My life is short but it is meaningful and purposeful. How is yours?

Archive for the ‘Life Journey’ Category

Home

Home – a fairly familiar word for almost everyone. “I am going home,” “Where is your home?” and others are common expressions to us, aren’t they?

A few days ago, I was in Boston. I stayed there for two nights in my friend’s house. As I walked on the streets in Boston, I could feel something was different from what I used to experience in Washington, DC, the city where I have been living for the past five months. When I was in Boston, I felt Washington, DC as my home.

Now that I am already back in DC, and in fact will be leaving the city for good tomorrow to eventually return to Singapore to continue my last year in college, I know that Singapore is “more home” than DC. I have more friends there, and I am more used to the lifestyle there to some degree. I miss some people there and I know some people in Singapore miss me too. Hang on Singapore, I am coming back next semester.

But before returning to Singapore, I will visit Jakarta for about 2-3 weeks. My family lives there. I also grew up in Jakarta, spending 16 years of my life there. I still have a lot of friends in Jakarta although I feel that the number is decreasing as I continue my stay in Singapore. But still, I have spent way more years in Jakarta than in Singapore, 16 years versus 2.5 years. Since my family is in Jakarta and I have spent majority of my life in Jakarta, Jakarta is my real home.

But wait! I was not born in Jakarta! In fact, I spent my first two years on earth living in this city in Central Java, Semarang. Both my parents were born and grew up in Semarang as well. We all moved to Jakarta when I was two years old and have ever since become Jakarta’s residents. Most of my cousins, uncles, and aunts are in Semarang. So, you know, in that sense Semarang is also my home – it was my first home and is still my home since I keep coming back to it once per year or so.

Is that it? Is that all? Do I have another place which I consider home? The answer for the latter question is a yes. As Jesus said to His disciples, “You are not from the world” and “I am going to heaven to prepare a place for you” (note: these are not exact quotations), I believe, by faith and by God’s  grace, that after I die I will come to heaven. Heaven, I think, is my last stop. It is where I belong, eventually. It is where my joy will be wholly fulfilled. It is where there is no more pain, no more tears. And as the title of this blog says, my life on earth is like a rehearsal for eternity. To have a “good” life in heaven, one should have a “good” life on earth.

God bless you!

Lessons Learned from REL1009

Recently I just realized how on time of a man I am is. Again, I did this post on the last day of the month. And in fact, this semester, I submitted all my assignments on the deadline days (never before them) – which is not entirely a bad thing actually since I was not late. I think this is because I always feel I have (still) too much time when the deadlines are still relatively far away – and this, I think is a bad thing. As a result, I enjoy my life very much since I love to delay my works, but then when the deadlines are near, I often suffer from lack of sleep. And furthermore, I become emotionally less stable during those periods. Now that I have acknowledged this, let’s see if I can make myself to start doing my works even though the deadlines seem still far away.

Okay, enough of the intermezzo, and now I want to share/preserve some lessons learned from taking one of my classes in GWU (George Washington University), which is the Introduction of Hebrew Scriptures (or also known as REL1009). This class is offered by the Religion Department of the university. However, even though it is called “REL,” the professor (or rabbi, since she is a Jew) already mentioned on the very first day of class that this class is not about spiritual refreshments and that there would be a lot of readings and writings to be done, not merely spiritual tips and lessons. In fact, I feel more like I’m taking a history class now. And by the way the last class was already over by the time I am writing this post, but the final exam is coming in 7 days time. This is some background of this class.

