Musings

Red.

For some unknown reason, Chinese New Year felt sort of different this year. This CNY, we have a new member to the extended family, and with so many things that have been happening last year (my relatives not being in the best of health), the atmosphere just felt different to me. Perhaps that was why when I received my red packets, I felt like there was a surge of concern and a sense of relief when I wished the elder relatives good health.

Perhaps I have aged mentality again. As if my mental age isn’t old enough pft. Perhaps it’s that nagging feeling of turning 21 in less than a year that is making me more solemn than ever. Perhaps it’s due to me being away from home for more than a month, that it has led me to be more appreciative of the people around me.

21 years of receiving red packets; 21 years of not gaining any access to my red packet money, and I’m not complaining.

When I was younger, I used to envy all the other friends who would compare the amount of money they would receive during CNY and I wanted to be able to use that money to do shopping. For the longest of time, I’ve gotten so accustomed to simply passing my red packets to my mum that I’ve no idea how much I get every year (well, I know it’s at least $200 because that’s what my parents give me – or rather for me to see before I return it to them in a jiffy). I used to feel bad for friends whose parents took their money away to do their own personal ‘investments’. Slowly, I started appreciating my parents’ efforts in keeping my money for me and helping me save up for all these years as that would mean that I would have quite a great amount of savings by the time they hand the money over to me. Over the years, I kind of just want them to keep all these money instead, in repayment for all that they’ve done for me for the past 21 years. Sometimes, it’s just the truth that your parents make better decisions than you do, and this is one of the best decisions that they’ve made for me since I was a baby.

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So thank you, nothing feels quite as good as being home with your family (no matter how naggy and annoying they may be).

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Musings, Travel

「慧入韓國 #2」SIM Reflection

Let me begin this post by saying that I’m very thankful to have been given this opportunity by SIM to spend a month in Korea, learning the Korean language as well as visit numerous companies and knowing more about them.

Prior to the programme, I was really nervous as it was my first time being overseas without my parents, what more in a country that communicates in a language that was foreign to me. Just a month ago, I only knew all the phrases that would never have really helped with my daily life at all. Being alone, I had to be independent as I had no one else to rely on. That meant I have to be my own leader, navigator etc. Most importantly, I just had to trust my instincts and go with my gut feelings no matter how much I tell myself that I am terrible at estimation and reading maps. I guess believing in yourself means having half the battle won because I can safely say that for most of the time when my friends and I went to explore the city on my own, I was the one who would search for directions and figure out exactly how we are supposed to get to our destinations (From taking the subway to walking to the places). Travelling free-and-easy also meant that I had little to none napping time as I had to constantly be on my toes and know where we were headed to. Initially it was quite tiring but I gradually got used to it. Taking the public transport also meant being able to observe what the locals would do on the trains and gain a better understanding of them.

One of the new perspectives that I was introduced to was definitely the way we had to dispose of our trash. Having lived in Singapore for my entire life, it was definitely difficult to get used to the rubbish system initially as we had to separate our rubbish into different bags, e.g. food waste, general waste and others. However, it did not take my roommate and I too long to get used to the system and it became a very automated process whenever we would throw our rubbish. Though the Korean method of rubbish disposal is definitely a lot more tedious, I think that it is definitely a good habit to pick up as that would mean having the conscious effort to recycle.

Additionally, in Korea, there are many notable systems that seem to run on the basis of trust. Many food places in Korea have got designated areas whereby customers can get sterilised cups and water to drink. The used cups will then be promptly returned at the right areas. I casually mentioned on Facebook that Singapore’s food courts need to implement a similar system however, my cousin reminded me of how it is difficult to have a similar system back home as the cups will probably go missing or get damaged. Perhaps all these are due to the culture being built over time and Korea has managed to do this continuously and successfully for a long time. I am hoping that maybe one day, many Singaporeans will be able to prove that they can be granted a certain level of trust, to not damage public property and then we can all enjoy such facilities.

During the programme, the biggest challenge that I encountered was definitely the language barrier. As I was only able to read the Korean words initially, I could only make sense of words that originated from English. However, the lessons in class proved to be really helpful as I put what I learnt to good use in certain situations, such as ordering food or making purchases. Though my understanding was limited, I felt like the lessons did pay off as I definitely saw a marked improvement in my language skills prior to the programme and after it.

