How’s Life?

I’ve been disappearing from this blog for quite a while. To be honest my life has been busy since earlier this year, yet I haven’t made significant progress on my research project.

So, yes my brain eventually burned out. I realized that my mind needs a little bit of rest. At the moment, I’m taking a one month off of my research work. I’m in Indonesia. I have more free time to recharge my energy and to prepare on my next journey after I’m done with my PhD.

After some considerations, I decided that I’ll return to Indonesia once I’m done with my studies. At a certain point in my life, I have to settle down. The moment after I earn my PhD degree would be the best one, I think.  Why did I decide to return? First, I want to be close to my parents, while I can still fulfilling my passion to work in academics. Second, I’ve had enough experience living abroad and I’m afraid that now it becomes my comfort zone. I need more challenge in my life. Going back home, working in and be a part of (not well-organized) Indonesian academic field, will be a good challenge for me.  I’m fully aware that my future income will be much lower than my current stipend. This income thing used to be my major dilemma for making this decision.

I still have two more years to enjoy all these comforts of living in Germany before going home and applying my skills here. Hopefully everything’s going well — both in my academic (professional) and personal life. Can’t wait to start a new chapter of my adult life.

For those of you who are wondering, I’m fine!

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Biomedicine : An Intro

People often ask me about this field I have been working on since almost 8 years ago. I am proudly call myself as a biomedical scientist. I had also a 3-year experience of being a biomedicine lecturer.

What is biomedicine? What is the difference between biomedicine and medical study? What are the career prospects of a biomedicine graduate? Those are the questions that people often ask me.

Biomedicine is a branch of medical science that mostly deal with biological, physiological, and chemical principles in human bodies. All of the knowledge that we obtain from studying biomedicine should eventually be able to be applied to patients. Generally, biomedicine is the basic knowledge of studying medicine. However, it is not compulsory for you to become a medical doctor if you are studying biomedicine BUT if you want to become a medical doctor, you must study biomedicine.

In Indonesia, I must admit that there are not (yet) many job opportunities for biomedicine graduates at the moment. The opportunities are limited to research and academic fields. There are a few opportunities to work in the research & development or quality control section of pharmaceutical companies. However, Biomedicine is a totally promising field in European countries. So, there are actually high demands of Biomedicine graduates globally.

I started to gain an interest in this field at the end of my Bachelor degree study. It was around 2010. For your information, I chose Microbiology as my field of study for my Bachelor degree just because I thought it was cool, without knowing what I would be after I graduate. Well I was thinking to become a scientist, but back then I did not know that science is quite a big field.

I literally fell in love with biomedicine when I took Immunology course.  I was totally amazed when I knew  how our bodies possess this natural ability to tackle foreign substances. Then I also learned about the autoimmune mechanism, which is one of the immune system disorders that might happen in human bodies. Most of autoimmune diseases are still incurable at the moment. At that point, I had a determination to pursue this field.

I love this field. That’s the reason I am now pursuing a doctoral degree in Biomedicine. Biomedical scientists (mostly) are not medical doctors. We are the people behind the scene. We can recommend medical doctors to adjust treatments for patients, according to our discoveries, of course after passing several steps of clinical trials.

Hopefully this short article can answer a little bit of your curiosities about the field of Biomedicine.

A Birthday Note

I know, this is a way too long overdue to write a birthday note to myself. I will write this anyway as a yearly tradition and as a self reflection.

I turned 31 on February 25th. My colleagues asked whether I had a party to celebrate my birthday. I said “no”. They replied “oh how sad!”

As I grow up, I don’t fancy birthday parties anymore. Birthdays, for me, is one of the times to reflect what I have done in the previous year and planning what I will do in the next year.

In the previous year, I have managed to survive my first year as a PhD student. When I started my PhD in the end of 2017, I thought I could not juggle between attending classes and performing my experiments. But I made it! Even my abstract was accepted in a mini-conference and I could present my preliminary results there. It was not a real big international conference, but still I was really delightful.

Surprisingly, I also obtained good grades on the courses that I attended. Me and Physics have been arch enemies ever since I started to learn it in junior high school years. Last semester, I must take a course called “Molecular and Cellular Biophysics”. I was just expecting to pass the exam with a “just ok” score, actually.