I was so surprised by the fact that the rabbi started the last class by asking the students what could be improved from the class, how we think about the assignments given, and if the text books have served their purposes well to us. And many students voluntarily raised their hands immediately and spoke up their opinions. Some said something positives, but some critiqued some of the assignments which they thought were not so useful/too hard/irrelevant. This is something quite amazing for me, a guy coming from Asia used to be surrounded by a lot of reserved people who do not really speak up in public places (I consider classroom as a public place), especially speaking about something negative or intriguing. I think being a bit more open and vocal is good and in fact needed. But that being said, I am not 100% pro America and hate Asia. I think that every culture is unique and each culture has been shaped uniquely by its very own history until it becomes what it is right now. We can’t entirely change a culture that is already there for some time, but adding a few positive elements will definitely be a good thing. And again, to repeat myself, those few elements to be added to Asian culture, in my opinion, are to be more open and vocal in speaking up opinions in public places.

Another seemingly trivial lesson is that reading the assigned readings for the class is actually good. How do I know this? Because I did not really read the readings of this class due to various reasons, but there were a few classes for which I read the readings beforehand. And I felt different in those classes. I felt like I know what is going on and I can actually participate in the discussion easily, since the questions that the rabbi asked are normally taken from the reading. I wish I read more readings in the past, so that I could learn even more from this class, but nonetheless, past is past. What I can do now is to apply this principle in my next semester in NUS, i.e. to be more discipline and diligent and consistent in studying. I hope by that I will be able to study more, and eventually score better grades too. Again, this seems to be a very trivial point that every body knows, but after I felt it myself, now I understand better why reading the readings is important!

To close off, I just want to say that this post is made by a guy who does not consider himself diligent, while striving to be more diligent. And I know this sounds more like a personal reflection, but if you can get something out of this, which I hope you will, that is great!

First Month in DC

DC here refers to District of Columbia, the capital of United States of America. Yup. I am here now, for an exchange program from my home university in Singapore. I was asked by some friends to take tons of pictures while I am here, to show them what the city is like. I have uploaded some pictures on Facebook and now I just want to share some thoughts about my experience here.

I arrived in DC on Jan 5 evening. That means today is my 23rd day here. It’s less than a month actually, but “First Month in DC” sounds better to me to be a title than “First 23 Days in DC”. haha. Anyway, yeah, I’ve got a lot of new experiences here that I had not experienced before. There is a saying: “There is always the first time for everything.” And I used that phrase a lot in the last couple of weeks; it was the first time I wore huge thick jacket and yet still feeling cold. First time for me to see snow here, too. First time to eat Mexican food. First time to see the White House and the Washington Monument. First time to see Bobby McFerrin (he is a very good singer!). First time to make friends coming from various countries, such as: Egypt, Netherlands, South Korea, Japan, Australia, Czech Republic, Italy, Morocco, South Africa, Ghana, Tunisia, Afghanistan, Canada, Mexico, Spain, Brazil, Chile, Peru, England, Germany, US (surely), and others (I’ve met some Germans and Americans in Singapore though). I have just realized when I typed those country names that I have met a lot of people for the past three weeks or so! And I met some familiar faces too, those from Singapore, India, China, and Indonesia! I consider myself as lucky (or blessed, depending on how you view it) to have this opportunity to meet people from around the world, many people even struggle for their daily meal.

I am enjoying my time here. In fact, I even started to love the winter here. But time is short, I’ll probably only have another 120 days in DC. After that I will need to move on. One challenging final year in NUS awaits me and hopefully I will be ready for it. 🙂

In the meantime, I am now studying in George Washington University. Not the best university, but it is a good one. I even feel that their workloads are more demanding than NUS’s. One interesting thing that will happen this semester is that I will be taking a course in Bass Guitar, and that is a private class. So I had to buy my own bass guitar which is right now on its way to my house. I am still unsure if I should keep that or sell it after the semester concludes. But yeah, I am looking forward to my lessons. The past week was the second academic week and I still have 12 more academic weeks to go before doing the final exams. This is gonna be an interesting semester!

Another weird thing is that here in DC I watch English football in the morning instead of evening. And that is better actually because I don’t have to stay up late if I want to watch some matches. But that is a minor issue actually, just saying.

Alright, I guess that is enough for this post.

Have a good day!

Cheers 🙂