Lilypie - First Birthday

Friday, December 31, 2010

Recap 2010

Today is the last day of 2010! And I'm spending it in a foreign country... away from home. Back in Malaysia we used to do New Year countdowns and party late into the night, but here in Korea it's a little different. People here prefer to have a good night's rest on the last day of the year and wake up early to catch the first sunrise of the new year.

At first I planned to skip the sunrise and sleep in, since I'd already experienced freezing cold sunrise at Grand Canyon before and am not looking forward to another freezing time outside... but that day I was talking to my friend when I suddenly realized the significance of 1.1.11!!! What a special occasion... so how could I miss the sunrise on this special day?!~ So I decided to go to view the sunrise at Gwangan bridge tomorrow with some international friends... I'll blog about it later! ^^ OK and now for a recap of 2010:-

1. Leo and I got married on Jan 30 and we had our wedding reception by the poolside, by the beach. It was an incredibly romantic memory which we will remember for years to come and we were so blessed to have so many people sing for us on that night - my brother and cousins, my hubby, my hubby's brother, my hubby's aunty, Khoon Hau... and we actually danced the whole night through under the starry night and the unbearable heat... :P... and not forgetting my jimuis and Leo's hengdais who were together with us during the whole "Snatch-the-Bride" session. The blessings of family and friends were what made it all the more special and memorable to us.

After the wedding - we stayed an extra night in our Flamingo honeymoon suite... treated it as our mini-honeymoon ^^ Some photos taken on the day after the wedding, after Leo had a dip in the pool. Then we went for a nice Thai dinner with his relatives. ^^

2. My new family house. 2010 was truly a year of new beginnings. We moved into our new family home and it is so much nicer and much more comfortable than our old home which we stayed in for 20 years. I'm so proud of my dad for providing so much for us - the house, the renovations, the new furniture, and everything throughout the years - on his salary. And thank you for rushing for the house-cleaning and renovations to ready it for my Big Day. I love you dad and mom, although I have not been spending a lot of time in the new house I hope I will be able to stay there very often in the future when I get back to Malaysia.

My lovely new family house in Ipoh ^^

3. Coming to Korea to study my Masters degree. What can I say? Experiencing new cultures and new stuff have been a great part of my life here this year. From the initial culture shock and the weather - it was so depressing to feel cold all the time and because I couldn't speak/understand the language at all I was totally reliant on others to bring me around. I still remember when I first arrived I went shopping for normal stuff such as shampoo and laundry detergent and I was so depressed cause I couldn't understand a word of what the sales person was talking about. But I'm all past that cos I can read/listen/speak some of the everyday language now! And I even got A+ in my Korean language this semester!~

4. Starting a new research project. I realized some time ago that even though I'm spending a huge part of my days in the lab (10am-10pm), I didn't blog anything about my research nor my lab. :P My research here is in Visible Light Communications (VLC) which is one of the newer optical technologies to transmit/receive information using white light LED. It's really tough for me cos I'm single-handling the entire project, from building the hardware from scratch using knowledge in electronics, communications (modulation and coding), optical communications, microcontroller programming and debugging, writing some software and results analysis. Not to mention writing papers for domestic conference proceedings and presenting my research results at the conferences. It was a very steep learning curve this year, also with my mandatory credit hour lectures (some of which were taught in Korean!) and although admittedly I have not achieved a great deal; nevertheless I still feel proud of myself for pulling through this year. And thanks a lot to my beloved hubby for supporting me and giving me a lot of guidance and advice, always.

5. Experiencing the four seasons. So this is my first time spending a whole year in a country with 4 seasons - the pinkness of the sakuras during spring, the amazing umbrellas and six-pack Korean hunks on the beach in summer, the beautiful yellow gingko leaves and red maple leaves in autumn, and snow in winter! But I think my favorite season is still summer - spring and winter is too cold for me, autumn is too depressing looking at the falling leaves and balding trees - thank God I was born in Malaysia!

6. Traveling to three countries - Singapore, Korea, and Japan. I didn't realize it but when I read back on my blog I'd actually traveled to 3 countries this year! My first time to Singapore for Ye Hsin's wedding, and then stepping foot in Japan for the first time. That reminds me, I need to blog about my Fukuoka trip! And other than traveling abroad, I've done quite some traveling in Korea too - Gwangyang to see maehwa, 2 conferences in Jeonju and Jinhae, Gyeongju for international students outing, Damyang bamboo trip, summer roadtrip to Suncheon and Yeosu, church retreat to Benegol, honeymoon in Jeju, and autumn in Seoul.