Talking about traveling, I visited some cities in Germany with my best traveling buddy, Mbak Wulan. 🙂 This year I expect less traveling, though. My research apparently need more of my attention.

On the other note, I’m growing into an even more independent person. I have no choice. This has been, so far, the longest period for me living abroad. Last year, my bestfriend here moved to Frankfurt following her husband who received an offer from a company there. She was living in Duesseldorf before. Previously, whenever both of us need to talk, we just texted each other and arranged sudden meet-ups. Now we cannot do such activities anymore, sadly. But I learn to be comfortable in my own company.

Yes I’m 31 young now. I have supportive parents (who–most of the times–still over-worried about me being faraway from home). I keep my circle of friend small. And I have a super-understanding boyfriend.

Cheers to even more amazing adventures to come!

2019 Resolution : Social Media Detox

Hello everyone. We almost reach the third week of January 2019, but please allow me to say happy new year to all of you, dear readers!

It’s been years I stop making resolutions at the beginning of every new year, because I know at the end I will not fulfill them. However, I set goals for my academic life. That’s my top priority at the moment.

As the title implies, it’s true I’m trying to do a social media “detox”. It’s not really a 2019 resolution, but it’s my continous life project. I have started it since, I think, two years ago.  I feel much better about myself now and I hope it will get better as time goes by.

I must admit that internet and social media are very useful in our lives, as long as we know how to use it well. In this modern era, they support every aspect of our lives.

It was all started with my old Twitter account. I made that account in 2009 when I was a college student in my early twenties. I used to rambling around and exposing my personal matters there. You know that age stage when you tried to find your life direction. Years later I realised that I shared way too much in Twitter. I decided to delete my account in 2015. At that moment, I also in the middle of my PhD scholarship selection process. A friend of mine reminded me that there is a possiblity for the selection committee to track our activities in the cyber world. After I left Twitter, I found it hard for me to get news update. Whenever I wanted to update myself on the current news, I should go to the specific news portal website. Such a waste of time. Later on, I signed up again for a Twitter account and I use it mostly only for updating myself on current issues. I find it useful, especially since I am currently living outside Indonesia.

The second one is Facebook. Probably I am among those people who started using Facebook since its early year. I remember Facebook used to be that cool. In these past few years, people use this social media to spread hate campaign and to provocate others in bad ways. Most of the (normal) people in my generation has left Facebook nowadays. I still choose to actively use my account, though. This is the only social media that connects me with my family back home, especially the elderly people. Come on, they don”t know (yet?) about Instagram. 😀

Last but not least, the third one, is Instagram. With its Instagram stories feature, people tend to expose their private lives to public. When they have problems with other people, instead of trying to solve the problems, they share them on Instagram stories. Other people (who are actually outsiders) start to make speculations. And the drama begins. Some people also like to share their holiday pictures on this social media. There is nothing wrong with this, but nowadays people prefer to visit those so-called “Instagrammable” destinations just for the sake of their social media feeds. I’m mostly “hanging around” in Instagram, because in my opinion it is still the most fun social media platform to date.

When you think that you expose your private life way too much on social media, perhaps you can ask this question to yourself : “I’m not a public figure, then what’s the point of me sharing about my life to public?”

In conclusion, my 2019 resolution is to do a social media “detox” which include :

  • Sharing only positive vibes and useful information on my social media platforms
  • Trying to be totally “present” outside social media, spending times with those people who love me and I love
  • When I’m traveling, I will enjoy it to the fullest without much thinking whether those places are “Instagrammable”
  • Reading more non-academic books or books outside my field of expertise (this is quite difficult, though. considering my work loads, but I’ll try my best)

Happy new year once again!

 

Essen, January 12th 2019

Tentang Bersyukur

Salah satu pelajaran hidup terpenting yang diajarkan oleh orang tua saya adalah bahwa bersyukur itu penting. Kita boleh “melihat ke atas” supaya termotivasi untuk maju. Namun, ada kalanya kita harus “melihat ke bawah” supaya sadar bahwa banyak orang yang bernasib tidak sebaik kita. Selalu melihat ke atas akan membuat kita lelah karena ambisi. Melihat ke bawah akan membuat kita bersyukur akan apa yang kita miliki.

Ketika masih tinggal di Indonesia, hidup saya sangat nyaman. Tetapi entah mengapa saya selalu merasa ada yang kurang. Namun, semenjak tinggal di sini saya selalu bersyukur untuk segala hal-hal kecil yang terjadi di hidup saya. Saya bersyukur bisa baik-baik saja bertahan selama 1.5 tahun tinggal di Jerman, terlepas dari keterbatasan bahasa, perbenturan kultur, serta ruwetnya birokrasi di sini.

Bicara tentang studi dan penelitian saya di sini, tidak selamanya tanpa masalah. Kalau teman-teman melihat beberapa foto dan konten yang saya bagi di media sosial, mungkin kalian akan berpendapat bahwa hidup saya enak sekali di sini. Pada kenyataannya, ada kalanya saya merasa kecewa karena hasil eksperimen tidak sesuai ekspektasi. Namun, kemudian saya bersyukur bahwa saya memiliki pembimbing yang selalu antusias, apapun hasil yang saya peroleh. Mereka yang selalu mengajak saya berdiskusi dan menganalisis hasil eksperimen saya dari berbagi sudut pandang. Kadangkala, mendengarkan cerita orang lain pun dapat membuat saya lebih mensyukuri keadaan saya.

Hal ini yang membuat saya ingin menulis sesuatu tentang betapa pentingnya bersyukur karena tanpa kita sadari, ketika satu pintu kesempatan tertutup untuk kita, Tuhan ternyata membawa kita masuk melalui pintu lain untuk menemukan kesempatan lain yang ternyata lebih baik untuk kita. Bahkan dalam kasus saya, Tuhan menyelamatkan saya dari sesuatu yang “buruk”

Mungkin saya belum pernah membagi cerita ini di blog. Bertahun-tahun lalu, mungkin sekitar tahun 2013 atau 2014 ketika saya sedang gencar-gencarnya mengirimkan aplikasi untuk S3, saya pernah menghubungi seorang profesor di Essen. Pada saat itu, beliau tidak memiliki posisi untuk mahasiswa S3 baru dan beliau berkata akan menghubungi saya apabila ada posisi yang tersedia. Namun, saya tidak pernah mendengar lagi kabar dari beliau. Hingga dua tahun kemudian, saya mendapat tawaran untuk S3 di Essen, di grup penelitian yang berbeda. Haha..mungkin memang saya berjodoh dengan kota ini sebenarnya. Kemarin saya berkenalan dengan seseorang yang baru memulai penelitian S3-nya di bawah bimbingan profesor yang dulu pernah saya hubungi itu. Dia bercerita bahwa dia harus bekerja tanpa henti di lab setiap hari, bahkan dI akhir pekan. Ternyata profesor itu sangat ambisius. Saya benar-benar tidak bisa berkata-kata ketika dia menceritakan hal itu.

Saya bisa saja berada di posisi teman saya itu. Saya bersyukur karena dulu profesor itu tidak menghubungi saya lagi. Sekarang saya memiliki pembimbing yang sangat baik, memastikan bahwa saya tidak berada di lab ketika weekend atau hari libur (kecuali ketika situasinya tidak memungkinkan, itu pun saya harus secepatnya menyelesaikan eksperimen saya). Profesor saya bahkan pernah berkata bahwa saya tidak memiliki jam kerja, karena saya student bukan karyawan. Saya bisa datang dan pergi jam berapapun. Yang terpenting bukan berapa lama saya stay di lab, tapi berapa banyak progress yang saya buat. Sebenarnya tidak ada alasan untuk saya tidak bersyukur.

