Rays of Splendour


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Of daily life and school

After almost a week of not updating this blog, so what’s new with me?

Basically, nothing much. Life seemed to have settled itself into a routine for me. There are both good and bad in that, I feel.

It’s good because my days are pretty much predictable. I kind of have an idea of where I would most likely be and what I would be doing at a specific time in the week. For instance, Wednesday afternoons are for school so its mornings will be spent at home either reading or catching up on sleep if I had turned in late the night before. On weekends, I would typically spend one of the days staying in and the other going out because I felt like I needed the stimulation from it. So yes, my schedule is largely predictable and that instills certain order in my life.

The downside to this predictability is that I get too comfortable with it to a point that it feels like my mind (and self) isn’t getting enough stimulation from changes in order to feel inspired. I’ve been so uninspired that I think if someone were to present me with an exciting proposition now, my response would most likely be simply “Oh. I see.”.

Yet overall, I’m appreciating very, very, very much the lessons I gleaned from my classes and this applies to even the Economics class I’m sitting for.

Economics. I never knew this subject could be complex so imagine my surprise when I realized that some of its concepts can be pretty complicated! Regardless, the subject has really forced me to exercise that part of my brain which I suppose I’ve hardly ever used. It took a lot of reading, re-reading and visualising before I can grasp the logic behind the concepts being propounded. It almost felt like I was doing A-level Physics all over again. I wasn’t that good at seeing the logic behind the Physics concept back then and now, I’m working with this logic thing all over again.

I’m telling myself to remain opened to the whole experience though and to be positive. Afterall, what’s the point of learning if you only want to learn something that you’re familiar with? Learning is all about embracing not just the familiar but to also confront knowledge that is beyond your comfort zone. That’s when true learning occurs.


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Things I think about before sleeping

You know those quiet moments when you’ve switched off the lights to your room, laid on the bed and closed your eyes and just awaiting for sleep to overtake you?

Lately, I found my mind taking me to the same thoughts over and over again. During those few seconds before sleep consumes me, my mind never failed to linger to either one or more of the following, depending on how fast I eventually fall asleep:

  • Was it just last month that I was in Singapore?
  • If only this bed I’m laying on is my bed at home
  • So after I sleep, I’ll be waking up to another day away from home?
  • 2 and 3/4 more semesters to go till home
  • What will I do when I am eventually home?
  • I don’t know when I’ll be able to fly back home. When will I get to go home?
  • Please Allah, grant me patience and strength to get through this
  • Funny how I can laugh and enjoy most of my time here but my heart isn’t entirely here
  • I miss seeing my parents’ and brothers’ faces
  • I miss my bffs and miss spending time with them
  • I miss Mr Winter Sonata and I miss spending time with him

It’s week 3 of school. Another 12 more weeks to go before winter break comes. I can do this, insyaAllah.


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Jaded

For reasons that I haven’t been able to specifically identify, I found myself feeling pretty much jaded about things these past few days.

During those brief moments when I felt more myself again and reflected upon the barrage of thoughts that went through my mind when I was feeling numbed, I can’t help cringing over how negative and lacking in hope I could be.

Here’s a brief sample of the negative things that go through my jaded self:

  • My presence is so irrelevant and does not add any value to people’s life back home so I should stop being such an irritating figure and cease from contacting everyone. Like, just let them get on with their lives without having to see messages from me and then being guilty at not replying to me. So really, I should just do everyone a big favour which they’ll appreciate and disappear properly.
  • Let me just spend my time alone in my house. Do not drop by my house. Do not ask me out. Do not make contact with me ever. Do not, do not, do not. Just leave me alone.
  • Can’t seem to understand this simple set of readings when everyone else seemed to have an easy time with it. Perhaps I’m just deluding myself that I could get through grad school. Perhaps I should just stop doing this and just work as per normal. I mean, why set goals in life and try to do something beyond my means when I don’t have the skills or talent to achieve them anyway?

Believe me, there are more where that came from and this is just a snippet of like 30% that goes through my heart and mind in the past few days.

I wonder when I’m gonna feel myself again cos seriously, it’s pretty tiring to be feeling so jaded like this but somehow lacking the power to fight it off.


