That “Sierra Burgess” In Me

Have you watched the new teenflick movie on Netflix, called “Sierra Burgess is a loser?” If you haven’t, then watch it. I don’t want to write a review about the movie here, but I just want to share how that movie relates to my life. Well, my teenage life to be exact.

I used to be like Sierra Burgess. I believe some of you experienced the same thing. I grew up during those days  when nobody thought that body-shaming is not ok. Well, even until now in my home country, people still judge you based on your physical appearance. Beauty is always associated with white skin, long straight hair, and slim body. It’s the dream of every girl to grow up into a beautiful woman under those definitions.

I still remember I had a crush on my classmate when I was in the 6th grade. I shared my feeling  to my close friend and apparently she told him that I like him (recalling those moments now makes me think how dramatic my life back then. haha). You know what he said? “I don’t like Ella, cause she is fat and ugly” How dare he could say such cruel words like that? I tried not to care about that and just went on with my life. I never see that boy again after we graduated. However, deep down inside subconsciously I believed that I was a fat and ugly girl. I believed no guys would be attracted by me. That happened for quite some times, actually.

When I entered my teenage-hood, I had a crush with someone. This time was quite deep, but I was only adoring him from afar. For years. I thought he was too good for me. I bet you can guess that I was never got a chance to be close to him. Yes, you’re right!

That situation kept going on during my college days. I had crushes on some guys during that 4 years I spent in college, but I didn’t have guts to show my feeling because I just didn’t have enough self confidence.

It was only when I reached the age of 23, I started to live my life just like what I want. I started to gain my self-confidence because I realized soon I would get my master’s degree. I was going to exceed most of Indonesian boys of my age, in terms of education. The motto “smart is the new beauty” was so catchy for me at that time.

Finally, in 2015, I met an old friend and we were sort of in a platonic relationship for some times. In an occasion, he honestly told me that he had been adoring me since years ago. He never had any courage to approach me because, in his opinion, I had always been too occupied with myself. That was the moment when I realized that I don’t need to change myself to make guys attracted to me. We didn’t meant for each other at the end, though. But thanks to him. Now I know that I’m unique for who I am.

During my last relationship, I also got a chance to ask my ex-boyfriend why he attracted to me. He said : “because you have a clear vision about what you are going to do in the future.” Again, I failed this relationship. But I started gaining even more self-confident.

The past two guys in my life were not attracted to me because of my physical appearance, but they were attracted to my inner personality.

So, why should I be worried?

Sometimes when people “humiliated” you, even when the event happened in the past and you think it didn’t affect your life, it actually affects you subconsciously. Therefore, try not to say things that make other people feel down.

And..life is not merely about getting attention from guys. Life is about improving yourself to become a better person day by day.

I’m so glad that I’m now very confident for who I am. Physically, I’m not slim but I don’t think I’m too fat either. I don’t have white skin, because I’m an Indonesian with a Javanese cultural background and not a Caucasian. So I’m proud of my brown-ish skin. I have a short and rather wavy hair because I’m comfortable this way. I’m wearing glasses and still not considering to switch them with contact lenses. I’m grateful that I’m healthy.

Everyone has that “Sierra Burgess” inside. Everyone, at certain moments, thinks to switch his/her life with other person who is prettier, smarter, and richer.

In the end, being yourself is always the best option. 🙂

This cute soundtrack from the movie has been shuffling on my playlist these past few days, because I just like it so much.

Giethoorn : Venice of Holland (?)

edb19b91-37c5-4c5a-9dc0-e782f3f8a641

Look at those tourists on the  background! Imagine if thousands of visitors visit your neighborhood everyday.

