the 7th deadly sin

Pride (Latin, superbia)

Is considered to be the original and most serious of the seven deadly sins, and the source of the others.

It is identified as believing that one is essentially better than others, failing to acknowledge the accomplishments of others, and excessive admiration of the personal self.

In Dante’s Divine Comedy, the penitents are burdened with stone slabs on their necks which force them to keep their heads bowed.

(source: wikipedia)

Just to put it all out there, the past few weeks have been tough, like, really tough- physically, mentally, emotionally and ultimately, spiritually. I felt and I knew that anger was slowly eating away at me, affecting all my daily dealings with people as well as myself. I had turned spiteful, miserable and unmotivated, absolutely convinced that giving up will be so much better than being here.

But then, from it all, just as I anticipated, I have learned am learning. What about?, you may ask.

Well, about how sometimes, it is a necessity to allow vulnerability, swallowing pride, and not just feeling regretful but actually expressing your regret.

It continues to amaze me of how the words “I’m sorry” can change a situation for the better- just like that, no matter how bad or deep you think the water you are is in. You see, last week, I would never have thought that I would be having the relationship I have now with the person I apologized to, and mind you, I apologized primarily not because of the wrong I did, but because I recognized that our fight was not only null and pointless, it was also acting like a double-edged sword, hurting us both simultaneously, with cuts going deeper and deeper as time goes by. I was so tired of being angry at myself and at everybody and so finally after a lot of probing, thinking and praying, I decided to do something about it.

Let me tell you that I absolutely did not anticipate that for a painful minute of opening my heart and lowering my head, things actually turned out for the better- in fact, almost instantly. And from then on up until now, our relationship has been growing and unlike before, our interactions have turned from utterly daunting into something pleasant and it’s such a relief that I no longer feel like I need to be on guard and walk on eggshells 24/7. Oh, I know there will be similar occurrences in the future, but now I also know to handle them and how sometimes, when you put your head down, another person can be lifted up in the process. To be completely honest, whenever I share a laugh or two over meals with this particular someone now (which was virtually impossible from the week before) all I can think of is why did I wait for so long?

So basically right now, although I may still be struggling, the release of my soul from the bondage of bitterness, and this “light” feeling, having been released from that burden, is and was most important and priceless.

Above it all, I acknowledge God’s hand, His wisdom, and His creative ways of teaching lessons in life and love through these particular circumstances. Many of these lessons I had to learn away from the comforts of home, the shoulders of my family, the ears of my closest friends, because I think what I’m being told is that I will never be able to accomplish complete dependence on Him while I carry the 7th deadly sin along with me, that pride will always go against humility and complete surrender and trust.

..that sometimes, what I need to do is to let go of myself, completely, and just let God.

Walk with me: Ewha-Aheun-Sinchon and back

For the longest time ever, I’ve always had customary long walks late in the afternoon if I had time, specially so if I had a long, exhausting day. I usually did so with a friend/s who were equally as stressed as I was. Since I did have quite a handful of those days lately, I decided to explore the world outside the Ewha campus, not by bus nor subway, this way, I’d be exercising too. I didn’t have company though, so I decided to write about it later on, and it’d be as if you were all walking along with me

My first stop was at this park almost right outside of the university. I spent a few minutes to sit there and contemplate of the meaning of life but was constantly distracted by the scent of barbequed meat and fried food. I didn’t buy anything though because if there’s something I learned in frugal living 101 (I think I mastered this course back in Cambodia), it’s not to bring any cash during walks unless absolutely necessary. At that point in time, I was deeply regretting not taking my mug of water with me and made a mental note to do so the next time around. The weather in Seoul has been splendid lately (at least for me), with some days warmer than the others, although since we’re approaching winter already, there are some nights where I feel the need for another blanket or a pair of socks.

Image

Moving on, I passed by some very unconventional and creative stores by the street but this one’s my favorite among them all, talk about eye-catching! Got to love the vivid colors.

Image

What’s that in front of the seemingly abandoned building? Red hot chilli peppers! No, not the band, silly, as in red peppers out on the street walk for sun drying. As you may already know, Korean cuisine is rather geared towards the spicy end. I’ve tried different kinds of food and verily, I say to you from experience, whether it’s rice, side dishes, pickles, chicken, fish, noodles, or broth, for the most part, expect that it’ll be spicy. By the way, these dried peppers are usually used for making kimchi and other various stews.

Image

In my previous job as a teacher, I really did need to walk off my stress a lot of times and it was a goal for me to catch the sunset whenever possible. The beach was almost always my final destination in Sihanoukville (where the university I taught in was at) and besides my quiet time with God, capturing the few moments before the sun sets was what made my day quite alright.

Image

Now however, this is what I get to look at when the sun sets. From tropical to urban!

