Maybe I have said this before. But it doesn’t matter I will say it again. I feel very blessed to have an opportunity living in Germany. It was an extraordinary adventure which I will not forget for the rest of my life. I will not forget my friends, because they are my family there; and I even have considered some of them as my brothers and sisters. Again, I am very blessed because now I have family and friends from many corners of the world.
Even this blog had brought me some new friends and family. I thank you all the readers especially for those who doesn’t know me in the beginning. Thanks for all the warm regards, comments, supports, and of course, friendship.
But my adventure in Germany is over now; and life goes on. It is time for me to start something new; it is time to start a new adventure in a new place. And after getting lazy for 2.5 months; well also getting nerve-wracking in waiting for the new job; I will start my new adventure this December.
I will work in a city called Tanjung Redeb. This city is the capital city of Berau District in East Borneo. I will work on marine conservation issues in Derawan Archipelago which is a place for sea turtle sanctuary and unharmed jellyfish. For those who want to follow my new adventure, just go to Adventure Berau.
C U there! :)
Reason to go home
As a German graduate, I am entitled to extend my visa for a year for seeking a job in Germany. Although this is a very interesting offer, however I have to consider it carefully especially I won’t have any income anymore.
The easiest thing to have an income is doing labor works. Beside, with my poor German speaking, this is the only work that I can do. If I just have to depend on my saving, I can survive for around 6 months with decent life. It means, I can’t do any traveling, watching football at the stadium, or doing fun shopping. And if I couldn’t get a serious job in 6 months, I’d better go home.
Well, staying in Germany during winter without any chance to do traveling will be very depressing. I had my winter depression before and I am sure that I don’t want to have it again. As much as I love Germany, staying during winter is not a nice option for me.
Beside, my study is about aquatic tropical ecology. Well, nothing’s tropic in Germany. If I want to work in line with my study (which of course it’s my target), the chance is bigger in my home country.
So I guess, if I want to get a serious job, it’s better to do it home. And with my current saving, I can live nicely in Indonesia while still traveling around.
Well, if my destiny brings me back to Germany, I am sure I won’t have any problem in getting the visa.
Three main administration issues have to be completed: bank, apartment rent, and residency.
Normally, the bank asks you to close the account if your visa has expired. But the bank doesn’t know about it until you inform them, so actually it’s possible to let your account open. However, problem will arise if any mail from the bank can’t reach you in your normal address.
If you want to keep your bank account, make sure you provide a new address to the bank. You can use your friend’s address for this. As for the excuse, you can say that you will go back to Germany in 2 (or maybe 3) years. This is what I do. Somehow I believe I will come back again to Germany.
For the apartment rent, unfortunately you have to inform the landlord, that you won’t extend the rent after the contract end, 3 months in advanced! It means you have to decide whether to stay or to leave, long before the contract end; which sometimes it’s not easy.
If you inform the landlord less than 3 months before, there might be a chance that you have to pay the rent until it’s occupied by a new person. If the room is occupied directly after you leave, then you are lucky, as you don’t have to pay extra. This is happening to me. I inform the student apartment bureau 3 months before the end of my contract. However, since student apartment is always on high demand, I am saved from paying a room that I won’t use.
As for residency, you have to unregister your residency once you leave. This is very important if you want to move in other German’s city, because the local administration will ask for evidence that you have unregistered from your previous city.
If you don’t have any plan to coming back to Germany, then this issue is not so necessary. In my case, I don’t have a chance to do it as the office only opens 3 days a week. So I decide to ask my friend for a favor in doing the unregistration.
Cleaning my room
In Germany, leaving the rented room means you have to clean it as good as when you first came in. If the room is worse than before, then you won’t get your deposit money back. (Deposit money is money that you pay once you start renting the room. This is not the rent cost).
First, the apartment caretaker (hausmeister) will check the condition of your apartment. He or she will give you instruction of what to do, for example to fix, to paint, etc. Fortunately in student apartment, the paints are provided. So students don’t have to spend money in cleaning the room; but they have to spare extra energy in cleaning the whole room.
For my room, I have installed a life-size mirror on my wall, which means the wall is drilled. Also, in destruction point of view, I left a burned mark in one of the racks. And another thing, my wall is covered with posters; which mean if I don’t pull them off carefully; the color of the wall will be damaged.
Surprisingly, I have to do none for them. I don’t have to paint the wall and the burned mark. I also don’t have to uninstall my mirror! Of course I have to clean my room, but this is not a difficult work. If in the end I need a hand to do it, that’s because I have to take out every things that don’t belong to the room. And I just realized that I have many stuffs! Many! I don’t get it, most of my friends have more stuffs than me, yet my stuffs somehow are a lot!
By the way, just for information, I never know a person can leave the apartment without painting it. So I am very lucky! Or maybe I am a very nice renter;)
I feel so sad in leaving my room because I love it so much. Every inch of it is under my control. It’s like my own shell. I wish I could carry it wherever I move…
Spending time with my friends
The remaining time from the graduation day to the expiration of my visa is only a week. With this limited time, I have to use it wisely; live to the fullest in Germany.
One important thing to do is spending the remaining time with my friends. The sad thing is I don’t know if I could meet them in the future. They have become part of my life and now I have to be separated from them. Only one thing for sure, I won’t forget them and hope to see them again sometime.
In spending my last days, I am fully booked for dinners and hang outs. I sleep less and very tired actually, because I also have to take out my stuffs partially. But I don’t mind. As I mentioned before, I don’t know if I could meet them again, I have to thank and say goodbye properly to them. I am very glad that I have them as part of my remarkable journey in Germany.
