Monday, August 31, 2015

One Year Abroad wrap-up

Time flies and my one year in the UK has come to an end! This post is scheduled to be up during the second half of my flight to home! Intro pic was taken during a trip to York which I will be blogging about in the future. :)

Now I'm just gonna jot down some appreciation and depreciation of the time I've had abroad for reflection purposes. I'll be using the word regret to make it simpler to understand but note I'm a strong advocate against having regrets. As cliché as it may sound, everything that happens is a lesson learnt for the better. So yea, regret nothing! Okay gonna jump straight into it.

  • Travelling was a big part of my year here and I appreciate the experiences so so much. Within just one year alone, I travelled to many many places, all of which I've never been in my life. Many of my friends have 2-3 years here and can take their sweet time travelling around UK and Europe but I do not have that luxury so I jumped at every chance I get. And whatever anyone say, no I do not regret it. :) Had I focused all my time and effort on studying I could've achieved a much better result I'm sure but vice versa my year here would not have been so eventful and memorable.

  • That said, I regret not getting a better result for my degree. I successfully graduated and I worked hard for it but I know I could've done better. Always expecting a lot from myself, I regret not getting a better result because your degree follows you for life. Looking back during exam period it felt really hard and overwhelming but to think back now I could've pushed a little more. But yea! That's life. Unlike many people, I was one of the lucky ones to be given the support and liberty to choose my own degree. I stand by my decision to do law and I truly enjoyed the whole journey. :)
  • I regret not opening up and making more friends. I've discovered myself to be an introverted extrovert. I still live in my shell even though I can be sociable by choice. I am close with the people I'm close with but it takes a lot for me to get close to people. People here are super friendly and outgoing but I have a hard time opening up to strangers. I like a lot of people I've met but I was shy to initiate contact and carry a conversation so there are only few deep relationships formed. I know socializing and having conversations are things that I enjoy doing very much but on the other hand the introvert in me always tell me to stay in my room and face my computer all day. I am my worst enemy. Still, I've made many quality friendships that I'm sure will last for a long time coming.

  • I regret not being able to find a perfect part-time job during my stay. Especially with the Ringgit value depreciating so much nowadays, it would have been amazing to work and earn some British pounds to bring back home. Before coming I've already had so many things to get for my loved ones and myself, all of which couldn't happen because this didn't work out. :( Before coming here I already set my mind to becoming a bar-tender or a cafe barista. Lucky enough, or so I thought, I found a bar-tending job. I served customers, learnt how to make cocktails and how to operate the coffee machine. During the two months time, friends would have gatherings and Massoc would have events all of which I couldn't attend because of work. I didn't mind because I enjoyed it a lot and I worked my butt off. Some issues happened after that but it's all life's learning curve. I believe everything happened for a reason. Forgive and forget, karma will take over.

  • I appreciate the time Tim came to visit me. It was the winter holidays and his visit was perfect. The timing was also perfect because it was the time I just ended the aboementioned bar-tending job due to the non-payment. He made it so much easier for me during that time because he distracted me from the negativity that flowed from the event and the three weeks he was here with me was awesome. Our trip was one of the best moments in my life. Thank you again Tim's parents for letting him come visit me I'm really grateful. 

    And I thankful so so much for our smooth-flowing LDR. :) It was difficult at times and tears were shed but we found a routine and a flow that worked for maintaining the relationship. Both of us put in a lot of effort into this and during our time apart we still feel close as ever. :) Even during my hardest times here Tim was still my main support system and I'm so so thankful. I've known a few friends whose LDR ended badly. Sad hearing stories but at the same time it makes you cherish what you have even more. I'm glad we made it through. Can't wait to see him again!

  • I appreciate my relatives that is Leon's family so so much. My stay here has made so much more amazing thanks to them. Uncle Boon (Sorry Ah Boon jiu your face not in the picture) and Aunt Sharon helped me so so much, from my transition into the country to the Brussels incident I'm so so thankful to have them. The cousins and Mon are as usual amazing company. They also brought me along on their summer family trips to Blackpool and Newquay which I will blog about in the near future. Was only close to Leon but my year here brought me close to the whole family. ♥ I was showered with so much love and care during my year here it's a shame that I've no way to repay their kindness for now but I will be forever grateful.  

