Monday, July 20, 2015

1.5 years

My 1.5 years of holiday is coming to an end in less than a month time. What had I gained during this near to 1.5 years? I asked myself. The reason to quit my job as a government servant and took a 1.5 years break was to find what I really want to do with my life as well as to fulfill my dream of studying abroad.

Ya, I said that I wanted to explore the field of plastic surgery and skin care in Korea but I later on realized that it is not I want to do. I had tried Korean skin care products but I still think that with the similar price, Japan still have products with better quality. Plastic surgery wise, I almost got a job too and ya, few more jobs too but there were mainly about translation rather than consultation. The one that I thought fine was a job that was able to communicate with foreign doctors, participating in seminars and etc but too bad I was not hired due to working visa problem.

After I am sure that I would not want to continue that path anymore, I started looking for scholarships for Master degree programs. With the experience of working in geriatric ward, I am particularly interested in rehabilitation as well as geriatric related illnesses eg, Alzheimer's disease or Parkinson disease. Again, I had found the university that offers this particular program but at the same time I was told that the scholarship that I planned to apply do not support this program. Well, it is expensive to study abroad, be it the tuition fees or the living expenses. Hence once again I have to reconsider everything again.

So after talking to family and friends, I decided to just come back home. So I will be coming back home before it is too late for me to start all over again with my limited working experience.

I had learnt so much within this 1.5 years. I suffered, accepted, and adapted to the changes. I met good friends and bad friends as well. I met people who treat me genuinely as well as people who took advantage of me. That is life I guess. Never try, never know.

I learnt to eat alone in the restaurant, loiter around, shopping, drinking etc and even went to concert by myself. It is kind of amazing because I have never eat alone in a restaurant or drink alone at home before I came here. Started talking to strangers too and sharing stories. Despite sharing the joyful stories, we do shared about our worries and problems too. And I am so glad that my opinions helped. I always thought that my way of analyzing and solving problem is similar to others but it turned out that the people here are kind of surprised with that. I guess it must be the difference of society's background.

What amazed me the most is how all these made me realized that is how lucky am I to be born in this family with my ever supportive loved ones. I am so thankful to be brought up in an education background by my family which helped me to sail through the obstacles.

Something from the temple stay experience that I would like to remind myself all the time throughout my life:
Everything arise from a condition,
It will stay for awhile be it long or short period of time,
and It will change,
and End.
Nothing stays forever.

And when you face a problem, do not be denial, acknowledge the problem, analyze it and find the solution to it.

Well, I know action is harder than words. Try doing it. You can do it!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Royal Tomb of Jangneung (The Royal Tombs of Joseon Dynasty)

It was a two days program organised by the Korean Culture and Information Service (KOCIS) to let the non-Koreans have an opportunities of exploring the UNESCO world heritage in Korea.

This time, we were brought to Yeongwol, a city which is about 3 hours away from Seoul.
Yeongwol is a nice town where it holds one of the most beautiful Royal tombs of the Doseon Dynasty,
--> the Jangeneung tomb of King Danjong 

We departed from Gwanghuamun Square at about 830am.
The organising committees gave us a snack pack each as our breakfast I guess. 

After 3 hours of journey, we finally arrived at Yeongwol.
Lunch was served in a restaurant. The side dishes were really different from Seoul.
Most of them are pickled vegetables which taste either sour or bitter.
Hence, most of us ate only the assorted mushrooms stewed beef. 

We started the tour immediately after lunch.
Apparently the tomb located right in front of the restaurant.

Jangneung is the tomb of Kind Danjong (A.D. 1452-1455), the 6th King of Joseon Dynasty.
King Danjong ascended to the throne at the age of 12 after his father King Munjong died.
Soon after, he was dethroned by his uncle, Suyangdaegun 3 years after his ascension and ordered to be put to death by poison.
After many years, Kind Danjong was restored to the throne in 1698.
Thus the tomb is renamed as the Royal Tomb of Jangneung.

The Royal Tomb of Jangneung was listed as historical site no.196 in 1970 and later a UNESCO world heritage site on 2009.

There were a lot of butterflies flying around.
I am so glad that they were just butterflies but not bugs.

We had a tour guide to explain about the tomb.
He is indeed someone who specialised in history and had written books about this King Danjong.
Alongside, we also had a beautiful interpreter who constantly translate everything in English for us.
We are all giving a ear piece and they could just speak through the mic.
Thus, we had no problem understanding the history throughout the whole visit.

According to the specialist,
royal graveyard is usually divided into 3 parts:
The entrance, ceremonial and burial areas.

Each area has a different function and symbolic meaning.

The preparation area for the ancestral rites.

The red spike gate (Hongsalmun) symbolised the entrance to the shrine.
As you can see, there is a stone pathway which is divided into two.
The higher path and a lower path.

The higher path  is for the God (Seondo).
There is even a signage stating it.

So here is some information about the Jeongjagak Pavillion.

Not only does the walkway has differences, even the stairs are different too.
The upper left is for human, the lower right is for the God.

Before heading up to the tomb, there is a little story to be tell here.
This is Eom Heung-do Jeongyeogak.
This pavillion was built to praise Eom Heung-do's fidelity. 

When Eom Heung-do was a governor of Yeongwol, King Dajong was exiled then killed on 1457.
Kind Dajong's body was then left to float down the river and royal announced that whoever save the body of Danjong will be punished for three generations.
Despite the announcement, Eom Heung-do recovered the body of Dajong and gave it a secret burial.
That is why he was honoured as a loyalist.  

There is a small hike up the hill before reaching the tomb.
The scenery up there was beautiful.

After visiting the tomb, we then head to the place where King Danjong was exiled to,

The weather was crazily hot. 
The staffs were nice enough to buy us ice popsicles.
We felt like a kid all over again eating them.

