Sunday, 27 September 2015

yip fam bbq

today is supposedly mid autumn festival, a chinese celebration of the full moon where families would come together to enjoy a meal and eat moon cakes together. as i moved into uni last week, i was unable to be back for the yearly family get together this time round. thankfully with technology, i did have a chance to say hi to everyone and get a good view of all the tasty dishes they devoured in over Skype, whilst i ate my bowl of tomato pasta. so instead of updating my blog here on my lonely experience of the mid autumn festival this year, i decided instead to post about this family barbecue a while back during the summer, where we equally had as much fun as a family over yummy food.

grandma enjoying her sweet potatoes

grandma swagging it out with my sunglasses

i love barbecues. and even more so with the people i love. i remember it being perfect barbecue weather, and my sister had just come back from a church camp with my cousin so i had not seen her for a couple of days. immediately, we caught up and enjoyed good food and good company.

unfortunately, i've only had two barbecues this summer. but every time, roasty-toasty marshmallows and bbq bananas were always on the show. i just love the smell of burning sugar from the marshmallows and seeing bubbles of glucose escaping from the bananas as the evening draws near. 

on that particular weekend, it was also my cousin's 18th birthday, and so there had to be cake! happy birthday estelle, wishing you a blessed year ahead, and that you will grow fruitfully closer to God.

and here's to mid autumn festival and wonderful family time. i sure do miss everyone and our usual family get-togethers, and am much looking forward to seeing you all again, hopefully in christmas or before that!

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drink, drink, drunk: welcome to uni life.

the norms of uni life: alcohol, sex and parties. whilst i'm not against drinking and parties at all, i do believe that it is all too overrated. the term "pre-drinks", i have learnt, is an ever growing popular idea. people would spend £50 on a couple of bottles that kill your liver, and come together to drink before turning up to a party so they could have more fun. i feel as though people almost force themselves here to be drunk, as they believe they can 'be themselves', be carefree and go crazy on their night out. i've been aware of these drinking norms since secondary school, as it was seen as away to socialise and get to know other people; but rather what i see is damage to health, making friends who only remember you for puking in the streets, and scary elements of safety; or perhaps this is just the motherly instinctive side to me - i'm not sure. what i do believe, however, is that drinking does not always mean fun. and you certainly do not have to drink in order to be fun.

i was on my way out to meet a group of friends from another block to go to a bunfight, where you sign up to different societies the other day, when i walked out into the hallway to see a pair of feet sticking out from a corner. this guy had no idea how he ended up here and was baffled to see me and my flat mate hovering around him. though it did make a great snapchat story, the idea of having a mind block of what you've done the previous night leans a bit to the scary side.

i mentioned i was on my way out with a flat mate that morning. i swear he was still drunk when i saw him. he had an introductory talk that morning at 10am and when i saw him, it looked like he had killed about 5000 of his brain cells. his voice was completely gone, he had no idea how he managed to get home last night, and his eyes were literally drooping down from fatigue. and at that moment, i was just wondering what the fun of getting so drunk was. as a good friend, i took the bus with him back to campus, where during the whole journey he was complaining about how rubbish he felt. i helped him put his headphones back into his case as he couldn't coordinate himself properly, and i told him he could have a nap and i would wake him up when we got to uni campus. after we got off, i walked him to his block where he told me he felt as though i was his mother. i wouldn't disagree, as i felt like i was taking a 5 year old kid to school, but at the same time i believe i was just being sober.

wednesday i decided to just chill and catch up with my sixth form friends. they were mostly sleep deprived and half sober from the crazes of the past few days, but i'm glad we got to relax ourselves both mentally and physically, even if it means naps at 4:26pm!

i even decided to camp out that night with them, and made myself comfortable in the middle of the floor with bathrobes and wraps. we had this perfect idea of wrapping up and watching the great british bake off - and wow it was so perfect with a kopparberg in hand and snuggled in bed.

and here we go, a glimpse of uni life, of which i am still discovering. i pray every day that God will guard my heart and that i wouldn't end up submitting to the peer pressures of drinking and clubbing. i firmly believe that Jesus is the light, the truth, and the way, and He is all i need.

