Rays of Splendour


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Wk 4/15

10-days holiday

The school week have ended and we’re now headed into the 10-days public holiday here in Korea. It’s going to be National Foundation Day, Chuseok, and Hangeul Day all into one.

I’ve been trying to get tickets to fly back to Singapore for this 10-days holiday. I figured I’d rather be home and spend time with my family. However, all the air tickets out of Korea are either:
(a) Mad expensive
(b) Most of the tickets left are the premium economy and business class tickets which I obviously cannot buy since I’m an unemployed student for now.
(b) Sold out – I kid you not when I say the tickets are sold out. Not just to Singapore but to many places: Bangkok, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Osaka, etc!

So I’ve sort of given up trying to get out of Korea. That required a huge shift in mindset which saw me spending the past few days coaxing myself to remain positive and embrace God’s plans of placing me here for now.

Humbled

Besides that, I’ve been reflecting a lot on the process of acquiring knowledge. That sparked off from the experience I had in school this week. I had a lesson in which I felt very, very, very humbled by my classmates.

As usual, we had a seminar session where we’re supposed to contribute and express our opinions on the issues being discussed.

I’ve came to class prepared. I’ve been catching up on the latest news that have occurred in the past week and even read the required readings prior to class. I had understood what I read so technically I should be able to participate in the discussions too.

The discussions happened. Opinions, thoughts and questions were expressed. But by the end of the lesson, there was no contribution from me.

When the seminar took place, it unfolded very, very fast. Points were expressed swiftly. No sooner had I digested what was being said and tried to formulate my own thoughts based on the point which was just expressed, someone else had interjected in agreement or to disagree with it. That left me humbled.

I was humbled at how fast my classmates were in grasping the complexities of the issues and points being brought up and then responding to them. Seriously, they have such brilliant brains!

On top of that, they are very well-read. They were making references to all these different books they have read. It’s books okay. Not just articles!

I realized how little I’ve read when I talked to a friend who is doing her PHD. I was talking to her about my thesis hoping that the process of talking would give me some clarity. As we talked, she brought up all these books she had already read and was suggesting to me as she felt they would be useful.

That made me reflect a lot.

These people not only have such brilliant brains but also, are really committed in the path to seeking knowledge and gaining deeper insights. Compared to them, I’ve such a looooooong way to go to catch up!

It makes me really re-consider the PHD route. If I were to go down that path, it would entail also having the discipline to read a lot. It’s no wonder my professors’ office are filled with thick books. Those books are not there for posterity, mind you. My professors would be able to tell you exactly what’s inside those books as they’ve read it from cover-to-cover!

Autumn song

Since it’s now autumn, this song is back on my play list. In fact, I’m listening to this song as I’m blogging this entry!

It’s been a few years since its release but this song still remains my autumn song.

I didn’t think of it when I listened to this song today but after singing along to it a few times, I started to be cognizant of the words I’m saying. It made me recall that version of myself back then and why this song was so relate-able at that time.

2012. Hmmm… I was 28 years old then!

A 28 years old me was a woman still full of idealism and one filled with lots of energy to chase aspirations. Nothing was impossible to me. I believed then that as long as I set my mind, heart and work towards it, I could achieve those goals.

It was also a time when I craved changes and constantly looked for new opportunities to experience. At that time, I felt like I needed to experience as much as possible, learn as much as possible and achieve as much as I possibly could in order to attain a fulfilling life. The 24 hours given to me simply wasn’t enough!

I even felt that work tied me down geographically and temporally such that for a few hours every day, I wasn’t able to do the other things I’d prefer to be doing and achieving.

I also used every opportunity I had to travel. Money was no issue and I was willing to spend as long as I could explore the world.

It’s not that I do not have aspirations to chase now. It’s also not that I still do not crave to experience new things and travel. But I think that I’m so much more grounded and settled for now? I still have goals but I do not define my time with pursuing just that.

I’ve reached that point in life whereby I’m okay with having a day or days when I’ve made no plans except to go with the flow of things and where alhamdulillah, I’m okay with work and don’t find that it keeps me away from achieving other things I wanted to. I still love exploring places but I also know that with financial responsibilities elsewhere, it is not my priority.

I miss that 28 years old me sometimes but alhamdulillah, I love my current 33 years old self too!


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‘Let’s meet in Jannah’

It’s almost 2.30am and sleep still evades me. I’ve cooked a bowl of instant noodles (I don’t eat them usually but tonight, I felt like I needed to cook something really quickly) hoping that I’ll be sleepy once I’m full but instead my eyes are still wide awake.

I guess tonight is one of those nights when I feel much more lonely than other nights. I feel lonely from the lack of companionship. No matter how many times I’ve done this (almost two years now!), I really cannot get used to turning in for the night alone.

I still crave and prefer the feeling of having someone by my side and being able to exchange final words for the day with them. Those words exchanged right before falling asleep are usually nothing important. It can be as minute as ‘Can you pass me the pillow from your side?‘, ‘Can you put my handphone over there?’, ‘Have you set the alarm?’ or ‘Okay okay no more talking. Let’s sleep!’ but it’s truly comforting to hear and utter them anyway.

As I reflect on this concept of living alone, I’m fully aware that I’m not the only one in this position. I have many coursemates who are living alone as well and this particular part of Seoul where I’m staying has the highest rates of single-person households. That knowledge should technically soothe my loneliness. People always say that knowing someone else out there could be experiencing the same things you do usually refocuses the issue away from yourself so that you will feel less troubled over it.