IMG_2362

Moving on, I saw about a block of stores selling traditional Korean clothes or Hanbok, (apparently foreigners purchasing them has been increasing in number lately). As I’ve recently learned and as you can see, its characteristics are the simple lines and vibrant colors. They are used by children and adult alike during special celebrations such as first birthdays or a wedding ceremony.

??????????????????????????????? IMG_2366

And then… okay, just for reference, here’s a picture of the kind of Pagoda I’m used to seeing (external and internal)

??????????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????????

And here’s the Pagoda I’ll be seeing often now..^^

IMG_2371

It was already nightfall when I walked back to Ewha so here come the big lights in the big city! People started springing out of everywhere too! Ah but of course, it was farewell to school and office, and hello to shopping, dining, karaoke and night life.

IMG_2374

Exhausted and hungry, I made it back to school! Off to the dorm to eat dinner (as according to the manual of frugal living 101, if and when possible, eat at home)! Here’s the awesome cherry blossom mural at the front gate of the university.  I know it’s still early but I am already looking forward to spring and seeing the various spring blossoms in Ewha!^^

???????????????????????????????

Thanks for walking with me(:

I wouldn’t want to miss any opportunity to tell you..

Today is a Tuesday. Just another Tuesday. At this exact moment in time, some people are rushing off their kids to the school bus; others are coming home from work; others, probably headed their way out. The list goes on and on and this Tuesday is just like any other day. Today, I woke up, took a bath, got dressed, and went off to study. But somewhere along the way I had a few, quiet minutes to think to myself and in that span of time, I sort of had an epiphany.

When I was younger, I used to have a lot of questions in my mind, some I said out loud, some I kept to myself. One such question I had then was, of all the possible families I had to be born to, Why God, was “assigned” this one? Of all the continents, countries, and known and unknown tribes of the universe, why was I born to my father and mother?

It was probably a Tuesday too, when I thought of that question so many, many years ago.

But as I reflected upon it, and I quote the book of Luke in the bible, “Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered..”, the answer, coming many, many years afterwards, kind of dawned on me. God knew who I was, at least who I’d turn out to be, even before you, mom and dad, were pregnant with me. He already knew that I would be socially awkward and a loner that would only have a handful of friends. He also knew then, that I would be so easily discouraged when things seemed bleak.

 And that was it– the answer to the young question I had.

For all the weaknesses I had and have, you would counter it with your strength. He knew me, and exactly what I needed: strong, wise and loving parents as well as a couple of the best friends one could ever ask for.

Today is a Tuesday. And just because it’s a Tuesday, I want to tell you I love you.

Image

What a week

Lesson #1: If you’re reading this and you intend to study in Ewha, whether as an exchange student or in graduate school just like myself, read the damn handbook.

A typical Monday is already sucky as it is, but my cup of Monday was actually filled to the brim of suckiness,  if such word even exists. You see, the university has an intranet portal where you can register courses on-line, and I successfully did so. In fact, my Korean language class was set to start yesterday (Monday), and as early as Saturday afternoon, I bought all the books I needed, I even did some reading to prep myself and I slept rather peacefully come Sunday night, after all, my class doesn’t start until 1 in the afternoon, and it ends at 2. At first I thought that it was rather a short class period, but as it’ll be four times in a week from Monday through Thursday, I thought that it was sufficient enough.

Come Monday, I arrive at the classroom and I was surprised to see that no one was there. In fact, all the lights were even closed. (I was like, what the??) And I waited, and waited, and waited, but nobody came. So I investigated a bit and through thorough research, found out that the intranet portal did say period 1-2, not hour 1-2 and that period 1 is from 8:00-9:30 AM. So yeah, because of stupidity and not paying attention, I missed two !@#$ periods on my supposed first day of study. Again I tell you, read the damn handbook.

Lesson #2: If you intend to go to another country that doesn’t use English as the main conversational language, be sure to at least know the basics. In Cambodia or Singapore, it  wasn’t a problem because somewhere, somehow, you’ll be able to find some instructions in English. Here, I found at least the ability to read some Hangeul and knowledge of a few essential words very helpful. Like I was in the subway trying to figure out where I was to go next and mind you, I was given a map for reference, but.. it was in Korean as well. The same thing happened when I dropped by the grocery store to grab some coffee; most if not all the items are written in Korean but fortunately, there were item names that were actually English but were “Koreanized”, so at least costumers like myself have a slight idea as to what I’m drinking, eating or using to wash my hair.

Lesson #3: If you intend to pursue particular graduate school courses here, beginner until intermediate Korean level is not and will never be good enough. Why? well, as for my case, it is mandated that I study a couple of my major courses and the accompanying minor ones in Korean. IN KOREAN. Dear Lord. The moment I was told about this, I started hyperventilating. At the moment, I know how to say “hello”, “good bye”, “where is..?”, “I’m hungry” and other phrases but to actually attend lectures and use text books in Korean? *faints

Lesson #4: Just when you think the delubyo is over, you’re dead wrong. When it rains, it falls.

