random thoughts

Memandang Indonesia dari Jauh

Selamat Ulang Tahun, Indonesia!

Tahun ini saya kembali “merayakan” kemerdekaan tanah air dari benua Eropa. Tapi tak apa. Walaupun raga saya sering berpindah-pindah, tetapi jiwa saya tetap ada untuk Indonesia.

Apa arti “merdeka” bagi saya? Memiliki kebebasan untuk menentukan mau jadi apa saya di masa yang akan datang. Memiliki kesempatan untuk mendalami ilmu yang saya tekuni hingga jenjang yang setinggi mungkin.

Indonesia sendiri, secara resmi sudah merdeka pada tanggal 17 Agustus 1945. Tapi, apakah bangsa kita yang telah berusia 72 tahun ini benar-benar merdeka? Kita memang telah merdeka dari penjajah. Namun, rakyat kita sayangnya sepertinya belum mau merdeka. Lihat saja berbagai konflik yang terjadi di Indonesia, yang sebagian besar mengatasnamakan agama demi kepentingan politik. Lihat saja rakyat kita yang masih sangat mudah untuk diadu-domba dan diprovokasi oleh berbagai pihak yang tidak bertanggung jawab.

Saat saya masih tinggal di Indonesia, setiap hari saya selalu dicekoki oleh berita-berita negatif tentang tanah air. Rasanya hampir tidak pernah saya dengar berita yang bagus tentang Indonesia. Sebagai orang Indonesia, saya pernah apatis terhadap masa depan negara ini. Walau sekarang sedikit demi sedikit saya mulai optimis dengan Indonesia.

Kita harus pergi menjauh, supaya bisa memandang tanah air dari sudut pandang yang lebih netral.

Saya pernah membaca kalimat itu. Memang benar, ketika saya berada jauh dari tanah air, sense of belonging terhadap Indonesia semakin kuat. Rasanya saat teman yang berasal dari negara lain bercerita tentang betapa hebat negaranya, saya juga tidak mau kalah berkata “di negara saya juga begitu”. Di sini juga saya seringkali merasa bangga dengan negara Indonesia yang terdiri dari berbagai pulau. Teman-teman dari negara lain iri lho dengan keindahan dan kekayaan negara kita.

Saya juga bangga ketika orang bule melabeli orang Indonesia sebagai pekerja keras. Orang-orang Indonesia selalu berprestasi di luar negeri. Oleh karena itu, banyak yang ditawari untuk bekerja di negeri orang. Dulu waktu saya sekolah di Inggris, ada seorang opa yang sampai membawa selembar peta dunia. Dia hanya ingin menunjukkan betapa jauhnya kami, pelajar-pelajar dari Indonesia, menempuh perjalanan berbelas-belas jam untuk belajar di negerinya Ratu Elizabeth itu. Kenapa mereka begitu kagum? Karena orang Inggris (dan sebagian besar orang Eropa) itu malas untuk jauh-jauh merantau.

Sekarang di Jerman, teman-teman saya juga banyak yang penasaran dengan Indonesia. Mereka ingin mengunjungi Bali, Labuan Bajo, Pulau Komodo, Wakatobi, Raja Ampat, dan berbagai tempat indah lainnya di Indonesia. Saya merasa malu sekali ketika saya hanya bisa menunjukkan gambar-gambar dari Google Images, karena dari semua tempat itu saya baru pernah ke Bali saja. Malu karena saya sudah menjelajahi berbagai negara di dunia, tapi saya belum banyak menjelajahi negara saya sendiri.

Beberapa waktu lalu tersebar tulisan di media sosial yang mengkritik pelajar-pelajar Indonesia di luar negeri yang kebanyakan plesiran. Tapi, apakah mereka tahu bahwa kami di sini tak henti-hentinya mempromosikan budaya Indonesia? Orang-orang Indonesia (yang kurang piknik) memang bisanya hanya mengkritik.