I visited Giethoorn in April 2018 and I had been dreaming to visit this so-called beautiful village since forever. Talking about overrated tourist destinations, Giethoorn is one of those. With all of the people uploading Giethoorn pictures all over social media, nowadays this little village is always packed with (Asian) tourists, especially during weekends.

img_1319

A tranquil little village in Holland

I decided to visit Giethoorn after looking at the pictures posted by Trinity (my favorite Indonesian travel blogger) on her Instagram page. Oh yes, the power of social media. She also wrote an article about it in her blog, along with other non-mainstream destinations in Holland. However, I first “know” about Giethoorn years ago through an article written in an in-flight magazine. Back then, I believe that place had not been as “famous” as today. I could feel the tranquility only by looking at the pictures and I even planned to spend a weekend staying in one of the cottages.

I went there with my friend and since we are students, of course we opted for the cheapest (obviously not the fastest) way to go to Giethoorn. If you are not traveling on a budget, Giethoorn is just an hour away from Amsterdam. In my case, we went with a German regional train from Essen to Venlo via Dusseldorf. This journey costed us nothing. (Thanks to my Semesterticket!) From Venlo, we took a Holland regional train to Utrecht. We spent one night in Utrecht. The next day we took a train to Mepel. We stayed in a small but comfortable hotel right across Mepel train station. By the way, there is a nice Indonesian restaurant not far from the station. I forgot the name of the restaurant. Sorry!

The weather was not that nice during our entire trip, but we must be strict on the plan. On weekdays there are mini buses going from Mepel to Giethoorn, but not on the weekends. Therefore, we must take another train from Mepel to Steenwijk and from there take a bus to Giethoorn. You can buy the ticket from a counter in Steenwijk train station. Some Chinese people sell the ticket. Yes, Chinese people. I don’t know….perhaps since there are loads of Asian (read : Chinese) tourists coming to Giethoorn in these past few years.

We started our tour in Giethoorn by riding a boat. Next time you visit Giethoorn, don’t ride the boat. It is more exciting when you just walk along the tiny road by the canal. Walk until you reach the less-touristy area.

img_1318

The less touristy area of Giethoorn

 

For me, I cannot associate Giethoorn with Venice. Except the canals, those two places have totally different vibe. If I have to choose between Venice and Giethoorn, I will of course choose Giethoorn.

A typical “tourist” boat. Not worthy. It is much better just to walk through the road by the canal.

If, by any chances, you are planning to visit Giethoorn in the future, these are my suggestions for you :

  • Giethoorn is a beautiful little village of Holland. Take as many pictures as you want, while still respecting the neighborhood.
  • Giethoorn is NOT an open-air museum. Real people live in Giethoorn. Respect their privacy. Don’t peek on the windows.

Practical infos for visiting Giethoorn :

  • NS Regional train costs around 20 Euro for transport between 2 cities. There is a discounted price when you buy day ticket
  • The return bus ticket from Steenwijk to Giethoorn costs around 8 Euro. The last bus leaves Giethoorn at 18.00 on weekends.
  • The boat ride costs 7 Euro. You can either make an online reservation or buy the ticket on the spot. However, according to my experience, apparently it is more convenient to buy the ticket on the spot.
  • Although staying right in the middle of neighborhood seems like the best idea, I suggest you to stay in the nearby towns, such as Mepel or Steenwijk. It’s cheaper.

 

Mental Pemburu Beasiswa : Fenomena di Indonesia

Semenjak saya membagikan pengalaman tentang proses mendapatkan beasiswa di blog  ini tahun lalu, banyak rekan-rekan pejuang beasiswa yang menghubungi saya lewat surat elektronik maupun lewat sosial media. Terima kasih saya ucapkan untuk kalian. Saya bersyukur karena bisa menularkan semangat kepada rekan-rekan di luar sana. Saya juga bersyukur bahwa yang menghubungi saya adalah orang-orang yang memiliki semangat juang tinggi, tidak hanya sekedar bertopang dagu dan mengharapkan informasi datang kepada mereka.