Fortunately, I can meet all my dear friends for the last time. Even for friends that I thought I won’t have a chance to say goodbye in person! I can meet my close friend who move to other city, and even accidentally meet 2 of my friends that almost impossible to meet! Lucky me?
There is a German saying which says ‘People meet twice in life’. I hope I will meet them again sometime. See you later, my friends!
After having a graduation ceremony, the real party is begun. Me and my classmates enjoy our night starting with dinner in a fancy sushi restaurant. We eat and chat there until around 11PM.
After that, our journey of bar hopping is started. We go from one bar to another to experience the atmospheres. Unfortunately, it is Wednesday; so not many bars are open after midnight.
But as people say “Third time is a charm”; we settled in our third bar. This bar has a very cool bartender and nice music collections. We really have a good time there as we dance and sing the whole night.
And when the music plays “I will always love you” by Whitney Houston, we sing together in a circle. In the end, we hug each other as an expression that we will always love each other. It is a very nice memory; I am sure we will never forget this moment. Ever!
We go out from the last bar at around 5AM. The trams are starting to run in normal hours again. It means that many people are starting to go to work while we are just start going home. What a night!
This is my last traveling in Germany before I fly back to my country. With a very limited time, I can’t travel far. I have to choose one city nearby Bremen where I can visit it without staying. The option is going to a city that I haven’t visited before or; a city that I have visited before but to a place that I haven’t visited. In the end, I choose to go to a city that I haven’t visited before.
Why Lübeck? Well it’s a recommendation from a friend. She said that it’s possible to explore Lübeck in one day and the city has many old buildings from the medieval and gothic times.
Lübeck is in the north direction from Bremen. To go there, I have to go by train to Hamburg and then change train to Lübeck. I use this route because my semester ticket covers a train cost from Bremen to Hamburg, which means I don’t have to pay. And when I try to buy a ticket to Lübeck in Hamburg, there’s a guy offers me to join his group ticket. With this ticket, the cost is cheaper than a single ticket.
By using a free map that one can get almost everywhere, it’s easy to travel around the city by walking. The city is just a one big round, nobody will get lost. It’s just a matter if one wants to travel clockwise or anti clockwise direction.
The landmark of the city is the two twin towers as the ancient gate of the city. And as my friend said, there’re many interesting historical buildings. The city is very nice; I think it is cleaner than Bremen. The sidewalk beside the river is also nice because it is on the same level as the city road. I think I don’t mind to live there.
Lübeck is famous for its marzipan, a kind of nuts. There’s a big marzipan museum and store there. Most of the marzipans are made as a filling for chocolates. Only small numbers are purely marzipan. I bought a pure marzipan in a form of sea turtle. I feel so sad in eating the turtle :(
I walk circling the city for about four hours. I manage to go home before 9PM. It’s tiring, of course, but I hope I could do it again in the future.
The ceremony is far from formal. It opens with a talk from the head of the Master study saying how nice our class was. Then it followed by distributing our certificates. Each person is called to receive the certificate and a rose. After this, it’s party time. We’re free for chatting, taking pictures, drinking, eating, whatever…
Idul Fitri is the celebration after the fasting month or Ramadan is over. When I came to Germany in 2007, I have my fasting month in Germany so does the Idul Fitri. However, the Idul Fitri day is on the weekdays which means normal class day in Germany. So, I couldn’t celebrate it as I used to have in Indonesia.
It was a funny feeling because I never experienced in having Idul Fitri far from my family. I wasn’t happy, of course, but I wasn’t sad either because I know in the next year (2008) I’ll have my Idul Fitri in Indonesia with my family.
And yes, that’s what had happened. In 2008, the Ramadan and Idul Fitri were in the period of my research work in Indonesia. So I didn’t miss anything.
In this year, I am back in Germany. This time, I don’t have any class anymore. So I can just sleep the whole fasting time. But of course I didn’t do that. I even travel out of town on the first and second day of Ramadan. I go to Köln to visit friends. Although the weather is pretty hot and dry but I don’t break my fast before the time. In the first day, my friend takes me for a long walk along the river and the city. Yes, this is during the fasting time, not after the breaking time. While in the second day, other friends take me for a cruise along the river during the day. It sounds an easy thing to do. But as I mentioned before, the weather is hot and sunny. I am cooked directly under the sun!
Another thing during this year’s Ramadan, my thesis defense is during the fasting time. Actually nothing special about this, but my supervisors think it’s something special. They couldn’t imagine standing for an hour and talking while fasting.
Anyway, in the end I can celebrate the Idul Fitri like normal celebration. I can join the praying and gathering with Indonesian and Malaysian people. This year’s Idul Fitri is on the weekend which makes many people from Bremen and around can come to gather. Even people from other religion also come to join.
I think this is perfect cause in the end of my study period, I can have a real Idul Fitri celebration. Since I still hoping that I could come back to Germany in the future, I hope I could have another real Idul Fitri celebration.
I start very early from my place. At a tram stop, I see two Chinese girls with big suitcases. They take the same tram with me. When the tram stops at the central station, these girls do not step down; by this time, I know that they are heading to the flohmarkt also.
The weather really makes a difference on everything. More vendors crowded the place since early morning. Me and my friend, this time only two of us, find difficulties in getting a space for our stall.
Once we find a place, we try to set the knocked-down clothes hanger. However, it’s not easy in doing this task. The clothes hanger is not ours, and apparently setting up a clothes hanger is beyond our skill. We place all the pipes and screws according to our logics. However, the clothes hanger couldn’t stand still; it’s always unbalanced.