King Danjong was exiled to a small island.
It is a dense forest of pine trees. 
The island was surrounded by deep river which can only be accessed by ferryboat. 

After that, we headed to Gangneung, which is another 2.5hours away from Yeongwol.

On the next post, I will talk about the Gangneung Danoje Festival.
Stay tune.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

안녕하세요! Annyeonghaseyo from Seoul~

안녕하세요 (Harloe)!
Wow, in a glimpse of eyes, this marked the 12th week of me in Seoul, South Korea.
In these 12 weeks time, I had also completed my first level of Korean Language Education.
The journey in Seoul National University (SNU) had been fun and challenging so far.
The challenges of having to memorize new words and being introduced to many new grammars in such a short time (the course was really intensive); the need to prepare for weekly role play and weekly speaking test require either high concentration in class or best self discipline at home.
The lecturers basically speak only Korean with minimum English so they naturally train your listening too.
It is somehow surprising that even with my level 1 Korean, I am now able to understand some dramas or TV programs without looking at the subtitles.
I am now too more confident to talk to a Korean.
I can also go to karaoke (which they called nuraebang 노래방 in Korean) and sing Korean songs.
So the environment really does help to forcefully improve my Korean.

These are some pictures during my completion of first level there.

There are few types of different accommodations here available for students if you did not get into the university dormitory like me. 
- The Gosiwon (고시원)
- One room
- Apartment

Staying in Seoul is not cheap and can be rather expensive especially if you are going for one room or apartment. They usually require a lot of deposits and minimum of one year contract.

I am now living in a gosiwon.
It is rather similar to our country university single room dormitory but is smaller. 
It is very small believe me.
The cheaper one can be around 200usd a month with shared bathroom.
The room only has the length of a bed or a few inches more and the width of near to two single beds.
I do not think that my room can fit even a king size bed.
But of course you can go for the better one with attached toilet but it will make your room even smaller as the toilet occupied a lot of space too.
You will usually get a study table, super tiny wardrobe that can hardly fit any clothes and a television.
I accidentally deleted the picture of my room thus unable to share it here.

This is the view from my gosiwon's balcony.

Even though there are a lot of working middle aged adults living in our Gosiwon,
it can be scary at times but some can be sweet and caring too.
We had received free seaweed, chicken, kimchi while we were cooking our meals in the kitchen.

At the beginning, we packed the left over food every time because we could not finish the food.
We reheated them, fried some vegetables and there goes another meal for the 4 of us.
But sadly, now that our appetites got used to the huge portion of food, nothing has left to be packed home now. We are all having a gorilla appetite now!
And of course, the increased of body size T^T

So now move on to my university.
SNU apparently is being ranked as the number 1 university in South Korea.
We had met some parents during our placement day which coincide with the university's graduation day.
Those parents were absolutely proud of their children.
We met some parents during the enrollment day as well. 
A single mother came all the way from out of Seoul to university just to see her son's enrollment ceremony.

This is the main gate of the university. 

The graduation flowers stands along the street. 

 The benefit of staying near the Seoul National University subway is that the university provides free shuttle bus to school on everyday.
Transportation fees is expensive in Korea.
The minimum fees is 1050won each way and goes up depending on the distance.
But the public transportation in Seoul is very extensive and there is no additional charges apply during transition of bus and subway or vice versa within 30 minutes.

The free shuttle bus run from exit 3 of SNU subway and stops at the front of the administration building.
Then you can choose whether to walk to your department or catch the in campus shuttle bus.

My language center is not too far from the administration building thus I choose to walk to class on everyday.
The journey requires about 10 minutes and it involves some uphills and downhills.
So, yeah, I am exercising everyday.
The journey is somehow beautiful to me as I get to witness the change of the scenery from just dry branches to flowers blooming everywhere.

It was the beginning of Spring when I first got there but the weather was still very cold having average of about 0-5c or sometimes -5c.
It did not snow when the weather was very cold then it suddenly started snowing when the weather was a bit warmer. We got so excited seeing the snow.
But the weather after snowing was crazily cold again especially when the killer wind brushed against you~!

This is the free shuttle bus. The queue is always long but the bus come quite frequent. So do not get freak out if there is a super long queue because the bus come every 5 minutes when the demand is high.

This is the view from my classroom, facing the business department and tennis court. 

In Malaysia universities, the canteens usually offer the same variety of food everyday.
You just need to choose what do you want to eat and pay.
Here is SNU, there are a few cafeterias around the whole campus but I always come to the student center's because it is spacious.
First, you need to choose what to eat from the offered menu (usually 3 types of set menu - 1700won, 3000won or maximum 4000won), then order at the cashier, paid and pick up your food at the respective station. 

Below are the pictures of set lunch I ate.
They are mostly delicious, big portion and best part is, refillable! 

1700won ham jiggae

3000won cheese pork cutlet

3000won spicy pork with tofu

3000won chicken chop

3000won bibimbap

2500won kimchi tuna top rice

3000won stewed beef

3000won chicken fillet

There are whole lot more of food that I did not captured.

So I am having my 3 weeks holiday now.
Due to the budget problem, I have not plan to venture out to Jeju island or Busan yet.
I am now exploring around Seoul and may be some places around Seoul.

This is indeed a very special experience in my life as every little thing is different from where I come from be it the culture, food, life style and etc.
I believe that my adventure had just started and it is going to be nothing less than awesome.

Do not hesitate to drop me any question at if you have any question about getting into SNU LEI program. I truly understand your helplessness when most of the stuff you need to know is available only in Korean.

Stay tune for more interesting places I had visited during this period.
Too many pictures to be filter and edit before posting them up.

Have a nice day~!