Tulisan kali ini saya buat karena terinspirasi dari diskusi dunia maya tadi malam antara kami sesama penerima beasiswa DAAD dari Indonesia angkatan 2017. Salah satu dari kami memulai dengan pertanyaan “Kok sedikit sekali ya penerima beasiswa DAAD dari Indonesia beberapa tahun terakhir ini?”. Hingga saat ini,  hanya ada dua kemungkinan beasiswa yang dapat di-apply oleh warga negara Indonesia yang ingin studi di Jerman yaitu DAAD dan LPDP. Keduanya merupakan dana pemerintah yang bersumber dari pajak rakyat – DAAD dari pajak rakyat Jerman, LPDP dari pajak rakyat Indonesia. Jadi, kami penerima beasiswa ini mengemban amanat dari rakyat sehingga harus belajar dengan baik. Bedanya, penerima beasiswa LPDP memiliki kewajiban untuk kembali mengabdi untuk Indonesia setelah menyelesaikan studi. Kami, penerima beasiswa DAAD, walau disarankan untuk kembali membangun tanah air, tidak pernah menandatangani perjanjian hitam di atas putih untuk kembali.

Kembali kepada pertanyaan kenapa sedikit sekali penerima beasiswa DAAD dari Indonesia? Alasan utama adalah : persyaratannya rumit. Alasan kedua : beasiswa LPDP dianggap lebih prestigius bagi pemburu beasiswa di Indonesia. Kedua alasan tersebut benar adanya. Persyaratan beasiswa DAAD memang “rumit” dan besar kemungkinan kita akan “menyerah” sebelum “berperang”. Saya berbicara dalam konteks beasiswa DAAD untuk S3 di Jerman. Sebelum memutuskan mendaftar, kita sudah harus memperoleh konfirmasi dari Profesor di Jerman bahwa beliau bersedia membimbing penelitian kita. Selanjutnya, kita juga sudah harus mempunyai proposal penelitian. Dengan kata lain, sudah harus ada bayangan nanti di Jerman akan melakukan penelitian tentang apa. Kedua persyaratan tersebut yang dianggap “berat” dan menyebabkan sedikitnya pelamar beasiswa DAAD dari Indonesia. Persyaratan lain menurut saya standar, seperti sertifikat penguasaan bahasa Inggris dan (jika ada) bahasa Jerman.

Fenomena kedua adalah mengenai biaya untuk tes kemampuan bahasa Inggris dan Jerman. Saya sudah sering membaca komentar di forum-forum beasiswa yang mengeluhkan mengapa lembaga pemberi beasiswa tidak membiayai tes bahasa tersebut? Sejujurnya, saya selalu geleng-geleng kepala membaca komentar-komentar semacam itu.

Rekan-rekan, mendapatkan beasiswa itu perlu modal. Pada masa saya dulu, saya harus membayar sekitar 2 juta Rupiah untuk satu kali tes IELTS. Iya memang mahal. Apalagi kalau kalian harus tes berulang kali untuk mencapai nilai standar yang diminta oleh lembaga pemberi beasiswa. Tidak sedikit pejuang beasiswa yang menyerah. Padahal, itu baru tahap awal proses menggapai mimpi kalian. Ketika sudah mendapatkan beasiswa, jangan dikira tidak ada tantangan yang dihadapi. Saya menyadari bahwa uang 2 juta Rupiah itu sangat besar bagi kalian yang belum memiliki penghasilan tetap dan hiduonya masih bergantung pada orang tua. Well, tapi kalian bisa menabung kan?

Semua beasiswa yang ditawarkan untuk warga negara Indonesia memiliki persyaratan standar, yaitu menyertakan sertifikat kemampuan bahasa. Kalau memang kalian niat untuk memperoleh beasiswa, seharusnya persiapan sudah dilakukan sejak beberapa tahun sebelumnya. Kalau kalian niat, kalian seharusnya belajar giat untuk mempersiapkan tes kemampuan bahasa sehingga uang 2 juta Rupiah itu tidak sia-sia karena kalian akan berhasil mencapai skor maksimal hanya dengan satu kali tes.