After 10 to 15 minutes struggling with the clothes hanger, finally an African man comes to us. He says, “If you do it like that, it won’t stand even if you try it for 2 days!”. Of course we’re just grinning. Luckily, this man helps us to set up the clothes hanger. Apparently, we connect two wrong sides of the pipes which make it unbalanced. Right, if he’s not around, probably we would take a week to figure it out….
The African man, apparently, is a flohmarkt regular. He buys things from flohmarkt and sells it to his country: Senegal. I see some African people do the same.
Along with the nice weather, a lot of people come to the flohmarkt. But still, it’s not easy to sell things because the competition is higher. A lot of vendors sell clothes, so we have to compete with them. In my case, my clothes are small which are unlikely sizes for the Germans. Once, there’s a big(ger) lady try to fit in my clothe. I am so afraid that she would tearing apart my clothe because just by looking at her, I know the clothe doesn’t fit for her!
In the end, my income for the day is even worse than the previous week! I can only sell stationeries like pens, pencils, erasers, and sharpeners. No clothes or shoes sold. Fortunately, my friend has a better luck. Her children stuffs are easily sold. She makes more than € 15; which make us can pay the space rent for € 6.
I guess selling children stuffs is easier in flohmarkt because children tend to break their stuffs easily. It means, having cheaper stuffs is preferred. Lesson learned for today: sell children stuffs to get better income in the flohmarkt.
The deadline submission for the thesis is August 17th; in this time, all theses are handed to the supervisors and/or examiners. Then, starting September 8th the thesis defense period is started.
As agreed with my supervisors, I got a date on September 8th which means the first day of thesis defense period! However, apparently some of my friends even want to finish earlier. So I am not the first; three of my classmates are having their defense before the 8th.
The thesis defense is consists of two parts: first is presenting the research in 30 minute presentation, then another 30 minute for questions and answers (Q & A) session. In the Q & A, usually only the supervisors are allowed to ask. However, sometimes the supervisors allow the audiences to ask in the last minutes.
For my presentation, I have to fit my slides and talk into 30 minute. I have lost count of how many times I have to readjust my slides. Then, I try to memorize everything that I wanted to say. It’s not easy but when I do my presentation, the words are just sliding out from my mouth and I couldn’t control them!
As for the Q & A, I keep looking on the clock to see how much time that I still have. I have no idea whether my answers are good enough or not. I just say everything that crosses my mind at that time…
In the end, my torture is over. I got A- for the whole thesis work. Not bad; and my Master study is officially over.
Me and my three supervisors.
But there are stuffs that I can’t give him or bring back home: my winter outfits! For sure I won’t need it in
On Saturday, we go to the flohmarkt place. We have to start very early to get strategic place in placing our stall. And being strategic also means to find a well-sheltered place, because
And then comes the unpleasant time, the rain falls! We have no place to cover ourself; only one umbrella under a narrow road roof for 4 persons. Our stuffs are covered partially so most of the clothes become wet. To make it worst, the wind is pretty cold. Or maybe not so, but since we’re all fasting, we don’t have enough calories to burn. One of my friends even starts imagining having warm drink if we were not fasting… That’s really not helping!
After being freeze for around 2 hours, finally the sun decides to cooperate with us. The sun is shining and we can start to arrange our stall nicely.
In regard with the selling, well how to say, apparently it’s not as well as we planned it. For example, I have 4 pairs of shoes to sell. Well actually these are my aunt’s shoes. She gave me when I visit her in
But apparently that guy isn’t my worst customer. There’s an old lady who ask for € 1 for one pair. Again, I don’t argue. But when she wants to pay, apparently she only has 98 cents!!! OK, how could I say ‘No’ to an old lady? So I just let it… Oh well, at least I never buy those shoes…
And then there’s a time when I know how it feel to sell a thing that I bought. It happens to my rucksack. I have a red ‘Roxy’ rucksack that I bought in
We stay until around 2 PM. Many people come but mostly are old people so they are not so interested to our stuffs. And if there any people who interested, the sizes are unfit. Maybe we should look for student flohmarkt to sell our stuffs. (Well there’s no student flohmarkt). And although we make a sign “We’ll fly back home. Everything must go!”; not everybody interested with our stuffs. Instead, they’re just smiling in reading our sign!
One surprising thing: my first supervisor is visiting the flohmarkt at that time. So we feel surprised to meet in different setting. Hmmm if I knew she’ll passing by, I’ll make a sign “Need money for PhD”!
In the end, one of my friends earns the biggest with more than € 10 because she manages to sell an external hard disk. I got less than € 5 and my other friend got € 4 selling 2 thermoses. We are extremely tired after it which makes us couldn’t open our stall for the Sunday flohmarkt. But surely we have a lot of fun J
I know this community from a friend of mine and I realized this community is mentioned in the Lonely Planet guidebook. But the reason to join this, in the beginning, was because I wanted to find free accommodation for my trip to
Me and my CS friend in Italy.
When this girl contacted me, I was busy in writing my thesis; so I told her that I can only provide her a place to stay but I can’t showing her around. She agreed with the condition, because apparently, nobody else gave her positive response! So that’s how I got my first guest; accidentally. But it turned out very nice. The Lithuanian girl was an interesting person to talk to which made me relaxed during my boring time in writing thesis. It was a nice experience.