Adakah hal buruk yang saya alami di sini terkait kewarganegaraan saya? Untuk hal-hal yang berhubungan dengan birokrasi, iya saya memang agak sedikit “dicurigai” karena memegang paspor Indonesia. Tapi sejauh ini sih semua urusan sudah berakhir lancar. Oleh karena itu, saya di sini selalu berharap agar situasi di Indonesia selalu aman terkendali. Supaya saya dan teman-teman lain dari Indonesia bisa belajar dengan tenang.

Seenak-enaknya tinggal di negara orang, lebih enak tinggal di negara sendiri. Di sini banyak aturan. Peraturan di Indonesia lebih fleksibel. Di Indonesia, ketika keluar rumah, kita selalu disapa ramah oleh tetangga. Kadangkala kita merasa mereka lebay. Cobalah tinggal di Jerman. Kita mencoba menyapa tetangga, mereka malah pasang muka bingung. Indonesia adalah surganya makanan enak. Di sini? Jangan harap. Sebagian besar makanan di sini hambar tidak ada rasanya. Haha.

Pergilah merantau, maka kamu akan menyadari betapa berharganya tanah airmu

Untuk Indonesia tanah airku, Dirgahayu! Suatu saat saya akan kembali dan membangun tanah air dengan ilmu yang saya miliki. Doakan kami yang sedang berjuang ini.

Walaupun banyak negeri kujalani

Yang mashyur permai dikata orang

Tetapi kampung dan rumahku

Disanalah kurasa senang

Tanahku tak kulupakan

Engkau kubanggakan 

Selamat upacara. Selamat lomba makan kerupuk, balap karung, bakiak, panjat pinang, balap kelereng, dan sebagainya. Di sini 17 Agustus tetap kami lalui layaknya hari biasa. Untuk teman-teman Indonesia di Jerman, ada acara di KBRI Berlin, KJRI Frankfurt, dan KJRI Hamburg. Tapi geng Köln tidak bisa join. 😀

Dealing With My Introversion

According to Myers-Briggs personality test that I took last year, I have an INTJ (Introvert, Intuitive, Thinking, Judging) personality. This is a rare personality and only 0.8 % of women population in the world possess this type of personality (16personalities.com). Yeay! 😀

Is it hard for me, as an introvert, to fit in the society? The answers are yes and no. I grew up as a bookworm. Other people may feel insulted with that stereotype, but I don’t. I’m proud to be called a “bookworm”. Just so you know, I read the Indonesian translated version of “Chicken Soup for the Kid’s Soul”, as well as Enid Blyton’s “St. Clare’s” series when I was in 4th grade. I started reading those Indonesian literatures (such as Pram’s “Bumi Manusia”,Ayu Utami’s “Larung”, Fira Basuki’s “Atap” series)  when I was 6th grade. I read Dee’s “Supernova : Ksatria, Putri, dan Bintang Jatuh”, when I was 7th grade. I read Mitch Albom’s “Tuesdays with Morrie” when I was in 8th grade. Yes I still perfectly remember everything.

During my teenage-hood when I experienced my puberty ups and downs moments,  it seemed so important to be exist in the peer-society. As an introvert I always feel like an outsider. When I was in middle school, the situation was still easy because my best friend is also a fellow introvert. But the situation was harder for me when I entered high school as I moved from a Catholic school to a public high school. Frankly speaking, the beginning of high school was a disaster. I didn’t made so many friends during high school. People say high school is the best moment of anyone’s life. Well, it didn’t applied to me. It wasn’t my best moment, but it wasn’t the worst either. I enjoyed my high school moment in my way. I prefer to spend my time during the second break periods in the library, rather than going to the canteen. The craziest moment was when I didn’t invited for prom. It wasn’t a big deal for me though, as that prom was a little bit “illegal” because the students didn’t get any formal permissions from school. But, still I felt sad. Years later (a.k.a one day in early August 2017) I found an article in Pinterest, saying that “an Introvert likes to receive invitations, although at the end they prefer not to go”. Haha. That’s so relatable.