My spirits were partially uplifted earlier today when I did attend my class at the right time. I thought to myself I can probably take the beginner Korean course now and then take an intensive course during winter to prepare for learning my remaining courses. I was also given the heads-up to register for my major courses for this semester so all in all, I was supposed to organize and finalize my academic schedule for the semester by the middle of the week. Then I noticed that one of my major subjects also fell on Thursday morning, so I approached my teacher, told her about it and she dropped another bombshell. By university policy, a student cannot take two overlapping courses, I had to drop one for the other. *hyperventilates then faints

So basically, here I am, in want and in desperate need for language lessons to prepare me for the following semesters to come, but unable to do so. That is, of course, assuming that I pass the first couple of courses I took (the only ones available); Nursing research and Current issues and research with the family. Good God. “Crestfallen” may probably give justice in describing what I feel now. After doing everything possible and dragging so many people into it to get here, I think it is justifiable that I’m feeling depressed in thinking that this may well be my first and last semester after all.

I <3 Cambodia

A couple of nights ago, I suddenly got up, glanced over my watch, grabbed a towel and marched half-awake into the bathroom. In my mind I was all like, “Oh good Lord I’m going to be late for work again!” But upon turning the shower on, I immediately knew something was off, and lo and behold, when I got out of the bathroom, yeah, it was 7:30. But then, it was evening time too, and most importantly, I don’t have work anymore. I guess this was a way my subconscious mind was telling me of how much I miss the kingdom of wonders. For all of my students, friends and colleagues who tell me, “Don’t forget Cambodia”, don’t you worry, I won’t, and I never will. The country as well as all of you, will always hold a special place in my heart.

Image

I remember one particular night a a few months back when I went out with my friend and colleague as well as our Dean and a handful of students for dinner. It so happened that these handful or most of them are the crème de la crème of our classes. While we were all waiting for dinner, they asked questions from the recent examination they had from me, and as I sat there listening to their queries, I remember looking at each of their curious eyes, adamant that I consider their answers for the exam. And so tonight, in grand reminiscence, I decided to write about what I did in Cambodia (besides taking photos of sunset by the beach), of all places on earth.

It was, I believe, the hand of God that has brought me there. If you’re reading this, and you knew me from when I was younger, you would know that above all things, I abolished the idea of becoming a teacher (clinical instructor) from my mind- I have told my friends, my classmates, and even my teachers themselves, that I have naught the slight interest for an academic career. And this was because from way back then, I already knew that this job, this career, is more than a job or a career, it is a calling. And like what I always say, I’ve heard of no such “call”.

It was challenging, I tell you. The first time I went away and left the comforts of home and family and friends– to teach in a province of Cambodia, a country I’ve heard of, but never in my wildest imagination would go to, let alone work in. Sihanoukville, the city where I stayed in, is about 5 hours away from the country’s capital city, Phnom Pehn. And most unfortunately, there is no direct flight from Manila (Philippines) to Phnom Pehn. We had to fly to Ho Chi Mihn City, Vietnam and then take a bus from there to Phnom Pehn, and then from there, take another bus to Sihanoukville. It took us a total approximate time of 23 hours to get to our destination from our city.

Image

And so we did arrive at the university, and astounded we were upon arrival! We stumbled upon a huge campus and at that point, everything seemed surreal, but I guess you’re all acquainted with what we call the “honeymoon phase”.

As for the work itself, things didn’t turn out to be easy for the most part. We experienced different levels of homesickness, stress, burn out, lack, despair, you name it, we’ve had it. And for the record, it was, and I do not say this out of boast but of reality, the first time in my life where I experienced physical, intellectual, emotional, and financial bankruptcy. Looking back, I credit that to the fact that besides it being my first teaching experience, we had about five (Nursing and Midwifery) courses to teach, an approximate number of 60-80 students PER class (yep, really that much, with the exception of dividing the class into two departments) and the thing is, the university wasn’t exactly stable at the time we joined the staff.Image

Image

I don’t think it would be possible to write down all of the things that I’ve learned during my stay in Cambodia, but most significant of all, it was there where I learned about faith, and total dependence on God. He used numerous angels and circumstances during my stay there to be of aid to my growth as a person and as a Christian. To my pakner, students, employers, missionaries, colleagues, acquaintances, friends, ates (older sisters), insans (cousins), mother earth, and all whom I have been blessed to stumble upon, I express my love and eternally gratitude. May our good Lord continue to bless, sustain and prosper you and your household all the days of your life.