Di luar lingkup akademik, saya pun memiliki kehidupan personal. Kadang saya berpikir, kenapa ya saya masih single di kala teman-teman seusia saya, terutama sesama orang Indonesia, bahkan sudah membangun keluarga? Sempat terpikir mungkin ada yang aneh dengan kepribadian saya hingga membuat saya sulit untuk menemukan seseorang yang cocok. Memang saya sempat agak menutup diri selama beberapa bulan, karena tidak mau kecewa lagi. Saya sempat bertekad tidak mau dekat dengan pria Jerman, karena asumsi-asumsi yang saya buat sendiri. Ketika saya memutuskan untuk mulai membuka diri, ketemunya malah sama orang Jerman. Beberapa waktu berinteraksi, menurut dia saya memilki kepribadian yang cukup menarik. Oke, berarti tidak ada masalah dengan saya. Ini hanya perkara belum bertemu dengan yang pas saja. 🙂

Oh iya dengan orang Jerman itu, juga saya putuskan untuk dilanjutkan dengan pertemanan saja. Peristiwa ini juga yang membuat saya bersyukur, karena terhindar dari patah hati yang mungkin akan terjadi apabila saya memutuskan untuk, misalkan, berpacaran sama dia. Tentu ada kalanya saya berpikir tentang segala hal yang bisa terjadi apabila saya tidak memutuskan untuk berteman saja dengan dia. Ya..andaikan kami dipertemukan beberapa tahun lalu, bukan sekarang, mungkin saya bisa ikut andil untuk mengubah masa lalu dia. Mungkin inilah definisi nyata dari “meeting the right person at the wrong time“.  Bisa jadi semuanya akan baik-baik saja. Mungkin saya yang overthinking. Tapi saya rasa saya juga berhak melindungi diri sendiri. Ketika logika dan perasaan dibenturkan, memang berat, Namun, saya harus ingat tujuan awal saya ke sini adalah untuk belajar. Kalau bonus dapat jodoh, ya bagus tapi itu bukan hal yang harus diprioritaskan setidaknya hingga 3 tahun ke depan. Saya bersyukur, saya belum terjerumus lebih dalam di relationship ini. Bersyukur juga karena sekarang dapat satu lagi teman orang Jerman, sehingga bisa sekalian melancarkan bahasa Jerman saya. Haha.

Intinya, kita harus belajar bersyukur untuk hal-hal kecil. Hidup ini akan selalu penuh masalah. Jadikan masalah itu sebagai tantangan, bukan penghalang. Dengan selalu bersyukur, kita akan merasa bahwa hidup ini akan selalu baik-baik saja. Kalau kalian percaya bahwa Tuhan itu ada, untuk banyak hal Dia akan bekerja dan Dia yang paling tahu seberapa kuat dirimu. Jadi tenang saja. 🙂

Selamat berakhir pekan, teman-teman!

Salam dari Essen yang mendung

10 November 2018

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.

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.

 

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.

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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!

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

Being A Woman

Now I can say that I am proud to be a woman. Years ago when I was a teenager, I hated being a girl. Being a girl means we must experience that mood swing followed by the painful feeling every month when we are having our periods. Imagine if I were a boy. I would not have to feel all of that pains. As I grew up, I started to realize that born to be woman makes me special.

Perhaps I am lucky because I am raised by a parents who respect gender equality. I have two younger brothers, which makes my home feels so manly. The fact that never turn me into a spoiled girl. I have been taught to be a tough person since I was a kid. Just because I am a girl, I am not allowed to be weak. That is one of so many life lessons from my parents that I carry along throughout my life.

I grew up witnessing my mom works as hard as my dad. Therefore, I can never agree with our society’s perspective that getting money is men’s job and women should just stay at home. Do you know how much money you need to survive in a big city? A LOT. Imagine if only the husband who contribute on a family’s cash-flow. Unless your wealth worth seven generations, just admit, you cannot survive. Right? Okay I understand some women in Indonesia choose to be a stay-at-home mom. They must have their own reasons.

Being a woman, I often being lectured by random people (who think they have rights to tell me what’s wrong and what’s right), that I am too ambitious. I tried to find a job which earned me good income. I am too highly-educated. I don’t care about my future (read : I never try to build a serious relationship with a man). You know what? I have reached this point where I don’t care anymore to whatever they say.

Let me give short explanations below

I am too ambitious. Is it wrong if I always have certain targets in my life? Guys, life will be bored when we rely only to our destinies. If I may correct their opinions, I am not ambitious but I plan my life. For example, I have already had this plan to pursue a PhD since the beginning of my Bachelor study.

I tried to find a job which earned me good income. People say that once we get married, it is a man’s responsibility to bring money for the family. A woman is not necessary to work that hard. I am just being realistic. I am now still single and I don’t know yet when I will get married. That’s why I was trying to find a job who can fund my life. Well now I am back being a student again though.

I am too highly-educated. Well, yes. In Indonesia, when you have a title beyond a master degree behind your name, the society will judge : “It will be very hard for you to find a man who fits and compatible with you”. Most of Indonesian men are intimidated by highly-educated women. Come on, guys it’s 21st century now. However, since this is my life, I never regret my decision to pursue another higher degree now.

I don’t care about my future. I know if I stayed in Indonesia now, people would have started to warn me because of my critical age. Being a thirty years old woman who is still single is considered “dangerous”. They say, when I start a family after thirty, it will be hard for me to have a kid. That makes me think : “Does the society think that a good woman is she, who can produce children?” If I say : “I stay single because I haven’t found a man who fits my standard”, they will most probably reply : “It’s because you set your standard too high”. So, it is better for me to stay calm and go on my life. So if they say I don’t care about my future because I have not settled yet in a marriage, well, I have measure the success of my life with another parameter which might be different compared to the one that they use.

Dear fellow women, we probably live our lives in different ways. I just would like to remind you, don’t let society to tell you how to behave. Each of us is unique. Each of us has our own life values. Each of us has our own fashion style. In this world dominated by men, women should have more self-respects.

Happy international women’s day!

Growing A Year Older

When I was a teenager, I imagined by the age of 30 years old I must have become a successful person, having a steady job, and married to someone. Back then, I neither had any idea that someday I will become a scientist nor having idea about someone who will possibly become my future life partner. Well, for the last one, to be honest, I still do not have any idea up until this moment.

Today I am turning 30. I know that I have been so far away from my teenage days. However, I am sure the teenage version of me is proud of this 30 years old version of me. For those people who only know me from the outside, they might think that I have a flawless life journey. They’re wrong, of course. I have gone through some obstacles in my personal life before I am –sort of- reaching my dream.

Probably some of the people out there who talk about me behind my back (well, thank you anyway) never know that it took me 5 years dealing with more than 20 application rejections before I was finally accepted as a PhD student in Germany. I could have given up my dream, but I chose not to give up.

Having been living on earth for this long also teach me about the value of friendship. I learn that friendship is not about quantity, but it is about quality. It is not important if you have known people for years or just for months. If you guys can get along, then you have to keep the friendship. I also think that the label “best friend” is too exaggerating. When your “best friend” betrays you, the feeling is worse compared to anything. So starting from last year, even when I feel comfortable being with some people, I will just call them my “good friends”.

Talking about relationship, I have learned abundant of valuable lessons. I have experienced an unrequited love. It did hurt so bad. Believe me. I also had been close with someone for some times, without any status. And last time, I had been in a relationship with the wrong person. Yes, I have failed so far in this kind of thing. But, what I learn is that we –women-must have a self- worth. We must not lower down our standards just to allow men fit in our lives. Furthermore, I also learn that in order for a relationship to work, it needs mutual effort. When the effort is only one-sided, it will never work. Anyway, big appreciation for those guys who had been brave enough coming to my life and finding it difficult to deal with me. From them, I have learned about different personalities of men and, surprisingly, I also have learned about myself.

My twenties had been the most wonderful decade in my life so far. I completed my Bachelor and Master studies and started my PhD (yes..yes..this is going to be the last degree I pursue!). I got chances to live and study abroad. I got my first job. I earned my first salary. I learned 2 foreign languages and finally can speak those languages. I travelled to many new places. Basically, I have reached like more than half of my dreams. I reached some milestones in my twenties, as well as experienced some of my “first-times”. I failed and also got up many times. I am beyond thankful!

Now that I reach my thirty, of course I hope that I can be a better person. This is my wish every year. I will still be a person who is full of flaws. But I hope I can do more good deeds in the years to come. I hope I can finish my PhD and find a good job that can fund my life in the future. Though most Indonesians think that a woman doesn’t need to be really concern to find a well-paid job as once they get married it is the husbands’ responsibility to take care of them, in my opinion, women should be financially independent no matter what. (sorry, mom. In this case we have different perspective) And I hope I will soon meet my Mr. Right (because Mr. Perfect only exists in Fiction books).

Here is to the amazing years to come!