  • I appreciate little sis for being here for my graduation and the trip we went on together. :) Graduation is a once in a lifetime thing and I'm thankful sis was here for me on my big day. And I appreciate the trip sis and I went on because it's been long since we last travelled together! We explored new places together and had a amazing time despite the usual feud that arise between us and some drama we encounter along the way. Thank you again parents for that. :)

  • Of course I appreciate Daddy and Mummy for giving me the opportunity to study abroad. Never see eye to eye with their parenting (out of point lol) but still. This past year wouldn't have happened if it weren't for them working their hardest and giving the best they can for the children. Can't really do nothing for them yet in thank you for everything they've done for me but yea time will tell. Love them old folks to bits! Little bro, Vanilla, I'm coming home soon!

    Of the many not mentioned, I appreciate all the following of my host country:
  • the abundance of historical buildings and castles here, the abundance of architecture and culture. 
  • the unlimited supply and accessible strawberries, blueberries and cherries here.
  • the salmon and ham, and all that good stuff that are so common here that I'll miss when I get home. 
  • the £1 milks. 
  • the amazing array of cosmetic brands in the local drugstores and the accessibility of many drugstore and high end brands that are not easily accessible in Malaysia
  • the pub culture, accessible alcohol lol and yummy pub foods
  • the ever so charming English accent and having people call me darling and dear everywhere I go. 
  • the weather. New Look. Costa. Little things that I did not take for granted!
  • I regret not being able to a get a full-time job after graduation to secure my stay in the UK. Again with the Ringgit value plummeting in the global market plus with immigration rules so strict towards Visa-holding students nowadays, to be able to work and continue living in the country would have been amazing. It was easier back then and Daddy Mummy had the chance to build a life here but they chose not to for reasons I understand. If given the chance, would I want to build a life here? For many reasons, I too am not sure. But I am open to all opportunities that come my way from here on out.
For now, good bye UK! Thank you for being my home for an amazing period in my life. Too many words in this post LOL. Thank you readers for following all the happenings throughout this year and growing with me. Till then.

With all the love,

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Keryn's Travelogue: What to do in Brussels, Belgium

Back in July 2015, the little sister and I were on a four-leg week-long Europe trip and Brussels was our last stop. The capital of Belgium, and home of Belgian Waffles and mussels. It is also the headquarters of the European Union, in a country where there are three official languages: Dutch, French and German. Sounds exciting doesn't it!


Read on to see what are the interesting things to do when you visit Brussels. :)

1. Visit the Grand Place

A gorgeous court-yard styled square surrounded by 17th-century buildings on all 4 sides. A no brainer for all tourists of course! It was a rainy day hence the gloomy ambiance. Very considerate of the constructors to have buildings printed on the scaffolding so not to destroy the completeness that is Grand Place even during renovation.

Meanwhile this is the gorgeous evening view of Grand Place, taken before our departure from the beautiful city. :)

Been here for 2 nights but haven't seen Grand Place after dark so we made one last visit before leaving. And it was so beautiful. The ambiance was also really different from day time, people out and about with bars and restaurants crowded, so I do recommend coming back at different times of day for a different feel!

2. The Manneken-Pis

It's a statue of a kid taking a leak and for some reason it became a tourist attraction of Brussels! Interesting thing is on special occasions the statue will be dressed up according to the occasion ie. Santa Claus during Christmas season. How cute is that omg.

But yeah, don't worry about not being able to find the Manneken Pis as long as you follow the crowd lol. There is ALWAYS a big crowd in front of the fountain even during the evenings which was very amusing.

Many shops along the streets around the Manneken Pis sell related souvenirs and are crowded with people.

3. Have some Belgian waffles

The waffle on it's own is €1 and with each additional topping you get charged accordingly. The combo of strawberries and cream waffle we got was €2.50. The waffles here have chunky sugar bits in the them that add a crunchy texture to the otherwise soft through-out dough.We get Belgian waffles in Malaysia too but those are totally different imo.