Sekali lagi, syarat utama mendapatkan beasiswa adalah NIAT. Dan saya rasa, kita harus membuang jauh karakteristik “meminta belas kasihan” dari lembaga pemberi beasiswa. Beasiswa untuk studi di luar negeri itu terbuka untuk siapa saja, baik anak orang kaya maupun anak orang miskin. Karena dalam formulir aplikasi beasiswa (DAAD), tidak ada pertanyaan mengenai penghasilan orang tua dan penghasilan kita (bagi yang sudah bekerja). Jadi, kalian akan berkompetisi secara fair. Lembaga pemberi beasiswa akan dengan senang memberi pembiayaan bagi orang-orang yang potensial menjadi scholars (insan berilmu) di masa yang akan datang. Hal tersebut akan terlihat dari cara kita menjawab pertanyaan-pertanyaan dari panelis pada saat sesi wawancara.

Mengutip kata seorang rekan saya, beasiswa itu ibaratnya peluang. Tinggal bagaimana kita memanfaatkan peluang yang ada. Ingat, di saat kita mengeluhkan persyaratan beasiswa yang berat, di luar sana ada rekan-rekan kita yang berusaha keras mengerahkan segala yang mereka punya untuk menggapai peluang itu.

Bukan IPK S1 dan IPK S2 cum laude yang akan membawa kalian memperoleh beasiswa apapun. Tapi niat yang kuat.

Salam semangat, rekan-rekan semua!

Essen, 27 Juli 2018

sejenak merenung

learning to not envy someone else’s blessings is what grace looks like

-Rupi Kaur

Pernah gak kamu merasa iri? Perasaan iri itu sangat manusiawi. Tapi menjadi tidak manusiawi, ketika rasa iri itu berkembang jadi apa yang kita sebut nyinyir.

Saya beberapa kali menjadi korban kenyinyiran orang-orang yang tak bertanggung jawab. Sedihnya hampir semua yang berbuat demikian adalah teman-teman sebangsa setanah air. Semenjak saya tinggal di Jerman, walau sempat mengalami culture shock, tapi saya akui hidup saya lebih tenang. Lebih tenang dari hantaman orang-orang yang iri dengan kehidupan saya. Haha. Orang Jerman tidak suka mencampuri kehidupan orang lain. Kalau orang Indonesia kan terkenal ramah dan memiliki budaya saling membantu, ya. Walau seringkali berlebihan.

Sejak saya kecil, orang tua saya sering mengajak saya dan adik-adik berlibur. Seringnya memang ke luar negeri. Bukan karena orang tua saya berlimpah harta, tapi saya tahu mereka menabung demi bisa mengajak kami berlibur ke luar negeri. Tujuannya supaya wawasan kami terbuka dan kami tidak menjadi manusia yang berpemikiran sempit. Suatu hal yang memang benar kini saya rasakan. Tapi apa komentar orang-orang di luar sana kala itu? “Ella mah anaknya orang kaya. Liburan harus ke luar negeri. Gak level liburan di Indonesia”

Kedua, ketika saya kuliah di Inggris dengan beasiswa yang hanya parsial. Lagi-lagi mereka bilang kalau saya anak orang kaya. Jadi, gampang saja kalau mau kuliah di luar negeri. Yang mereka tidak tahu adalah bagaimana perjuangan saya untuk bisa lulus dengan nilai yang baik.

Ketiga, ketika saya akhirnya mendapat pekerjaan yang cukup baik. Beberapa orang bilang bahwa saya bisa diterima di tempat itu karena ada koneksi dengan orang dalam. Yang sebenarnya terjadi adalah saya melewati semua tahapan sebelum saya diterima di tempat tersebut, dan sama sekali tidak ada orang dalam.

Iri dengan keberhasilan orang lain, tanpa berusaha memperbaiki kehidupanmu, tidak akan membuat kamu menjadi lebih baik. Di saat yang sama, orang yang menjadi objek “kebencianmu” itu sudah jauh melesat melewatimu.

Kadangkala kamu hanya mengenal sebagian dari pribadi seseorang, tetapi kamu sudah merasa berhak untuk menghakimi kehidupannya. Kamu tidak pernah tahu sekeras apa dia berusaha untuk bisa sampai pada kondisinya yang seperti sekarang.

Dan untuk kalian yang sering dijadikan objek “kebencian” (alias suka dinyinyirin), berbanggalah. Hidup kalian ternyata begitu menariknya bagi orang-orang itu.

Intinya, kalau kamu ingin seperti seseorang, kamu harus berusaha supaya bisa menjadi seperti orang itu. Bukan hanya berpangku tangan dan mengarang asumsimu sendiri.

Pernah gak saya iri? Sering. Tapi, rasa “iri” yang kadang timbul itu selalu saya jadikan sumber motivasi untuk menjadi pribadi yang jauh lebih baik daripada sebelumnya.

 

My PhD Journey : The First Six Months

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_46e9

A beautiful corner in Essen, the city where I am currently living

April 2018 marked the first 6 months of me being a PhD student and researcher. Apart of conducting my research project, I am also still required to attend some classes, including sitting in exams. So, yes, I have a busy life here.

Before I came to Germany last year, I thought I could travel to many places in Europe during my stay here. I thought I could manage my research schedule  so that I still have time to explore this continent. In reality, I barely have time to do my activities outside the campus and the lab during the weekdays. I can only make short trips during the weekends or long weekends or when I am not too tired. Sometimes I envy my friend-slash-my travel buddy. She is my fellow PhD candidate, but she works in a different field. She seems  to have very flexible schedule, that makes her easily travel during the weekdays. But, at the end, I know this is my own choice.

Talking about the classes, I am now literally a master student again. I never regret all of my decisions that I have made throughout my life. But I cannot deny that, sometimes I am thinking what if I did not complete my Master in UK and did mine in other country (or even in Indonesia). Just for your information, it took me only one year to get my Masters degree because it is what they do in the UK. At that time, I had never really thought that I would continue my study in Germany and I did not know that actually Germany has a totally different regulation in terms of education. Long story short, when I sent my transcript to my German Professor earlier in 2017, she told me that I was lacking of credits from my previous degress. Thus, I was accepted as a PhD student in condition that I should attend some courses in Master level to fulfill my credits.  So now here I am, a PhD student who must also pass those master courses. Tired? Of course. But, anyway I did not regret my decision to study in UK back then in 2011. That was one of the best moments in my early adult life.

On the other hand, my research works have been going smooth so far. Thank God. I am so grateful that I am surrounded by those brilliant yet humble people. I think I am lucky enough to have such a very cool research supervisor, who let me conduct my experiments independently. One more thing that make me even more grateful is a colleague from Endocrinology lab. He is a post-doctoral fellow in that lab, he is so smart, and he is always more than willing to answer all of my questions, coming to my tiny cubicle discussing about my research results. He is like my angel, to be honest. 🙂

As I have told you, since my schedule is currently quite tight, I do not have much time to socialize after lab hours. But yes I do have a life outside the lab. Almost every weekend I have some activities with some friends from Indonesian Catholic Community. They are my support system here. Sometimes I feel that my life is just too stressful, and luckily they are always there to listen to my problems. I am trying to do the same to them.

I also meet good people in my apartment with whom I can share laughters during our cooking time almost every night.

I still do not know what my life will be after this PhD journey. I will be most likely return back to Indonesia. But, I will never know what the future hold. At this moment I am just enjoying my life here.

I survive the first six months. I still need to conquer many other months here.

Life is good! God is great! 🙂

 

Pack Your Bag and Go!

Loving life is easy when you are abroad. Where no one knows you and you hold your life in your hands all alone. You are more master of yourself than at any other time.

-Hannah Arendt

I have recently talked to a friend on when exactly the best time for people to leave their homeland and go abroad. I told her, the age of 22 years old should be the best time for a person to go and live abroad. In my home country, Indonesia, most of the people graduate from college at 22 years old. But then, I felt so selfish because probably that age can only be applied to me.

My best friend in junior high school packed her bag and go to UK at the age of 15 years old, right after her junior high school graduation. She did not know anyone in UK back then. Now, 15 years later, she survives. She has a good job in London. I met her last time in 2016 and she seems really happy with her life. My cousin left Indonesia and moved to Germany at the age of 18 years old. She struggled a lot during her first years in Germany, but yet she also survives. Once she told me that surprisingly she is happier here.

I was 23 years old and had a perfectly happy life with my family and friends in Indonesia, when I decided to go to UK to pursue my Master’s degree. That was the first time I lived far away from my family. It was indeed hard at the beginning.

323283_10150313600539699_1847276578_o

My first day in Newcastle, UK back then in 2011. In front of my faculty.

Living abroad is always about starting another new phase of your life.

Here are  five traits of people who are ready to start a new life phase in a foreign country :

  • Independent

Any other places where your mom is not there, is not home. That was my thought long years ago. Being in a new place, where you cannot find familiar faces, you do not have any other choices except to be an independent person. It takes time to really become an independent person. Living abroad is one of the trainings to become it. You must only depend on yourself because, believe me, your friends there are also struggling to be independent.

  • Good financial management

No matter where the sources of your money come from, you must manage it carefully and wisely. Otherwise, you will end up broke in the middle of the month. Sometimes it is hard for me to answer when people ask how much money students spent averagely in one month. It really depends on your lifestyle. There are so many ways to spend your money on unimportant stuffs here. You can go to the bar every day, drinking glasses of beer. But, of course, that is not the wise option.

I made a rule for myself to only spend more than 20 Euros on weekends. During weekdays, I eat in Mensa (students’ canteen) which cost maximum 3 Euros for a proper lunch or cook at home. Usually I still have some money left in my account at the end of the month. Therefore, I can plan a trip for the following month. When I travel to a new place, I spend most of my money on foods. I have a special budget when traveling and so I never think twice on spending money when I travel as long as it is still within my travel budget.

  • Good time-management

This is the most important trait. I meet some people who are younger than me here. In my opinion, they have similar problems. They cannot manage their time properly.  First of all, you must always remember your initial purpose. Nothing should not distract you on doing your purpose. Remember, you are investing your time. You must end up being something after spending certain years abroad.

It is not easy to have a good time management. You cannot start it once you arrive in a foreign country. This is a trait that you should have grown inside yourself.

  • Open minded

Ask yourself. Can you accept a culture that is totally different compared to your own culture? Most European countries are liberal countries. All of the people, no matter his/her sexual preferences, have equal opportunities here. People have freedom to express their feeling publicly. You can see people kissing in public. And that is normal. A man and a woman can live together without any marriage status.

Can you accept that?

I am sure you will survive living abroad when you are open minded yet have a strong life principle. If you still cannot accept other people who have different opinions, then it is better for you just to stay in your homeland.

  • Hard working

Living abroad is actually not as interesting as those pictures that you see on my social media. Every single day is about an endless hardworking. There is no chance for lazy people to survive.

In the end, it is not about the age. It is about having those traits that I mentioned above inside of you. You can be 15, 18, 25 years old. When you think you are ready, just pack your bag and go!

524105_10151018973839699_461284882_n

There is always a first time for everything. My first time presenting my research result, in front of non-Indonesian audiences.

 Neuschwanstein Castle, Bavaria Germany

fullsizeoutput_4f1f

I went to Neuschwanstein Castle on early March 2018 together with a friend of mine. My decision to visit that place was pure based on my curiosity. Neuschwanstein Castle has been on the top list of my “places to visit before I die” since forever. And you know what? My first (and perhaps) last visit to the castle was far below my expectation.

Here, I would like to share my experience visiting Neuschwanstein Castle and also a little bit history of the place.

So, as you probably know, I don’t have much time to travel. As a PhD student, I don’t have any exact holidays, except weekends. Therefore I planned my Neuschwanstein trip to be as efficient as possible. If you are on the same situation, then hopefully the tips I share here will be applied to you as well.

