Raiin Monkey

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Tuesday, 19 September 2017

How To Learn A New Language

Hi lovelies! As many of you will know if you are a regular reader of my blog, I'm currently learning German! In my summer goals, I said that it was my aim to get better at my German speaking and writing, and I've been working on this throughout the last few months. I thought that it would be good to share with you all how I'm learning a new language, and hopefully it will be helpful to others who are interested in learning one too!

I've always been fascinated by foreign languages! They sound so interesting and since I was a kid, I have wished that I could speak in a different tongue. I have loved listening to songs in different languages for as long as I can remember. The Eurovision Song Contest is a big passion of mine (I finally went to watch it live in 2016 in Stockholm! You can read all about it here). Music is one of my main inspirations for learning a new language, that and my interest in the traditions and cultures of other countries. I went to an Italian language club after school in Primary and in my early teens, I started becoming more and more obsessed with Japan so I would listen to J-Pop and watch anime with subtitles. I would always think to myself how awesome it would be to be able to watch these shows without the need for subtitles and after learning some basic Japanese, greetings and numbers, to use when writing letters to my Japanese penpal, I decided to learn more. I used websites, books and language course CD's back then and learnt a fair bit of Japanese this way, but I didn't continue when I needed more advanced lessons because I was young and couldn't afford to pay for access to online courses, etc. I gave up after that for years and put my desire to learn a language fluently to the back of my mind, until last year!

How To Learn A New Language

In the months leading up to the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest, my friend began learning Swedish since that's where the show was set to be held after Mans Zelmerlow won for them with the song 'Heroes' the previous year, and we were planning to visit the capital for the contest event. As well as this, the Melofestivalen is the show that Sweden hosts for every Eurovision to chose their preformer, it is amazing and I'm pretty sure watching this inspired my friend to learn the language even more! Seeing how well my friend was doing with learning Swedish with the help of a language app, I was encouraged to give it a go myself. You may be curious about why I decided to learn German. I just love the way it sounds! I was first intrigued to learn the language when I was 15 and I heard the German metal band Rammstein for the first time; I loved them and still do! I was also interested in the Germanic roots of the English Language, passed down by the Angelo Saxons. Plus, I have wanted to go to Germany for so long and it would be fantastic if I could communicate with people there in their own language :)

So, how have I been learning German?

(1) Duolingo 

Duolingo is the language app that my friend started learning Swedish on so downloading this onto my iPhone was my first step towards learning German. The app is great! It helps you learn German phrases both speaking and writing/spelling through a variety of 'games'. They aren't really games in the traditional sense but I can't think of what to call them, haha! There's one where you have to match the correct English word to the German word, and one where you have to fill in the gaps in a sentence. There's also speaking 'games' and this helps you learn the correct pronunciation of the words. There are different sections/levels to complete that contain a specific theme, such as 'food' or 'animals', etc. It's an easy and effective way to learn a language, and it's free! The app lets you set a reminder and a goal to for example, spend 10 minutes on the app each day. I definitely recommend Duolingo as a starting point!

(2) Pimsleur Language Program 
A few months ago now, one of my friends gave me access to his Pimsleur German Language Program and I am super thankful! The Pimsleur program focuses only on the speaking side of learning a language, and involves a 60 day course where you are supposed to do a lesson a day. Each lesson is around 30 minutes long and are intended to give you the ability to communicate the basics if you were to visit a country where the language you're learning is spoken. I really like these lessons, because of the way they break down the individual words to help you learn to pronounce them correctly and also because of the way they repeat the words. Another great thing about each of the lessons for me is the structure. Usually at the start, you listen to a conversation and then during the lesson you learn what was said in that conversation and how to speak it yourself. You are supposed to do a lesson each day for the method to have it's full effect, but I've been dealing some difficult things since starting the course and so I've missed days and had to re-do some. Once I get things back on track, I'm sure that I will get so much better at my German since I've learnt so much already just from this program alone! I'm not sure how much it is to buy but you can learn more on their website.