7. Having friends and family visiting me in Korea. Having my best friends visit me in Korea really took the bore out of my daily routine - I was so happy to have Kah Khee, Si Min and Si Jian visit me here in October... we had so much fun and I should appreciate them more for their long-lasting friendship and advice. My sweetie also visited me twice this year - we spent the summer around in Busan and Jeju-do and it was sooooo lovely! And in autumn he brought his family with him and it was so great to be with them, touring around Seoul and Busan. And not forgetting Kheng Teck and his brother who visited me in November - haven't seen him for a long time and it was so great to see him again!

8. Getting baptized and getting involved in church. And so I finally gave myself to the Lord on Nov 21 this year. I'd been procrastinating for so long and giving myself too many excuses (looking for the right church/ not going to church regularly in Penang/ waiting for my hubby to baptize together) that I forgot the true meaning of baptism and why I should be baptized. Thanks very much to my friends here Janice for bringing me to church and giving me a chance to "fall into routine" and Edie for ringing my bell about getting baptized. I took the month-long baptism class on the Heidelberg Catechism conducted by my church pastor which helped me to learn, question and understand a great deal more about the Christian faith. I also helped out in the media team to show presentation slides during the worship session. And joined community group where I met many many new Christian friends who are very friendly and helped me along the way in my Christian journey.

9. Making new friends/relationships and losing some. Finally, the toughest part to write about. Leaving home and starting afresh in a new country is never easy. Loneliness takes over sometimes and having some friends by my side helps to battle that. At first, I was blessed to get to know some new friends - Koreans and Malaysians in the lab, Malaysians from other university, international friends from Korean class, international friends and Koreans from church. However recently I realized that not everyone whom I call "friend" truly treats me back that way. People make mistakes and I admit that I had made some mistakes and bad judgment along the way. Moving into the adult stage of life, it seems only right that when someone tries to patch up and says they're sorry, the other person should be mature enough to forgive and forget. But I realize now that maybe, not everybody sees things on the same wavelength as me, even after I had made the first move to make amends. Then perhaps it's time for me to seek closure, detach from that friendship (no matter how I hate breaking up) and get a move on with my life. Looking back at my photos, we had some great times together and I really appreciated those times we had together, but it really takes two to tango... Also I found an unexpected relationship this year which I really cherish, and I hope our friendship will last in my memory forever. :-)

10. New Year's Resolutions.

1) Finish my research and get my Master's degree (happening in Feb 2012!)
2) Study more and wake up earlier to come to lab - Wake at 9am.
3) Really spend quality time with my hubby and my family this CNY when I go back to Malaysia.
4) Be a better person and try to do fewer mistakes
5) Blog more - finish up on the topics which I plan to blog!
6) Appreciate my time in Korea to the max (left one year) - travel more, get to know more friends, take more pictures, blog more...
7) Be more involved in my new house design and renovations
8) Wear my wedding ring everyday

And last but not least... HAPPY NEW YEAR 2011 to everybody!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!~ 새해 복 많이 받으세요!!!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

First Snow this Winter

Who says it doesn't snow in Busan? Since I'd been here, it'd snowed twice already... *^^*

On the second last day of 2010~~

First it was just a snowflake...
Billowing gently down and round and round to the ground...
Then the wind blew and more snowflakes fell from the sky...
Like a studio effect where they shoot artificial snow from blowers into the air...
Lightly, powdery, in swirls, following the wind... swirling more and more in all directions...

Then, as suddenly as it had started, it stopped snowing...

*My First Snow this Winter*

Black down jacket from UNIQLO

It doesn't look like it's snowing and winter with the pine hedges and evergreen trees behind me at my lab building... :P... But I got snowflakes falling on my face and nose and eyebrow!

I got purple nail color for this year-end season!

*Winter in Korea*

Reminds me of this Lisa Ono song "I Wish You Love"...

I wish you shelter from the storm
A cozy fire to keep you warm
But most of all
When snow flakes fall
I wish you love

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Last Christmas

Looking back at past Christmases, I realized that I've always been depressed at this year-end season. A few years back I was depressed because I was single and had to face the holiday season alone. Then I was no longer single and Christmas meant spending time with my loved ones and I even went to the U.S. for Christmas but I was still depressed... haha. And this year, the year-end season is almost coming to a close!

So what's the big deal since feeling sad each year happens to be just a recurring matter? Looking forward towards 2011 and a Brand New Year!