I started my journey on Friday afternoon. I took an ICE train (around 100 Euro for a return journey) from Essen to Munich with one transit in Heidelberg. The total journey itself took 5.5 hours. On the day I traveled, the situation was a bit chaotic because there were changes in some train schedules which also gave impact on my train journey. I initially booked a train to Munich with a 30 minutes transit in Stuttgart, but then few days prior the journey I received an email from Deutsche Bahn (German Railway Company) that my booked train would not operate and instead I must take another train which have a 4 minute transit in Heidelberg. What a thrilling journey it was. Can you imagine, I had only 4 minute to transfer myself into another train. And I almost missed the connecting train. HA!

I met my friend in Munich Central Station. We spent the first night in a hotel located just 200 meters from Munich Central Station. On the next day, Saturday morning, we took a train from Munich to Fussen. We bought a Bayern ticket which cost 23 Euro for one person and 31 Euro for two people. The more people you are traveling with, the cheaper it is. So, that is a good deal. The journey from Munich to Fussen took 2 hours. Fussen is a very beautiful little town just on the foot of Hohenschwangau, where Neuschswanstein Castle located. If you have abundant of time, you can consider to stay in Fussen. It is now a touristic town, so there are many good hotels around.

From Fussen, we took a bus which brought us directly to Hohenschwangau where we got our ticket to the castle. Bear in mind, expect a crazy long queue if you decide to buy the entrance ticket on the spot. And it does not guarantee you to get the ticket. Like on the day of my visit, the ticket to Neuschwanstein Castle was sold out. The most logical option is to book the ticket few days before your visit and collect the ticket on the day of your visit. By the way the ticket price is 13 Euro for one adult. It’s quite expensive, I know. However, you only need to buy ticket if you want to go inside the castle. If you just want to take some selfies with the castle as your background, you definitely do not need to buy a ticket. In my case, since I wanted to have a full experience visiting Neuschwasntein Castle, of course I bought the ticket (and ended up being disappointed).

Normally there are shuttle buses that will take you from Hohenschwangau up to the castle. It is an uphill route to reach the castle. When I was there, it was raining and no shuttle buses operated. Maybe we were just so unlucky that day. So, we walked 30 minutes to the castle. Crazy!! If you are too lazy to walk (especially when you are traveling with kids or elderly people), there are some horse carriages that you can rent. I don’t know how much it cost. The downside is, unlike in Indonesia, when people put sort of containers for the feces, here they do not do it. So, always be careful with horses’ poo along the journey. It IS disgusting.

Finally, let’s talk about the castle. Well, let me tell you honestly. You can see basically nothing inside the castle. So, when people say Neuschwanstein Castle is only beautiful from the outside, it is totally true. However, it is worth to hear the history behind Neuschwanstein Castle. This castle was built by King Ludwig II, who once was the King of Bavaria. He intended to build this castle to be his holiday residence. Sadly, the building had never been completed until he died. He was diagnosed to be mentally ill and therefore was secluded in a place near Munich. The cause of his death was mysterious, but the official stated that King Ludwig II died of suicide. Looking at the picture of King Ludwig II, I think he was just a normal person and not mentally ill. He looks feminine. Perhaps he had uncommon sexual preference and in that time those kind of things were taboo, so the government decided to kill him. Well, so many speculation of the life and death of King Ludwig II. One of the stunning facts about King Ludwig II is that he adored Richard Wagner so much until he designed a ballroom just for himself to enjoy the opera. Sadly he just had a chance to live in the castle for 120 days and he could not enjoy what he had created. The castle since then remains empty and opened for public just 3 weeks after his death.

By the way, people (including myself, in the beginning) find it hard to spell Neuschwanstein. But actually it is easy if you understand German. Neuschwanstein means new swan on the rock. King Ludwig II really loved swans, and all of the door handles in the castle have swan carved on them.