Thursday, December 24, 2015

What's Yet To Come

It's frightening to realize how fast time passes. Especially when you realize how good your life is at the moment and how scary the future might be.

I learned and did a lot of new things in 2015. I befriended various kinds of people. I travelled a lot more than I have my entire life (I flew 20 times in 5 months!). I even surpassed my reading goal and have started journaling again. This year, I feel challenged and blessed. I feel like I have grown up a little. I feel overjoyed, despite still having all the insecurities.

This year, I learned that when I stop worrying, eventually Allah is going to open a door. He's going to lead me through a path I didn't even know existed. He keeps reminding me that worrying will not do any good. Just trust Him, and I'll always be fine.

I also learned this year that leaving a comfort zone is a necessity, no matter how hard. Of course doing something we know we're good at and being surrounded by kind people who are all familiar are tempting, but trust me, the world out there has even more to offer. 


Although this is undoubtedly the best year of my life, it's not all immaculate. I also learned to let go this year; to accept that what I think I want might not be the same with what I need. I learned that being grateful that something beautiful has happened will make me a lot happier than regretting it, as cliché as it sounds. Knowing that Allah is the best planner, I also learned to not feel excessively sad about all the things and all the people I have lost. I have been told that there's no such thing as unfortunate events if we're patient enough to see the silver linings. There's always something to learn, something to improve, something that eventually will make us stronger.

A lot of things happened this year. I stumbled and ran. I wept and laughed. I said goodbyes and hellos. I found and lost.

This year, I learned that sometimes distance makes the heart grow fonder, and sometimes it's not. I learned that doing meaningful things are what drives me, and the money will just follow effortlessly.

I know I'm ready for a new year. I'm ready to be surprised. I'm ready to figure out why Allah said "no" or "not now." Because I have to keep believing that something beautiful is yet to come.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

About Being Superficial

Have you ever thought about how shallow our life is? Because lately I have.

Lately I no longer open Path and Instagram more than ten times a day - just to see when did who go out where with whom. Lately I've been scrolling down my own page to see the things that I have posted, and wonder why did I post them in the first place. Some of the posts are not even news-worthy; meaning, no one would really want to know about it. Some, I even found a little too braggy. Why do I become so shallow? Is it because I want people to appreciate me? Is it because I long for likes, loves, and thumbs ups? Is it because I want my friends to see how perfect my life is? Because, spoiler alert, it is not; and so does everyone else's.

I guess I did post what I have posted just because everyone else does it. It has become the new normal, and it's completely normal to conform. And yes, when I was living abroad, it really was pleasing to see what my friends in Indonesia are up to, just to make me feel like I was not a thousand of miles away. Although in the end, I learned that those friends I had observed have their own problems and insecurities; things that I could not discover online.

Another part of me did it also because I have the need to tell someone about something. It feels good to write my thoughts down or say it aloud, which is why I blogged in the first place. But lately I've been wondering if my personal life is way too available on the internet. Yes, there are many many things that I keep to myself (and/or with my significant others), but a stranger would know a lot (like a lot, a lot) about me if they googled my name. And I'm not even someone. Lately I've been wondering if that's the right thing to do. That's why I have decided to buy a journal and write in the old-fashioned way. I realised that I need to write more honestly in order to regulate myself better; and I need to write them in a personal space where I don't have to worry about being judged.

And frankly, another part of me, of course, posted all those things to maintain the "self-image" that I have apparently created. And yes, sometimes, I retouched a few things and make it look better than it actually is. That's when I feel shallow and phony.

And no, this not the kind of post when I'd write, "I will delete all my social media account" or "I will not use internet ever again". This is simply just a reminder to me, to be less superficial. To hold the temptations to post all the unnecessary things.

If that's possible.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

To Make A Change

I have finally got a job - and guess what, it's exactly the job that I've been dreaming of - something I wrote about 5 months ago. 

Ever since I received a leadership training for LPDP, I am well-fed with facts which prove that my country needs a change, as well as a lot of bright and honest people who are willing to do the change. We were told that no, it's not the abundance of evil people that makes a country corrupt and degenerate, it's the lack of good people who are willing to do something about it.

Long story short, I naively want to make a change in the educational system; something with bigger impacts than teaching a few children. And what's better than working with people who make the policy, in order to do that? Luckily, Allah heard my prayer, as always. I asked him to open a door for me after he closed a few windows, and yet he opened a wide gate.

Indeed, He is. (source)

I now work as an educational consultant for the ministry of education. It's not a permanent job, but it's fine considering I'm still not sure about what my next step is going to be. I get to work in a team consists of two other people who are both smart, experienced, yet humble and respect me - two people whom I can learn so much from and I can respect effortlessly. 

Just like any other job in the world, certaintly it's not perfect. There are some people who makes my head dizzy, too. People with long title, high position, yet no intention of doing their best to help people. People who reflects the old saying, "Empty barrels make the loudest noise." People who I have been meaning to ask, "How do you sleep at night?"

Nonetheless, this job is more than enough for me. I will have the chance to learn about the process behind a policy making, to talk to and meet with prominent people in the country, to travel to a few of cities, and, more importantly, to make a change, no matter how small. The job is also challenging, and I need to learn fast in order to keep up because apparently I'm a complete novice - but that's better than being trapped in my own comfort zone, right?

It's a new opportunity, a new journey. I still can't believe how amazing Allah's plan is. I promise to myself that I'll do my best and keep my idealism intact.

This job is a perfect, perfect way to end this incredible year and to start my 22 with. Once again, I am given with more blessings than I deserve. Although this time it is not only a blessing, but also a huge responsibility.

I hope things works out well for you, too.

Monday, October 12, 2015

To (Not) Compare

I struggled with my self-efficacy during my time in the UK. I questioned myself a lot, and I compared myself with plenty of my vocal, ambitious, native-speaker classmates; and found that I was not even close with them. 