I was really thankful that the grammar structure for Korean was similar to that of Japanese, hence I had a relatively easier time understanding the use of words like 이/가/은/는/을/를. However, Japanese also proved to be quite a handicap, as I would sometimes mix up the vocabulary for both languages (‘haru’ in Korean means day, whereas in Japanese, it means spring).

Being proficient in a language is no easy feat and so my friends and I would practise speaking to one another, as well as study together. All that hard work did help me tremendously in coping with the language barrier, even though I was not able to fully overcome it.

What I find most significant about the programme would be the opportunity to interact with Korean students from Kyunghee University. Even though we were each assigned a dowoomi, I got to know a few more dowoomis through my friends. Though I had expected to meet more international students, it was still an amazing opportunity to have made new many new friends outside of my UB circle. The dowoomis brought us to places that the locals would go to, such as the Express Bus Terminal shopping area and Mokdong ice-skating rink. It was really interesting as we got to explore places that would never have been covered in a typical tourist travelling schedule. It was a pity though that we had very little time to interact with our dowoomis as meeting once a week was definitely insufficient (only managed to meet up 3 times in total, excluding the introductory meeting session). Communicating with my dowoomi also proved to be quite tough as I was not proficient in Korean and neither was she in English. Though we had to communicate mostly through a broken mix of English, Korean and hand signals, I was still able to know quite a bit about her.

Finally, the programme has shaped the way I see Korea as a working place a little different from what I had expected it to be before the company visits. I had always imagined Korea’s working system to be extremely fast-paced and efficient, just like their technology. While I have always known how respect is viewed as highly important in Korea, I would never have expected it to be a factor which impedes speed in their working lives too. Based on the talk given by the staff from Louis Quartoze, who gave a fantastic comparison between the Western and Korean working styles, he noted that the need to give face to someone in a higher position would sometimes mean beating around the bush and taking a longer time to get to the point. Though the working culture is definitely changing, with all the Western influences, I am not exactly sure if a Korean work culture is one that I would get used to. For now, I still feel that the way I work is more Westernised and if I were to be an employee in a Korean company, I might offend many without even knowing. However, that does not mean that I am crossing out Korea from my future job opportunities as I really enjoyed my stay in Korea. In fact, I can envision myself to live comfortably in Korea if I continue to pursue the language and be proficient at it.

Overall, the programme has provided me great insight into the Korean work and life culture as well as helped to improve my Korean language skills. Even though I’m back home, that doesn’t mean that my Korean language learning should stop too. After all, the friendly teachers from Kyung Hee University  have also urged us to continue studying and send them questions should we have any. I really do admire their dedication even though they have only spent 3 short weeks with us.

 

Loi Hui En

Student from University at Buffalo, SIM

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Musings, Travel

「慧入韓國 #1」

It’s been 2 weeks since I’ve been away from home and I can’t believe how quickly time is slipping away just like that! My journey with Seoul, or rather, Kyung Hee University should technically be ending next Thursday, but thankfully, I decided to extend my trip for a week to further explore this place.

I thought I would be able to do weekly blogs to keep up with my thoughts and all the experiences I’ve had here but I’ve been absolutely way too busy (and also lazy, because I rather spend those little pockets of time watching BIG and Running Man instead)!!! I feel like it’s been so long and I can’t exactly remember what happened in the first week.

Having Korean lessons thrice a week for 4 hours a day is intensive but I’ve learnt quite a bit too. Really glad that the language is somewhat similar to Japanese as they tend to use certain joining words e.g. 이/가/을/를 vs は/を/に/へ. I also think that I’m having the lessons a little easier than some of my classmates as I learnt how to read, write and pronounce the different Korean words on my own. Glad that I can make sense of more phrases now! /excited ^^/

Sidenote: I’m also really happy that I get to use my Kakaotalk because we have to contact our dowoomis!

In just 2 weeks, I have tried so many kinds of food and I’m definitely not sick of Korean food yet, though I really do miss my grandma’s home-cooked food…. Asian cuisine is great but chinese food is definitely still the best! ㅜㅜ 중식을 좋아해요~ I also can’t believe how I managed to watch Davichi, G.Na and Juniel perform live!!!! Of course seeing BIGBANG/SHINee/SNSD would be really great but for now, having heard those 3 is still just as amazing!

I really do miss home but there’s still so much more I want to do here – to shop, eat, explore. Arghhh!

Ok, time to go and finish my last episode of BIG! Hopefully I get to see Gong Yoo on the streets…. ㅋㅋㅋ

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Musings

#116

Final countdown: Just slightly more than a day left.

What seems like fun and excitement has slowly started to fade away. I’ve been so tired from all the endless packing, worrying that I will forget to bring this and that. Now dread is slowly filling me up emotionally, and I’m starting to worry about other things. I feel so upset that I’m alone because I’m such a dependent girl and I’ve always been so reliant on my brother to help me with my heavy luggage! I’m always the one who takes the lighter luggage and I fear so much that I won’t be able to manage with so much baggage.

What puts me off even more is that I’m only going away for just a month and the packing is already driving me nuts and has made me so exhausted before I’ve even embarked on the trip. The thought of even unpacking is so sickening, yet what a relief, to finally be able to come home. I’m dead sure I’ll be homesick (I feel like I’m missing my parents already even when we are just skyping each other from different rooms to make sure Skype works). I think of going away for a semester to US next year and I’m filled with even more dread.

Then I worry that all my worries will make me not enjoy the moment simply because I keep fearing something terrible is going to happen next. (Damnit that age test, it’s so accurate, I’m overly worried and paranoid but I simply can’t help it.) Even before I’m leaving, my luggage seems to exceed the weight limit… I’ve still got so many things that I want to buy… Help :’(

I shouldn’t be feeling like this when I’m going to one of the best places in the world. I really do blame it for being winter. All the extra clothing that has to be packed. Argh :’(

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Music

他她他

Finally managed to catch 3 Peas in a Pod with Laetitia today and I must say I had pretty high hopes for the movie as it is directed by Michelle Chong (Dunman High alumni, must support!) and many people said that the ending was unexpected, a total plot twist.

So anyone who’s reading this (oh hello there!) and hasn’t watched the movie yet AND don’t want any spoilers, please close this post because I’ve got so many questions I want to ask regarding the movie.

If you’ve watched or haven’t watched but don’t mind spoilers (but really, don’t say you don’t mind but actually you do mind, because the plot twist is really kinda mind-blowing), then read on.

If not…. You have been warned. (I really wonder who reads this though lol, except my bf hehehe)

I’ve got many many many burning questions to ask so if anyone who has watched the movie, please please please please do share what you think of the ending with me!!! (Desperate, it’s like those Inception moments, except I’ve sort of found closure for that movie)

To be honest, I actually kinda guessed 50% of the plot twist, which I think is brilliant, because I just suck at guessing plots in general. Halfway through the show, I leaned over to Laetitia and whispered to her, “Do you think Peter actually likes Perry?”

Ok so those 3 Ps went on a road trip, love-triangle yada yada yada. Then Peter dies. Then it was revealed that dundundun… Perry actually likes Peter, not Penny. Then it was revealed again that Peter likes Perry too………. (I think?)

So firstly, can we just say that Peter’s death made absolutely no sense at all? The first time they went to that place to see the sunrise, they actually drove a pretty long way down (woke up at 4.30 and caught the sunrise at like 6??) so technically that place is pretty damn far away? But when Peter went there to commit suicide, he obviously did not drive there because the car was still at the hotel. Plus, it’s in the wee hours, he couldn’t have taken a bus or anything. And it wouldn’t make sense for him to walk or run at all, because it’s like running from Singapore all the way into Johor Bahru or something – that would take too long. There’s no clear reason behind Peter’s death and we can only assume it’s because he feels restricted and he doesn’t want to live the life his father has planned for him, so he thinks that dying is the only way to find peace with himself.

Secondly, Penny accidentally stumbled upon the photos in Perry’s phone and realised that he liked Peter all along, not her. What I don’t understand is her reaction. Ok I get it if you are angry that you were being made used by Perry all along because he wanted to get close to Peter. But saying things like “you are perverted and you should be the one who died instead” really made no sense at all? Just because he liked Peter doesn’t mean he’s perverted and why should he therefore die because he’s gay….? My only theory for this would be that Penny feels Perry unintentionally caused Peter’s death because Peter wrote a letter saying “I’ve always thought 2 peas in a pod sounds better anyway.” So she would therefore assume that perhaps, Peter wanted to let Perry and Penny get together and feels that there is nothing else to hold on too and therefore made up his mind to commit suicide.

But, this brings us to the third point. When Perry was scanning through the past photos that were taken by Peter, he scrolled all the way till the end which said “I love you too :)” which would suggest that Peter felt the same way towards Perry too…? If so, why would he want to kill himself if he knew that they loved each other?! Plus he has also emailed his dad saying he doesn’t want to lead the life that has already been planned way in advanced for him. So now, I’m also confused as to whether Peter really liked Perry, but it’s probably a 90% chance thing because he knew he simply couldn’t have sex with Penny.

I’m not saying that the story is bad or anything (And well Laetitia noticed that the transcript said ‘Ms Perry Yap’ HAHA). In fact, I find the plot to be quite refreshing though all the sudden realisation moments and flashbacks really reminded me of Jay Chou’s Secret back in 2007 (which had many loopholes too but still such an enjoyable movie). It was also as though I was watching K.Will’s Please Don’t MV.

 

*rant* Alexander’s and Jae’s acting skills could improve (though understandable, since it’s Jae’s debut and Alexander doesn’t really act??). As for Calvin, he was pretty good I must say. I’ve seen him in all of the KO series and I think he has somewhat an advantage with regards to acting skills. I really didn’t like him speaking in English though. Additionally, I felt that some uses of certain phrases felt abit awkward and forced, like when Penny was breaking down, and telling Peter why must he keep taking pills, would it make him happier… (Though chill girl, he was taking like fish cod oil pills…. Like health supplements lol) And then she told him to get a life which made no sense, because it wasn’t that he had no life. He was just a really emo kid.

Well, so yeah… I’m really confused about the plot now :( Help, please.

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Musings

#115

Doing the usual thinking in my head while staring into the space thing and I thought, “Why am I so uncomfortable with the word ‘bojio‘?” I never really understood why people would use it…. /shrugs/

So well, I just thought I could pen down some reasons for me to look back on whenever I see that word and feel so ueargh, like that horrible feeling you get when you hear the sound of fingernails scratching against a chalkboard.

1. They don’t feel comfortable enough around you or vice versa and wanted to avoid any awkwardness.

2. They considered that you had plans/are busy/etc. and therefore didn’t think it was that necessary to ask.

3. They don’t like you. Who likes hanging out with people they don’t like?

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4. They simply forgot. Though if you’re good friends, it’s quite difficult to forget. So it’s probably 3.

Well, of course many people do say it jokingly, though I sometimes get the feeling that there’s a little tinge of sourness and dejection at times. I’m in no way judging anyone using this term…. Or am I?

I just can’t get that cringing feeling to go away whenever I see that word. The thought of me even using it makes my inner guts want to shrivel up so badly.

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Musings

#113

最困難的科目終於考完了。終於可以暫時放下心裡的那一塊大石。

可是今天我卻發現了另外一件事。

今早上學時,和爸爸哥哥一起搭了地鐵。從路口走到了地鐵站時,總是走在爸爸的後面。看著爸爸走路帶著輕快的步伐,活力比大多數青年多得很,頭上卻長滿了白髮。

爸爸,您的確老了很多。我這20多年來一定是給了您不少得困擾,讓你不斷地操心吧。

真的感到很失敗。

ㅠㅠ

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Countdown

15 days left. There’s this explainable squeamish feeling… Not exactly in a bad way. I guess I’m excited. A part of me wants to go out there to explore and experience a different way of life. Yet a part of me is afraid – afraid that something might go wrong. (Now I kind of have this inane fear that my winter jacket is going to get scratched up and I’ll freeze to death)

I’m not sure what awaits me. Not sure who my roommate is, how’s she going to be like. I hope she’s a hygiene freak and OCD maniac like me, especially with their recycling-friendly rubbish-throwing system.

But I guess it’s true when they say travelling allows you to discover yourself better, to grow and to mature. It’s going to be the first time where I’ll be apart from my family for so long. I’m not one who actually misses home that easily but I think the coldness and lack of an adult by my side might make me want to fly home in an instant.

P.S. I should be studying but I really can’t focus at all. Argh.

Musings

Countdown

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