I got the room and I could relax and take a shower and went to sleep.

So while I was waiting for tomorrow, that got me thinking. If there was so many people, that didn't look like they were annoyed at me for my unpreparedness, should I really be nervous? What is really the worst that could happened? Not in the whole city get submerged worst, but can a situation really get that much worse, if I don't prepare for it? Or more correct question, what are the odds of that worst thing happening?

Very small odds. But I will still be nervous and maybe it will even become the next story, to tell in the pub.

But I know, that someday, I will get burned. I will be embarrassed and maybe I will even get hurt because of it. But that day had yet to come.

So stop being afraid and just do it. Just like I try to do.

We live in a world of assumptions

Every day, we live according to our assumptions. The causes and effects, that we think are universal. But usually, they are nothing more than a product of the culture we live in.

Today, I went to pay the bill. I got a slip and went to pay.

Usually, I pay at the post office. That is because, this is a cheapest way to pay in Slovenia, the country I am coming from (for people like me with no online banking).

But moving to a new country, I still had that assumption. And it was wrong. If I understood the nice lady correctly (my German skills are horrible), I needed a bank account.

Something quite surprising for me, when I had been paying bill for years with no bank account.

But then I remembered the time at Slovenian bank. The two foreign woman came to the counter. The lady there was nice and they seemed happy with the service. Then they requested to meet their boss. The worker become nervous and when the boss came, he had the defensive stance. They both expected to hear the criticism. But when they started to express their gratitude at good service, they were both taken aback.

There is also the difference between the European doctors and the Chinese doctors. In Europe we pay the doctor to heal us, when we are sick. In China, at least it used to be like that, people pay the doctors, to keep them healthy. If they get sick, that same doctor heals them for free.

Or the difference between the street system in Slovenia and block system in Japan.

In Slovenia, we say, that we live in street that and that. The places between streets do not have a name. But Japanese have it a different way around. They have blocks with houses, and the streets have no names.

That experience was a good wake up call. I do not know, how many more assumptions do I have.

But that is what makes learning different cultures and living in different countries that much more fun.

I wonder, what will me my next assumptions, that will get busted?

Thinking on the bigger scale, what assumptions do we have about important things in life? Health? Money? Relationships? Or about something else.

Ark of Freedom [Fiction]

The water was rising. Most of the houses had sunk under the water. Just some of the higher ones, still had their roofs above it. The last trees were were starting to fall by the pressure of the water. There were 500 years old sekvoia among them as well.

The flood had came quietly in the dawn of a new day, surprising the people in the neighborhood. The lucky ones did not wake up, before their lungs collapsed from too much water. The unlucky ones had their senses when it happened.

There was just a lonely pair of people, two women, sitting on the roof, looking at the water, that claimed the land. They didn't dare to look at eachother. Did not want to lose or take the hope away yet.

"I wonder, when the rescue is going to come."

The other woman didn't answer. She just continued to look at the raising water. She calculated in her head. They had less than an hour to live.

"Tina?"

The questioning voice next to her pulled her away from her thoughts. She remembered the question.

"I don't know, Nika. The closest city is miles away."

She leaned back, and Nika looked at her with pensive face. She joined her as well, looking at the clouds, that weren't there.

"We used to do this all the time, when we were little. Looking at the sky, searching for clouds, that had a magical ark on them."

Tina nodded, as she looked up. There it was a small cloud, that was drifting in the sky. If she squinted her eyes, she could almost see an ark on it.

"That one it looks like an ark, doesn't it?"

Nika grabbed Tina's hand, and look at her, but Tina still refuses to look at her.

The cloud stopped. It almost looked like it wanted to came here, but it hesitated. It was stoped by something.

"There is no ark for me anymore."

Nika shook her head, knowing that even when not looking, Tina could still see her.

"You did what you thought was right."

Tina's almost jumped up, as she looked at her tears striped face. It was barely noticeable, but she know her for too long, to stay hidden. Nika slowly followed her.

"Than you know what I have to do."

Nika shook her head again. Her grip had become stronger, as she bit her lip.

"There is no ark for me without you."

Tina smiled. She raised their connected hands, and kissed it. She slowly added the other hand as well.

"What am I supposed to do without you."

"Live your life?"

The tone was questioning, but they both knew, that it was not a question but a request. She slowly moved her hand away, and relaxed her other hand. She looked at Nika's face, as she wiped away the tears on her cheeks.

"My story had finished. Now you have to write yours."

Nika released her hand and Tina give her a smile. She leaned forward and kissed her forehead.

"Make sure to not repeat my mistakes."

She waited for a small nod of confirmation, before standing up. She looked at the water. She smiled, as she looked back.

"Wish me luck."

The last thing she heard was a scream of her name.

Is Fear Worth It?

Starting a life in a new environment, a new country and a new language. It was exciting, but there is also the other side of the coin. Fear.

Not just any fear, but the one, where you get stomach ache, where you want to throw up and you can not see a good way out of it.

Good. Now take a deep breath. Maybe a glass of water, if the stomach can take it and do it.

At least that is what I have been telling myself every single time.

Do not ask yourself, what is the worst that could happen. If you are anything like me, you are imagining apocalypse with it. Like the whole city is going to blow up by mayor earthquake.

Give yourself time, and think about something else. I know that I am making another story inside my head. Not related to anything, I am about to experience. Usually, they barely entertains me, but I had found some of the great ideas like that.

Or I am coming up with ideas for new recipes. I came with a great deal of ways to try, I can be busy for a year, just cooking to try everything.

But it helps me distance myself from the problem.

That is what is the most important, not the way to achieve it. If singing to yourself work better, great. Maybe coming with the ways to save our planet. Or making a new business plan. Or walking meditation. Anything works, as long as it excite you and it has nothing to do with what you are about to experience.

If the problem is not strictly mental, then do not try to solve it with just mental power. And even if it is, sometimes distance helps to gain new insides. Getting the subconscious to do the work it does best.

Just make one step. And another. The journey always starts with a step. It also finishes with the step as well.

Take a deep breath an do it at your pace. The world will probably still be here tomorrow.

And never forget to take a deep breath.

The Fear Of Speaking In Foreign Language

Recently, I found out, that I am afraid to speak in the foreign language. I was anticipating some of that fear, but not on such a scale.

As I moved to a new country, there was also a new language to learn. In my case, the German language. But just seeing a couple of my first encounters. Given the choice, I always chose English.

So far, I had always learned languages with more or less input method. A lot of reading and listening. I always were more motivated to learn passive parts of my language. I mean, just thinking of all the books that I could read, all the movies that I could watch and so on.

With this method, I eventually was be able to speak.

But, since I find out, I will be living in a country only a couple of months before departure, that above method did not prepare me as much as I would have hoped.

So. in order to came over my currently biggest problem, not being able to speak, I wanted to try the Benny's method, from his blog 'Fluent in 3 months'.

The grist of the method is, that a learner is trying to speak from day 1. Not exactly day 1 for me, but from this day forward, not when I feel ready.

So I made that my goal. And ended up speaking in the next conversation in English.

So after that, I made some rules, when am I allowed to speak English, and when will I speak German language.

The first rule is, never try to ask people to speak in English. So, if they start speaking in English language, that is fine, but if they start in German, then try to understand. Only if I understand less than 50%, can I ask to change in English. The exception being the paperwork. Like opening a bank account, registration and so on, when it is important to have an understanding.

After that, I had to long conversations in mixture of German and English. One was a theatre meeting group. The second was a stranger from Maroko.

I am proud of the second one, since managed to explain what is asexuality and that I am one in German. With a lot of pauses and hand movement, but I was understandable. I also made some sentences in German on the theatre club. But only a couple.

But also listening to German, even non speaking, my understanding improves and I can open the doors to more and more types of conversations.

A lot of people are afraid of meeting new people. Part of that is fear of rejections, that is one of the 10 top fears. But for me, that is not a problem. What I am afraid is not being understood and not understanding. But still, I hope that it will be easier and easier.

So, if you are like me, learning a new language and afraid to use it, make it a challenge with me. Having at next conversation. You can always quit late. I know I will not for some time.