Then I got home, and I saw a lot of people see myself in such a different perspective. That I am, according to them, bright and ambitious. "I am not that bright, trust me," I told them. "I would have performed better if I were. I am just a speck of dust compared to my classmates, and I know I could have done better if I tried harder." 

A few days ago, I need to go somewhere during rush hour, and I chose to take the train (because I'd rather be jammed on a train than got caught in a traffic jam). I know taking a train during peak hours in Jakarta is not a very pleasant thing to do, but it taught me something. I suddenly felt grateful because I realised that I am possibly more privileged, lucky, and educated than 90% people I met on the overcrowded train. I have a choice to take a cab or anything else if I want to, a choice that a lot of people don't have. I don't even need to commute every day - and as I find the commuting experience exhausting and bad for subjective well-being, I am utterly grateful. 

And I knew right away that it's unfair to me to always compare myself with people who are above me. It's unfair if I always compare myself with people I aspire to be. Sure, it's going to make me feel like I need to improve myself - and that's a good thing - but sometimes I really need to look back (and down) in order to remind myself to be grateful and proud of what I have done and become. Even my neck would get hurt if I looked up perpetually.

Said Theodore Rosevelt (source)

Apparently, I need to constantly remind myself to be grateful and to slow down a little bit. I have been running my whole life, and now it's okay if I want to walk a little. I decided to keep running until now (as Allah still supports me to), but I need to know that I really don't have to. I will never be satisfied if I always ask myself "what's next?".

Apparently, I need to remind myself again that every person in their twenties has problems and insecurities, and it is, in fact, the new normal. Adult life won't be easy, and this is just the beginning. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Menjadi Muslim di Eropa

Saya baru saja kembali ke tanah air setelah satu tahun menempuh magister di UK dan keliling Eropa selama dua minggu. Karena sudah lama nggak telfonan asik dengan keluarga, selama beberapa hari terakhir saya terus bercerita tentang pengalaman hidup di Eropa. Salah satu hal yang menarik untuk diceritakan adalah pengalaman saya sebagai Muslim di Eropa. Saya baru ngeh kalau ada banyak banget yang seru untuk diceritain, dan orang tua saya bilang, yang perlu juga diceritain dalam bentuk tulisan.

Secara umum, alhamdulillah saya nggak pernah ngalamin diskriminasi karena nunjukin identitas agama saya, baik di Inggris maupun di negara lain di Eropa. Ketika tiba di Inggris, saya bahkan bener-bener kaget karena nemuin banyak banget wanita berhijab di jalan - dari yang berturban sampai bercadar. Senengnya lagi, setiap papasan kami pasti bertukar senyum dan salam. 'Assalamu'alaikum' sampai terasa seperti sandi rahasia antar umat muslim. Teman saya sampai pernah bertanya, "Do you know that person?" "No," saya bilang. "But in Islam, we're all sisters. And we have a special way to greet each other". A beautiful way, indeed.

Meskipun selalu mendapatkan perlakuan yang baik selama di Eropa, kadang-kadang saya merasa ada banyak mata yang memperhatikan, terutama di beberapa kota yang jumlah muslimnya nggak banyak (misalnya ketika di Madrid). Tapi saya merasa tatapan itu cuma sekedar bentuk curiosity - and there's nothing wrong about it. Kalau kebetulan berpapasan dengan seseorang yang kelihatan sedang memperhatikan saya, biasanya saya senyumin aja orangnya. Chances are, they will do nothing but to smile back. Namun, karena sering merasa diperhatikan, saya kadang merasa mendapatkan tekanan untuk selalu berperilaku baik karena sedang membawa identitas agama saya. Kalau saya buang sampah sembarangan atau datang terlambat, misalnya, saya merasa bahwa yang dinilai negatif oleh orang lain bukan hanya perilaku saya sebagai seorang individu, tapi juga sebagai seorang muslim.

Selain dengan memberikan perhatian lebih, teman-teman saya biasanya menunjukkan rasa ingin tahunya dengan bertanya langsung. Ketika bulan Ramadhan misalnya, teman saya bertanya, gimana caranya saya survive tanpa makan dan minum selama dua puluh jam. Ada juga yang pertanyaannya lebih serius: kenapa puasa dilakukan di bulan Ramadhan, kenapa ada Muslim yang pakai jilbab dan yang nggak pakai jibab, atau kenapa saya nggak boleh makan babi. 

Karena komunitas Muslim cukup banyak di Eropa (khususnya di Inggris), mendapatkan makanan halal juga bukan hal yang sulit. Toko yang menjual kebab atau ayam goreng halal dengan harga murah pasti ada (setidaknya di setiap kota yang pernah saya datangi). Saya biasanya mengecek makanan halal melalui situs Zabihah, meskipun infonya kadang kurang lengkap. Kalaupun tidak menemukan restoran halal, bosan dengan pilihan makanan yang ada, atau harus pergi ke sebuah restoran karena diundang oleh teman, saya biasanya memilih menu vegetarian atau seafood. Peraturan di Inggris mengharuskan restoran untuk memberikan informasi mengenai bahan makanan dan allergen, sehingga biasanya di menu akan dicantumkan kalau makanannya menggunakan alkohol (atau bahan makanan lain yang tidak halal). Supaya lebih tenang lagi, tinggal tanya ke pelayannya, apakah makanan yang kita pesan mengandung bahan-bahan tersebut.

Mencari tempat ibadah juga bukan perkara sulit. Hampir semua kota besar di Eropa memiliki masjid, meskipun ada masjid yang ternyata hanya dibuka untuk laki-laki pada hari biasa (saya dan teman saya pernah masuk ke masjid khusus laki-laki dan malunya luar biasa). Pastikan lokasi pintu masuk untuk perempuan juga ya, karena ada beberapa masjid yang memisahkan gedung atau ruangan shalat laki-laki dan perempuan (saya juga pernah salah masuk dan malu banget rasanya). Jika tidak ada masjid di pusat kota, saya pernah shalat di kereta atau di restoran (untungnya saya berhijab, jadi nggak usah pakai mukena lagi) - karena saya masih merasa risih untuk shalat di taman atau tempat umum lainnya. Nggak enak aja rasanya kalau dilihat banyak orang, meskipun mereka juga nggak akan banyak berkomentar. But of course, it could also be an option.