But first, let me reminisce about Christmas two years ago. Nothing feels better than spending Christmas in a western country. My dream is to spend one of my Christmases in the future in a Scandinavian countryside with a white blanket of snow on the landscape and we are in a log cabin huddling by the fireside and drinking hot chocolate. But my dear hubby thinks it's too cold. In 2008, we were in Chandler, Arizona, for Christmas, which meant no white Christmas that year. We went shopping in the daytime and had a Korean dinner (how ironic that I'm spending Christmas in Korea this year) and at night we used the GPS to find Christmas lights in the neighborhood.

We stood in this front lawn decked out with Christmas lights and cartoon characters, treading carefully to avoid stepping on any of the lights and possibly getting electrocuted!~ It was really really kua cheong, the light displays... This year in Korea we were supposed to go and see Christmas lights at Kosin University but seems that they cancelled it due to the Yongpyong-do attacks and changed it to Nampodong instead.

This lawn had a Candyland theme something like Katy Perry's "California Gurl's" MV. Lollipop island.

And of course not forgetting the ubiquitous Arizona Christmas seguaro.

Then we went to church for the Christmas service. I wanted to see the live Nativity scene! But we were late so we only managed to catch the last of it...

Joseph, Mary and Baby Jesus finishing the live Nativity scene...

They even had a real lamb and donkey for people to touch and the little girls were so cute and old-fashioned, decked out in their Christmas wear!

In the church...

Each of us lit and held candles during the Christmas service

And this year I learned the significance of the light from the candle, which symbolizes Jesus as the light of the world. From John Chapter 1 in the Bible:

" 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. "

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas 2010!~

Enjoying our Krispy Kreme hot chocolate after Christmas Caroling on stage at Nampodong Christmas Tree Festival

With my church group during the Christmas Banquet

I spoke too soon when I said, a few days ago, that this was one of my worst Christmases of all years. Thank God this was not the case! Well the days that led up to Christmas really sucked big time but luckily on the few days of Christmas I was not alone, I felt really happy, and I was blessed with friends surrounding me!

Just immersing myself in church activities here has really paid off for me, and I was rewarded with a sense of belonging. On Christmas Eve, I sang Christmas carols with my church group on the big stage at the Christmas Tree Festival in Nampodong. It was so cold that night (-10C) but I was smiling broadly on stage! *Happiness*! And today after Christmas service at church I ate the most wonderful turkey to my fill at the Christmas Banquet *yummy*! Then watched Harry Potter *finally*!

Just wanna thank God and also my lovely dear hubby for supporting me all this while, for being so kind and forgiving and just, being with me through thick and thin. I know I have been a wreck for the past few weeks but you never let me drown and always try to lift me up and hold all my burdens for me. I promise I'll try my best to hang in there... and I'll always remember the moments together waking up to Coldplay's "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" back in the U.S., those cold early mornings. I love you and Merry Christmas, Darling!

Glee - "Merry Christmas Darling"

Coldplay - "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Air Raid Drill

Today at 2pm, we heard the air raid sirens screaming through the air. It would be exactly like a page out of Anne Frank's Diary if not for the fact that I had already heard this siren one time too many. The South Koreans hold an air raid drill on the 15th of every month and since I arrived here, I have heard it a few times while walking on the university street to class and because nobody around me stopped or started running so I didn't treat it as a big deal.

But I read here that today's 20-minute nationwide simulation drill should be taken seriously and that this was the first time since year 2000 that citizens were actually guided to the shelters during the drills. I even received an SMS from the National Crisis Center!

Last month when I heard the air raid sirens after the Yeonpyeong attacks, I asked my Korean friend what are we actually supposed to do if North Korea suddenly launches an attack. He said, go to the basement.

So that's what we did today. After the first siren, everybody in the lab actually got off their butts and started walking down to the basement of our engineering building. Usually I know that the yoga/ diet dance classes are held in the basement but little did I know it had a double purpose as an air raid shelter! =_='''

Many of the students from our building and even some professors were already gathered down in the basement. I guess not all the people in the building had come down cos exam week is on and I don't see how if an attack were really launched, how would everybody be able to fit in that narrow corridor! Well maybe they would open the classrooms... but how about food? And I saw some girls bringing flashlights... oh suddenly I felt that I am so ill-equipped with knowledge on how to survive if a real attack situation really occurs... =_=''' and most of the Korean guys I know would already be off to serve their national duty in times of war... really felt a bit scared just now.

