On needles and pain

Yesterday, I went to visit a skin clinic because of some irritation. I’ve been in pain since the weekend but because of Buddha’s birthday holiday I had to suffer more. Can’t wait for my appointment since my tolerance to pain is quite low, and I couldn’t take it anymore.

So there, I went to the clinic on time. But I had to wait few more minutes, because I found out, they had to call the interpreter. So she accompanied me to the doctor, translated everything the doctor said. Everything seemed fine until the interpreter said the deadly words “they will give you an injection”. My eyes grew big and my heart beat tripled, in my mind I just told to myself “I’m dead huhuhu”.

Yes, I am afraid of hypodermic needles. I remember blaming a clueless friend for asking me to see the doctor when I wasn’t feeling well because I was injected (and it was painful) that day. Yesterday, I had no one to blame but my skin for being irritated. 😀

Evidence of overcoming my fear! 

While I was lying on the bed, painfully waiting until the medicine is completely in my system, I realized that my fear of needles is a simple manifestation of humanity’s resistance to pain.

No one wants to be in pain or suffer. All of us want a good life. Next to fighting a disease, I often witness pain in the form of being heartbroken. Emotional pain. People get really devastated; some people lose or gain weight; some people transform after a bad break-up. They say it is really painful. I am NBSB so I couldn’t relate. I am just thankful I haven’t experience any of those (and I am praying and believing that it will be possible to fall in love without passing through that heartbroken stage).

They say that the pain of the needle on your skin is just like a bite of an ant. It means that it is nothing compared to all the pain and hardships some people experience. I know that in real world there will be a lot of “painful” moments that might come, those that are maybe beyond my tolerance.

Yet I am secured, that no matter what happens, my God will be my refuge in time of need. And I don’t have to be afraid of those moments because Jesus, My Savior, had already died for me, bearing the pain that no one of us can, for me to have a life to the full.

“Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God,  stricken by him, and afflicted.  But he was pierced for our transgressions,  he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” –Isaiah 53:4-5

Samgyeopsal all-you-can in Sinchon!

If you ask me what is my favourite Korean food, my tummy and heart would agree that samgyeopsal tops the list. Maybe because it was the first Korean food I tried here, or because of the frequency of eating the Korean barbecue that I have conditioned my mind “This is the best.”

My friends and I go to the BBQ restaurant near our school until we discovered this haven in Sinchon. Seoul National University is so far from downtown Seoul, we have to travel at least an hour to reach that place. But that is always worth the time.

So here in this restaurant (which I actually don’t know if it has any name, we just call it “THE Unli BBQ place”), you enter, choose where you’ll be seating for two hours or more, then go to the bar and get any meat you want.

This is inside the “restaurant”. It is not that fancy,well-lit, foodie haven that you expect. It is small, but I think this is close enough to what we normally see in the Korean dramas, where the actors would drink Soju ’till the credits. 😀 And as the tarpaulin displays, it is 8,000 won per person (around 7 dollars, and 300 pesos).

Beef, chicken, shrimp, or pork; you’ll be the one to surrender. 

Samgyeopsal won’t be complete without these sauces. My favorite is the one on bottom left, it is called ssamjang.

This is how the pan on my table looked like tonight! YUMMY!

One secret to make the samgyeopsal food trip really enjoyable: bring as many friends as possible. Trust me, you wouldn’t enjoy it by yourself.

So here’s the gang with whom I shared tonight’s food with:

If you happen to be in Seoul and you want to experience the real food trippin’, try to go to this place. Your tummy would be satisfied without hurting your pocket.

How to go there: Subway Line 2 (Green Line) Sinchon station, go to exit number 2. Walk straight for 10 minutes until you see Adidas, and T-World, then turn left. You’ll see restaurants all-lined up. On your right, you’ll see a big barbecue place, not that one 😀 but the second one. The owners are at the entrance trying to persuade the people to come. Give in and enjoy!

P.S. We came there tonight with a reason: to celebrate our good friend Johanne’s birthday. And since we’ve been coming to the restaurant in a big group, they were kind enough to give us cola and makgeoli as service. 🙂

The Smartphone Generation

When I first arrived here in South Korea, I noticed something interesting in the subway: people are either sleeping (which is normal) or their eyes are glued on their smartphone. Later on, I tried to peek 😀 and look at what they are actually doing with their smartphones, and I found out they are chatting (in Kakaotalk), watching a Korean drama, or reading an e-book.

(I would never witness that scenario in the Philippines. People don’t display their phones in any mode of transportation, because it is a way of giving it out voluntarily  to the bad guys hehe)

I decided to buy a smartphone as well, thinking it would really be helpful in my stay here in Korea. True to that, it has been a reliable friend. I love using Kakaotalk to easily communicate with friends; then there’s a subway app for an efficient transportation, and all those creative innovations accessible in just a click. Indeed, technology has never failed to make our life easy.

Our parents must have repeatedly bragged that during their time, there was no Google, Facebook or Twitter. Every research project was a product of blood and sweat, as they need to work with that huge typewriter ( that was the time when correction liquid was very useful 😀 ) and do library-hopping.  And then I’m sure that most of you have answered them back “That was your time! See, I’m more efficient now.”

But, no matter how good any invention is, it has side effects.

Last Saturday, we went to this KOICA event for high school students. We were told to prepare a quiz question for a game to test their abilities. A disclaimer was provided that the kids are really intelligent. So there, we entered the hall, introduced ourselves then started the quiz. Truly, the students are so smart! They can easily answer some trivial questions about our countries. But, we noticed that when the question was really tough, it was a matter of how smart is your smartphone.

