Rays of Splendour

First week in Seoul, Wk 1/104

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I’ve been in Seoul for exactly one week. That’s another 103 weeks more to go!

Some random updates of my time here…

First day of school was an eye-opener for me

As I walked to the entrance of the school, I was surprised to see the road filled with middle-aged men and women selling flowers. Apparently, these flowers were for people to buy and gift another student/child who is having their first day of school here. That’s when I found out that going to university was a big deal to the society here such that when someone is able to go, it is viewed with such pride and prestige. Coming from an environment where going into university merely represents another path that one chooses in life as opposed to others, seeing all that was certainly new for me.

Of course, the first day was also an eye-opener due to another reason. I took the wrong campus shuttle bus which brought me on a tour around the school campus. So yeah, I accidentally got to see the whole campus and the surrounding mountains where it is located even before going for the orientation. That’s definitely an eye-opener!

Aunties at theย  supermarkets love explaining things to me even though nothing about me (from the tudung to the race reflected on my face) indicates that I understand them

So one of the places I go pretty often in the past few days is the supermarket. The supermarkets here still has ladies stationed at selected aisles to promote the products to consumers…. and these ladies are VERY eager to help you.

I found myself standing in front of an aisle selling cleaning detergent for clothes but because the supermarket carries both the liquid and the powder versions from brands I’ve never seen before, I was pretty unsure which ones to buy. I stood there for a while staring at detergent after detergent trying to make sense of it all. Then, a lady who was stationed at that aisle walked up to me and explained to me with all her heart and soul complete with hand gestures some of the brands on the shelf.

I felt soooooooo bad for not understanding what she said that I promptly bought the bottle she was holding out to me!

The same goes for when I was at the rice section, the eggs section and even when I happened to accidentally stray into a corner selling pork sausages (didn’t buy of course. Walked away)! Lol.

(Skewed) application of logic

Ever since I got here, my brain has somehow started applying logic in an unconventional manner. To my surprise, they kinda worked!

For instance, the refrigerator in my room was down last Tuesday. Its cooling system did not seem to work and as a result, I was unable to store the milk I had bought earlier. After wrecking my brain over how to ensure the milk doesn’t go to waste (drink everything by end of the day? But it’s a 1 litre carton! Share with my neighbours? Will we be able to finish everything??). So in the end and after considering various options, I settled upon the idea to place the milk near the window sill. The logic here is that since the temperatures outside are between 1 and 5 Degrees Celsius anyway, that is akin to placing the milk inside a refrigerator right? Unfortunately (or is it, fortunately?), the milk remains at the window sill even after the refrigerator has been repaired because hey… Why disturb something that is working well??

Another instance would be when I was too tired to hang all the scarves I had washed. I only remembered that I had not hung it while I was lying on my bed and about to get to sleep. So my cheat code solution? I took out the scarves from the washing machine and dumped it on the floor because… Isn’t the floor heated anyway so if I were to place those scarves there for the whole night, it will be akin to placing it inside the dryer! Amazingly, ALL the scarves were dry when I checked on them the next morning.

I’m convinced that I need to also install these floor heaters in my room in Singapore too! I can already imagine the following conversation with my mom:

Mom: Kau nak buat apa dengan tudung-tudung yang kau keluarkan dari washing machine tu?

Me: Nak sidai atas lantai bilik dan keringkan, Ma!

Disconnected

A few days back, I had one of those days when all I wanted to do was retreat into my shell. I did not want to communicate with people nor do I want to be contactable. I did not know why I felt like that but now that I’m thinking back, I guess I had one of those days when I felt quite distant from Him and I wanted to be able to reach Him again. Feeling distant like that, I can’t help realizing that if I don’t have God in my life, then I’ll have no one by, and on my side.

Hence, that was what I did. Dedicated more time than usual to try to reach Him. Prayer mat, prayers, quran, me, Allah. No distractions.

However I realized soon enough that I cannot be entirely disconnected this time round although it’s definitely easy to do so back in Singapore. Over there, nobody expects replies from me and I’m pretty contented not having texts and emails to read or answer. But in the past few days ever since I got here, I learned very quickly that one of the responsibilities I have now is to ensure that I text the family at least once a day in order to let them know I’m still allright. I believe that one of the ways to show your family that you love them is not merely to give of you time and yourself to them but also, to ensure that you are okay physically, emotionally and mentally for them.

Hence despite my intention to be disconnected, I found myself sending them one message in the morning and another in the evening.

So okay, those are the updates for now. I’ve two more days of rest (and time to catch up on my readings, insyaAllah) before going back to school this coming Monday. Praying hard that Allah grants me ease in school, insyaAllah amin.

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