Grande Moschea di Roma, salah satu masjid terbesar di luar negara Islam.

Salah satu kenalan saya di Inggris pernah bertanya, bagaimana cara saya beradaptasi dengan budaya di Inggris yang mungkin sangat berbeda dengan di negara Muslim. "It must be hard for you to adjust," katanya. Tidak juga sih, karena selama ini saya tetap berusaha untuk tetap open-minded meskipun tetap berusaha untuk menjaga diri saya. Tercampur tapi tidak terkontaminasi, kalau kata ibu saya.

Saya, misalnya, tetap mau untuk ikut ke pub jika masih siang atau setidaknya masih jam makan malam. Di Inggris, Pub bukan hanya tempat minum, tapi juga tempat makan dan ngobrol (karena kebanyakan cafe sudah tutup jam 8 malam). Saya biasanya memesan fish n' chips atau scampi (sejenis udang goreng tepung) dan minum air putih, sementara teman-teman saya memesan minuman beralkohol. Tapi, jika diajak ke pub setelah makan malam (karena teman-teman saya masih ingin minum-minum), biasanya saya izin untuk pulang duluan, karena hati saya rasanya nggak tenang untuk ikutan pergi meskipun saya juga nggak "ngapa-ngapain". Meskipun kesempatan saya untuk bersosialisasi jadi sedikit berkurang, saya tetap merasa nyaman dengan keputusan saya, karena toh semua teman saya menghargai keputusan saya untuk menghindari beberapa tempat, makanan, dan minuman. Nggak ada yang pernah memaksa saya untuk melakukan sesuatu yang bertentangan dengan nilai dan kepercayaan yang saya anut.

Bersama beberapa teman sekelas

Singkatnya, tidak perlu khawatir untuk pergi atau menetap di negara yang mayoritas penduduknya bukan Muslim. Tentu ada banyak hal yang perlu disesuaikan dan dikompromikan, tapi saya percaya kalau pengalaman hidup sebagai minoritas merupakan pengalaman yang sangat berharga karena setidaknya bisa membuat saya lebih menghargai perbedaan. Saya juga jadi memiliki kesempatan untuk mengubah persepsi orang-orang tentang Islam, seperti kata seorang teman saya yang warga Inggris, "It's not only beneficial for you. It's also great for us - so that we can learn more about other culture and beliefs."

Monday, September 28, 2015

A Glimpse of Europe

It has been an indelible 2 weeks. With one my closest friends in the UK, I went to see some parts of Europe which 20-year-old Ayas wouldn't even have dreamt of seeing. For 15 days, I was surrounded by people who talk in different languages.

For me, the vacation starts when I make the itinerary - when I plan what to do, where to go, where to stay, et cetera. We planned and booked everything ourselves: the hotel or Airbnb; the plane, bus, or train tickets to go from one city or country to another; the bus from the airport; and the attractions to visit. Planning a budget vacation was not easy, yet I love all the challenge and the satisfaction of knowing that we could do so much within our budget. I prefer planning my own vacation than joining a tour, because the "exploring" part is one of the most exciting one.

I knew from beginning that I'm not the kind of person who would enjoy travelling for 2 weeks straight, but we did it anyway because we have no time (nor money) to visit only one or two countries for a week a couple of times. We knew from the beginning that it would be exhaustive, yet we still managed to relish it until the end.

Colloseo, Roma

Duomo di Firenze

Europe was awesome. Brussel's grand place was incredibly pretty with all the golden details. Brugge's markt was filled with unique buildings that look like Lego houses. Madrid was interesting because I saw a lot of people reading on the metro (even more than in UK), yet found only a few people who can speak English. Toledo was extremely hot and tiring to explore on foot, yet also charming with all the medieval architecture. Barcelona was astonishing with all the Gaudi's masterpieces. Rome was surprisingly a little messy but beautifully embellished with all the roman ruins. Florence has a Duomo which looks like something you see on movies. Milan was nice for a little break and a little shopping. Paris looks a bit like London in some way, but has a special charm and ambience which I enjoy very much. Budapest was amazingly stunning at night, and even better (for me) at day. Lastly, Prague was charming and serene. There are still a lot of places to visit, obviously, but for now, this is more than enough. Enough to end my Journey in Europe before going back to Indonesia for good.

Gorgeous Budapest

The gigantic Eiffel Tower in Paris

The whole traveling experience was exhilarating, although wearing. It makes me want to explore other places around the world, broaden my perspective, and makes me discover a lot of novel things about myself. A year ago, I would not mention traveling as something that I love doing, but now I think of it as a necessity - something that I must do once in a while to keep myself sane and content.

Until next trip!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Stages of Studying Abroad

Almost a year ago, a lecturer of mine sat down with international MSc students in the psychology department. She was also an international student once, so the purpose of the get-together is to prepare the international freshers to study in the UK, as we needed to adjust in order to thrive - or at least, survive.

I still remember that my lecturer showed us a graph explaining the stages of studying abroad. The adjustment, the excitement, the struggle, the astonishment, the loneliness, the acceptance, and finally, the re-adjustment when returning home.

Another graph which pretty much explains the same thing (Source)

I also remember her saying, "There were times when I cried alone at night, wondering why I did this in the first place. That might happen to you, as well." And it did, a few times. When I felt so frustrated about my assignment, when I felt immensely stupid for not being able to write an excellent paper, when I realised that my English is far from good, when I saw my family went on a vacation together, when I miss my close friends, and when I just felt like crying with no particular reason. It's been a roller-coaster ride, indeed. A hell of a ride.

