Rays of Splendour


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Two days till Seoul

Midnight just rolled around as I’m blogging this. It’s officially Thursday.

That means I only have two more nights (including tonight) where my family is physically so close before I turn in for the night. Three more mornings where I will wake up to a house filled with people I love very deeply.

I’m excited for all the things I am going to be learning in school but at the same time, my heart breaks at the thought of being so far from my family and loved ones. An emptiness echoes back whenever I tried to visualise myself shuffling around in the apartment, turning in and then waking up with the acknowledgement that my family is so far away. 

I’m going to end this very short entry (very unlike my usual entries!) with this emoticon that describes how I’m feeling at the awareness that I’ll be headed to the airport on Friday night to board the flight to Seoul: 😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭

Can I like call the airline company and request to change the flight departure dates so that I can spend even more time with the family? 

Afterall, classes only begin officially on 9 March. I can skip the first week which is the add/drop courses week. Can, can, can????


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Of parents’ birthdays and other random updates

Lying in bed in the dark while blogging on the WordPress app. This is the first time that I’m using the app!

Figured I’d just quickly jot down some moments that occurred in the past few days for the record.

Celebrated the parents’ birthdays

The parents’ birthdays are only 4 days apart from each other. As they gained an extra year in their ages, I’m reminded that my time with them could be getting shorter.

Unlike during times when I was much younger, these days I began to comprehend more the sacrifices and love they have for me. I saw how the parents are very giving towards my siblings and I, how they are always our biggest supporters in whatever that we do and how they never fail to continuously make duas for us to be granted with nothing but the best.

They have such unconditional love for us. I feel it in not just the way they always go the extra mile for us but also in the way that I never felt as though my presence was not wanted.

Everytime I’m with the parents, I felt it in me that our presence are such a blessing to their lives.

For all the goodness they’ve shown my siblings and I, I pray that Allah grants them abundance both in this world and the Hereafter. I pray too that Allah forgives any of their sins and places them in Paradise, amin.

Korean language class

This week, I received news that I am being offered a place to learn Korean at the language institute on campus. Alhamdulillah!

It’s a ten weeks programme. Currently, I’m supposed to start attending lessons this March daily from Mondays to Fridays from 6.30pm to about 9.10pm. I also have the option to change the lesson start time to summer which is in June and attend the morning 9am lesson instead.

So now, I’m in a dilemma whether to postpone the start times or not. If I were to continue with the March start time, it means that I will be going back home from school late everyday. Plus, I will be juggling that with the other courses in the day.

If I were to start in June, it would mean that I would not be going back home to Singapore for the summer vacation. That means: After flying to Seoul next week, I’ll only be back in Singapore in December. I’ll literally be gone for the next 10 months!

Not too sure what I’ll do. Regardless, praying for Allah to help guide me to the suitable choice.

Heartache

That’s “ache” in a literal sense.

Not too sure why but the heart has been feeling a tad bit odd these past few weeks. Even as I’m blogging this, I felt a slight tug at some vein near the heart area just mere moments ago.

Also, I do not know whether there is a co-relation but past few weeks too, there have been some moments when my world just seemed to momentarily spin. It will spin for a few seconds. The feeling’s as though I’m losing my balance. Like I will fall on the ground. It’ll last only a few seconds though.

Hmmm. Hoping it’s nothing and just my imagination!

I’ll be living alone in Seoul yet again. Gonna be doing everything alone and it’s gonna be back to times where I have to rely on only myself to survive the days. So yep, praying that my body continues being healthy insyaAllah.

Just a few days ago I was feeling worried when I read news of someone who passed away suddenly. That compelled me to send a panicked WhatsApp text to both my bffs to tell them to start wondering if they don’t hear any replies from me for more than 3 days. Though seriously, who they have to contact to check if I’m allright is beyond me. I really do not have anyone in Seoul whom the people in Singapore can contact to check on me.

Okay. Hand’s getting cramped from typing this blog entry on my mobile phone. Gonna stop now. It’s pretty convenient to be using this WordPress app though!


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One last weekend till….(?), insyaAllah

This week has been filled with moments of meeting up and spending it with people who matters.

These past few weeks that I’m back, I’ve not felt confident enough to reach out to them. This is largely because I’m worried that I’ll be getting in their way. I understand that I’m currently not preoccupied with anything substantial in life while their time is currently filled with juggling the responsibilities of earning a livelihood and spending time with their family and friends. You know, important and meaningful things. Thus for reasons of not wanting to border on being a nuisance and getting in their way, I’ve refrained from reaching out to them. So to have them still texting me and this week, really blocking out their time to spend it with me before I fly off is really something I am so grateful for.