And from this point, I keep getting requests from others. My second guest was a guy on a motorbike asking me in the same day when he needs the accommodation. Apart from guests that stay at my place, I also have hosted people for sight seeing around
But the funny thing now, somehow I become addicted in hosting people! After 3 months in joining this community, I have hosted 4 people who stay at my place and 4 others for touring. Well maybe hosting people is a way to escape me from the boring thesis writing routines. I can have time to do something else with somebody new; this is a way of refreshing. I keep hoping somebody contacts me and requests. Even after I finish my thesis writing now, I am still craving for hosting people. And somehow, I feel sad to know that I’ll leave
This year I am experiencing the fasting month in Germany. My first one was in 2007 when I just came to Germany. At that time, I had the fasting month during my language class and the beginning of my study.
Last year, I had the fasting month in Indonesia because I had to do my research. Surely it is nicer to have it home as the environment is very favorable. Most people are fasting so you won’t feel alone; and the foods sold during this time are special – they are sweet and fresh for regaining the energy loss during fasting.
But hey, then the point of doing fasting might get wiped away. Fasting is about being decent and modest. The higher the temptation is, the more advanced one become. Advanced in controlling yourself.
So, to do fasting in Europe is a nice challenge. First of all, the fasting time is longer. In Indonesia the fasting time is fixed the whole time. It’s always around 14 hours. In here, of course it’s depending on what season the Ramadan falls. If it’s during winter then the fasting time is very short (less than 10 hours); but during summer that could be killing (around 20 hours!). This year it’ll be around 16 hours. Of course, practices make perfect. One has to train oneself to be able to do the long fasting time.
For me, I like to challenge myself. So no matter where, I’ll try to do my fasting. The thought of being able to control myself sounds so cool to me. Well, welcome Ramadan!
After we (me and my classmates) submitted our thesis on the deadline day, we are having a party. This is to celebrate our freedom. Finally, we are free from reading numerous literatures, comparing and analyzing our data to literatures, and being confused by supervisors’ inputs.
Furthermore, we were always together in our first year of study, but then we went separate ways in the second year. So, hearing updates from the classmates has become part of our life. We’re a big family; we need to stay in contact one another. That’s why the party is important for us.
Of all 19 people, only one person has a secured PhD position. One person has a baby and will get married in the next spring. The rest are having some options where nothing has really settled. I am included in this part. I still look for opportunities to stay longer in
Well, what’s the best way to think about your blurred future? Party, of course!
Finally… I have finished writing my thesis and have submitted it! Pheew… what a relieve! I have started my writing from May; and although I have finished my first draft on mid-June but still I have to revise many things. Even 2 days before the deadline, I still received a last-minute correction from 1 of my supervisors.
I have 3 supervisors; while normally there’re only 2. In the beginning they said that they won’t confuse me, but uhm, theory is different than the practice. I found myself confused in incorporating all the inputs and suggestions. There’re period when I just read my thesis back and forth without knowing what to improve.
To add my suffering, my laptop even got struck by a virus! It worked so slowly. I have no idea how this could happened as I have my (free) anti virus. I ended up downloading any free anti viruses that I can found from internet. This strategy worked. My laptop can perform normal again. However, sometimes it turns off by itself!
Another thing… when I try to burn a DVD, my DVD driver didn’t work! For this, I stayed awake until 3AM trying to figure it out. I uninstalled the software then install it again; God knows how many times. But still it can’t work. In the end, I had to burn my DVDs at my friend’s laptop!
Not to mention all the sleepless nights and had to stay inside during nice weather… But those are over! I have finished and submitted my thesis!!!! Now it’s time to relax and start to rearrange everything; especially anything related to my departure to my home country. Yep, I won’t extend my stay in
Den Haag (2 – 5 July 2009)
I visit Den Haag for participating in a conference. Actually, I wasn’t aware about the conference; I participate just as a favor to my friend.
Here’s the story…
Few months before, I talked with my Indonesian friend who lives in a same student apartment area with me. He said that he is a part of the organizers of Indonesian Students Conference in Den Haag; and he needs more people to present or talk about their research. So I just say yes. It’s not a problem to present something; and at that time I don’t have any deadline; beside I haven’t visited Den Haag anyway.
But when the conference time comes closer, I just knew that the conference is very international. It’s not just for Indonesian students in Europe, but also all over the world; from middle east, Australia, USA, Africa, and of course Asia! Furthermore, this conference has its own prestige; it’ll be open by Indonesian president through tele-conference! What…??!!
Well, so be it. I come to
Talking about food. In the first day, there’s a dish called Rendang; a spicy beef which contains of coconut milk. Coconut milk is easy to get spoiled if one is not careful. So I guess that’s the reason; cause after eating it, half of the people there get diarrhea! I am alsoL I have to wake up in 3AM to run to toilet! And in the 2nd day of conference, many people are still disappearing suddenly from a conference room; to go to toilet. Oh well…
And about the conference itself. In the 1st day, the talks are general; about our country. In the 2nd day, the talks are divided into groups. There’re groups fro education topic, law topic, economy topic, etc. I am a part of 3E group which stands for Energy, Earth, and Environment. In my group, there’re 11 presenters. Half of them talk about natural disaster and recent technology in relation with it; for example, earthquake simulation or detection. Another half is talk about renewable energy, such as wind turbine and micro hydro. And I am the only one who talks about human; in a more specific term: fishermen!
At least I have put ‘a different color’ in the talks; and I am glad that the audiences understand of what I am talking about. So, that’s how it is; my chat with a friend in front of a garbage dumpsite ends up in I become a part of Indonesian Intellectual International Association!
Actually I haven’t got much chance in exploring the city as the conference schedule is very tight and tiring. The conference is started at 8AM everyday and it could ends up at midnight for some of the groups.