Another round of waffles topped with fresh cream and Nutella.

4. Enjoy some mussels at Rue des Bouches

Explore Rue des Bouchers, the stretch of alleyway where many seafood restaurants serving mussels are located. You'll be spoiled for choice so research before going and hope you'll make a wise decision (unlike me lol).

We went to Chez Leon because it was the first name that popped up when I was researching for mussels. Had their Formule Leon with frites and beer. Food was good nothing too special but the service was bad so the experience was disappointing. Only afterwards found online that many have claimed there are better mussels around Brussels and pointed out specifically not to go to Chez Leon lol. 

5. Visit Mont Des Arts 

From Grand Place it was a 10-minute walk to Mont des Arts.

Really loving the contrast between the white on the ground and trees and the striking green of the leaves with the pop of red of the umbrella. Thank you Bev for the pictures! :) And look at the nicely trimmed bushes, hedges and trees. A heaven for an OCD like me.

6. Have a leisure stroll at Brussels Park

After another 10-minute walk we reached the Brussels Park Parc de Bruxelles (French)/ Warandepark (Dutch). It's always so nice to see such greeneries in the city! There were also many statues around the park that gave it a very classy artsy vibe. The huge water fountain was located at the very end of the park and right behind it is the Belgian Senate.

7. Explore Grand Sablon for Architecture and Desserts

Our Lady of Sablon Church Eglise Notre Dame du Sablon, a 15th-century Catholic church and right across the street lies the Petit Sablon Square, surrounded by 48 bronze statues representing different professions and a magnificent water fountain as it's centre piece.

8. Appreciate art at Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium

General admission is €8 but for 6-25 children and young people group, admission fee was only €2 per person per museum. The apparent reason for this is to encourage young people to take interest in art which is amazing in my opinion.

Depends on preference there are a few exhibitions to choose from, namely the Oldmasters Museum, the Modern Museum, the Fin De Siecle Museum and the Magritte Museum. There was also a combination ticket for a few museums for €3 but due to lack of time, Bev and I only went for one museum. (Admission prices can be found on their website here and description for each museum here)

Our choice was the Fin De Siecle Museum, a museum dedicated to the 1900s Brussels. :) I really enjoyed the paintings and on particular pieces that drew my attention I spent long time looking at its details. Always been into art and beautiful things but never expected myself to enjoy an art gallery this much. Thank you Bev for the candids!

This particular piece is called The Stream by Baron Leon Frederic. Paintings from left to right is Torrent, Stream and Still Water. See how the naked children in the pictures depicts the flow of the river accordingly? The first one was chaotic and everyone tumbling against one another. The middle pic everyone just walks after one another and the last painting all the children were laying down sleeping peacefully. Very interesting.

9. Visit Cinquantenaire Park

Behind us the Arc du Cinquantenaire

The distance between Grand Place (near our hotel) and Cinquantenaire Park is 3km and we made the journey on foot. It took us around 1 hour I think? A normal human being would've taken the metro but since our last day was a chilled one and the weather was so nice, we decided to walk.

The Royal Museum of the Army and of Military History.

Had some flattering selfies taken under nice natural lighting. :)

10. Visit the Europeon Union Quarter (if you are an EU law student and enthusiast lol)

Enroute to Cinquantenaire Park, we stopped by the European Quarter of Brussels where the European Commission and the European Parliament buildings are located.

And that was our 3D2N itinerary here in Brussels, then off to Brussels Central at the designated time to take our bus home. Happy faces in the outro pic before discovering our wrong bus ticket.... LOL.

Brussels is a city that on the surface, may not be attractive to some since there are not much of exciting things to do. However, if you are into the culture arts and architecture, and having a beautiful place to relax, unwind and leisurely spend your holiday- Brussels may be the perfect place for you.

Till the next adventure! :)

With all the love,

P/S Since I have to reupload all the pictures to my blog posts, I took the opportunity to do a re-edit of my Brussels post to make them more concise