In a U-Bahn station. A German man asked me in German language.
[German man] : Where is the train going?
[Me] : Alt Mariendorf
[German man] : Oow! Thank you!
[Me] : [thinking... what's wrong? He asked in German and I could reply it. But then suddenly he said 'thank you' rather than 'danke'? My accent must be so weird to him...]
|Dresden City Festival|
|Gold horse raider statue|
I never been to the former East Germany before, so when I had a chance to visit Dresden, I didn’t hesitate to go. My Indonesian friend who study in Dresden informed me about the city festival, so I go there not just visiting the city but also experiencing the crowd. In addition, Indonesian students would also perform traditional dances! This is something that I always admired from fellow Indonesians: none of the students are professional dancers (c’mon, engineer, scientist, linguist…) yet they are wiling to learn to dance for introducing Indonesia to the world.
|Preparation before the dance|
Anyway, so I went to Dresden by train with several language course students. The trip took about three hours. We planned to have one-day trip, we would go home in the evening.
Arriving Dresden, I didn’t waste my time, I directly went to the stage where the Indonesian dances would be performed (there are several stages spread all over the city center). There I met my friend and saw the preparation before the dances started.
The dances attracted people around. Some were videotaping, took pictures, and kids also tried to follow the dances. Very cute! There were four dances: three Balinese and one Sumatran.
|People attracted to Indonesian dances|
After the dances, I said goodbye to my friend and continued my sightseeing around the festival. There were several areas divided by themes, for example: sport theme, medieval theme, youth theme, culture theme, etc. Very interesting!
After awhile, I met with my Berlin friends again and joined them to a palace and explored the garden. And after that I got separated again until we met again in the train station before going home. Overall I think Dresden is a nice city, it has old and modern buildings. To be honest, I never thought that Dresden would be a big city…
|Fountain in Dresden's castle|
Indonesians like to gather. We even have a principle that says mangan ora mangan kumpul which means “eating or not at least we gather”. So it’s not surprising if even in the foreign country, we still flock together or try to find other Indonesians. People who want to stay abroad for long time like me, will try to find any existing Indonesian community. This is like a normal SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) for Indonesians.
The main benefit of joining the community is of course we can get help. It’s not such a secret if students like me like to come to a gathering event for having free Indonesian foods. Of course in return we also have to help others, but this is just a karma circle: you got help and then you help others.
|Facebook page of Indonesian community in Bremen|
The thing is, I thought this behavior is just normal. People from other countries will do the same. Apparently I was wrong. In my German class, there are students from nine countries from Asia and Eastern Europe, but only me who do the search for people from our home country. They are not familiar with the system. Hmmm…
So for example, most of our problem now is finding an apartment for our study later (after the German course). They, of course, search in internet, but in my case, I have asked the Indonesian community in Bremen and now I have few offers. And if worst-case scenario happened, I could just go to Bremen and crash to an Indonesian home for awhile. Indonesian community rocks!
One of the things I love about Germany is healthy foods can be found everywhere with many options and competitive price with the ‘sinful’ ones. What I mean by healthy foods are like organic foods or low calorie/ less sugar foods. In Indonesia, these foods can only be found in big cities and the prices are generally expensive.
In the place where I worked before going to Germany, Berau, like other places in Indonesia, there are so many tasty sinful foods. Most of the foods are fried or with coconut milk or consists of internal organs. Yummy! I really loved it. But then I had to face the awful truth, my cholesterol level is higher than expected. I am now in a yellow zone of cholesterol level!!!
So, having the wake-up call, I have to be more serious in taking care of myself, and I am grateful that I am in Germany now. I can really stop my poor eating habit and start something new. I start eating salad mainly and leave the fried stuffs. I also don’t eat anything from flour except if it’s a whole-wheat product. I drink low fat milk and adding my green tea consumption.
To add more value on what I eat, I also look for organic foods. Organic foods not only good for my health but also for the environment. But then there’s also a twist for this option. As an environmentalist, one of the trends now is eating local which means eating food from local ground and not imported from other places. Because imported foods mean consuming much fuel for the transportation. And this is the ‘problem’ with foods in Germany. A lot of (if it’s not most of) the foods are imported. For example this banana, it’s imported from Costa Rica! The salmons are mostly from Norway. So I don’t know if it’s still considered as healthy foods cause most likely there’s preservative in it…
|Salmon from Norway|
|Banana from Costa Rica|
And if I want to be a good environmentalist, eating local food, probably I have to eat Kartoffelsalat every day! Ooowwhhh… why healthy doesn’t mean tasty… L
As a DAAD scholarship holder, I am required to do German language course before my study begins. Although I have lived in Germany before, but this requirement still applies. But I got some tolerances. Other PhD scholarship holders had to do it in Indonesia also, while I didn’t have to. And then, others had to do 3-month German course in Germany, while I only got 2-month.
But had lived in Germany doesn’t mean I can speak fluently. In fact, that’s the most downside that I got: can’t speak local language. Well how’s that not possible, my Masters study was in English and that was where I spent most of my times. And after I left Germany, I never in a situation where I have to understand German. So surely, after 3 years my German was completely gone…
|My German language course books|
And it’s not surprising that when I had to take placement test for the language course, I got A1 level! First of all, the language school now is different than the one I had. So, even though I passed A2 level from the previous school, it’s not acknowledged. Many of my friends surprised to know that I am in level A1 now, but actually there’s A0 level!!! So I am not that bad…
My new language school is called Carl Duisberg Centren. The thing that I like the most is they teach creatively. With a lot of games and practices, so I don’t have to get stuck a lot with grammar. But of course, I think practicing outside the school will improved my skill. Sooo… I have to start talking German now…