ImageImageImageImage

In conclusion, I went to Life University a little over a year and a half ago with both fear and optimism equally clasped in my hands. Initially, I thought I was called there to teach, but to my surprise and delight, I found out that teaching was just a small part of the whole, and that the main reason why I went there was to learn—about life itself! A very wise mentor once told me, “Nothing can match being with friends and family, but it can be surprising to discover that we can find home in the strangest places.” True enough, it took a great leap of faith to go to a country I did not know anything of, a country I’ve rarely even heard anything of, but it was worth all the blood, sweat and tears in the long run, because as I now reminisce, I can truly say that in Cambodia, I have found home

P.s Like I said on a previous post, I’m banking on my momentary diligence, apologies for the looooong post, thanks for joining me in my recollection (:

First SoKor Immersion: Food

Before I came to South Korea, I stayed in Cambodia for quite a while. Being the typically “safe” person that I am, I didn’t take a lot of risks with regard to a lot of things there, particularly to food in my brief stay. At one point in time, I regretted that and now that I’m in a different place, in a different situation (sanitation and health-wise, that is), I intend to make amends.

Today is my third day in Seoul, specifically in the campus of Ewha Womans University (yeah, Womans, you read that right). I have yet to comb through the entire campus, as I do not have the ability to wander around and not get lost. A big hurray for the campus map!

One of the first things I had to consider when I arrived was to find the easiest, accessible and most importantly, affordable way to have meals and the search has not been easy. Let’s just say that now, I know why they say that Seoul is one of the most expensive cities in the world. Anyway, I am proud to say that my first ever meal was an authentic Korean dish made by an ajumma in the school cafeteria. (for the record, cafeteria food is the cheapest, most filling meal I’ve found so far) Ok, so every day, a different food menu is displayed, you get to choose which one you prefer, buy a ticket from the machine and give it to the specific stall from where the food you choose is. My meal was rice topped with kimchi, pork cutlets and an onion and egg sauce all mixed into a warm bowl of awesomeness. It also came with a another, different side dish of kimchi and it cost my roommate (bonus: my first meal was a treat) 3,000 won, that’s roughly $3.

Image

After that, I spent about 25 minutes walking around looking for the orientation venue and with that, burned every calorie I ate awhile back. After a few hours of being introduced to the university, the programs and addressing other academic concerns, I headed out to meet my sponsor, lovely President Lee, for dinner. We went to this small, cozy place and since I couldn’t read anything off of the menu, she ordered bibimbap (warm rice topped with sautéed and seasoned vegetables and egg) for both of us. (Note: I was too embarrassed to take a photo of our meal, but attached one of bibimbap, credits to the owner)

Image

Earlier today, I found out that most of the school cafeterias (there are about 4 or 5 if I’m not mistaken) are closed during weekends, so I went back to the room, grabbed my trusty map and headed out of campus in an epic search. While walking along the street, the captivating aroma of chicken called unto me, and I decided to try what Korean “street food” was like. When the ajossi preparing the chicken tidbits asked “spicy or no spicy?”, I decided to completely go out of my safe zone and answered with conviction, “spicy”. Of course, I regretted that decision the moment I took a bite of one chicken nugget.

Image

Have you ever eaten something so spicy you had to stop for a few seconds because you couldn’t breathe? I did, and remember that this all happened in the middle of a busy side street lane!

All in all though, a good long walk, snack and lesson: before you go for something hot, make sure you have something to put out the flame(:

Genesis: the beginning

I’ve seriously intended to do this for a long time now, but because I’ve been pretending to be busy all this time, I haven’t really accomplished much. I am actually capitalizing on my momentary bliss and industriousness for this first entry.

So without further ado, let me introduce myself and welcome you to my world.

First of all, I’m generally a quiet person until you get to know me. By the time I get comfortable, I become nothing but a blabbermouth. I simply love talking! What about? Anything, anything at all. So that’s what you’ll be reading more of from now on; anything I find interesting, fascinating and entertaining enough to think and write about.

Second, I love food. I live to love food, and that is quite evident with my shape, you see, I am in perfect shape, round is a perfect shape. I mentioned this so that you won’t be as surprised once you begin to notice that I relate a lot of (random) things and thoughts to food (*takes a bit bite out of a beef burrito for inspiration).

Third, I’m relatively new to blogging. I have never been a good communicator, nor have I been comfortable sharing my thoughts or ideas in the open to everyone, but then I need something to stimulate my neurons at the moment, so I’m giving this a try. That being said, I’d appreciate it if you give me some love, I’d love to hear what you think about what I think(:

Lastly, I have, by the grace of God and though miracles, traveled a few Asian countries outside of my own (The Philippines for all of you who are curious) either for work, pleasure and currently, for studying (yes, delight and horror in equal scales). You’ll be reading a lot about that too; my take on the world, my journey, misadventures, and pretty much life in general.

Image

Welcome to my random thoughts(: