Lilypie - First Birthday

Monday, April 26, 2010

Korean culture - Part I

If I were to host a Korean boy/girl in my home one day, I don't think I would have anything to teach him about culture and manners - the only Malaysian culture I know is food and the only Malaysian manners I know are well, just basic, eg. greet everybody before eating dinner, say your 'please and thank-yous', be a gentleman. Pretty common sense.

Ever since I stepped foot in this country I have been overwhelmed yet and yet again by the Korean culture - sometimes in a good way, sometimes incomprehensible and yes, sometimes suffocating. Here are some of the examples.

The Korean honorific language

The Koreans are very very particular about age and status because they are greatly influenced by Confucianism (儒学思想) - believe me, they really take it to a whole new level. In fact, neo-Confucianism would be more correct, I think, although I haven't really studied the subject yet. Although Confucius (孔子) himself originated from China, I don't see the Chinese take Confucianism as seriously as compared to the Koreans! Here, Confucianism defines the social hierarchy - juniors have to respect seniors, students have to respect their teachers, and so on.

The language here is honorific according to social positions at four levels. However currently I am learning the basic "junior speaking to senior" level in my Korean 101 class. Here, whenever I meet a Korean, one of the first things he/she will ask me is my age, because he/she needs to know how to address me. Like, if I am even slightly older than him by one year, he will call me nuna (누나) and if I am one year younger than him he will expect me to address him as oppa (오빠). If we are same age, then we are friends, chingu (진구) and I just need to call him by name. But if we are not so close friends I may have to add a Mr./Ms - 'sshi' (씨/“氏”in Chinese) behind his name, for example I call my lab senior Sang Joong-sshi and I must take caution not to call him Sang Joong-ah like Malaysians do because that means I am treating him like my junior. Bad mistake, they will give you a long lecture if you do!

Big sister for guys - nuna (누나)
Big brother for guys - hiong (형)
Big sister for girls - onni (언니)
Big sister for guys - oppa (오빠)
Younger brother/sister - dong seng (동생)

Oppa is used similarly to our Malay word abang, where we can use it for our real older brother, boyfriend, seniors, friends, or even the guy selling teh tarik at the stall. While for dong seng, they usually address the junior by name.

Sometimes I also get a shock from speaking to them... like that day I met these two guys from another lab, where one is a senior and one is a junior (by age and position).

On Nateon (Korean instant messenger):
Me: Hey Jungwook, where is your friend?
Jungwook: He is not my friend.
Me: Ha??? =_=''' (thinking what happen to them...)
Jungwook: He is my younger brother... dong seng... ㅎㅎㅎ

(Btw that ㅎㅎㅎ is their way of IM laughing hahahaha)

And sometimes I think the professors here think I'm funny. Because here the professors' social status is very very VERY high unlike in Malaysia where we don't even look at them if they walk past haha. One day I saw my DSP professor (quite old, around 60 years old) and I said to him cheerfully "Anyong haseyo!!!" to which he looked at me in a bemused manner then grinned and repeated "Anyong haseyo" to me... afterwards I remembered that I should greet him with "Anyong hashimnika", which is the honorific form of greeting which I'm supposed to use with professors. =_=''' But nevermind-lah, I think that professor likes me so I think he let it slip. :P

Some misc. Korean behaviour

One thing I find really cute about Korean guys here is how polite they are to girls. Sometimes when I run into a guy I know, he will give me a slight bow, which I find pretty cute, compared to those Malaysian classmates last time who so damn lansi never even care to say hi... haha.

And on Wednesday I went out with the two guys from another lab for dinner and the senior insisted he buy me dinner because they invited me out, although I said I should belanja him cos I'd been bugging him for help with my assignments haha. So they quite gentleman also...

But sometimes I get some comments about how "This is Korea-style, you should do this this this and this..." which really irks me because I am a foreigner and I shouldn't have to conform to their standards, you know. Like today, I was standing with my hands in the pockets of my jacket in front of a faculty workshop reception table when my labmate commented to me "This is Korea-style, no put your hands in your pocket, very rude"... so sian. But anyway I took my hands out just because it was a lab event and there were many professors walking in and out and I didn't wanna leave a bad impression.