I started to be an outgoing person when I entered college. I enjoyed made friends with quite a lot of people. I involved in some organizations while still maintaining my academic performance. I was happy that finally people know about my talent. I was happy because finally my opinions are heard and counted. But honestly, during that times, I often thought that I was living other people’s life. I wore masks just to fit in the society. Even I wrote an article in this blog back then in 2010. If you read that article, it was so clear that I tried so hard to be a little bit more extrovert.

But then as I entered my adulthood and went to the UK to do my masters, I didn’t really care about what people think of me. I was so lucky that Europeans are unlike Indonesians. I could live my life as comfortable as I wanted to. Thankfully in early 2013 I went back to Indonesia with a different mindset. Yes, I am an introvert. So what?

Right after I found out that I am an INTJ, I started researching about that topic. I read countless articles about introversion. I read this book about INTJ written by Dan Johnson. This book made me even more confident with myself and grateful that I choose to follow a career path which is in-line with my personality. Not everyone can have a life as enjoyable as I am. Then I also read this book by Susan Cain, who started a “quiet” revolution-which I am currently re-reading it). Reading this book, I feel that I’m not alone in this world. Being an introvert doesn’t mean that I can’t be a leader. Being an introvert doesn’t mean that I am a nerd. Currently our world needs more listeners, as there are now so many people who love to talk without even thinking. This world also needs more followers. If everyone wants to be leaders, then who will be followers?

I’m proud to be an INTJ and also a Piscean (which means that I’m an introvert-melancholic person). Not many people can enjoy their solitudes. I have many friends but I choose to whom I speak to. I like my small inner-circle of friends. I feel awkward whenever I am trapped in the new crowds, but once I find someone who have similar interests and with whom I feel comfortable, believe me, I will be a very nice companion. Introvert can be crazy, as well. You can ask my friend! Yes I feel pissed off sometimes  when I have to interact with people who don’t have similar levels of understanding about certain topics. Haha.

For all of those fellow INTJs out there, just believe that we’re specials. To sum up this article, I want you to watch this Ted talk delivered by Susan Cain.

This article is inspired by a short discussion last Saturday, with an INFJ. 😀

Let’s join Polyglot Indonesia

It is too exaggerating if I call myself a polyglot because based on Wikipedia, the definition of polyglot is a person who is able to speak multiple languages. Currently I can speak two foreign languages, excluding English. It’s up to you then, whether you will call me a polyglot or not. 🙂

Maybe some of you are wondering why I have a special interest in languages. It was all began when I learned French a couple years back. It was a disaster at first, since French language is hard. However, finally I could “master” this language and I even got a certification. Done with French, I started to find another language to learn. I ended up choosing German. Just for your information, I used to underestimate German language and thought that I didn’t need to take a formal course to master this language. Why did I think like that? Because in German language,  there are only slight differences between spoken and written language. But then I decided to take a formal course and found out that German is harder than French. lol. I’ve learned German since last year.

I wrote an article in this blog 4 years ago about the beauty of learning different languages. Maybe you can take a look at that post to read my detailed argumentation of why we should learn as many languages as possible. One important thing that I want to tell you, being able to speak is different language will surely boost up your self confidence. I guarantee this!

So last year I found a community, called Polyglot Indonesia. This is a place for language enthusiasts to meet each other and discuss various issues. They hold a meet-up in every 2 weeks. For me, personally, I find  it really useful to practice my language skills with the fellow language enthusiasts. In every meet up I have attended so far, I always met new people. The event was never disappointing, as well. Honestly, being a part of this community for these past few months and meeting those people with really amazing language skills (some of them are hyperpolyglots!), motivates me to learn more foreign languages. Currently, Polyglot Indonesia has quite a lot of Chapters, other than Jakarta, in various cities in Indonesia, such as Aceh, Bandung, Yogyakarta, Semarang, etc. It’s very nice knowing that there are more and more Indonesian people who are open-minded nowadays.

You can always join Polyglot Indonesia. All of the events are always free of charge. As long as you can speak at least 2 foreign languages and want to practice them with others, do not hesitate to register to their events by filling the registration form that you can find on their Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/polyglotindonesia). Don’t forget to follow their Twitter (@PolyglotIndo), too! 😀

To sum up this post,  I just want to share some of my good experiences related to my foreign languages ability with you guys here. When I was in Paris, I got a discounted metro ticket price just like those Parisians because I talked to the officer in French. They thought I was a student in Paris. While I was not. Haha. When I was in Germany ( I forgot in which city), I didn’t know that I waited for a train at the wrong platform. Then I heard an announcement. In German language, without any English translation. At that time, all I knew about German language was only numbers and very basic conversation. I tried to understand the announcement and finally realized that I was waiting at the wrong platform and rushed to the right platform. Thankfully I didn’t miss the train. It was fun, though.

Yes, learning foreign languages can be suffering at first. But think about what you’ll get when you’re already mastering those languages. You can definitely expand your network by being able to speak in various languages.

I’m Back!

I’m back from the summer holiday. Well, although there is no summer here in Newcastle. But, never mind, let’s call it “summer holiday”. The saddest thing I got from this holiday is : my skin is getting darker. Western people got tanned after sunbathing. I got BURNT. Imagine, walking around in the city of Rome under 40 degree Celcius temperature! The best thing was I made some new friends from that summer trip. Yes, that was a very memorable trip. Moreover, that was the first time I went for a Eurotrip with my friends. Hopefully, someday we can explore other parts of the world together.

Few days after I’ve done with that Eurotrip, my family came visit me here. And there was another trip, UK Trip. This time, I was the one who “guide” them. Dare to give me a responsibility to be a guide means “let’s get lost together” because, as my friend told me, I am a kind of person who has no sense of direction. lol. My family went back to Jakarta this morning.

And here I am now. Sitting in front of my laptop in this lovely dormitory room, which I’m going to leave soon. I’m back in Newcastle, after a very long journey. I’m exhausted. I’m lonely. My closest friends have gone back for good to Indonesia. I’m still gonna be here until the day after my graduation. That will be on the early December.

Next week, I need to attend a conference in Glasgow. And I’ve just known that my supervisor is currently taking his annual leave. And my co-spv hasn’t yet replied my email. I need to discuss my poster!!!! Ah, I’m confused now. I’m trying to calm myself, that everything’s gonna be alright in the end.

Okay, then. More stories, later. Especially my summer trip stories. Still compiling the pictures currently. Apart from all of those troubles that I’m  facing currently, I’m back now!!!

Take care 🙂

L’Avenir

L’avenir, a French phrase for “future”. Today, finally I’ve submitted my dissertation, both the hard copy and the electronic version. I feel happy and sad in the same time, if you wanna know. All of my duties as a Master student have finished. Now it’s time to pray so that I can get a very good marks. Well, at least good enough for me to apply for a Ph.D. *please* But  gosh, another one year has passed by. That’s what make me sad. I’ve made so many friends here and in less than a month I have to say goodbye to them. Let’s not talk about goodbye. Back to the topic : FUTURE.

So, as aforementioned (oh that high-class word, reminds me of dissertation), yes I’m planning to do a Ph.D. Currently I’m still making an application for a particular program, which I have no idea whether I will be accepted or not. I just need to gently keep this hope deep down in my heart. A hope that, at the end of the day I will get the best one. This is a short-term goal for me.

Talking about future, most of my friends are recently got married. And here comes the question. Is that going to happen to me in the near future? Err..I’m afraid not. Last Sunday, I had a Skype conversation with my friend. I told her that I need to seriously think about my future. Then she asked whether I’m thinking about getting married. Why do people always associate future with married? I don’t know, but I think there’s a tendency for Indonesian people to get married in a quite young age. You’ll rarely find that kind of phenomenon in Europe. In UK, at least. Here, based on my (sotoy) observation, people tend to start settle-down (getting married) in the age of mid-30s (for women) and/or early 40s (for men) . Well, I don’t wanna wait that long to get married, of course. But, not in the near future, because I don’t have a boyfriend and I’m not planning to get one. So, people, when I talk about future, it means what I want to do next to accomplish my dreams while enjoying my twenties. Yeay!