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Friday, 25 September 2015

happy birthday dear etain.

a few weeks ago, it was my best friend etain's birthday. 18 years of knowing her now, and our friendship is still stronger than ever. our circle of church friends decided we should host a surprise birthday dinner for her on a saturday night. and so we went about creating a whataspp group which resulted in nothing more than what we should wear on the day. the details were finalised the night before her surprise was due, and it was to be 7:30pm at tgi fridays in central london.

as we were meeting later at night, loksze and i decided it would be good to have a nice date in london before meeting the lot. we walked around southbank and the southbank centre, went around covent garden and checked out the iPhone 6s in the apple store.

 we then stopped by at oxford street where we picked a tie for my dad's birthday at moss bros, and a new jacket for loksze at topman. down the road was carnaby street where we came across some rather snazzy roads, before we stopped by at urban outfitters to pick some new knickers for etain to kick start her 18th year of being a human.

at 7pm, loskze and i met up with eugene to grab a table before etain arrived with lewis. obviously, we did not think about it properly, as a saturday evening at tgi's in central london would obviously be extremely packed. we arrived to find that we had to wait for 45minutes for a table. as we didn't have much of a plan b, we just stuck with it and hoped we got a table before etain arrived. as we chatted whilst waiting, we realised we hadn't got a birthday cake, and so we sent eug on a mission to get an egg tart from chinatown!

after sitting down for a bit, etain arrived and was pleasantly surprised at seeing us. the two of us shared a platter, whilst the boys devoured in ribs. it was a fun night of chilling with each other and spending some quality time before three of us leave to go uni.

we walked down to oxford street to catch a bit of the buzz of the london night life, where we snapped a few polaroids and got some group pictures.

happy birthday etain, thanks for being my rock and sloth in crime. it's weird to think we've known each other since the day we were born. i'm so blessed to call you my best friend, and that we have such a chilled out friendship - we could do nothing and sit there and it wouldn't be awkward, we could call sleeping on the sofa 'meeting up', and we could iMessage each other for days and continuously hold up a lot of witty banter.

finally, here's to you officially being an adult! enjoy life, live life, and love life. stay blessed my girl. x

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Thursday, 24 September 2015

happy sweet 16th to my baby sister!

bit of a late post, but hey ho! september is a busy month every year. it is my dad's birthday, then my parents' wedding anniversary, and lastly my sister's birthday. but this year, on top of all this, i had to move into uni. haynam's birthday happened to be on the day before i had to move, and i really had not finished packing, so we all opted for a simple dinner at a korean restaurant to mark this great milestone of hers.

in addition to haynam's birthday however, of course there had to be some sort of farewell party for me too. so it ended up being joint celebrations (or not so celebratory at the fact i'm leaving), for the both of us.

loksze came over to join us for dinner, and chloe too, a girl who will be living at our house for two years whilst she works towards her alevels (good luck!). needless to say, we had a great time chatting and laughing over some tasty dishes, one of which was a scrummy seafood korean barbecue.

i did not want this night to end at all, as it meant i would be leaving some of the closest people in my life soon. i love being cheeky with my sister, and it is just messing around and having fun with my partner in crime that i'll miss when i leave.

i'm also so happy loksze came over to share this meal with us. he's been such a caring and supportive boyfriend, and the smiles and laughter he brought to the table that evening shows that he has fit right into the family. i really can't wait for many more family dinners like this to come.

wow, 16 years my dear sister; time has really flown by. i still remember mum and dad giving me lego bricks as a gift when you came into this world, as an attempt to tell me that you'll a positive change in my life. and i couldn't agree more - you manage to bring out the fun side of me, and teach me a great deal of patience. you taught me how to share, to love, and to care for some one. you're crazy with me, share the same banter with me, and laugh at the same things as me.

happy birthday dear one, can't wait to see how God will work through you this year, and the many blessings you'll receive. lots of love, me.

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Wednesday, 23 September 2015

homesick. very very homesick.

as much as i'm experiencing the buzz of uni life, home is constantly on the forefront of my mind. i've always been extremely close to my family, and with the luxuries of wifi and technology, talking and being connected with them is so easy. and i believe it is this that makes me even more homesick. i'm constantly getting messages from my family (even my grandparents!), and am up to date with our family whatsapp group. however the feeling of knowing whats happening, but not actually being there with my family makes me feel a bit left out at times.

it hasn't been long at all since i've moved out. however yesterday i was just not feeling it at all. i went about to collect my id card at 9am, despite sleeping late from face timing loksze, and then met yi-ling, a girl i knew from sixth form, to collect some books and sign up to the uni medical centre. we then attended an official welcome talk before doing some grocery shopping at morrisons and tesco before i headed back.

it was then that i really missed home and the people back in london. i guess it is in this silence and empty atmosphere that you long for someone you know and for a hug. i miss cuddles and the warmth of friends and family, and really crave an arm around me at the moment. it's always been quite easy for me to make friends, but perhaps it was because i knew that at the end of the day i could go home and still have people there for me every night. yesterday my eyes started balling and i just couldn't seize my tears from falling down. it's so hard settling down in another environment and knowing that all your closest family and friends are else where continuing with their normal lives.