Nevertheless, now I'm feeling a little emotional to go back home. I'm finally in a state of acceptance. I actually enjoy having a space from everyone (yet still be in touch with them) and being more independent, and I'm a bit nervous to know that I need to readjust my position once more. When you're away from people you love, it's more likely that you forget all the bad memories about them and start missing all the good ones instead - and somehow I find it good for the relationship. In some cases, distance does make the heart grow fonder.

But there's always an end to something, even the good ones. I'm leaving for good in just a few days to re-face the reality (as this whole year still feels surreal to me), and I don't know if I'm ready.

Well then, thank you for the indelible experience, York. You will sure be tremendously missed.

"It is so hard to leave—until you leave. And then it is the easiest goddamned thing in the world." 
- John Green, Paper Town

Sunday, September 6, 2015

To The Past Self

All my life, I have always wanted to be an adult. I have been choosing chick lit over teen lit (and adult fiction over young-adult novels) since high school, started watching Desperate Housewives when I was 15 (I know how terrible it sounds), always think more like an adult, prefer talking to my aunts than playing with my younger cousins, and I'm happy if someone mistake me for a person who is a few years older (based on my behavior, though, not how I look or dress). Well, I could think of several justifications behind those inclinations - I am the first child, I was raised to be mature and responsible, I studied psychology, most of my close friends are at least 2 years older than me, and so forth.

Although now that I'm an adult (the future me might laugh to read that a 21-year-old me gullibly thought she was an adult), I'm actually a bit scared. It's getting real. The pressure is real. The pressure to get a job, to get married, to raise beautiful and smart children, to make a change, to do meaningful things. And I'm still far, far away from what I aspire to be. On my way there, I hope, but still nowhere near.

The thing about being the oldest one in the family is, no one is going to tell you how the world really works and guide you to the "right" way. There could be some discrepancies between what your parents told you to do and what everyone else is doing, and no one would tell you what to do.

If only I could tell my younger, naive self a few things, I'd tell her not to worry so much about being an adult. I'm grateful to have the chance to start college two and a half years earlier than I was supposed to, but life is not just about putting a tick on your to-achieve list. So I would tell the teenage-me to enjoy the present more. Break some rules, make some mistakes, and learn from them. Be friends with a lot of people, even those who didn't meet your criteria of a nice person. There is always something that you can learn from everyone, after all. You, however, still need to always follow your conscience (which sometimes has the exact same voice as your mom's or dad's) to prevent yourself from doing stupid things you might regret.

Found on Tumblr.

I would also tell her to never stop reading. Books can be expensive and movies can be so tempting, but you, my dear, should never stop reading. Be it novels or nonfiction books about anything, they will open your mind. Now that I'm (finally) into reading again, I sometimes stumble upon a few books and thought, "why didn't I read this earlier?". And yes, I would also tell myself to start reading English books earlier. It could be intimidating and difficult at first, but once you're used to it, girl, it could lead you to a whole new world! Your brain would definitely thank you later.

I would tell her to be less afraid to try new things as well. Seriously, do something you're not really comfortable with, but you know could benefit you in some way. And don't give up or get bored so easily. Be more persistent, for your own sake. You will irrefutably regret all the things that everyone does yet you don't because you couldn't (like swimming or riding a bike), so pull yourself together and keep trying until you can.

But I'm not getting any younger, and so I would also tell my future self: Try your best to keep doing all the things I have mentioned earlier. You'll be alright, as you always are. You're loved, you're blessed, you're happy. A few years ago, you old self was praying to get the things you now have (and probably you take for granted). And for that, you should really be grateful.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

In The End

It has been quite a bumpy year, filled with self-doubts, insecurities, and countless firsts. And yet I've made it. It's all done, and although I know I could do way better, I have to say I'm proud of myself for being able to tick one big box on my checklist.

And in the end, after being too hard on myself for conducting a crappy research that I couldn't fell in love with (although I did enjoy doing it tremendously), there's nothing more rewarding than having our supervisor told us, "Great job! A lot of judges (lecturer and professor) were really impressed with what you have done. Such an ambitious work for an MSc project!". Ah, and the unexpected poster-winning also felt pretty amazing. It's not the reward or the fact that I made the best poster among all students in my department (including those who did research with EEG or anything else; whose poster look both complicated and sophisticated) - it's the fact that, at last, I have done something right and was appreciated for doing so.

With the poster which I don't really like at first as it has too many words that I just couldn't cut down.

Regardless of all the challenges, this year probably is the best year my life. I did a lot of traveling, met a lot of inspiring people (not to mention new close friends), and learned more about myself.

A snippet of my year. What's not to be grateful for?

I'm still figuring out what to do next. I feel lost and find myself bewildered about which path do I need to choose; what kind of person do I need to be - but aren't we all twenty-somethings are?

I'm all waiting for the doors to be opened. And in the meantime, I'll travel some more, giving myself a reward as deserved. In the meantime, I'll keep whispering to myself, "You're still twenty one. Stop being so apprehensive about life and just try to enjoy it while you can."

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Menjadi Ibu

Satu lagi hal yang saya pelajari selama kuliah di UK: Belajar jadi istri dan ibu. 

Selama di UK, saya jadi kenal banyak ibu-ibu yang nggak tipikal. Usianya beragam, dari kepala dua sampai hampir kepala empat. Ada yang sedang kuliah master, PhD, atau menemani suami kuliah atau kerja. Ada yang single mother, ada yang belum juga dikaruniai anak, dan ada yang punya anak banyak. Ada yang selalu keliatan senang, ada yang curhat sampe sesenggukan karena capek ngurusin dua balita yang aktifnya masya Allah, ada juga yang hidupnya keras tapi semangat dan optimismenya lebih keras lagi. Ada yang alpha-wife, ada yang bener-bener tipe wanita-patuh-dan-manis. 

Nggak tipikal karena mereka semua memulai hidup baru di UK. Nggak ada baby sitter, nggak ada pembantu, nggak ada orang tua atau mertua yang bisa dimintai tolong. Nggak ada abang-abang sate atau nasi goreng yang bisa distop kalo lagi terlalu sibuk atau males masak. Nggak ada guru les atau guru ngaji yang bisa dipanggil ke rumah. Semuanya harus dilakuin sendiri.

Mengobservasi dan mendengarkan cerita mereka adalah salah satu kesenangan saya. Some people have real problems, and I think married people all do. Selain masalah burn out, ada juga masalah-masalah yang lebih kompleks seperti masalah rumah tangga atau pekerjaan suami. Masalah-masalah yang complicated dan bikin saya nggak bisa komentar apa-apa karena saya sadar saya masih amat bocah, polos, dan egois untuk sekedar berkomentar. 

Intinya, jadi ibu dan istri itu nggak gampang. Apalagi buat perempuan-perempuan yang berpendidikan tinggi dan punya ambisi. Ada banyak banget yang harus dikompromiin. No matter how bad you want something, your children's needs are going to come first.  Ada mimpi-mimpi yang harus direlakan kalau akan lebih banyak membebani keluarga. Momen-momen yang kayak gini yang bikin saya sadar kalo saya kok rasanya belum siap jadi ibu, meskipun udah banyak baca tentang teori psikologi keluarga dan parenting dan sering dicurhatin sama ibu-ibu. Atau semua wanita pasti akan siap pada waktunya, ya? Entahlah. 

Dari semua ibu yang saya kenal cukup dekat, favorit saya adalah mereka-mereka yang bisa mendapatkan insight sendiri ketika sedang bercerita. Mereka butuh didengar dan butuh mengeluarkan unek-unek sebagai bagian dari cara untuk meregulasi emosi, tapi mereka juga tahu gimana cara nyelesainnya. 

Mau tau strategi coping-nya? Yesreligious coping

Bayangin, ada yang cerita kalo beasiswa dan kontrak kerja suaminya nggak diperpanjang, dan tahu apa yang mereka bilang?

"Saya sih nggak khawatir sebenernya, pasrah aja sama rencana Allah. Saya nggak mau jadi tergantung sama manusia."

"Saya percaya Allah pasti akan bukain jalan kok, meskipun ada masalah ini. Jadi saya nggak khawatir."

Dan teman saya yang curhat karena burn-out jadi ibu itu? Well, she planned to have another baby next year. 

"Secapek apapun saya, kalo liat dia capek saya langsung ilang. Rasanya semuanya jadi worth-it deh! Lagian kan ini ladang ibadah saya juga, ya."

Some people have real problems, and they don't even worry about it. 

Because everything, indeed, has been written down. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Sputnik Sweetheart

John Green once said in one of his vlogs, "maybe our favorite quotations say more about us than about the stories and people we're quoting." A simple thought which I believe is right, as it portrays displacement, somehow.

Maybe that's why I like these quotations so much. Murakami is not my favorite author, but boy, that man really knows how to write poignantly.

Sputnik (Source)

"Do you know what ‘Sputnik’ means in Russian? ‘Travelling companion’. I looked it up in a dictionary not long ago. Kind of a strange coincidence if you think about it. I wonder why the Russians gave their satellite that strange name. It’s just a poor little lump of metal, spinning around the Earth. 

"And it came to me then. That we were wonderful traveling companions but in the end no more than lonely lumps of metal in their own separate orbits. From far off they look like beautiful shooting stars, but in reality they're nothing more than prisons, where each of us is locked up alone, going nowhere. When the orbits of these two satellites of ours happened to cross paths, we could be together. Maybe even open our hearts to each other. But that was only for the briefest moment. In the next instant we'd be in absolute solitude. Until we burned up and became nothing."
- Haruki Murakami, Sputnik Sweetheart

There was a bitter smile upon my face after coming across those sentences. Because maybe that explains what we are. Sputnik.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Disertasi untuk M.Sc

Di lima hari menjelang deadline untuk pengumpulan draft disertasi (di Inggris istilahnya disertasi meskipun untuk program magister), salah satu adik kelas saya dulu menghubungi saya untuk bertanya-tanya soal proses pembuatan disertasi di sini, berhubung waktu kuliah yang diberikan hanya 1 tahun. Saya jadi sadar deh, saya belum pernah bener-bener cerita tentang pembuatan disertasi ini secara detil ke siapa-siapa. Nggak penting-penting banget sih, but it's kind of a necessity to keep myself sane. Saya cuma bisa diskusi sama teman saya di London (yang sama-sama anak psikologi dan punya concern di riset) - yang hanya saya temui dua kali sejak saya mulai menulis disertasi. Talking to her is always helpful, but it's not like having a friend who can listen to everything that has happened to you over lunch, every day.

Satu hal yang saya sadari ketika hidup di luar negeri adalah, saya jadi milih masalah apa yang mau dicertain ke sahabat-sahabat dan keluarga saya di Indonesia. No one wants to hear me blabbing about which statistical method that I need to use, seriously, so I stopped sharing unless I was asked. Dan teman-teman di UK? I have a few Indonesian friends, but none of them study psychology, so telling them about my research in detail would only bore them, I suppose. Well, di York cuma ada satu teman sejurusan saya yang dekat dengan saya. Kebanyakan teman kelas saya orang Eropa, jadi gaya pertemanannya agak berbeda dan saya susah klopnya. The truth is, selama di sini saya nggak pernah ngerasa jadi diri sendiri kalau lagi sama teman-teman di kelas (kecuali sama si satu teman itu). That's the thing about being a minority kali, ya. Somehow you will feel like you don't fit in, meskipun semua orang baik banget sama saya.

So I'm going to write about my dissertation here. It won't be an interesting read, unless you are into that. Dan karena ini posting curhatan, maaf yah kalau bahasanya akan campur aduk. Ah, another thing about studying abroad - saya ngerasa bahasa Inggris saya gini-gini aja (ada improvement tapi tingkat signifikansinya masih di atas .05 - if you know what I'm saying *wink*), tapi kemampuan menulis dalam Bahasa Indonesia saya menurun drastis.

Karena waktu efektif untuk membuat disertasi hanya sekitar 4 bulan dan data  yang digunakan dalam penelitian psikologi kebanyakan berupa data primer, ada sekitar 10 topik yang harus dipilih oleh mahasiswa di program saya. Satu orang harus memilih tiga topik, lalu kepala program akan memutuskan topik akhir penelitian kami. Saya memilih dua topik tentang adaptasi alat ukur ke Bahasa Indonesia, dan terakhir, satu penelitian intervensi. Alasannya sederhana, saya nggak mau penelitian saya cuma berakhir jadi tugas. I want to at least do something, meskipun cuma bikin alat ukur buat anak-anak (yang nantinya bisa dipake lagi untuk penelitian di Indonesia) atau bantu ngasih intervensi ke anak-anak (yang hasil penelitiannya pun akan lebih nyata dan bisa diaplikasiin).

Saya dapat topik nomor tiga - waktu itu judulnya "piloting a novel maths intervention using Lego". Supervisor saya namanya Sophie, psikolog pendidikan sekaligus peneliti tentang down syndrome dan perkembangan matematika. Saya nggak sendiri, ada 3 orang lain di kelompok saya. Ada satu orang India yang dari TK sudah berbahasa Inggris dan S-1 di York (dan lulus first-class honours - which means she's both smart and hard-working), satu orang Inggris yang paling aktif di kelas (which means she's smart and confident); dan satu orang Inggris lain yang sudah 20 tahun menjadi guru (which mean she's street-smart). Kami berempat harus ngerancang dan ngelakuin penelitian ini bareng-bareng, meskipun analisis data dan penulisan disertasi dilakukan sendiri-sendiri. Saya panik bukan main di meeting pertama saya - minder luar biasa. To keep up with their conversation is challenging, given that English is their first language - apalagi buat aktif berpendapat. Saya jadi kembali jadi Ayas versi beberapa tahun lalu - diam, nggak ngomong kalo nggak ditanya, dan ngangguk-ngangguk doang meskipun ga sependapat, karena takut salah. I was not the best version of myself. I was not even me.

Kami pun berhasil merancang 25 sesi intervensi untuk anak-anak kelas 1 SD dan TK di dua sekolah di York. Ada 3 kelompok partisipan: satu kelompok akan diajarkan melalui Lego, satu kelompok lain diajarkan melalui metode konvensional (verbal maths, lewat soal-soal), dan sisanya jadi kelompok kontrol. Setiap sesi berlangsung selama dua puluh menit. Sebelum dan sesudah intervensi, semua partisipan akan diberikan rangkaian pre-test dan post-test. Proses intervensi dan pengambilan data harus dilakukan setiap hari selama sebelas minggu, meskipun teman-teman saya di kelompok lain ada yang hanya mengambil data lewat kuesioner online.

The tools

I like doing the intervention as it gave me a chance to teach (and play with) cute students who all speak in british accent (sehingga aksen saya juga jadi berubah kalo lagi deket-deket mereka), and I can see the progress throughout the whole session. Like, whatever happen to my dissertation, at least I helped those 6 children. But when it comes to writing.... I feel really unmotivated. Saya nggak ngerasain passion yang dulu saya rasain ketika menulis skripsi - mungkin karena waktu itu saya benar-benar memutuskan topiknya sendiri. Dan karena banyak otak yang ngerancang penelitian ini, susah untuk menjustifikasi hal-hal yang sebenernya kurang saya sepakatin sejak awal. Proses belajarnya jadi agak aneh.

Satu lagi yang saya rasain bedanya: Di sini, bab methods dan result justru yang paling diperhatiin sama supervisor saya. Ketika skripsi dulu, bagian ini justru yang paling cepet saya kerjain karena analisis yang dipake sangat, amat sederhana (ga bener sih tapi ya, saya bahkan nggak uji normalitas dan lain-lain) - mungkin karena ekspektasinya beda, tapi menurut saya juga karena dosen pembimbing saya ketika S1 dulu juga nggak punya perhatian besar dengan statistik (meskipun landasan teori dan analisis di diskusinya jadi kuat).

Ah iya, satu lagi bedanya. Saat S1 dulu, saya berkali-kali mengirimkan draft tulisan ke supervisor untuk di-feedback sampai sesuai dengan apa yang mereka mau. Di sini, saya cuma punya satu kesempatan untuk memperlihatkan disertasi saya dan untuk melakukan revisi sebelum dikumpulkan. Yang jelas saya jadi panik dan ketar-ketir karena nggak ada yang membimbing secara langsung. Nggak ada dosen statistik yang bisa saya cegat di kanlam juga buat nanya-nanya. What if everything I've done is completely wrong?

Dan yang jelas, saya jadi yakin banget kalo saya belum siap buat PhD (meskipun masih pengen, someday). Ilmunya belum siap, mentalnya apa lagi. Nggak kebayang sih ngelakuin satu riset sampai tiga tahun, cuma disupervisi secara umum, dan harus bikin deadline sendiri. Nggak kebayang juga harus hidup sendiri dan jauh dari keluarga sampai bertahun-tahun. I won't survive that, not now

Well, meskipun penuh liku dan drama, perjuangan bikin tesis ini akan selalu jadi pengalaman berharga buat saya. Capeknya, paniknya, pusingnya, marahnya. Semales apapun saya buat mulai menulis hari ini (sehingga saya malah nulis blog), saya akan kangen masa-masa bikin tesis - masa-masa dimana kognisi saya selalu diuji. 

Saat skripsi dulu, dari awal saya menargetkan diri saya untuk dapat nilai A. Sekarang, boro-boro, yang penting lulus dan nggak malu-maluin banget. Yang penting saya banyak belajar dan ilmu saya bisa berkembang (dan nantinya bisa bermanfaat). Jadi, doain supaya lancar dan nggak malu-maluin yah.

Doain juga supaya self-efficacy saya bisa kembali naik, ya.

Friday, June 19, 2015

19 Hours of Devotion

"So you're going to fast all day? It's crazy! It's summer now so the day is very long! And you're not even allowed to drink, are you?" Said a friend of mine a few days ago.

To be frank, those questions creeped me out a little, made me feel even more anxious to enter this holy month that I had always felt excited about to welcome.

Yes, it's finally Ramadhan again. A special month for us Muslims. A month where we have to fast all day and perform more prayers. A month of forgiveness and second chances. A month full of promises.

The problem is, it will be different this time. I have never spent a whole Ramadhan far away from home. And it's 19 hours. 19. Freaking. Hours. How could I possibly get through that? It does not make sense, right? 

So why, why would we want to fast all day for 30 consecutive days? Why would we want to starve ourselves and resist all the worldly temptations? Why would we want to wake up so early to eat suhoor, while wrapping ourselves in a duvet feel so utterly comfortable? 

Because it's more than just hunger and thirst. It's about devotion. It's about proving that we're willing to prioritize Him over ourselves. It's about cleansing our soul, and starting over, starting anew.

And after experiencing my first day of Ramadhan in the UK, I can tell that Allah will grant us extra strength to do good deeds if we're willing to. I never knew I could fast for more than 19 hours. But I did! And I'm fine! I didn't even feel hungry until about 16 hours of fasting - and that had never happened before.

"So when you're about to fast this time, remember the various bounties that Allah has bestowed you with.  Remember the variety of food you have and the availability of cold water.  Remember the roof over your head and the decent job you've got.  Remember all the special bounties that are unique to your and your surroundings.  Then say, I'm fasting out of gratitude to this Lord who has given me all this.  Every time you feel the pain of fasting, remind yourself that you're doing it out of love for the Creator, who is the reason for everything you enjoy in this life." - Anas Hlayhel

So, yes, every time I feel thirsty or my stomach starts rumbling, I will just remember that I'm doing this for the Most Amazing, Gracious, Merciful God that always blesses no matter what. I will remember that sacrificing only 30 days a year is not even enough to pay all the blessings I have showered with.

I will also remember delightedly that during Suhoor and Iftar, all prayers that I ask will be granted. It's true, as what He has promised us, everything that I had asked for during Ramadhan has always been answered.

And when I remember all of that, I believe I will get extra power to get through the day. And I do not need to worry, as He has promised not to let me be tempted beyond what I can bear.

Ramadhan Kareem!

Friday, June 12, 2015

To Live A Meaningful Life

Dear Future Ayas,

Please remember that a few days ago (current time, not future time) you shared a conversation with an Indonesian friend that is also studying at York. He has worked for Indonesian government for several years now, and he told you stories about Indonesia.

It's a similar story that you have heard several times, actually. He's been to many remote areas in Indonesia and witnessed a lot of issues. Poverty, corruption, poor quality of education, you name it.

He told you about a small village which has only a school where the teachers had not been paid for 3 months, yet there was a band invited to the amuse the people in the village and they got paid for 500 million rupiahs.

He also told you about the way his friends who work in Customs & Excise, who has corrupted hundreds of millions and don't even feel guilty about it anymore.

He opened your eyes and lit it up at the same time - because you did realize that you want to do something. You didn't know what you could do exactly, but you knew you can't just ignore those facts.

Dear Ayas,

Whatever happen in the future, please remember that you once had a dream that you could do something for your country. That you could do something to make every child in your country to receive the same quality of education and have a happy life at home. That you believed that it could then alleviate the problems of Indonesia, as the lack of education seems to be the root of all the problems.

Whatever you do in the future, please remember that your dream was to make a change and help people, not to gain a lot of money.

Please remember that money and possessions are not the only criteria to measure success. So you'll also remember that it's okay if you couldn't make more money than most of your friends. It's okay if you choose not to buy designer bags and pricey shoes, or eat at fancy restaurants. It's okay.

Dear Ayas,

I do hope that you won't see this post as something silly and naive. I hope you will keep the idealism and find a way to make a change. I hope you still remember that it's a meaningful and content life that you're after, not a glamorous one. 

You just have to figure it out. Or maybe by now you have?

Saturday, June 6, 2015

A Second Chance

I am currently on a mission to spend more time reading. TV series, movies, and all the gadgets I have make it so hard to get lost in a book, no matter how good it is. I read less than 10 books last year, and I think less than 5 a year beforehand. I have promised myself to read, and got even more enthusiastic after reading this article.

So I decided to give reading a second chance. I want to feel the same way about books like I did ten years ago. Now I have read more than 15 books this year, and even though it's not that much, I am proud of myself because I show progress.

If you also do want to be an avid reader again, the first thing that you need to do to start reading is deciding what genre would be most suitable for you. Just think about the kind of movie you'd usually go to, or the topic that intrigues you. Mine would be fiction (the adult one), parenting, religion, and psychology. You should also decide what are you reading for: Is it solely for amusement? Or do you also want to deepen your understanding about something?

The next step that should be done is signing up for a Goodreads account. If you want to start reading again, you have to make sure that you are not going to spend hours reading a book that's not even worth your time. I started by looking at books from Goodreads Choice Awards. I know that everybody have a different taste and you might not like the book that another hundred thousands of people do, but reading a best-seller is a safe bet. Also, listing the book that you have read and want to read is a good idea to make you focused and feel more excited. The community is also important, as you'll find thousands of people who are profoundly passionate about reading.