So among those tight schedules, I just see the city in general. The main impression that I get is Den Haag is the multi ethnic/ race city. Various specific shops are scattered everywhere like Indonesian restaurant, Pakistani supermarket,
Photos courtesy of: Widodo S. Pranowo
Enschede (5 – 8 July 2009)
Enschede is a small city; one can’t get lost there. There’s no tram, only bus as a public transportation. Here I am also not exploring the city so much as I try to recover from the conference’s hectic schedule.
But somehow I manage to go to the city centre and introduced to an award-winning ice cream parlor! Very nice! The place is called ‘Ijs salon van der Poel’. There’re ‘crown’ signs on some of the flavor’s name; the crown shows that the flavor has won an award.
Before I go back to
I went here with my aunt who has a train ticket for two which applies everywhere in
In the end, I have to pick very special places that I want to see as I can’t tour the whole tourist sitesL I pick the famous cubic houses which I know from Jackie Chan movie; Erasmus bridge; and anything in between.
Jackie Chan's hands print on the walk of fame in Rotterdam
As a football freak, I know that
But I guess destiny is on my side. When I have to wait for my aunt who looks for vitamin in drug store; my eyes struck on a window display in a sport store across the street. It’s a
Of course I don’t waste my time. I went there and ask for girl shirt. Surprisingly, they only have 1 shirt for girls! Talking about gender equality again…
I have no choice, I take that one. But then the salesguy tells me that I can print my own name on the back side! Woow, how cool is that!!! I mean, having player’s name is normal; but having our own name, that’s really special. So I decide to have it. But when it comes to number, I really can’t make up my mind. Which number should I put? I don’t have any special or lucky number. After thinking for some time, I decide to put ‘8’ as my number; it comes after my birth date. Apparently, number 8 is the number for the team captain: Giovanni van Bronckhorst!
This is very cool! In the end, my bad mood from the bad weather is gone after having this custom made Feyenoord FC jersey J
Holland in General
Although this is my 2nd time in visiting
I find Dutch people are easier to talk English than the Germans. I can just start talking English in a bus or stores and the people will just reply automatically. They don’t have to think or show some surprised expression at me.
I notice that the English programs on TV are not dubbed. They are still in English with a Dutch subtitle. Except for children programs, of course. I think this is why the Dutch is so familiar to English.
Funny transportation system
Yes I just realize this; the Dutch has funny transportation system.
First, the train. The trains here don’t have a number. Here’s a thing. On each normal platform in the train station, there’s a board which stated the schedule of the current and/or next train. Usually it has information of the time, direction, route, and the train number. But in
So when I have to change my train in
Still the trains. Apparently
But then I see how the Dutch do in taking the train. They just jump into a wagon, ask the people inside the wagon; and if it’s the wrong wagon, they jump out again. For sure, many people do this. They don’t bother to read or maybe they are also confused as I am.
Second is the strippenkaart system. This is a ticket stripe for bus and tram. One ticket consists of (at least) 15 stripes or numbers. If one takes a tram or bus, then one has to put the ticket inside a stamping machine. This machine will stamp the hour and date as the travel begins. If one travels for 2 zones or longer distance, one has to stamp additional 1 stripe on the ticket. If one travels for 3 zones, then additional 2 stripes have to be stamped.
OK, nothing wrong with this; except, one has to start put a stamp on the stripe number 2 for traveling in 1 zone!!! No kidding, if one has a new ticket stripe and one wants to travel for 1 zone only; then one has to start put a stamp on 2nd row which leaves the 1st row blanks!!! I really don’t get it; why we should start at number 2 instead of number 1? Why don’t we start to put a stamp on number 1 for traveling in 1 zone? Isn’t this just wasting a paper? Hmmm talking about saving the trees, eh?!
Third one is not really about transportation; but it’s related to it. It’s the traffic light for pedestrian. Like in
If the street is consists of 2 parts, the pedestrian has 2 traffic lights to cross it. Normally, the near traffic light will go green first, so the pedestrian can walk half way. Then, there’s a place on halfway where the pedestrian wait for the next traffic light goes green. Sometime the pedestrian doesn’t have to wait at all; while pedestrian walks halfway the next traffic light goes green immediately.
What makes it funny in
Traditional dances, songs, wayang puppet show, angklung music are performed; while pictures, traditional toys, and foods of
In my opinion, this event is very effective in introducing
OK, in this point I really don’t believe about having a pretty girl as an icon for tourism. I really don’t believe that people can decide to go for traveling to foreign country just by looking to a pretty girl in an advertisement. NO!
Another example, in this event, the Indonesian students, who mostly don’t have any dance background, have learned a pretty difficult Saman dance just for the sake of representing the country. Saman dance is very difficult; it’s like Michael Jackson’s dance in the sense of fast and solid. Furthermore, this dance is from
Back to the event…
The performers have taken their task successfully. Foreigner audiences enjoy the show. However, although the place is full but we expect more people coming. So maybe next year we can make bigger event.
While me… I get a task in selling the traditional toys; one of which called Gasing. It’s a spinning bamboo. And as the foreigners don’t understand what it is and how to play it; I have to demonstrate it many times. The funny thing is, apparently not many Indonesian people can play it! Furthermore, gasing is considered as a toy for boy! So imagine, me wearing a batik dress but keep playing gasing. Whenever I do it, there’s always a comment from Indonesian people, “Wooow, you can play that!” or, “Look at her, wearing dress but playing a boy game!”
Uhm… first is about football things; and now this gasing thing. Something wrong with my childhood, I guess…
Purpose of visit
After only dreaming for years, finally I get my chance to go to Italy. I have decided myself from the beginning of New Year that I must go to Italy during my study in Germany. And the perfect timing comes when I have to hand in my first draft of thesis very early. After locking myself for 6 weeks for thesis writing, having holiday in Italy is a perfect reward.
Of course it’s not easy to decide which cities or regions that I should visit. Every region has its own characteristic that worth to experience; but while busy to arrange my travel, one city is a must place to visit: the Asti City!. Yes, there’s a city after my name in Italy. For sure, I am so curious about it. I want to see it and maybe claim it ;) Yeah OK, I am daydreaming too much…
Asti is famous for its wine products. Even in Germany, I can find Asti wine in supermarkets. So I guess I am pretty famous, er, I mean the wine. Asti is located in the north part of Italy and the nearest big city is Turin. So if I want to visit Asti, I have to start it from Turin. Although I know nothing about the city but I know it’s a place of Juventus FC; so surely it’s worth to visit especially Juventus is my favorite team from Italy.
Other city that I want to visit is Rome. I think Rome it’s always enlisted in things-you-do-before-you-die stuffs. It’s very famous as historical place that shape the European face and maybe also the world. I remember when I watched the movie ‘Gladiator’; I really amazed and wish that I could see the Colosseum directly sometime.
And since the cheap airline is going from Bremen to Bergamo, which is closer to Milan, so why not visiting Milan also. Beside, it’s also a famous city for the fashion industry and football of course ;)
So there I am. Going to Italy for visiting Asti, Turin, Rome, and Milan in a week. Yeah, I don’t have so much time; but at least this is a good start.
Mode of stay
I know about Couch Surfing (CS) from a friend and apparently it’s also mentioned in lonely planet book. CS is a traveler community which provides free accommodation. For example, I can offer my extra mattress for a sleeping place to other traveler for free. With this mode, a backpacker traveler like me can reduce the spending and to know the visited place from different angle. Experience the culture, directly from the people itself, is the nicest part of the travel.
Anyway, I join the CS community mainly to get free accommodation. However, since it’s voluntary-based, of course people couldn’t just accept a guest anytime. They have their own schedule, they have to work, or maybe they already have a guest for particular date. In the end, I can’t find any free accommodation from this mode; however, people agree to meet me and give me a tour for the city or at least spend time with me.
I know Italy is not Germany. And since I have visited Paris, I realize I have to turn off my German nerve when traveling outside Germany. But still, I am surprised to find out that Italy actually similar to …. Indonesia!
Traffic and road signs
Believe it or not, I think Italy is European Indonesia. The traffic is as chaotic as in Indonesia. No rules in driving; people can just turn everywhere, cross everywhere, park everywhere, or driving backward anywhere! There’s a chance where my friend takes me for motorbike riding; and for a moment I feel disoriented, “Am I in Europe or Makassar?”
To add more chaotic, the road signs are confusing; or maybe silly. There’s a sign to turn left but there’s no road to there! Even in the airport or train station, the signs are absurd. How come Metro is upstairs; or a sign for train is lead to empty room. I guess people have to start their travel very early just to get lost…
Public transportations and punctuality
Again, Italy is just European Indonesia; so it would be too much if I expect punctuality. I don’t bother to look at the bus time schedule; I am just waiting like I do in Indonesia. But when the bus doesn’t come until I wait for almost 30 minutes; suddenly my German nerve pops up again. I become anxious and uneasy. I have to calm myself in remaining that this is Italy.
Anyway, there’re 3 times of bus trips that somehow make me anxious. The first time is in Rome. It was my first day there and I want to go to football merchandise store. After getting the direction with bus, I am waiting for the bus for about 30 minutes. When other busses stop by, and my bus doesn’t come yet, I start to think that the guy who told me about the direction is giving me wrong information.
The most nerve-wrecking experience is when I have to fly from Rome to Bergamo. My flight is at 06.50. To get to the airport, there’s a shuttle bus from the main train station to airport. It starts to operate at 04.30. The second departure is at 04.50; but the third departure is at 06.30! Of course I have to take either the first 2 departures; but considering the time of my flight, I choose to depart using the 2nd one.
I am arrived at 04.40 to the main train station, and guess what; people who want to depart at 04.30 are still there. The bus is late! And since the first bus is late so I thought I should just line up with these people because, really, everything is unpredictable; and I don’t think this is a good time for having adventure. In the end, the first bus departs at 04.50! And to make my nerve tenser, I couldn’t get into the bus because there is no more available seat! So I have to wait for the 2nd bus; which of course according to the shuttle bus’s staff, it’ll come soon… And when the time reaches 05.50, I become extremely anxious and start thinking to go by taxi. But when I am almost step out from the bus stop; I see the bus is coming from distance… In the end the bus departs at almost 06.00. Luckily, since it’s still in the morning, the trip to airport can be take for less than 30 minutes and I can still check in on my flight on time. But surely, this has been a difficult nerve test for me!
In my 3rd unreliable bus schedule; it happens exactly after my 2nd. I have to travel by bus from Bergamo airport to Milan using a shuttle bus. The schedule says that the bus will leave at 08.30. When I reach the ticket counter, it’s already 08.27; so it’s perfect. But when at 08.40 there’s no sign that the bus will leave; all I can do is being thankful because I don’t have anything to catch soon… Ah by the way, in the end the bus is leaving at 09.00!
In the end, I am glad that I don’t take public busses or trains for my city-to-city travel. Not just they’re unreliable in the sense of time schedule; but they’re also stinks! No kidding! The city bus that I take in Rome is stinky. I take it around 16.00 where people have been doing their activities; and furthermore, it’s summer and most of them wear sleeveless shirts; so imagine, what kind of odor that circling inside the bus… In Indonesia, although the situation is similar; but not many people wear sleeveless shirt, so at least the odor can be blocked somehow…
And the regular train is no different. The smell is preventing me to go to toilet; it’s better that I hold it for hours. Well, this is also like in Indonesia. But then there’ll be people (a street vendor) who walk around with air freshener spray; and we have to pay in order to make him or her sprays the air freshener. Of course the nice fresh air is only temporary; but that’s the point of their service;) I guess in this sense, Italy is left behind from Indonesia;)
In the sense of public transportation, only the Metro is reliable because it’s on time and no traffic jam. And maybe the Metro is the only thing that reliable in Italy; because even the people are unreliable for punctuality. Well getting late until 15 minutes, that’s also the tolerance in Indonesia. But if someone is late more than 15 minutes without explanation; well, I am speechless. An example of this happened in Turin when a friend from CS organized a BBQ. In the beginning the BBQ is set as a vegetarian BBQ due to vegetarian person who also organized the BBQ. But during my stay for 5 hours, this person never came and no news at all from this person! No SMS, no call, nothing…! And apparently this is normal because nobody bothers to contact this person at all!!! Great…
The weather and foods
During summer, the weather in Italy is close to Indonesia. The temperature is around 30 degrees; but the humidity is less than Indonesia. So it’s hot but it’s not as sweaty as in Indonesia; which is better for me. I can wear normal clothes as I do in Indonesia; just a light shirt and jeans or skirt with sandals. Me with light shirt & skirt; posing at St. Angelo Castle with a clear blue sky background
For the food, well Italian foods are not as spicy as Indonesian; but at least they have taste compare to the Germans. The seasonings are various so the taste is somewhat strong; another tongue spoiled experience for me. The pizzas, the pastas, the risottos; they all nice. But one unforgettable food experience is when I have goose salami. It tastes extremely good which makes it recorded in my memory until now. Oh I hope I can have it again…
All in all, going to Italy is like going home for me. Maybe if I miss my country, I should just go to Italy. I really love it!
Turin (12 – 15 June)
As written above, I know nothing about Turin before. So when I arrived here, all I can think to visit is Juventus stadium and store! Unfortunately the stadium is under construction, so I can’t visit it; but the store is available to visit. And after this, I thought my mission to visit Turin is accomplished.
Thank God, I meet people from CS who show me around and take me to parties. So it’s a nice surprised to know Turin from tourist side and cultural side. Apparently Turin is very important city in Italy and Europe! Turin was the capital of Italy before Rome; and Turin had a strong monarchy that influencing Europe! See, I learn something new now…
A nice view of Turin can be seen from a tower in cinema museum. The elevator is transparent; so one can feel the excitement of going up and down. Very exciting; especially for me who’s afraid of height:)
The craziest place that I find in Turin is an ice cream place called Siculo. I went there exactly at midnight but the place is packed full! Even the customers have to take number to buy the ice cream! This is so crazy!!!
Asti (June 13th)
My city is just a small and quiet city. I visit there on Saturday and the only thing that alive is the traditional market. Most of the streets are empty and only few tourists walking around. I wonder, is the city really quiet or do I visit it in a wrong time?
Some views of Asti City
Since Asti is famous for the winery, I also visit the wine field and the city’s official wine shop. There, I get explanation that in the beginning Asti is producing sweet white wines. But since the red wines become trend; the original Asti has lesser customers and the winery produces more red wines rather than the white ones. Oh no, if nothing has been done, the original taste of me will be extinct…:(
When I visit the wine shop, my friend tells to the shopkeeper that my name is Asti. And for some reason, somehow he thinks it’s cool. Because then he gives me things that has ‘Asti’ written on it. He gives me small towel, poster, and a guide book! He even tries to look more but he couldn’t find it. Oh no, if I stay longer, maybe he’ll give me the road sign also…
Rome (15 – 18 June)
When I look for hostel in Rome, I also read customers’ review. Of course there’s no such place where all the customers can get satisfaction. But the reviews are somewhat intimidate me. In general, they always emphasize that ‘at least the location is in city centre or near the main train station’ or ‘at least one can has decent place to sleep’. Not very encouraging! Until once my eyes are struck on a good review of a hostel called Beehive. I enter the website and find the concept of eco-friendly and vegetarian as interesting. Without further thinking, I reserve my place there.
Another destiny takes part; it turns out the hostel is as nice as advertised. It’s very clean and homey. I even can walk barefoot inside. And of course there’s always a little surprised. One of the staff there is Indonesian!!! Isn’t that perfect?! I can talk in Indonesian and get insider tips from Indonesian point of view. Very nice!
The city itself, oh too many things to mention; especially regarding the tourist sites. The churches, the temples, the castles, the fountains, the whatever; they all interesting to see. I really love it. How come most of them are well preserved? I am so envy to the Italians somehow. I wish the remaining from Indonesian old kingdoms and temples can be a world wide tourist destination also.
Castle of St. Angelo
Anyway, my favorites are Colosseum and Pantheon. They are huge and impressive. Both show brilliant architecture and good representation of type of civilization that the Romans had.
Since there’re too many interesting things to see, and one site to another is relatively close; many people choose to walk to explore the city. I do this also. I walk around 9 to 10 hours everyday under the summer sun. In the end, my legs are so sore and my skin is over grilled. If my legs can complain, maybe they already runaway from me! But of course all the pain isn’t comparable with the satisfaction that I get.
Vatican (June 17th)
Of course while I am in Rome, I have to visit Vatican. Although I am not familiar with Christianity; but this unique country with long tradition and enormous collection from Christian history; is worth to visit.
St. Peter's Basilica
Michelangelo's Pieta in St. Peter's Basilica
Vatican is small; but its huge buildings make the trip somewhat tiring. From one floor to another; people who seriously interested to Christianity history or religion need more than 1 day to explore it. I am just concentrate on very famous places or paintings or sculptures; and for the rest I just see it in brief.
Milan (June 18th)
I thought everybody in Milan is dressed in a stylish way; but apparently just a few. Mostly they all dressed normally, just like a normal student or even tourist. But surely, clothing (or fashion) stores are everywhere. From the high-end price to the regular ones; the stores are filling up the streets.
Luck point in Milan. Notice that my skin is over grilled by then.
Other thing, that makes Milan different from other cities, is everybody moves in a hurry. At the Metro station, people seem on the run. They walk fast. And somehow the cars and motorbikes are also faster. Milan is a big developed city.
The main tourist site in Milan is the dome or the cathedral. It’s a huge full ornamented gothic church. It remains me of the Köln cathedral. Too bad, during my visit here, I am already exhausted from my trip to Rome. My legs don’t want to cooperate further while I still have another place to visit. In the end I am just admiring the place while sitting outside.
The very last tourist place that I visit in Italy is: The Last Supper (il Cenacolo) painting by Leonardo Da Vinci!!! It’s not just old; but the controversies and interpretations have made the painting very interesting to see. People who are familiar with ‘The Da Vinci Code’ must be understood with what I mean.
The painting is a mural painting which means on a wall; in this case in a church’s wall. The painting was made in 15th century and the wall (as well as the church) has to survive from the war and any other natural damages. Due to the delicate condition; visitors can’t take picture of the painting. In fact, only 25 people are allowed to see the painting in one session.
A very long waiting list to see the painting has come into effect. It’s normal that one has to register a month before to see the painting. Again, destiny is traveling with me. I get a chance to visit the painting just by luck! A person from CS that I contact; tries to register for visiting the painting just less than 2 weeks before I arrived. And somehow, it works! We got a place to see the painting on the exact date when I am there! Isn’t that amazing?! This is surely the cherry of my travel to Italy:)
In front of the entrance to see The Last Supper painting
The painting itself is not in strong color; it’s blurry somehow. If one sees it from close range, it looks like a blurry photograph with low resolution or pixels. But if one sees it from distance, it looks better. The painting is located a bit high on a wall; there’s a safety fence in front of it so people can’t touch it. I can’t thank enough that I can see this famous painting directly; I am very enjoying the experience.
What make you think that I won’t talk about football on this page?
Anyway, to celebrate my football nerves in Italy, I decide to buy shirts from Italian football club that I visit; which means Juventus, AS Roma, Lazio, Inter & AC Milan.
Although I want to collect the shirts; but I don’t want to just buying any shirt with the club name written on it. Because this kind of shirts can be found everywhere even in Indonesia; and it’s not original. So what I consider as an original and special shirt is a shirt for a girl. A shirt that designed for girls; tight, small, typical girls cut.
For getting the shirt that I want, I went to each club’s online store to see what they offer. Surprisingly, there are not many designs for girls. This is surprising, Italy has bigger football industry than Germany; why the shirts for girls are limited? Suddenly Werder Bremen’s girls collection is not so bad at all…
So apparently I don’t have many options for shirts. But I have my eyes on specific shirt on Juventus, AS Roma, and AC Milan. Lazio and Inter don’t have this girly stuffs:( Of all these 5 clubs that I browse, only AS Roma offers a very interesting range of designs. The designs are so various and it even has underwear collection! Very impressive! Somehow it remains me of FC Stuttgart in Germany which also has various interesting designs.
But then another surprised comes in; apparently what they offer on a website is different than in a real store! It means the specific shirts, which I want from Juventus and AC Milan, are not there. Huh?!! And somehow the girls collections in Juventus and AC Milan stores are not so interesting; but still in the end I buy something.
Luckily, since AS Roma has various designs, I can have many options. I even become confused in deciding which one that I should buy. I only buy one because the price is pretty expensive. And this is the other thing that I don’t understand. The football season is over; how come the merchandise prices are not in discount? Mean!
And to add my collection, I also include a girly shirt from FC Torino. Although FC Torino is not in Serie A (or premiere league) but it has a nice girly shirt. So... why not?! ;)
I wear these football shirts in some occasion just to see how people, especially Italian, react. When I wear FC Torino shirt in Turin, not so many people make comment in the beginning. But once they know that I am a foreigner, they start to make comment. FC Torino fans, of course, will say that it’s a good thing that I wear the shirt. But Juventus fans will complain and telling me that I should wear Juventus shirt. I don’t have a chance to wear Juventus shirt because I get a wrong size; it’s too small for me. And when I get the right size, I don’t stay at Turin anymore.
I am also trying my mini research in Rome. I wear AS Roma shirt while walking around Rome. Since I am alone in exploring Rome, with a map on my hand; surely people know that I am foreigner. And what do I got? I notice that guys that passing me, they smile to each other; for sure I experience this for some times. A friend of mine in Rome tells me that I should be careful in wearing the shirt; as Lazio fans might rob me out of reason! Hilarious!
I don’t wear my AC Milan in Milan because I buy a black one. I told you before, the one that I want isn’t available; so I have to end up with a black one! And wearing black color in 30 degrees somehow is not a good decision…
I love Italy
My trip to Italy is really fun. I enjoy every moment of it. Now I even start thinking to go back there! The football, the Asti, the goose salami, the ice cream, the people… hopefully I can go back there soon!