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Day trip to Sokcho and Mt Seoraksan

I’ve been craving to spend some time in the mountains, immersing myself in nature and breathing in pure clean air for a few days now. Fortunately with Chuseok, I was presented with a few days of break from school and hence an opportune time to slot in a day trek through one of the nature reserves here.

The location of choice for the trek this time: Mt Seoraksan!

Although Mt Seoraksan is situated in Gangwon-do which is literally another province from Seoul where I currently am, it is still highly accessible. I took the bus (costs me 18,100won for a one-way trip which is quite affordable, I feel!) from the Express Bus Terminal to Sokcho. From Sokcho, I took an intercity bus to get me directly to the entrance of Mt Seoraksan Nature Park. I reckoned that the whole journey from Seoul to the nature park took me about 4 hours (it’s another 4 hours back so technically, I spent lots of time on the road) however I’m allright with that since I really wanted to travel and escape Seoul’s busy city environment for the day.

I loved being in the nature park! The air is truly clear and clean so I felt refreshed after trekking through the place. There are lotsa places to head to once we’re there but I chose to do a simple trek to one of the waterfalls – the Biryong Falls – for the trek this time. It took me about 2 hours of trekking time to reach the falls and another 1.5 hours to get back to the entrance of the nature park.

Some photos to share from the trip:

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As we had a 1950hrs bus back to Seoul to catch, we left Mt Seoraksan Nature Park at about 4.15pm and headed for Sokcho where the bus terminal is located. We had a bit of time left before boarding the bus so we squeezed in a short walk of the Abai Village, an area close to the bus terminal.

Sokcho is actually a town located by the sea. It faces the East Sea. Due to its maritime location, it is no surprise that a lot of development and activities are centred around the waterfront.

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I found myself feeling heaps rejuvenated and with a clearer mind as I made my way back to Seoul at the end of the day trip. I do realize that squeezing in this trip had consequently stretched my budget for the month and I probably cannot spend more than 50,000won in the next two – three weeks (honestly, how I’ll be able to pull this off with things being so expensive in Seoul, I do not know!). Yet, I won’t have done things otherwise.


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First Eid in Seoul

For the first time in my life, I ushered in Eid Adha without the family by my side this year. Additionally, I’d welcomed it in a Muslim-minority location where the day obviously isn’t part of the national holiday unlike back in Singapore.

Yet I had told myself that I still needed to make the day significant for me, as Eid Adha should technically be. It is a day that is replete with His infinite blessings and marks one of the most important events in Islam which teaches us a lot about the notion of sacrifice and having trust in the Lord.

Alhamdulillah by His will, I was able to commemorate the day in a small way. Playing the takbir over my iPod as soon as maghrib came along, then having a quiet moment on the prayer mat reciting the takbir by myself after performing my maghrib prayers which made my eyes tear as I thought about His glory while doing it, waking up early the next morning to attend the Eid prayers at the Seoul Central Mosque and then treating myself to a meal post-Eid prayers and lastly, ending the day with dinner at the comforts of a friend’s house eating some local Malay food to mark the day of Eid.

Small little things but they mean a lot to me. Being engaged in all those activities made me too preoccupied to think about the fact that my family isn’t here with me.

And speaking of being away from the family. It just occurred to me as I’m blogging this that I have absolutely no idea when I will get to see them again. That’s the thing about buying a one-way plane ticket to Seoul. I’m leaving the return date to Singapore very open and thus I feel severely lacking in affirmation as to how long the countdown is going to take before I get to see all those people back home yet again.


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Chuseok’s coming.

For a few days now, I’ve not been blogging. Although I had wanted to blog about a few things that happened this week which revolved mainly around school (it takes up like 75% of my attention for now with the remaining 25% being dedicated to engaging in routine everyday tasks, socializing and catching up with the people back in Singapore) but every time I switched on my laptop, I found myself reading articles online and after that’s done, I just don’t feel like doing anything else on my laptop.