Future, for me, also means exploring the world. It’s one of the reason why I prefer to (hopefully) do my Ph.D outside UK. I’m gonna travel to some parts of Europe which I’ve never been before. The only way to do that is by studying in one of the European countries. Imagine I will possess a Schengen visa valid for a couple of years, which automatically will be my “ticket” to travel around Europe. Hihi, I know that’s lame.

 And the long term goal of my future is having a good job in the field of science (of course!) with a good salary. Well, I believe the moment when I say “my life is complete” will be when I put smiles on my parents’ face because finally they realize that they can let me go live on my own feet. That moment will come someday, and that will be my most accomplishment ever.

I like talking about future. But, actually in the present, there are some things that I have to do from now on until the next few months. First, I wanna go for a Eurotrip with 3 of my friends. Then, I wanna travel around UK with my family. Next, another task is waiting. I’m gonna publish my work in an immunology conference. This is quite unexpected, really. That “conference” thing. I used to just attend some conferences here in UK. Well, I’ve presented my undergrad project 2 years ago. But it was in Indonesia and most of the audience was my friends and it was easy to explain my work in my native language. Next September is gonna be my first time to give a poster presentation here. I’m both excited and nervous, as always.

Okay, let’s enjoy the ride, then. Never expect anything, Ella. Cause life is always full of surprises.

Cheers. x

Feeling oh Feeling

Mungkin mulai sekarang saya harus percaya terhadap sesuatu yang dinamakan feeling. Kemarin saya dan teman-teman saya ke London dengan maksud apply Schengen visa. Yup, kami berencana pergi travelling ke Eropa bulan Agustus ini. Awalnya, saya malas ikut trip ini. But, hey I’m in UK now. The beauty of Europe is just a few steps away. And I don’t mind to explore Europe over and over again, since it is like my most favorite continent ever. 

Tapi, perasaan gak enak sudah  menghantui saya sejak Kamis malam yang lalu. Hari itu, saya sampai dorm jam 11 pm dan kami sudah book bus ke London untuk hari Jumat jam 1.30 am. Jadi, saya memutuskan untuk tidak tidur daripada “kebablasan”. Namun, tetap saja saya merasa bahwa bakal terjadi sesuatu yang gak beres pas di London, tapi “sesuatu”nya apa saya gak tau. Saya coba tepis bad feeling itu dan saya gak mau cerita sama teman-teman saya tentang itu. Takutnya, nanti malah kejadian beneran kalau saya omongin.

Dan ternyata benar. Kami tidak bisa apply Schengen visa kemarin. Hmm. Masih ada harapan untuk mengajukan aplikasi lagi. Kami akan merencanakan perjalanan kami dari awal lagi. Kami akan merencanakan sebaik mungkin dan berharap sudah bisa memperoleh visa by the time we’re going to travel. Namun (semoga jangan!) kalau ternyata kenyataannya tidak sesuai dengan apa yang kita harapkan, yaaaa mungkin memang sudah jalannya kami tidak bisa pergi Euro Trip tahun ini.

To be honest, saya tidak menyesali trip “dadakan” ke London kemarin. At least I could have a day off from the lab and spent the whole day in London. Tapi, kalau saya tetap stay di Newcastle kemarin kan saya juga bisa lanjut nulis disertasi. 😉

Be Careful of What You Wish For

I’m just gonna write a short post today. Hmm..life’s so busy right now. But I really miss my blog that I’ve abandoned for a few weeks.

Well..well. Be careful of what you wish for because somehow it might become a reality. I remember I’ve ever wished to stay here for a longer period. Yeah, finally I made a decision not to go back to Indonesia (at least) until the end of the year. This is a final decision. And the other thing is related to my scientific life. I wrote a sentence in a microsoft word document last year about a kind of thing that I should accomplish this year. I’m on my way in realizing that dream, by the way. If I can’t realize this dream, because of any reasons, it’s okay. I’ve already gained some new experiences here. I’ve been given such an opportunity to conduct a research in a group that consist of people from various nationalities. And this is one of the most precious thing that ever happened in my life.

God is great!