thankfully with technology, i was able to Skype my family after their dinner. i hadn't dinner as i was so homesick, however seeing them again made me so happy, and i was easily satisfied with just seeing their faces and usual crazy antics. mummy placed me on the dining table where i got a view of the tv, and my family went about their normal activities. though i was far away and alone, i still felt the comfort of home and hearing that familiar sound of the tv; maybe it was just the silence of being alone in my room which made me particularly homesick. back at home, i've always wanted a free house and to be home alone because it is constantly so busy with so many people around and knocking on my door every so often and being disturbed every 15 minutes. however it is this that i miss - my sister wishing to share some exciting news with me, my dad giving me some advice, my mum telling me that dinner is ready for fourth time.

after skyping for over two hours, it was time to FaceTime loksze. again, seeing him made me miss his  presence and company so much, but i've just got to accept the fact that i have an aim to settle into uni right now.
out of my pain and misery, i remembered my friend anna, who currently is in her second year but starting a new course in newcastle uni. she shared a relatively close experience to mine and felt homesick, and was not into all these parties and wild nights either. i messaged her, and she replied me this morning with such encouraging words which really lifted my day up. i'm going to be skyping her soon so we can encourage each other even more, but for now i'm so thankful that God has placed such wonderful and supportive people around me.

i miss home. i miss it so so much that i can get teary from thinking about it every so often. but southampton is now my new home. and i will try my very best to settle in.

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Tuesday, 22 September 2015

first sunday at southampton. - family away from home.

they say that the first weeks of uni are a blur, so i'm desperately trying to document all that's happened so far, and the blessings i've encountered as i try to settle in.

sunday morning was a particularly foggy one; i hadn't seen that much fog for so long as i've been having late rises everyday during my summer break. much to my surprise, i was quite awake despite going to bed so late last night - perhaps it was the adrenaline or nervousness of settling in. the flat was silent and as i put the kettle on for my morning cup of green tea, i was scared it would have an earthquake effect on the entire flat!

snapped on my walk to church

 as i left, a new girl was just moving in, but after a quick hello, i went about to navigate myself to church. i could've easily taken the bus, however i felt the need to get away from all the traffic and business, and find quietness with God this first morning in Southampton. i quickly met up with jenny, who i'm incredibly blessed to meet. i was linked to her via our mutual friends back in london, and she had just graduated this year so is now working, and was looking to settle at a church too. Christ Church was immediately a very welcoming place - perhaps because i knew i belonged to God's family and it was my true home. the service was different to what i was used to - it was much more family orientated and more stand-up sit-down with their many songs. i was surprised to see 'jesus saves' make it on the song list as it was always a fun song back in london - it certainly brought back many memories to when i used to jam with my brothers and sisters after church. the sermon was particularly relevant to me, and spoke very close to my heart; i don't think i had been so engaged with a sermon for a very long time, and i'm really glad God was able to speak to me through this speaker. he spoke of looking towards the future, which, though most people see it as positive, is not always, unless it is a future in heaven. we should shift our attention to the true future - the kingdom of God, the new heaven and earth, and prepare for this by submerging into God's words and spending time with him. as the speaker said, the more you spend time with a person, the more you become like them, just as you may become more like your partner as you spend more time with them.

after the service, jenny and i grabbed coffee and immediately many people approached us and started talking to us. i got a chance to meet other fellow christian freshers which was a huge relief to me and it was great getting to know everyone, and being welcomed once again into a christian family. jenny and i decided to grab lunch at the town centre, west quay, and meet up with jake, a guy who went to my church back in london. we toured around the city centre quite a bit before stopping for lunch at a pub restaurant for a good ole lamb shoulder sunday roast. needless to say, it felt like family away from home and i was so thankful for this time spent with these two people. it was also obligatory to snapchat our friend james back in london, as he paired us all up in southampton - well done him!

weird seeing these green bins with southampton printed on it, rather than the black ones in london!

i got back to the uni campus after that and met up with jan and lottie to chill in their bedrooms and catch up quick. i then went back to my room for a quick shower and then proceeded to walking to an event held by christ church that evening - pizza and pudding night.

they had an evening service at 6pm, however i arrived after they finished and joined them to walk to the pastor's house. though a little awkward at first, i grabbed some pizza and started talking to other christians and  finding out more about them. what i didn't realise before i started uni was that everyone would be asking you the same 5 questions over and over again - your name, your course, where you are from, whether you are a fresher, and whether i've met my flatmates yet. i might as well write a sign and put it around my neck! the pastor grouped all the freshers in the living room and gave us a welcoming student talk which i really enjoyed. he spoke about how as we settle we are setting ourselves new routines, and the importance of placing God into it. it was much easier to mingle at this point, as everyone was relatively settled and you could distinguish who else were freshers. i managed to speak to the pastor, and then to a second year student who shared how she was very homesick in her first year. we exchanged Facebook details quickly before i left for the evening with a large group of people who also lived in my halls. after a good chatty walk back, i had a quick phone call with mummy and caught up before skyping loksze until 2am.

needless to say, it was another long day and i'm so thankful for every bit of it. reviewing my day allows me to see all the blessings from God and it amazes me how even when i'm alone, he is still there and i'm constantly surrounded by my family away from home.

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Sunday, 20 September 2015

uni: my next chapter in life.


it is currently 2:21am here as i type this up with a sloth toy on my lap and the whole flat is silent as everyone attends to a beer and watching a game of rugby.
today marks the day i officially turn a new page in life: the uni life. to say the least, i really don't know what i am expecting. the thought of having to grow independent, move away from all my closest family and friends, and having to work towards a degree is a really damn overwhelming thought for me. and what about making new friends, going clubbing (which I'm totally not about) and battling the peer pressures of drinking? they say uni is the best time you will have in life, and you will meet friends who you will keep in contact forever. hm.

moving away is so hard, and this week i had really felt the blues as i packed up my clothes in large suitcases, and my other bits and bobs in various cardboard boxes. the parents had been so attentive to every detail, picking up on my laundry detergents, to kettles, to even toilet rolls. and my sister, i can't begin to express how much i will miss her as much as i go on about how annoying she is, but really she is just an adorable little girl who cares so much about me. being away from my boyfriend will be hard too, like seriously, i'm gonna juggle with a long distance relationship now on top of my studies?!
as i sorted out my bank accounts, id cards and enrolment this week, i really felt myself maturing and taking on more and more responsibilities, however there is also this particularly strong side of me who still feels like i belong to my mummy and daddy and should be looked after by them.

today consisted of leaving early at 10am this morning after some last minute packing, and then arriving 2 hours later at southampton to unload all my stuff on the third floor of my block (meaning many flights of stairs). we then stopped by the city centre where we had lunch at good ole ikea before buying all my pots and pans, daily essentials and of course, 3 cacti! asda was our next stop for groceries and it all suddenly became surreal to me at that point that i was going to become and independent student shopping for my food the next time i land at asda again. we had a last pizza meal together as a family of four for a while, and it was then i really felt the blues. after a few selfies, it was time to depart. i saw tears in my mummy's eyes, and everyone got a bit emotional, but i knew i had to stay strong in order for them to leave me without worrying, so tears were held back.

goodbyes are always hard, but i know this step will do me so much good. i'm pushing myself to get stuck in and enjoy uni as soon as possible, but home sickness is already kicking in. praise the lord i managed to bump into one of my old sixth form friends tonight. i was on my way to heading to my first freshers get together when we saw each other, and after staying at the bar for 10 minutes trying to mingle, we decided we would much prefer girly time and a hot cup of tea. unfortunately, i didn't have a spare mug but we still enjoyed each others company as we shared our overwhelming experience together.

i have already witnessed the blessings of the Lord, even though my time at southampton hasn't been that long yet. i've been in contact with jenny, a girl i met through church friends, who has already been in southampton for a couple of years. she offered to take me to church tomorrow where i can really be at home. i'm also thankful for my flatmates i'm placed with who are both so friendly, bubbly and have the same banter levels as me. my family has been such a huge blessing to me throughout i have no words for it. and then the blessing of internet; i could FaceTime my boyfriend and was able to share my whole experience with him for two hours, and as they all say, sharing with another person really does make a difference. multiple messages and blessings are also flooding through, and i am so overjoyed to see how many amazing people i am surrounded by already.

there are still so many things i am scared about, confused about and unsure about. but already i know the lord is with me. i can feel his presence right here, and i seek so much comfort in it. i'm so looking forward to church tomorrow, and even though i feel alone and home sick at the moment, i know God already has his plans for me, i just have to be surprised by them now!
this brain dump perhaps makes no sense, they are literally thoughts running through my head at the moment. can't wait to review this in a years time to see how far i've come with the Lord! for now, goodnight!

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