OK, I can think of more, but that's all I can write now cos I need to go and bath and sleep now cos got International Students trip to Gyeongju historical state tomorrow haha. So next time.

~~~~~~~~~~

On a sidenote, I'm happy this week because got people belanja me makan for three days straight! All that food must have left me grinning from ear to ear because when I walked into my Korean language class today, my Indonesian classmate asked me why I look so happy. ^^

Vampire while Roasted

My dormitory here provides us with meals 3x a day. We can check our breakfast, lunch and dinner menu from the dormitory website, which is useful for me to prepare my stomach and tastebuds before I arrive at the dining hall.

Sometimes I'm too lazy to Google image, so I just copy and paste the Korean text into Google translate. But, the Korean-English translation is really awful... makes me sweat... =_='''

It's bad enough that I am served with prison food...

Not to mention some really un-appetizing ways of preparing the food...

And today, we are served with Vampire, even roasted!
I wonder whether I get a slice of Edward Cullen's cheek... =_='''

Luckily the vampire turned out to be some sotong slices afterall... and the cretin (from Dictionary, cretin means a "dwarfed and deformed idiot") is actually delicious sweet sour pork afterall...

On an unrelated note, sometimes I go out and see these aquarium tanks outside some restaurants. It feels really, really weird to see my food flapping around in front of me. Btw, this is really my first time seeing real, live sotong... the sotong's nose/head is very very long and the "wings" (flappers) are in front of the head while the eyes are back behind...

I always thought the tentacles are like the sotong's feet or something... geli...

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Brilliant Legacy 灿烂的遗产

Recently I'm watching this Korean drama called Brilliant Legacy (灿烂的遗产) starring Han Hyo-Joo (韩孝珠) and Lee Seung-Ki (李胜基).

I feel Han Hyo-Joo (3rd left) looks a lot like Song Hee-Kyo (宋慧乔), do you think so? While although Lee Seung-Ki (1st right) shot to fame after acting in this drama, I don't think he looks very handsome... maybe a bit too 跩 for me... haha.. I feel his acting is just like Rain's character in Full House. Actually I prefer the supporting actor and actress, they look more handsome and prettier than the main acts.

The synopsis - http://asianmediawiki.com/Brilliant_Legacy

I like the modern-day Cinderella storyline and I like the acting... especially the evil stepmother...

Nature Republic freebies!!!

The weather is getting sunnier and hotter now. So, I need to get fairer!

Also, I've been having a lot of stress lately for the past few weeks. Although I'm lucky that I don't have an insomnia problem yet, that day I lay on the bed for 20 mins and still couldn't sleep. Su Lin let me try her White Max Laser whitening sleeping treatment mask last week, and it smelled so nice and relaxing... I fell asleep as soon as my head touched the pillow!

Here are all my spoils from Nature Republic yesterday! Actually, I ONLY bought three items on the top left corner:-
  • White Max Laser whitening sleeping treatment
  • exfoliating scrub balm with papaya and pineapple
  • White Therapy emulsion.
Total: RM102. (Charged to my hubby's card... hehe)

And the others are all FREE samples!!! We counted 25 sample packets in all! Plus toner and emulsion testers from their latest product range - White Therapy, and a sheet mask. The best thing is the owner of the shop gave us 2 free mugs with Rain's face on it!! (Actually he gave Su Lin one of the mugs but she said I can take it if I want... keke... thanks............!!!)

Isn't he cute????????????????? ^^

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Cut!

Last Tuesday, I decided a needed a change in hairstyle. To make me look more Korean. Here, most of the Korean girls have their fringe cut. I hate people looking at me like I'm some weirdo walking down the street - and with my previous hairstyle, I must have looked really out of place. Furthermore, I hadn't had a haircut since I grew it for my wedding! So many split ends...

So, I went to a saloon with Wang Dan, Janice's ex-roommate and got my haircut. By the way, the hairstylists here don't do layered cut, they just CUT off the length of my hair, just one horizontal cut!! So easy!! @_@''' But it's OK, I like this length. As for my fringe, I got it permed so I wouldn't have to worry about my natural curls messing it up every morning.

How's my new hairstyle?

Now, I really can assimilate into the crowd. :-) And to immediate effect - a Korean boy in another lab asked me out for lunch yesterday! (OK, we're just gonna be friends :-P)

Haircut(10,000 won) + Permed fringe(10,000 won) = 20,000 won (about RM60).

Bought clothes again... two dresses and two tees from Gmarket, less than RM90.
Skinny jeans cost 37,000 won, from shop outside campus.

I splurged on the skinny to celebrate my first mid-term exam - Computer Security - since year 2006!

Life's been really hectic this week especially, it being midterm week!

-Computer Security midterm test last Friday
-Korean language midterm test this Monday morning
-Masters seminar presentation Monday afternoon
-DSP assignment due Tuesday afternoon

And I haven't started on my research yet! *die*

Yesterday, Shirly and YY came from DSU to have dinner with us. Pearly brought us to this shop to eat spicy chicken... yummmmm... the Koreans really have a variety of ways to cook chicken!

Really spicy!!

Really, really yummy! *Update the name later after I ask Janice*

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Campus sakura

This is my first spring, ever. I witnessed the bare, cold branches of naked trees in early spring and even saw snowfall in March. I witnessed the transformation of the cherry blossom trees, from when they started to bud, until the continuous wet, rainy days came and passed and it was hot and sunny for a moment. Then, the sakuras began to pop, bursting in colour. They tinted the whole campus with pink. ♥

For the whole of two weeks, this is what I saw.

The view from my dorm room window every morning. The university stadium is lined with beautiful sakura trees.

The walkway I pass by every day on my way to the lab.

I just love the thick bunches of cherry blossoms. They blossom together in a thick bunch. Sometimes the pattern gives me goosebumps, but I still love looking at them all the same. On a few lucky days the sky was blue and cloudless, I love the contrast of the faint pink sakuras against the bright blue sky.

I especially love standing alone at night under the huge bunch of cherry blossoms, when I pass by it on my way back to the dorm from the lab. Everything is so quiet, there's nobody around, and the pink is so calm, so beautiful, so striking from beneath the dark cover of night. I feel I could just stand there and whisper all my secrets to it and nobody would know, just the sakura tree, then the next day the petals would fall to the ground, carrying my secrets with them.

Parking lot right outside my lab. My clothes are so drab, I know, but it was just so cold although I was grinning wide!

It was photo-taking day for me and my labmates that day, although the skies were kinda cloudy. We have three girls in our USN lab:- me, Janice and Pearly, and the boy in the red jacket is one of our undergraduate students. The guy in the stripes is from VLSI lab.

The sakuras make a lovely backdrop so after our Korean language class we took some group pictures with my Korean language classmates. This group is from China, the girl, Katie, is from Hong Kong.

And this group is from Indonesia. So nice to hear people speaking in a language I'm familiar with!

This was like a week ago. Now the sakura petals have fallen all over the ground and green shoots are starting to sprout from the branches. The loveliness of the cherry blossoms only lasted two weeks.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

11 ses table talk

New pencil case, to replace my old one of 9 years. Price: 13,000 won. But totally worth it!

Spring comes and I changed my favourite colour to pink, from blue. Pink sakura flowers on my blue Acer laptop.

Packages from home ♥

Yesterday I received my package from Malaysia! And not just one, but TWO! And it was his handwriting that first caught me eye among all the stuff that was in the mailroom!

Hahaha... ok, so I did pack most of the stuff myself and what to bring... so not much of a surprise there. Package contains: Milo (Australian recipe!), Nescafe hi-calcium milk, Nesvita cereal, 王老吉, face mask from Taiwan which I haven't used, notebook cooler, Matlab programming book, my favourite novel and CDs, winter gloves and hoodie (OK won't be needing those anymore..), clothes and shoes.

Feels so warm to see Malaysian stuff again!

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Up in the Air

"My type. You know, white collar. College grad. Loves dogs. Likes funny movies. Six foot one. Brown hair. Kind eyes. Works in finance but is outdoorsy, you know, on the weekends. I’d always imagined he’d have a single syllable name like Matt or John or…Dave. In a perfect world, he drives a Four Runner and the only thing he loves more than me is his golden lab. Oh…and a nice smile." --Natalie Keener, Up in the Air.

I don't know whether they've shown this movie in Malaysia yet but I really, really love it! Up in the Air was nominated for 6 Oscars.

It's a depressing movie - I can't kid you with that - about corporate America layoffs and George Clooney's portrayal of a "career transition counselor" -- Ryan Bingham who basically travels around USA to fire employees for bosses too cowardly to do it themselves. He also delivers motivational speeches "What's in your Backpack" which teaches people to free themselves from the burden of relationships. Ryan's ultimate goal is to collect 10 million frequent flyer miles (more people have stepped on the moon) and in one of his business trips, meets Alex Goran (Vera Farmiga), his female equal and falls into a casual relationship with her. Ryan's life may change when his company hires Natalie Keener, a bright young graduate from Cornell University who recommends that the company change the workscape by conducting the layoffs via the Internet. Ryan disagrees with her methods and is ordered by his boss to mentor Natalie by taking her along on his hub-to-hub trips, and along the way he finds out what he's been missing all his life.

The movie is filled with so many amazing liners and memorable quotes that, in spite of the depressing storyline, just makes it feel hilarious at moments. And I loved George Clooney's performance and his chemistry with Vera Farmiga is just exquisite, though depressing at one point. And the quote above from Natalie Keeman just nails it to the point, when you're at a young, brilliant age you have these views about the ideal partner that you're gonna have, and until one point of your life when you get older, you realize that none of it actually matters... (yeah, a nice smile, a nice smile will do).

I'm so gonna rewatch this movie again.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

White Sakura on Easter Day

On our way back to the dormitory, we passed by this beautiful white sakura tree in full blossom, nearby the army students quarters.

The whole tree was blooming in full glory, a testament to His resurrection. The tree dies and lives again every year, right?

The white flowers catch the sunlight, looking ablaze in the golden evening sun.

The white ones blossom first.

I stand under the tree with its heavy bunches, and look up, up, across layers and layers and layers of criss-crossed blooms of little white flowers... too thick I almost can't see the sky. I try to breathe in and smell a very light, very light scent of sakura blossom... too light like it isn't even there. I stand under the tree. Little while flowers make me think of weddings, love and happiness. Purity.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Castaway

四年后,他活着回来了,心爱的人却嫁给了别人。

来到韩国,学会用 ppstream,在晚上属于自己的时间,努力追看我所有要看的戏。Castaway 就是其中一部。

I love Tom Hanks and Helen Hunt's acting in the show. That part where Tom Hanks carved

"Chuck Noland was here for 1500 days Escaped to sea Tell Kelly Frears Memphis Tn I Love Her"

on the rock before escaping the island tells so much about her being his only hope for that entire period he was stranded there alone. And that scene when he decided to go to her house and look for her... and left her standing in the garage when he thought that she had nothing to tell him... until she chased after him in the rain... just brought me to tears... so touching!!! He was so sure that Kelly would wait for him, but she didn't. And now that he's back, they can't be together because she has a responsibility to her family... that's just so heartbreaking. If only she had waited...! But four years is a long, long time... would you have waited?

Tom Hanks is always one of my all-time favourite romance movie actors... although Castaway is more of a movie about loneliness and survival, more than love.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Spring in campus

The Sakuras are budding!! Spring is finally here!!

OK, that was soooo last Monday. :-P

Today, I saw the first blossoms already! But the weather here is still bad, it's been raining non-stop for two days now. Can't wait to see the sakuras in full bloom!

There are sooooo many sakura trees planted here on campus and there's even like a whole avenue of them at the backdoor way to Mega Mart. The buds are already making the branches so heavy they're trying to touch my head everytime I walk past them on my way to lab!

I just love the walk from dormitory to lab everyday... it keeps me sane. :-)