As such, this week was filled with moments whereby I actually interacted more AND the most with people as compared to the past two months!

Wednesday was spent with the colleagues. It was so great to spend time with them again and catching up over snacks, tea and Korean drama. Hahah. I really do not know what has taken over my colleagues but lately, they have been into Korean dramas that I suddenly have so many people discussing drama plots with me. Our meetup was held at PC’s new house whose design I was absolutely impressed with. The day ended with a car ride from Kak Su where the two of us engaged in deeper conversations away from the group.

Friday was spent with the bffs. Dinner, conversations and lots of laughter. It always feels so great to be spending time with them again. They’re one of those people whom you can pick up interactions from the last time you left off and I pray that He gives us more moments of friendship with each other, insyaAllah.

Saturday saw me spending the time with the family. The whole family went out for dinner to celebrate mom’s birthday. Thereafter, we drove the youngest brother to USS where he had a ticket for himself (lol) to spend at the theme park. While he was there, the parents and I trawled the nearby Vivocity. There were sooooo many sales going on. If I’d not been on a budget, I’d definitely have snagged a few buys but for now, I’ve to discipline myself to strictly purchase only what I need and NOT want.

Today, a Sunday, will see me meeting Fad at Bliss House. She has an event which she invited me to so yep, looking forward to that.

So as the Sunday today unfolds and concurrently also essentially slowly drawing itself to a close, I have officially one more weekend left in Singapore.

One last Saturday and Sunday to be with all that is familiar and very much a part of me, insyaAllah. I do not know whether Allah will give me another opportunity in future to spend another weekend at a location and among people I call Home. I pray that He will allow me the ni’mah of more time to do so, insyaAllah amin.


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Anxious

For the past few minutes, the bffs and I have been texting each other and trying to make plans for tomorrow. We’ve decided that we should meet up at least once to twice every week before I fly off. As I did that, the thought that the two months of winter vacation is coming to an end crossed my mind. After tomorrow, I only have two more Fridays left in Singapore before I fly off to Seoul again.

This is going to be the third time that I’m flying back to Seoul for my studies, insyaAllah. It really doesn’t get easier. Always, my mind will start worrying over whether I would get to see my loved ones and people I care so much for yet again. With life so fragile and unpredictable, I can’t help always thinking to myself and asking God this question: “Will I get to see them again?”.

Unlike previous times, this time I’ll be flying back to Seoul alone. I always tell my parents that I’ll be okay in order to reassure them every time they asked whether they need to accompany me back to Seoul. However the truth is, I would love to have a familiar face(s) accompanying me on the journey. Whenever I imagined having to say goodbye to my parents at the airport and then making my way to Korea, I can’t help feeling so scared.

I’m scared at being alone yet again. Even the thought of opening the doors to my apartment in Seoul and be greeted by silence, and living there alone again… It’s not a sight that I look forward to very much. 😦

I must’ve gotten used to having familiar faces with me accompanying me to another country. I didn’t realize it then but their presence gave me the confidence to embrace the idea of living alone and many kilometers apart from home. Plus, I’m always happy spending the few days with them in Korea before they fly back to Singapore. This time since I’m back in Korea a few days before school starts and the family isn’t around, I can’t help feeling a bit anxious whenever I think of how I’m going to spend the days before lessons begin.

What’s making me more anxious: All the friends I used to hang out with have gone back to their respective countries. I am literally going back to a place where my friends are no longer there.

That made me come to a realization. This winter vacation has been marked by many days of solitary activities. Since my family and friends are preoccupied with work and their own respective lives and responsibilities, I spent a lot of time by myself. I do not know how I managed to pass two months spending like 90% of my time on my own but I did. In retrospect, there is definitely a wisdom behind this. When I think about the potential scenario I will be living when I’m back in Seoul, I began to understand that these past two months of doing things alone is God’s way of preparing me for life in the next few months.

Really praying hard that two weeks from now, Allah grants me the strength to walk away from my family and enter the customs part of the airport, board the plane, make my way to my Seoul apartment and live the first few days without crying my eyes out. Amin.


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First entry of 2017!

Finally blogging a very long overdue entry. I have been meaning to blog for a while now. Blog entries that I have been putting off includes my brunch at Noryangjin Fish Market, a 2 days 1 night trip to Sokcho, my feelings about being back in Singapore, as well as the things I have been up to since I’ve been back. However I have been procrastinating.

Presently, I’ve been back in Singapore for almost one month. I’ve slightly more than a month left before I fly back to Seoul to resume the next semester of my studies.

Things I’ve discovered since I’ve been back:

Body works better in cooler climate

For the first time ever, I found myself to be in a position where I had to acclimatize to the Singapore climate. I’m not sure whether it’s the air here or whether it is something else but as soon as I landed in Changi Airport, I found myself short of breath and reaching out for my inhaler. I’ve been using the inhaler more times in the past 3 weeks that I’ve been back in Singapore than the past 4 months in Seoul combined. I hardly used it there.

Not only that, I have been breaking out in hives EVERY SINGLE DAY! I did not have that back in Seoul. Currently, I have hives on my left legs, right shoulders, behind my ears and fingers as I’m blogging this.

Honestly, it’s getting pretty annoying to be scratching and reaching out for my inhaler almost everyday. I had forgotten how annoying it could be during those times I was away from Singapore. In Seoul, these symptoms somehow disappeared. I’m praying so much that my body gets used to the physical conditions here soon. I really, really, really dislike being in a position whereby the body doesn’t seem to be in a state of balance.

Physical activities significantly reduced in Singapore

Perhaps it’s due to the existence of a plethora of amenities as well as a family car but I found that the time I spent travelling by foot seemed to reduce vastly here. I could clock in between 7000 – 10000 steps on a typical day in Seoul but over here, I saw that it’s difficult to even reach 6000 steps even after a whole day of being out! What happened?

I seem to engage in lesser exercise or heart rate stimulating activities here too. I’m feeling pretty sluggish at the moment from the lack of physical activities.

Surviving on little

I’m currently neither receiving any salary nor have any savings to fall back on. However masyaAllah, I’m very surprised that I could still do quite a lot in order to lead a meaningful existence.

Previously, one of my past times would be to spend a lot on online shopping. It gave me a tremendous thrill to track my packages across the various courier services’ tracking sites and to eventually receive the items I had bought. I could even have online shopping packages arriving almost every day and the number of deliveries would typically accelerate the more work and deadlines I had.

My ultimate vices: clothes and books. My wardrobe and shelves would always be bursting with things and I remember having to frequently clear out my clothes and books by sending them for recycling so that I could make room for more online purchases.

Another past time would be to eat out after work and to travel. In the latter, weekend getaways as well as making extended and multiple trips during the holidays are common for me.

Oh not to mention, the multiple cab rides I tend to take on my way back from work. My justification for the cab rides was that the weather was simply too hot and I needed to get back home asap to escape the heat.

All these translate into high levels of expenditures.

However with the current financial situation, I’m learning to let go of a lot. Getting around strictly by buses/trains. Minimal eating out unless I’m truly hungry or craving for something. No outbound travel unless I have the funds. Strictly only window shopping and no frivolous purchases. It was difficult at first but after a year of being on unpaid leave, alhamdulillah it is getting easier for me.

I’d be lying if I were to say that I have no desire to shop, travel, take cabs, and eat out at the various cafes/restaurants in Singapore.

For instance when it comes to shopping… Oh, there are soooooo many clothes and scarves that have caught my eyes but I’ve been telling myself to stick to the current ones I have. Truthfully, I’m not used to wearing the same things so often since I frequently buy new clothes and scarves but yes, I found that things aren’t so bad.

At the end of the day, I realized that God is opening ample opportunities for me to engage in a practical application of one of the beliefs I’ve held for a long while: happiness and contentment doesn’t reside in the material.

It’s one thing to say those words when you have everything in life. That’s what I learned. All along, I have been saying those words but it was from a position of having them. It borders on being so hypocritical to be spouting those words when I owned so many things and always spending. Now that I’m on the other side of the fence, I’m made to realize what it truly means to seek happiness and contentment from the immaterial.

These days, my happiness and contentment are derived from simple things I never expected I’d glean such as:

  • To be able to sleep and be safe from harm.
  • To still have food to eat… Sometimes, too much food even though I lack the money to buy them. Yet masyaAllah and alhamdulillah, there is always something for me to eat everyday. This makes me realize that God feeds you. He really takes care of you.
  • Being in the presence of, and communicating with people you love and care about

Allright, entry’s long enough as it is. Hoping I’ll blog more soon and that the next entry will be one filled with photos instead of just words!


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What would I do without Him?

Before I embark full steam ahead with the presentations, term papers and exams in the next two weeks, I figured it will be good to take some time to pen down moments when I felt His presence more than I usually do. These past few weeks, I felt His presence so strongly and I pray that this feeling continues.

For many months now, I knew that my money would not last till end-November. No matter how many times I re-calculated my budget, the numbers kept telling me that no matter how much I cut down on my expenses, I just would not have any money left to pay for the rent, food, transport, and any another expenses for December.

For a few weeks and as November finally rolled along, I found myself getting worried. I prayed so hard for God to give me some miracle, to help me in some way…. ANY way. There were many moments when I found myself reduced to tears for I felt helpless.

Yet, I kept telling myself over and over again not to give in, that Allah is all-merciful and things could change for the better. Concurrently, Surah Ar-Rahman and Al-A’la were the two chapters from the Quran that kept calling to me. They were my staple reads for the past few weeks for reading these two surahs gave me a sense of calmness inside and made me remember how Allah is the most Merciful, Generous, and Most-High. That with Him lies the start and end to all Creations. That He can create something from nothing. That all Miracle lies in His Hands. That no one lifts the heart better than He does and He lifts the heart of those who remembers Him.

It was during one such moment back in November when I felt Him create for me something from nowhere and lifted my heart tremendously in the process. On that Tuesday November morning, I accessed my school email only to be greeted with an email from the people at the dormitory that a vacancy for a double room. Apparently, the vacancy has opened up and I could move in during that week once I’ve settled the payment and health checks.

I kept re-reading the email thinking that I’d understood wrongly but nope, I didn’t! The email was indeed an announcement for a space at the dormitory! It’s a Godsent email: moving into the dormitory meant that the previous financial worries I had would be gone. I would now have the money to pay for the December expenses! Alhamdulillah!

Hence, I accepted it even though the concept of living with a roommate, having the toilet in a separate location from the shower room, and a shared kitchen with the whole level of students living in the dorm did not really appeal to me. I told myself that I do not have a choice if I still wanted a roof over my head during the cold December winter, that Allah must’ve given the room to me because He knew I could live in it.

Keeping a positive frame of mind helped tremendously and before I knew it, I had already done my first round of moving into the dorm. Since I could live in the apartment I’ve been living in for the past few months till 2 December, I do not intend to move into the dorm until my lease is over. Thus, I had merely been slowly moving my things to the dorm bit-my-bit.

However, no matter how much I tried to psyche myself up for dorm life, I am still uncomfortable with it. I still remembered vividly that Monday afternoon last week when I was texting my family telling them how unhappy I was with the shared living arrangements, how difficult it was to cook as it’s a non-halal kitchen, how I had to go outside to get my laundry done, how I’ll have to store away at the Dorm Office all my appliances like the rice cooker and heater, how small the space I had left for prayers was, and how I would not be able to recite the Quran for I would not want to disturb the roommate.

It was then that I experienced another miracle. Another email came in and this time from the people at the graduate student apartment telling me that they have a vacancy and I could move in from 2 December onwards.

MasyaAllah! This was the apartment that I had applied back in August 2015 before I even started school and have been on the waiting list forever. It has it’s own kitchen, toilet, washing machine, fridge, … everything I need to live comfortable. For a vacancy to open up now and for me to be able to move in only on 2 December which was when the lease to my previous apartment was up…. MasyaAllah. The timing.

I’m really blown away by His perfect timing.

Most of all, I’m made to realize yet again that He’s there. He’s always there listening, looking out for us and planning the best for us. It’s just that us, being the ungrateful slave that we are, tend to be heedless of Him.

This is a reminder for myself first that others: What would I do without Him?


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Winter school or not?

Thoughts related to this piece of paper have been lingering at the back of my mind for the past few days.

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Tomorrow is the deadline for submitting this request to sign up for classes for the winter semester. Yet, I’m still undecided whether to do this or not.

Inside my mind, there exists now a file labelled “Why I should sign up for winter school vs Why I should fly back to Singapore for the winter vacation”. It’s a file I keep going to whenever I recall that the deadline is approaching and I’ve yet to make a decision. For now, the arguments for each of the options look something like this.

Why I should sign up for winter school
I get to clear one more course as the requirement for graduation.
It costs way cheaper than a flight back home.
I solve the worry about lacking something beneficial to do for the next few months.

Why I should fly back to Singapore for the winter vacation
I have been missing some people back home so badly and I’d want to be with them again.

Looking at the list, it seems like I have more incentive to continue staying in Seoul. Additionally when I considered how the desire to be with the people back home is a one-sided affair on my part for I am fully aware that it’s not as if there is anyone who has been missing me and wanting to spend time with me, those are moments when I felt motivated to go ahead with the request to continue with the winter semester.

One more day to decide whether I should submit this request.

And then there is another alternative: Not going for winter school nor fly back to Singapore but to spend the 3 months of winter vacation exploring the whole of Korea!

All these decisions to make. Sigh.