Just hope that everything will be alright... and even after I leave this country after a year I still hope North Korea never launches an attack on South Korea and all my friends here will be safe. :-)

Forgive yourself more

Beautiful story from another who has already read/watched Eat Pray Love.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas at Nampodong

Wow, 3 posts in a day. It's like I'm blogging with a vengeance to make up for all my lack of posts in November. :P I've been feeling a little down lately, so I flipped through past Decembers and trips in my blog and reading them back just made me feel so good I knew I had to blog something down this December, well at least the good memories... :-)

Went to Nampodong (a famous shopping street in Busan) last Saturday with Shirly for some winter shopping and to see the Christmas lights. :-)

I love love love this rabbit! Should I buy one?

Even the Crocs are now filled with fur~

Had our dinner at a very nicely designed Japanese shop, Torabowl~ Funny thing was we couldn't find the door to enter the shop at first so we walked one round to the end then only realised that the door in front was located on the right side (it couldn't help much that the handle was white!) The shop was very narrow, I liked the interior of the shop which was simple, minimalist and industrialist with open kitchen and aluminium cabinets and kitchenware.

Shirly's curry rice~

My kyudon~

Apple juice which I gonna try next time~

Shirly my friend who always makes me laugh non-stop when I see her~

Me and my new leopard-print ear muffs~ And I'm not actually fat, it's my winter jacket which makes me look fat!~

During the church sermon a couple of weeks back, pastor said nowadays in the U.S. "Happy Holidays" has replaced "Merry Christmas" as the greeting norm due to cultural sensitivity issues, so much that even "Happy Hanukah" is more heard of on the airwaves, thus losing the real spirit of Christmas! And Busan is one of the least converted regions in Korea so this year the churches in Busan have got together to decorate the Nampodong street to bring out the real meaning of Christmas, especially with The Christmas Story in the center.

So pretty like snowdrops falling from the sky~

The Christmas Story... Jesus born in a manger~

Cervical herniated disc

Last week in the middle of the week I was at my computer in the lab when I suddenly felt a numbness in my left arm down to my fingers. Well it would be normal like any other time except this time the numbness didn't go away even after a few days. So on the 3rd or 4th day, I decided to go see a doctor.

I first went to the university clinic where I got some medication for my cold and I complained to the clinic staff about my weak arm and numbness and she recommended that I go to an orthopedic hospital to seek treatment. I got a Korean friend to go together with me cos the people here really can't speak English that well.

At the orthopedic hospital

I told the orthopedic specialist about my symptoms - weakness, numbness, and lack of feeling in my left arm and fingers. He asked me whether I had experienced any trauma and I said no and he proceeded to check my responses on both arms with a small hammer. Responses were fine but the feeling was less in my left arm.

Digital infrared body scan

Then I proceeded upstairs to the 2nd level for a digital infrared body scan (sample picture which is not mine! taken from here) .

Spinal x-ray

Then I went back downstairs to the first floor for an x-ray scan which I was ordered to lie on a table with all sorts of weird poses like posing for a magazine spread (lift your chin like this! your eyes look here!)

I felt strange cos I felt the x-ray guy was taking more pictures of my neck than my left arm so I told him (luckily he spoke some English) that the problem was in my left arm not my neck but he replied that maybe the spinal cord will affect the nerve in my arm. =_=!!!

Back to the specialist

After all the physical examinations the doctor called me back into his office and showed me pictures of the infrared scan and x-ray scan. The digital infrared images showed my healthy right arm as red color but my weak left arm as blue color. The doctor said that clearly there was a difference meaning there was something wrong with my left arm.

Next, he showed me the x-ray scan of my neck. Now the cervical spine (neck) consists of 7 bones and between each bone there is a disc, which is a soft gel-like material that cushions the bones. The doctor diagnosed that I had a herniated disc occurring at the C5-C6 bone, which is the disc protruding through its outer core and pressuring the spinal nerve thus affecting my left arm and fingers.

Physical Therapy

So the doctor ordered me to undergo physical therapy immediately for two weeks, daily. So I proceeded to the third floor for physical therapy - hot pack on neck and shoulder, massage and neck exercise. I heard from my friend yesterday that the entire program would cost 1,000,000won (about RM3000). Luckily I have medical insurance from my university to cover the costs but I still have to pay the basic 10,000won myself each time I go for treatment.

So, this is how my hands look like currently. The first picture is of my healthy right hand in relaxed state, and the second picture is of my weak left hand in relaxed state. And now I'm typing with 3 fingers on my left hand.

Right hand (healthy)

Left hand

Still, taking everything with a pinch of salt! I will recover!