Yet, it still does not stop me from feeling lonely every night. It also still does not stop me from missing home and the people there. When it comes to missing people, there’s never been a night since my arrival in Seoul that I’ve gone to sleep without my heart aching for my family and friends.

All these led me to ask myself another question: How would it feel if the people I love were to leave this world permanently?

My parents who have always been there for me. My siblings. My bffs whom I have experienced a lot of life together and in recent times, R whom I also spend a lot of time as well as share things with.

For now I still have the assurance that I’ll get to hear from them again. It’s just a matter of picking up the phone to call, text or meet them. But there will be a time when I won’t ever get to hear their voices nor be able to spend time with them no matter how much I miss him or her. There will be a time when my phone would not beep indicating I have a text coming in from them nor would I be looking for their names on my handphone so that I could send them a message either on WhatsApp, Instagram DM or even Facebook. That perhaps the next time we meet will be in the afterlife, by His mercy.

That sentence ‘Let’s meet each other again in Jannah‘ that we sometimes utter to a person when we part due to various reasons could be light on the tongue but laden with far deeper meanings. It entails a future whose length of time is unknown to us. It entails a reality and journey whose nature we are unsure of before we eventually reach its destination.

So when I reflect on the reality that there will be a time when I’ll part with my loved ones, I really pray that Allah allows us to meet again in Jannah and that He eases our path to reach that coveted destination.

Lastly, I pray that I always remember to embrace the present and the people I have in my life right now. Life is really too short to hold on to your ego, grievances, anger or whatever negative feelings you might have that could result from your interaction with your loved ones. As I think back to times when I might be angry with a family member or friend, I find that it’s always easy to respond either by snapping at them or giving them the cold treatment in such situation.

But life isn’t permanent. Death and separation can occur at any point in time. Time isn’t on our side even though we always deceive ourselves that it is. Everyday that passes is a day less with the people in your life. May I always remember to appreciate and embrace the presence of the people I have today. Amin.


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Summer of procrastination (on thesis)

At the time of blogging this, I’m finally officially having a summer break. Yessah!

I was tempted to spend the summer exploring more of the provinces of Korea. I figured a month would be more than enough to slowly travel and experience the different provinces. However, I had errands and matters to attend to back home and hence off to Singapore I went!

So I’ve been back in Singapore for about 2 weeks now. It has been a busy two weeks spent settling things, trying to catch up with people here and also, just to rest.

In between, I caught a flu bug that has been making its rounds among the people here and I’ve been trying to drive away the runny nose, scratchy throat and dry cough since last week. I’m heaps better at the time of writing this but yeah, my lungs still feel irritated at times. The air in this western part of Singapore I’m staying at is really polluted that it has triggered my asthma thus prompting me to use the inhaler EVERY SINGLE DAY since I got back. I probably need to get myself some new supply of the inhalers soon cos the current ones are almost empty.

Health-issues aside, I’ve been telling myself every single day to get my ass working on the thesis. Honestly every time I open my laptop, I have all intentions to start on my research or email some people who would be helpful in allowing me to get access to some data. But the reality does not pan out that way for every time I’m on my laptop, I will find a million and one other things to occupy myself with which has no relation to my thesis such as the following:

2

j88hbs

Instead of working on the thesis, I’m spending time googling for memes related to it and laughing my heads off at some of the funny captions. Some of these memes are so funny I.just.can’t!

#queenofprocrastination

I hope that the next time I blog, I’d have some updates about the progress I’ve made on my thesis. Amin.


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Back to solitary life

For the past few months, I’ve had a friend staying over at my place. It felt nice to have a roommate and basically, a companion these past few months. However as of this week, she has gone back to her country for a holiday and at the same time also moved out of the apartment.

These few days, I found myself adjusting back to solo life in Seoul. It’s back to days of waking up, spending my days and turning in for the night to an empty apartment. Since the last time I spoke to my mom on the phone 2 or 3 days back, I’ve not spoken nor communicated with anyone at all.

In the meantime, I’ve been sick but alhamdulillah I’ve gotten heaps better at the time of blogging this. Recuperating and attempting to get well by myself like this made me realize how it is that there could be cases reported whereby no one knew someone living alone had died in the apartment until perhaps a week after their death. I know it’s morbid but I now understand why that could be so. In a context whereby you live alone, lack social connections so basically there is no one who checks on you nor know where you live, and then you fell sick or an accident occurred in the apartment, it’s no wonder cases like that could occur.

That aside, it’s also back to days of scrimping on money. I knew I was lacking money when I got back to Singapore but seeing how it was Ramadan and Eid season – times when the family uses more money than usual – I didn’t have the heart to ask the parents for money to bring back to Korea. So yes, it’s back to days of making do with less.

I haven’t bought any bread since I finished it a few days back so that’s one expense less. Thank goodness Korea sells salad at such a cheap price (1000 – 2000 won only for a packet!) so my meals these few days are just white rice with salad and tomotoes and erm, lots of Eid cookies and crisps which I brought over from Singapore! Hahahah. Alhamdulillah, I still have a few cuts of chicken left which I’m trying to make last as long as possible by only cutting like 5 tiny slices to cook whenever I get too hungry. Lastly though I’ve lots of free time since school is only on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, I’ve not gone out. Going out = spending money on transport. Hence, I’ve been staying inside the house since Thursday.

I think I’m really becoming an expert in not spending money. Lol. On a serious note, I appreciate so much my house back in Singapore. When I was back home last week, the whole kitchen felt like Heaven cos it was overflowing with food!

Now, what else should I do to entertain myself in the house till Tuesday afternoon when class starts again?


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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.