But, the super strict blog police 👮 has noted the lack of updates so okay, here goes an entry for the records before I got questioned again! 😁😁😁

Anyway, I had initially made half-baked intentions (half-baked because it’s something I wasn’t sure I wanted to do) to spend my Sunday shopping at Gosuk. I figured that I needed to get myself some pants and a pillow for sleeping (the current one is too thick and makes my neck ache so I’ve been sleeping without a pillow. I need a more softer one). Thus I woke up early from my morning nap with the plan to quickly shower and leave the house by 11am.

But when I went down, I was distracted by the need to clean the house. I ended up spending the next hour or so folding my laundry, popped in a new batch of laundry into the washing machine and hung it to dry when it was done as well as to mop the floor. I had proceeded to shower and got ready thereafter but after my afternoon prayers, the thought of shopping amidst the huge crowd at Gosuk made me reconsider my plans.

The result: Changed out of my clothes into more comfortable stay-at-home kinda wear, popped in the white-coloured laundry into the washing machine (second batch for the day!) and here I am, blogging away.

Looks like this Sunday is going to be yet another stay-in one for me but hey, I’m kinda contented with that.

For now, I’m in the midst of reading up on places to go or things to do over the long Chuseok holiday that is going to take place this coming week. Chuseok is the Korean traditional thanksgiving celebrations and typically, most shops are closed as the Koreans would be back at their hometowns to spend time with their families.

I did seriously considered the prospect of flying back to Singapore but the tickets out of Korea during this long public holiday is so mad expensive that I changed my mind. I even considered the idea of flying to nearby Japan but an otherwise $300+ ticket now costs more than $800 just because it’s Chuseok!

So now, perhaps I’ll just be exploring Seoul or perhaps the areas outside it if I can still get tickets. Looking forward to the long Chuseok break!


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Owner of calmness and tranquility

“It is He who sent down the calmness and tranquility into the hearts of believers, that they may grow more in faith, from their (present) Faith. The forces of the heavens and earth belong to Allah; He is All-knowing, All-wise.”
Al-Fath, 48:4

One of the things I try to do every morning and pray that Allah makes it easy for me to do is to start my day with the Quran.  Typically, I’d read one of the surahs that is said to grant us ease in our provisions throughout the day, insyaAllah. These would namely be either Surah Al-Waqiah, Surah Al-Fajr, Surah Asy-Syams or Surah Ad-Dhuha.

Sometimes due to reasons unknown to me, my heart would be compelled to read another surah to start my morning. Today was one such day. As I sat holding my Quran and pondering which of the four surahs to read, I found my heart being led to Surah Al-Fath (The Opening). I didn’t think much of the deviation from the usual morning reads, went ahead to locate the surah in my Quran and proceeded to read it. Though I felt the need to go through the transliteration so I’d sort of know what I had read, I did not do that as I had to get ready for school.

Then tonight (and I believe this is His hands working behind the scenes and guiding me to it), I was guided to an Instagram posting that highlighted one of the verses from Surah Al-Fath as stated at the beginning of this blog entry.

To put things into context, moments before being led to that transliteration of the verse, I had been asking myself what I could do to cheer someone up. How do I help to uplift a person’s spirit when his heart and mind is not at ease?

The verse is a huge reminder for me that in asking that question and no matter how pure my intentions were, I had forgotten that calmness and tranquility belongs to God and it is He who grants it. At the end of the day, our efforts to help a person uplift himself simply represents nothing more than the medium that facilitates God’s giving of calmness and tranquility into the hearts of His people.

From guiding my heart to read the surah this morning, to presenting right before my eyes the verse that I was supposed to note even when I had neglected to make the effort to read the transliteration, and then planting the seeds of realization within me on how any matters of the heart is within His purview… MasyaAllah. How generous He has been!

With regard to my earlier question on how I could help uplift a person who needs lots of cheering? I’ve found my answer. It is as simple as to ask the Creator who created the heart and all the feelings it possessed to, by His Will insyaAllah, grant calmness and tranquility into it.

And to you dear soul who needs that peace of mind and heart with everything that’s going on in your life right now? That verse is for you too. Keep asking the One who owns calmness and tranquility to grant those in your life. Have faith also that whatever you’re going through right now is His way to elevate you towards a higher station in His eyes. That’s the promise from the All-knowing and All-wise. Hold on to that.