So what happens when the battery is dead? Where would we rely? Aside from making us too reliant to it, sometimes it makes us anti-social. My introverted self has been benefiting from my smartphone because instead of trying to have an interesting conversation with the person seated next to me, I would just give my full attention to the phone, all alone in my world. I am also guilty of trying to document everything to the point of forgetting how to live the moment.

We need to think more how to maximize the ingenuity of humanity in the form of this gadget. We need to take advantage of the creativeness of those who believed that this generation has the power to change the world, thus giving us all the means to do that. But more than anything else, we need to take control of it, as what the campaign says, “Think before you click”.

I will always be thankful to the smart guys who invented this uber smart gadget. I have appreciated it especially now that I’m miles away from family and friends. With just a click, I can communicate with them. But with also just a click, I can destroy relationships, or spread hatred. So, I must say, “think not just once, twice or thrice before you click. Think a million times.”

I will not ask you to surrender your smartphone (because I will not do that either), what I’m trying to say is that the next time you are itching to update your status to tell your friends you are eating the best dish in the world or you are seeing a captivating view by the beach, remember that your brain has the power to store amazing memories, so savor and live each moment.

Spring has arrived in Korea (finally!)

Since December, I’ve been hoping that time would fly and April would arrive quickly. Yes, I really thought I would die because of winter. I was looking forward to a warmer weather, since I am a lady from a tropical country where the season is just hot, and hotter.

Now, I am so giddy because of the blooming flowers and wonderful colors. Spring has finally arrived! A must during this season- a photo with the cherry blossoms!

Last week, I’ve been monitoring if the cherry trees in Yeouido are already blooming. According to the Korea Tourism Organization website, the Spring Festival was scheduled from April 13-17. I called my bestfriend here :D, 1330, and asked for update. The lady said it is quite late this year. So we had to wait until Wednesday. After class, we headed to Yeouido Park!

To get to the place where the cherry trees are lined, called Yunjungno, we had to stop at the National Assembly station. So photo-ops first with the house of the Parliament!

Yeah, I can finally  wear a skirt, and sunglasses! It was so warm that day, the temperature reached 22 degrees celsius!

Yunjungno lies at the back of the National Assembly. So we had to walk for 10 minutes to get there. We started seeing a lot of people and then the trees with white blossoms!

Beautiful. Wala nito sa Pilipinas eh!

There was a traditional dance at the center of the road. Good thing was they actually closed the road for vehicles, so the people can actually enjoy.

One thing I noticed there was that majority of the people were actually Koreans. So eventhough they see this every year, they still look forward to seeing the cherry blossoms.

I won’t have any beach photos this summer, like what my friends are posting in Facebook. But I’ve got photos with the Spring blossoms. I will never forget this. I only saw those trees in movies, but I this year I had the chance to see them closely. I am blessed! 🙂

P.S. On our way back to the subway station, I saw this that made me miss home!

Yes, they also have “dirty ice cream”. We call this “sorbetes” in the Philippines, which roam around almost everywhere around this time of the year. It is Summer back home.

The Bollywood Experience

My friends say that I am an old soul trapped in a young woman’s body. Check my playlist and you’ll see that my songs are so yesterday. Another way to check is my movies library. I am really not updated when it comes to movies. I love watching films (I even took courses back in my university years), but I always make sure that the movie I’m going to watch is really worth it. I don’t like spending money or 2 hours of my time in a movie that’s not good. So my favourite movies are those that my professors asked my class to watch and my friends’ recommendation, and that’s why I watch years after they were released in the big screen. 😀

This month, despite all the grad school requirements, I was able to watch 3 Bollywood films that really touched my heart. The first one was 3 Idiots (2009). I remember it became really famous in 2009. But I already forgot why I didn’t watch this film. Fast forwarding, I finally had the time. And I was crying the entire movie. Wait, there were even some scenes when I was laughing so hard then the tears just started falling. It was a very cathartic. The next one was Stanley Ka Dabba (2011). It has a very simple plot, which I really like. And when I least expected it, my heart was crushed. And the most recent (let’s say, last night) I watched Taare Zameen Par (2007). I will just show you the tissues I used while watching this movie:

All these three movies are tear-jerkers. But more than that, these teach great lessons about life. I am sharing the three (out of so many) lessons I’ve got from my movie watching:

1. You cannot survive life by yourself.  “No man is an island.”This saying has been taught to us since primary school. In these three movies, the importance of relationships was highlighted. The friendship that Rancho, Raju and Farhan have was something that helped them survived the challenges at school, and the greater challenges they faced outside school. Stanley has classmates that did not judge him. Ram Nikumbh exerted time and effort to help Ishaan. We need to value our relationships. That lunch or dinner, or a small talk may seem insignificant, but investing time matters to nurture our relationships. The people in our lives are there for a purpose. And we can also influence the lives of  the people we encounter.

2.) Pursue what you love doing.  Raju and Farhan are forced to go to Engineering school, but they love other things. Stanley can’t afford to study, but he is an intelligent student and loves to learn. Ishaan can’t read and write, but he loves to paint and is even above average. The biggest challenge we often face is to know what we really love to do. It is not something that we realize in an instant Eureka moment. It takes time. But we have to start looking for something that fulfils our purpose in life.

3.)  If there’s something in this world that you don’t like, CHANGE it. In these three movies, the restricting factor was the educational system that they have. But all the characters did not let the system prohibit them from achieving what they want. They did not grumble, they acted to change the system. Sometimes we are stuck complaining, but really, are we doing something? Our society has so many problems. But those problems won’t be solved overnight. Or those will not just disappear. We have to do something. It does not necessarily need to be big; a small bold step could actually lead to changes.

If you have time, I suggest you watch these films. These are not merely entertaining; these movies have a heart. But don’t forget to have tissues ready (I warned you, don’t come back to me saying you were unware). 😀

“Pursue for excellence, success will chase you.” – Rancho, 3 Idiots