(3) A Language Notebook

I wasn't sure exactly how to title this section, but basically what I mean is that I think it's important to have a designated notebook when you're learning a new language. Even if you are using apps to learn, you should still record your newly learnt words and such on paper, and revise what you've learnt as you would when studying at school/college/university. Writing things down helps them to stick in your memory and it's true that practice makes perfect when it comes to learning a new language. The more you practice your writing, the better. I also like to write down the phonics of a word, breaking it down so you can jot down how to properly say it.

(4) Youtube Videos 

There are so many videos on Youtube to help you when you're learning a language and I often use them to help me learn how to say a word correctly. Something that can get a little confusing when you are learning a language is how to pronounce words which have a diaeresis. You may not have heard of this terminology before, but these are basically the dots that appear on top of some of the letters in foreign alphabets. In the German Language, these dots appear above the vowels and are known as umlauts. If a vowel has these dots above it, the way it is spoken changes and I had to use Youtube Videos to teach me the difference between a standard vowel and an umlaut vowel. It is very handy to hear people speak the words and to repeat them, and what's great about Youtube is that there's a mixture of language videos by native Germans but also others, so you can see how it is pronounced by several accents, etc. 

These are umlauts!
(Source: Google Images)

(5) Google Translate

I don't know what I'd do without Google Translate, and I use it all the time because it's much quicker than looking through my German dictionary. I mostly use it to search the correct spelling for a German word that I can speak but I don't know how to spell yet so that I can jot it down in my notebook. With German and of course many other languages this is important since a lot of words are written completely different to how they sound like they would be to someone who's first language isn't German! I also use Google Translate to check if I am spelling my German correctly when I am revising it. I will just type a sentence into the German to English translater and it will tell me if I'm writing down what I'm supposed to be. 

So here are the methods that I am using to help me learn German and so far they are working :) I have picked up quite a bit although I still have a long way to go! I love how with modern technology, there are so many sources like apps and websites to aid you on your language-learning journey! It's turning out a lot easier to achieve VS when I was trying to learn Japanese 10+ years ago. If you have any tips of your own for learning a new language, please let me know in the comments. I am always looking for new ways to help me out!

I wanted to end this post by sharing with you a tweet I posted about Duolingo. As many people who use the app will know, it sometimes likes to teach you some very random phrases, including 'I am a banana' apparently! It's definitely easier to remember something when it made you laugh so I can't fault them, hahaha!

Thankyou for reading!

Have you ever learnt a new language?

Also, I'm curuous about which languages you learnt at school? 
For me it was French, and I still remember so much of it!


Monday, 18 September 2017

New Template!

Hey everyone! Yayyy! I've finally been able to give my blog a well needed makeover, and what better time than surrounding Raiin Monkey's 2nd blogiversary! I've been wanting to create a new template with the professional blog & website design company, Pipdig, for a while and now that I'm in a better financial situation, I thought it was about time that I got to work on revamping my blog's look. I wanted to share with you all a quick post about my experiences using Pipdig and what my first impressions are of my newly purchased template :) I'd love to know what you all think too!

I am in love with the way my blog looks, so organised and with a lovely professional vibe. I literally can't stop looking at it, scrolling through it and admiring all the shiny new features! 

There were several reasons why I chose this template, and I think it was a great price! Pipdig offer a really easy set-up process, providing you with an instrution manual that talks you through how to install your new template onto blogger or wordpress, and how to make all of the changes you'd like to the fonts, sizes and colours of the various elements of the template to make it perfectly suit your blog. The instrutions include links to direct you to further information and tips, and I am definitely impressed with how much easier it was to sort everything out than I imagined it would be! 

The new features that I've been able to add on my blog have made me super happy! These include the Big This Week and Recent Posts 'widgets' (I'm not sure if that's what you'd call them, haha) which are one of the first features that you see when you browse my blog. As well as these, I have now been able to sort my posts into categories in a drop-down navigation bar and I love how easy this will make it to organise my posts, and for readers to find the posts they are more interested in! I really like the social media icons (I think they are really cute!) and the Related Posts that will appear at the end of my each of my blog posts. It saves me adding these manually, and they look much better now that they are showing photography rather than just a link. 

Pipdig have been very helpful, especially considering Hotmail/Outlook was down today (which has been incredibly annoying!) and they were able to re-direct my emails for me so I could still access my template. They answered my tweets quickly too! I am almost finished with everything I need to finalise my new template, however I still need to figure out how to add an Instagram feed along the footer of my blog. The generator that is supposed to help me create this through Pipdig doesn't seem to be working and keeps showing me an error page instead. I'm hoping I can get this sorted tomorrow! Despite this, I am happy with the overall service provided by Pipdig and I would totally recommend them if you're looking to re-style your blog :) 

So, what are your opinions on my little blog makeover? I'd love to hear what you like about it! 

Thankyou for reading!


Which websites do you all use for your blog templates? 
Have you ever used Pipdig? What did you think?


Thursday, 14 September 2017

September Kawaii & Geeky Wishlist

Happy Thursday Guys! I was originally supposed to get this post up yesterday, but after a busy day out I was far too exhausted. If you follow me on twitter and instagram, you might have noticed me posting all about what I got up to. If not, I'll fill you in :) Me and my best friend met up for the first time in what feels like ages! We headed to the local Vue cinema to watch the new adaptation of Stephen King's IT. It was so so good! After seeing a movie, we always go to Frankies & Benny's so keeping with tradition, we had a lovely meal there. My go to dessert is the cinnamon waffle topped with toffee sauce and ice-cream, and it was scrumptious as usual! I love our little dates and I can't wait for the next one :) Anyhow, I hope you enjoy this month's kawaii & geeky wishlist! 

1. Funko Pop Games Of Thrones Tormund Giantsbane If you didn't already know, I absolutely love Tormund Giantsbane, for both his character in the show and the books, and for the gorgeous actor Kristofer Hivju that plays him! What's not to love about a big bearded hunk of a man!? ;) My best friend likes to call the men I'm attracted to 'Lumberjack Types', hahaha! I love this Pop! It looks so much like the actual character, and I'm impressed with the amount of details on the figure. I need this Pop figure in my life!

2.  Cinnamonroll Travel Holdall Bag Look at this bag... It's so flippin' cute! I seriously have to obtain this bag before I next go on holiday!! I love the white and blue colouration, and the super sweet face of cinnamonroll covering the entire front of the bag. 

3. TokiDoki Stellina Enamel Pin You may remember seeing one of the TokiDoki pin badges on last month's wishlist but omgosh I just love them so much. I would really like to collect them all! They are so bright and look like they are great quality, and the slogan on this one is fabulous. It mimics the popular phrase 'I'd rather be a unicorn', which seems to be written on so many products lately, but with a cute TokiDoki twist.

4. Pusheen the Cat Catpusheeno A5 Notebook I am such a big fan of the UK store Artbox. They sell gorgeous kawaii items and I'm always dreaming of doing a big haul from them! I was browsing their website the other day and noticed this super cute pusheen notebook and knew I had to have it! I hope that I can afford to buy it before it goes out of stock! I've sort of accidently built up quite a collection of Pusheen notebooks so it doesn't seem right to stop now :p

5.  Gecko Vinyl Sticker Set Last month, I was scrolling through tumblr and came across the most adorable leopard gecko artwork that I had ever seen! I was basically hit in the face with cuteness overload, and I responded by letting out a little squeal of delight! I love leopard geckos! They are one of my favourite reptiles and are very close to my heart :) Therefore it was impossible for me not to fall in love with this artwork and as soon as I checked out the source, I fell in love with all of the animal illustrations by Afternoon Fika. They were immediately one of my favourite artists. Go check them out if you love chibi artwork like me! 

6. TokiDoki Moofia Flexi Journal How lovely is this TokiDoki journal!? Next to Cactus Friends, the Moofia characters are my favourite of the TokiDoki collection. All of the little milk-theme characters are the sweetest, especially the one in the middle of this notebook cover who's name is Mozzarella. I love the dairy related names too! This journal is just really nice and I would love to add it to my ever-growing notebook collection. 

7. Punky Pins Wednesday Addams Pin With Halloween fast approaching and the stores starting to fill up with decorations and spooky homeware, there are so many things that I'm now even more inspired to buy! I really like this Punky Pins badge and it's been on my wishlist for ages now. I feel like it's about time I got it! 

8. Funko Nightmare Before Christmas Pint Size Heroes These figures are so bloody adorable! When I look at the photo at their little faces, I can't cope! Who agrees? They are currently not available to buy yet, but you can place a pre-order online with Forbidden Planet. I definitely want to get my hands on some, but I also know that it will spark a new obsession with another Funko figure collection! 

Thankyou for reading!

What's your favourite item featured on my wishlist?
Have any adorable and/or nerdy items made it onto your own wishlist this month? 

Enjoyed this post? See some more of my wishlists here:

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Raiin Monkey Turns 2!

Hello lovelies! Today is my blog birthday, my blogiversary, Raiin Monkey is officially 2! This has come around so quickly, like wow! I am honestly a little surprised that I've gotten this far! I'm proud of me :) Blogging has been tough at times, especially when I'm having bad depression days, but it's also been amazing! It's been fantastic to get to know so many wonderful people, to make new friends with others who shared the same passions as me, who are always there to make me feel supported. It's been really carthartic too to be able to share whatever I want on my blog, even personal posts that make me extra anxious before I hit that publish button, and know that people will appreciate what I write and leave me the loveliest comments. You've all literally been my little rays of sunshine! I can't thank you enough guys for making my blogging journey so far such a wonderful experience

Raiin Monkey 2nd Blogiversary!

For today's post, I wanted to share with you all the meaning behind my blog name. I'm sure some of you have wondered about the reason why I called my blog such a random-sounding name. I wanted something quirky, something that reflected my personality which my loved ones will tell you is bubbly but I'd say it's rather weird, haha! I've always found myself pondering how people come up with the names for their blogs, and sometimes it's more obvious the more you read their posts and get to know them better, other times it's not. I've never mentioned why I chose Raiin Monkey, so I've decided it's about time :)

Throughout my life, I've had a lot of nicknames given to me by my friends, all relating to some aspect of my personality or something funny that I've done. My friends at college called me Google, because I'm a geek and my brain stores such random facts about all sorts of topics! At high school, where I met my best friends and really came out of my shell around them. I felt like people appreciated my quirkiness and I met people for the first time who had the same interests as me. This is where I got the vast majority of my nicknames, and one of them was the inspiration for my blog name! I had developed a slight obsession with cute monkey-themed merchandrise when I was around 12. I just loved it! Good old claires accessories had brought out so many monkey things, and does anyone remember all that clothing with the cheeky monkey logo on? The brand Bubblegum also created an awesome cheeky monkey character. Writing about this is super nostaglic! 

Raiin Monkey 2nd Blogiversary!

Within my little friendship group, I was always the one making everyone laugh with my hyperness and all of the spontaneous things I'd do or come out with, so I guess my personality also seemed to mirror a cheeky monkey and when me and my best friend gave each other cute nicknames, mine always included monkey and hers bunny :) 13 year old us was adorable! Before I explain more, I need to talk about why rain is involved. Rain is my favourite weather, I have always loved listening to the sound of heavy rain when I'm indoors, I love the smell of the air after it's rain, I love the look of flowers and leaves covered in raindrops and I've loved splashing in puddles for as long as I can remember. Since I was young, I have really enjoyed being caught in the rain, being drenched and dancing around in the downpour. It just feels so refreshing! It always made my friends and family laugh because they would run for shelter and I would just stand there in the rain! Yes, I know I'm weird. 

So, where exactly did the nickname Rain Monkey come from? ... On day at school when I was around 15 years old, maybe 14, it was lunch time and my friends & I were hanging around in a usual corner of the school yard. We were busy chatting away, probably gossiping, fangirling over hot alternative guys or nerding out about something. Suddenly it started chucking it down and everyone retreated into the doorway of our science block building. We were watching the heavy rain through the glass panels in the old wooden doors, and someone made a comment about how they were surprised that I wasn't standing out in the rain. They knew me well! So, I dropped my backpack inside and went outside! I stood out looking at the ghostly almost empty yard and then back at my friends laughing at me. Seeing their faces and being the dork that I was, I decided to dance around and act like an idiot hahaha! I was eventually getting too drenched and I knew I still had two more lessons to go to, so I went back indoors to join my buddies. I stood there, my blazer soaked, my shirt wet through and water dripping from my hair down my face. I was giggled and I felt great, and that's when Jessica (my best friend) made a comment about me being a Rain Monkey, and so a new nickname was born!

I picked this name for my blog after writing a spider diagram annotating everything I could think of about myself and when I finally jotted down my memories and favourite things from my youth, I looked at Rain Monkey and it  just seem perfect! I seached online for websites with the same name and unfortunately there was a Chinese website using it and I knew that this would affect me when I one day came to set up a domain for my blog. I noted down several different ways I could spell it and the two I's in rain fit best in my opinion :) I love my blog name and I'm so happy with my decision! I hope you all enjoyed reading about it's origin :)

Raiin Monkey 2nd Blogiversary!

This post has ended up a lot longer than I thought it would be. Sorry if I've nagged guys! So, here's to another year of blogging and hopefully many more years to come! I'm hoping that my third year of being a blogger is filled with interesting opportunities and positive experiences. I'm hoping that I work through my anxiety enough to finally get some youtube content created too. We'll see; I'm looking forward to finding out how the year plays out, both with regards to my blog and in my personal life too. In celebration of my second blogiversary, I'll be re-vamping the look of my blog so keep your eyes peeled for that over the next few days! I will also be hosting a giveaway soon too! Thankyou to everyone for reading my posts, for following and chatting to me on social media and for leaving all your awesome comments. It means so much to me :) 

 Thankyou for reading!


 I'd love to few about what you like about my blog? 
Do you have a favourite post of mine? 

You can check out my 1st bloggiversary post here if you like!


Saturday, 9 September 2017

Things Are Finally Starting To Pick Up | Life Update

Hi everyone! I thought for today's post I'd write a little life update for you all, as it's been so long since I shared a more chatty style post about how things have been going for me lately. After a rough start to the year, with so many things going wrong in my life, and with nothing to really look forward to, I really struggled with my mental health. As a result, my physical health was affected and so was my motivation to do the hobbies I love. I barely blogged and I felt so bad about it :( However, for the last two months I've been getting into the swing of things again and I now feel like I've got my blogging bug back! Woohoo! 

In my previous life update post, I discussed how my financial situation suddenly changed when I went for my ESA reassessment and even though my health was in the same state, if not worst, as when I'd first been granted the benefit, the health care practioner who 'interviewed' me decided that I was no longer eligible. I felt like she wasn't listening to me much at all thoroughout my appointment and it was clear she was just looking for ways to catch me up on what I was saying. It is ridiculous how they do this! Oh you have a shower sometimes without being prompted? You must be able to work a full time job then! You are able to walk around the supermarket with your mom and catch up with your friends once a month? Again, you must be fit to work!

It is so stressful going into the appointment not knowing whether you are going to get a practioner who understands, a practioner who actually wants to help people and really takes in what you are trying to explain, which for me is hard enough with my anxiety without the added worry of how the practioner is deciding to word my answers on the computer in front of them. It just happened that I was unlucky enough to get someone who decided make my life even more difficult and as a consequence, leave me in a shitty situation for the first half of 2017!

Because of my chronic health conditions, I currently have to live at home with my family and so thankfully, I had somewhere to live rent-free whilst I was stuck with no money! It's horrible to imagine how someone who lives independently and has a health problem would cope if the same thing happened to them... the government really need to sort themselves out when it comes to these health assessments! After my ESA was stopped, I had to request something called a mandatory reconsideration, and to be honest I wasn't very hopeful as I just thought that they were going to be awkward and not back-track on their decision. This turned out to be the case, and I then had to go through the tribunals service/appeals court to get the decision over-ruled. 

The appeals process can take a very long time and in the mean time, it was very hard to handle what was going on since I had no sense of security and was so uncertain of the outcome. I was scared and it was beyond stressful thinking about what their decision would be. I had to write a lot of letters, fill in a lot of forms and do a lot of waiting, until I was eventually told that I would be getting an appointment with the tribunals service and would need to wait on a date to be sent to me. At this time, I was going to my weekly psychological therapy sessions and periodically seeing the psychiatrist that worked for the mental health team to check up on how it was going with my anti-depressants. It was difficult to make any real progress when my financial situation was having an impact on so many aspects of my life. I hope I'm not sounding dramatic or anything, but it meant that I couldn't afford to go anywhere with my friends and family, I couldn't treat myself when I was feeling crappy, I couldn't work on my public transport anxiety because I didn't have any money to pay for a ticket. Worse of all, I couldn't afford any of my medication and I couldn't pay for my rabbit's food, meaning I had to rely on my family members to lend me money to pay for these two necessities for months and months! 

One day when I went to see the psychiatrist to get my medication increased, I decided to ask him whether he would write a letter for me for the tribunals service. I wasn't sure if it would help since I'd already provided evidence of my health status to ESA with doctors letters and proof that I went to the therapy, etc, but I decided it couldn't hurt to have more to back me up. This decision turned out to an awesome one since a few weeks after sending it to them, behind the scenes the tribunal service and ESA had had a meeting, and ESA randomly contacted me out of the blue to tell me that they had done a second mandatory reconsideration... not sure how that works, haha! But I'm not complaining! I was then given back my benefit and everything was put back to normal, just like that. I had lots of medical professionals saying that I couldn't work, but the psychiatrist saying it seemed to change everything! I am over the moon that everything worked out in the end. Even though my mental health recovery has been knocked back and I feel like I'm having to start over again, if that even makes sense!

Not only has this reinstatement of my ESA helped with the obviously financial struggle that I was in, it has been such a positivity boost for me, being some optimism back into my mind because months of worry. It has given me some security and normalcy again, and now I can start focusing on the important things and doing the things that makes me feel good. I don't have to carry the bad feelings I had when I was having to borrow money, and I've been able to pay everyone back. I've been able to finally go to the dentist, which I would rather not because eeeek dentists, but gotta look after your teeth and all that. I can now start making plans and giving myself stuff to look forward to, stuff to keep me going, do the things that makes that make life just a little less tough. I feel good for the first time in ages!

If you've made it this far through my post, well done!! I hope that I havent rambled too much or bored you guys! I just felt like sharing my experience meant be helpful for others dealing with a similar situation with their benefit, and I also just wanted to keep you all updated. As well as this whole ESA pickle being sorted, lots of other things that were causing me stress have also settled down and I'm just looking forward to Autumn now! It's my favourite time of year for so many reasons and there's so much I'm excited for. Not long now!

Thankyou for reading this mega wordy post! 

Let's end this post with more positivity :) 
I'd love to hear what you are looking forward to!

Here are some related posts:
| Thoughts On Not Being Able To Work | The Sad Ghost Club
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