Back to school: A mid-semester reflection

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Loh Ard Gorge, Victoria, Australia (taken March 2017)

H e l l o !

I know I’ve said this repeatedly on my previous posts but hey, I’m back again!

Some of you might have known that I, alhamdulillah, was chosen as an awardee for LPDP Scholarship from the Ministry of Finance. I initially planned to go to Germany, but things didn’t work out and long story short, here I am in Melbourne, Australia, pursuing my master’s degree on International Development.

People don’t lie when they say time flies. I am now already halfway through my first semester here. Most of my classes are held as intensives, meaning that I only need to go to school four times per class in a semester (each of the classes are as long as 6 to 7 hours). I will talk more on this system later on, insha Allah.

As for the classes, I am super grateful to be able to meet awesome lecturers and facilitators who’ve got interesting experiences from the development field, having worked either for NGOs or for Australian government before coming back to university to teach. I enjoy the classes mostly because I am given a lot of chance to share my personal experience growing up in a so-called “developing country” as well as listen to my classmates’ experiences (most of them are Australians or Australian permanent residents, making me one of a few students that are new to Australia).

Speaking  of experience, I think I’m starting to experience quarter life crisis. Only having classes once in a while gives me a lot of time to think about myself, so I’ve been thinking a lot about what to do in the future recently. Well, if you know me you’ll know that daydreaming has been my hobby since I was fifteen; but now that I’m 24, I feel like the daydreams are accompanied by more insecurities than ever. Sometimes I see myself as too childish (and selfish) because I haven’t really thought of having a steady job or buying a house or *cough* finding someone to marry.

Oh, and I still don’t know when my next update will take place (mostly due to my “busy” schedule of binge-watching youtube videos LOL) but I’d be happy to share this exciting journey towards obtaining master’s degree through my blog. If you have any questions on this please feel free to ask me!

Explore Indonesia #2: Makassar

So another wedding invitation came and I couldn’t resist the desire to book my flight and go. This time I went to Makassar, one of the biggest cities of Indonesia located in the southern part of Sulawesi–the island I’ve never visited before.

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Sultan Hasanuddin International Airport

I arrived so much earlier that day, just to hear that my flight got delayed for 2 hours. Hmm, quite a long time isn’t it. But anyway I had a safe flight, alhamdulillah. My friend picked me up from the airport and took me around the city right away.

The first place we visited was Fort Rotterdam. This place used to be a fort built by Dutch colonies. These days, though, creative people of Makassar often utilize its open spaces to hold meetings and practices. One of the teams we bumped into was some kind of a traditional drama club. Oh, by the way, there’s no entrance fee for this place.

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The gate to Fort Rotterdam
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What’s inside

Next, we headed to Losari Beach. After praying at Masjid Amirul Mukminin a.k.a. the floating mosque, we took a little stroll along the beach and took photos in front of the infamous “Makassar” sign. Apparently, there are also “Bugis” and “Toraja” signs to represent each tribe that lives in South Sulawesi.

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The floating mosque

The next day was the day we attended our senior’s wedding ceremony. Despite arriving quite late, we were lucky that we could taste some food LOL. After that we headed to yet another beach: Akkarena Beach. While Losari beach was developed with modern facilities, this one felt more like a “traditional” beach. Well I don’t even understand what I’m saying, but, yeah.

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Akkarena Beach

After having Cotto Makassar for late-lunch, we went straight to a beach cafe called Ballairate, where we watched sunset while, of course, taking lots of pictures.

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“Follow me to…” kinda pose

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People said that it’s always hot in Makassar, but perhaps due to the rainy season, I didn’t sweat that much. The highlight of the trip to me, though, was the freshness of the air in  Makassar. Oh, and of course, I was also delighted by the delicious food we had, which always came in big portion. *still I could finish everything*

Looking forward to another wedding invitation! 😀

Bonus: the food we had during the trip

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Pallubasa

 

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Konro Bakar
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Cotto Makassar
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Pisang Epe’

Tentang Beasiswa LPDP: Seleksi Administrasi

Disclaimer: tulisan di bawah ini berdasarkan ingatan, catatan, dan pendapat pribadi penulis, jadi mohon maaf apabila ada yang kurang berkenan.

Alhamdulillah, akhirnya jadi juga saya menunaikan janji sharing tentang lika-liku mengejar beasiswa LPDP di blog ini. Semoga bermanfaat buat yang baca (kalau ada).

Jadi di sini saya nggak akan panjang lebar menjelaskan apa syarat-syarat mengikuti seleksi beasiswa LPDP, karena selain syaratnya berubah-ubah tiap periode, sudah ada juga info lengkapnya di sini. Yang jelas, pada saat saya mendaftar di bulan Oktober 2015, ada 3 item yang cukup membutuhkan usaha untuk dihadirkan: essay, rencana studi, dan surat keterangan sehat dari rumah sakit pemerintah. Bahas satu-satu yuk, cyin…

ESSAY

Ada dua essay (masing-masing panjangnya 500 kata) yang waktu itu harus saya buat, satu bertema prestasi terbesar dalam hidup dan satunya lagi tentang kontribusi bagi Indonesia. Khusus tema yang kedua, ada beberapa poin pertanyaan yang bisa dijadikan guideline untuk penulisan essay. Sekilas dua tema ini mungkin tampak sederhana, apalagi dibandingkan dengan topik skripsi yang kadang menjelaskan ke dosen saja pusing sendiri. *maaf curhat* Tapi yang perlu diingat, kita perlu memposisikan diri sebaik mungkin dalam penulisan kedua essay ini. Jangan sampai terkesan terlalu “rendah diri”, tapi juga jangan merasa jumawa atau arogan. Yang sedang-sedang saja, kalau kata lagu dangdut. Menurut saya sih, sebenarnya pihak penyeleksi tidak terlalu “peduli” dengan jenis dan bentuk prestasi maupun kontribusi kita. Toh, hampir semua yang mendaftar pasti berprestasi dan banyak berkontribusi bagi Indonesia semasa kuliah. Yang dilihat oleh penyeleksi adalah cara pandang kita tentang pengalaman-pengalaman di masa lalu, apa yang kita pelajari dari situ, dan semacamnya. (Jangan percaya 100% ya sama saya, hehehe *insert peace sign*)

RENCANA STUDI

Nah, kalau yang ini, tidak ada batas jumlah katanya. Mau buat panjang boleh, singkat tapi padat pun silakan saja. Awalnya saya bingung juga dengan format bebas ini, apalagi saat mendaftar ke universitas tujuan saya tidak diminta membuat research proposal. Jadilah saya ngubek-ngubek blog para awardee (baca: sebutan untuk penerima beasiswa LPDP) senior. *terima kasih kakak-kakak* Dari contoh-contoh yang saya dapat, ada beberapa yang hanya menuliskan garis besar penjelasan jurusan yang dituju, kemudian ditambah rencana setelah lulus. Ada juga yang mencantumkan pilihan kelas secara detil, bahkan sampai rencana keuangan perbulan pun ditulis. Hmm, makin bingung lah saya. Akhirnya saya ambil jalan tengah saja, dengan menuliskan latar belakang pilihan jurusan, kelas-kelas yang rencananya akan diambil, rencana topik tesis, dan rencana karier setelah lulus.

SURAT KETERANGAN SEHAT

Berbeda dengan dua benda di atas, yang ini tidak bisa saya siapkan sendiri. Saya harus melakukan medical check-up terlebih dahulu di rumah sakit pemerintah (sesuai syarat dari LPDP waktu itu). Berhubung saya berdomisili di perbatasan Pamulang-Serpong, jadilah saya memilih RSUD Kota Tangerang Selatan yang berada di Pamulang. Prosesnya kira-kira begini: saya datang dan mendaftar langsung di counter rumah sakit (tentunya dengan menjelaskan keterangan bebas penyakit apa saja yang saya butuhkan), lalu dicek lab dan rontgen. Sebenarnya ada yang harus saya kumpulkan ke RS keesokan paginya, tapi benda ini boleh diantar oleh siapa saja jadi kita tidak harus datang lagi. Saya sih titip ke Mama, hehehe. Setelah 4-5 hari kerja, saya datang lagi ke RS untuk mengambil hasil rontgen lalu membawanya ke ruangan dokter umum. Beliaulah yang menandatangani surat keterangan sehat, bebas narkoba, dan bebas TBC yang saya minta.

Itu tadi sekilas info tentang seleksi administrasi LPDP. Bagi yang mau tanya-tanya lebih lanjut, silakan komen di bawah ini. *kayaknya nggak ada juga sih, hiks*

Bagi yang mau daftar, saya ucapkan semangat dan semoga sukses!!!!

 

Explore Indonesia #1: Malang

First of all let me wish you all a happy new year! Yeah I know it’s super late but still…

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So two of my goals for 2016 are to visit as many new places as possible and to attend my friends’ wedding ceremonies. Thus when Nasha‘s random message popped up on my phone’s screen I knew this trip to both attend our seniors’ weddings and refresh ourselves from our routines would be a good start.

We went to Malang by executive train called Gajayana. The train itself was quite comfortable, its toilet was quite clean, and the food we bought for dinner was OK. However, the supposedly 16-hour journey was extended 1-2 hours so we were way more tired than we expected.

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Inside Gajayana

Nevertheless, the first wedding ceremony we planned to attend was waiting, so after putting our bags in Raras’ place (and having some yummy breakfast, of course -credits to Raras’ mom!) we went straight to Pelangi Jingga swimming pool. On the way back home we stopped by Bakso Bakar Pak Man, where we tried its famous grilled meatballs. Malang’s cool breeze was a nice addition to the food.

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Venue for the first wedding ceremony
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Forgot to take pictures of the food, sorry

The next day we went to another ceremony. While the previous one adopted garden party concept, this one was held in a hall. After stuffing our stomach with food (well that’s one purpose of attending wedding ceremonies right? LOL), we continued our journey up to Batu City where Museum Angkut a.k.a the newly opened transportation museum is.

After paying IDR 90,000 for Museum Angkut and D’Topeng Museum (I’ll get back to this one later) tickets, we went in and took as many photos as possible LOL. Well I don’t know why but sadly most Indonesians–including myself, sometimes–regard museums more as a place to collect selfies rather than to learn about certain topics. But anyway at least there’s no such thing as “museum allergy” anymore these days, meaning that finally young people have this will to go visit museums.

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Some of Museum Angkut’s old-car collections

Museum Angkut itself was quite interesting, with collections vary from old cars to becak (Indonesian traditional trishaw). Its size was way bigger than we thought. Interestingly, in the American(?) area, they had this DWP-ish outdoor party with a guy wearing Scooby Doo as the DJ (weird, I know). Before the party, there was this mini carnival where fake superheroes rode Museum Angkut’s car collection along the main corridor.

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This is part of the museum, too
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“Money can take you to the outer space” *what a quote*
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The weird party

As for D’Topeng, it was more like a gallery with collections of masks from different places in Indonesia (fyi, “topeng” means “mask” in English). In one corner of the gallery we saw a band of senior musicians playing keroncong songs.

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The keroncong band!

For Dinner we went to an Egyptian restaurant nearby Alun-Alun Batu. The food was not spectacular but still good, considering its price was almost half of the same menu’s price in Jakarta (okay this is sad).

The next day, after getting some traditional snacks as souvenirs, we headed back to Jakarta through Abdul Rahman Saleh Airport. The airport was a small, clean one with a line of restaurants outside (excuse me for talking about food again and again). Oh, by the way, I would recommend crispy tempe and fruit crackers for souvenirs.

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The airport

Well, despite the very short visit, I can say that my second trip to Malang was indeed a good start for my 2016, alhamdulillah. Now, time to prepare for another trip!

 

Japanese Stuff I’m Surely Gonna Miss: 100-yen Shops

Since I decided to leave Japan, I’ve been listing the items and happenings that are so Japanese that I saw during my 4 years here; the ones that will always remind me of this country. And the first thing on the list is… Daiso! (and other similar 100-yen shops).

Daiso at Mochigahama, Beppu

They do have Daiso in other countries including Indonesia and Korea, but still, they’re not as comprehensive (can I use this adjective to describe a shop??) as the ones in Japan. Plus, the price of stuff in Daiso overseas, especially in Indonesia and Korea, are not as cheap as the original ones. I believe most of the items at Daiso Korea cost 2000 won, which is around 200 yen. I’m not sure about Daiso Indonesia but it should have similar case. Plus, you can actually find similar products with lower price in Indonesia and Korea, while you can’t really do so in Japan. As the result, Daiso in those two countries are more of “all-you-can-buy stores” rather than “the only places you can get a lot of products without hurting your wallet”.

Speaking of all-you-can-buy, Daiso and its fellow 100-yen shops literally sell anything you need to survive. Just imagine buying a new house and having nothing inside, then you go to a 100-yen shop and life suddenly feels complete.

Life essentials

What makes 100-yen shops even more interesting is that they sell some stuff that you wouldn’t think you need at first, but then you decide to buy them just because you realize you might need them at some point in your life.

This is what you need when that time of the month comes
This brush can be used to spread detergent at the same time

Most of them also have cosmetic rows. I never had guts to try the cosmetics but then a lot of Japanese beauty vloggers, like Choicerish and Sasaki Asahi have used them in their videos, so…

Oh, I’ve been mentioning “other 100-yen shops” for a few times, but what are they actually? As far as I know, the biggest rival of Daiso in terms of the number of branches is Seria. I personally feel that the items at Seria are more pretty and artistic, though. There are also shops called Can Do, which I can’t really differentiate from Daiso. I also know a shops that sells their products 5 yen cheaper the three that I mentioned named Life Plus. (And yes, 5 yen DOES matter okay).

After all, Daiso may not be the cheapest place to buy essentials in Indonesia, but I would definitely go there if I ever need to get some random Japanese stuff that can’t be found anywhere else.

Let’s Fly

This picture was taken in Kesennuma city, which was hit by the 2011 tsunami.
This picture was taken in Kesennuma city, which was hit by the 2011 tsunami.

To be honest, this post was written just because I realized I haven’t written anything this month.

Well, it’s not like I have nothing to share, but for the sake of making this blog a source of positive vibe, I decided not to talk about worries, confusions, and all those stuff here. 😀

Anyway, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing right now, I hope you all can keep flying beautifully like those seagulls I met in Tohoku area a few months ago.

Up, up, here we go, go! – Rocketeer by Far East Movement

Hanami 2015

Hanami, which literally means “seeing flowers”, is one of the ways Japanese people appreciate nature. In Japan, hanami refers to seeing cherry blossoms (sakura) in full bloom. Many of Japanese families or couples go to parks with their lunch boxes, doing picnic under the sakura trees.

In the past three years, I only had chances to do hanami in Beppu. This year, though, I went to Oita city to capture the beauty of Sakura with my high school juniors (who are now my university juniors as well).

Our first destination was Oita Ruins Castle. This, I must say, is one of the most under-rated sites in Oita, at least for APU students (not only me, right?). Located within walking distance from Oita station, I realized I should have been there for previous hanamis.

We also saw some group of Japanese people having BBQ under the sakura trees.

Next, we headed to Oita River. I had been there before, but never by walking. So that was the first time I felt the fresh air around the river bank. Again, I wondered why I had never been there before.

Well, apart from the fact that I, Insha Allah, will leave Oita soon (which of course makes me sad), I’m so grateful for yet another chance to capture this natural beauty called sakura!

Bonus: some sakura trees I saw earlier at Beppu park