You want to see book recommendations in a video form because that's just something that you enjoy? Then the so-called BookTube is the right place. Just search a book's title in YouTube, and watch the review. The only BookTube-r I subscribe is Booksandquills, just because she can make a book sounds very interesting and make me want to read it (even though I might not really like the book after all). I'm still looking for one that suit my reading preference the most, though.

Besides Goodreads and YouTube, of course you can ask your friends for recommendations, although it's not easy to find someone who reads lately - especially someone who reads the kind of book that you like to read. So whenever a close friend of mine posted a book on Path, I try to read the review on Goodreads to decide if the book is worth reading, and start enjoying it if it is.

If you're starting to get comfortable with a particular genre (and that includes bestseller), get out of your comfort zone and start reading a different book. I put some classics into my to-read lists, because I know there must be a reason why those book are still relished after all these years.

If there is a movie or TV series based on a bestseller book, which one would you prefer? I do enjoy watching it (especially if it's an action or sci-fi) as it would help visualise the book and make me got into it better with all the sound effect, but I learned lately that the latter would give you so much more.

First and foremost, reading a book will give you perspective. It gives you a chance to really understand what's going on in the character's minds. It will be easier to walk in their shoes if we do know what they feel about something. And it will feel more personal and emotional, I think.

Reading can also give you more chance to imagine. The characters could be anyone you want to picture. The setting could even look more personal. You choose. It's your own adventure.

Besides, I think reading is better for your brain. It will help you develop a good sense of language and give you exposures of new, fancy vocabularies. Most friends I know who reads has a more unique way to put up sentences. It's also good to improve our memory and concentration, I reckon, as those are essential to keep up with the story.

So if you loved reading growing up, but got so busy or lazy due to the technology, gave it another chance. Go to a bookstore or get yourself an e-reader, and start over. It has been a great experience for me so far and now I can't wait to tick every book that's on my to-read list.

Too much to read! (Source)

And be easy on yourself. You don't have to like a book that everybody else does. You don't have a to read a book that sounds smart. Well, in a book store at York, I saw a sign that said, "Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it", so at least find a book that won't make you look terribly embarrassing. Just start with something you are fascinated about, then explore new things.

Happy reading!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

A Bothering Brother

Let me tell you something about someone whom I once considered as my biggest enemy, yet I know I couldn't live without. Someone whom I have known for exactly 20 years today.

Meet my smirky little brother.

Just like any other siblings in the world, we used to fight a lot. He used to punch and kick me, and I used to grab his hair and told him that he was adopted, as he is the only one in the family who has O blood type (worked like a charm, every single time). We fought every day and drove our parents crazy. We are only 18 months apart and it was only the two of us until 5 years later, so we became each other's biggest rival.

During the fight, especially in my preadolescence years when he became my biggest bully, I used to cry and wonder, why did Allah give me such an annoying little brother. Why do we hate each other so much? Why didn't He give me an older brother who can protect me instead? Yes, you know how dramatic a preteen girl could be - especially the one who read a lot of teen-lit and always compare herself with other people.

As we grew older, we develop a healthier relationship. We talked a lot about life, religion, politics, education, and the future. We talked about our parents and helped each other to adjust, as we realized that we have different norms at home and out there. He is still an annoying snob sometimes, but he can be sweet when I need him to. He's still childish most of the time, but he can act like my older brother when I need him to, perhaps because my parents always treat him like the oldest son in the family, instead of the second child. The moment when my dad was sick and needed a blood transfusion, I know right away that my infuriating little brother has turned into a dependable grown-up, and God only knows what I would do without him.

My brother was a classic middle child who was quite rebellious during his adolescence, but eventually he found his passion and figured out what he wants to be. At my graduation day, he told me that he didn't want to graduate in 3.5 years and with a cum laude just like his sister, as it sounds lame and geeky. But now? Now he is the geek in the family, as he spends hours to code every day, becomes the Assistant Lecturer, and works hard to maintain his GPA and graduate in less than 4 years whilst still being actively involved in several organizations. That's when I know that he is going to be someone in the future and I have nothing to worry about.

We're still not that sweet-siblings who tell I love you to each other, but since I'm away and I miss him (and my family) a lot, let me write this for once in my life. Thank you for being a significant part of my life. And thank you for saying this a few months ago,

"I have always thought that you'll end up with a man who is better than me, or at least as good as me."

It means a lot, even though I know how difficult it is to find a man who can meet that expectation.

So happy birthday and welcome to the early adulthood! May you always shine and be the man our parents taught to you be. And while I'm away, please take care of everyone and act like the oldest one in the family.

I'm not going to say this often, and I'm going to punch you if you laugh at me for saying this because I mean it, but I love you.

And I realize that having the privilege to have you and these two kiddos in my life is one of the greatest things that ever happened to me.

I'll see you soon!

Monday, May 11, 2015

To Take A Walk

I never knew that walking could be enjoyable. I often heard a fictional character say, "let's take a walk," but I had never been able to relate to that, not before I came to England.

York, it turns out, is one of the best places to walk. Everything looks so pretty, the pavements are wide enough, and you can choose to either walk by a river, a big road, or a city centre. You can also walk in the garden or even around the university. And, pedestrians have priority over cars in the UK, which means that the driver will always stop when you seem like you want to cross the street. It's soothing and convenient.

York city centre

Walking by the city wall

The pavement

And now that it's spring, it's even better. It's usually around 12-17 degrees, hence warm enough not to wear any coat, but cold enough to feel the wind breeze. During the season, you can also smell the scent of wet grass and flowers. Ah, even I never noticed how beautiful flowers can be. It's definitely one of the things I took for granted back home. But after you've been through winter, you'll be so excited to see the flowers bloom again. I don't mind winter, but who could resist the allure of spring?

Daisies, daisies everywhere
"We live in a fast-paced society. Walking slow us down." - Robert Sweetgall

I like to walk alone when I feel like I need some me-time. When I had a rough week and need some time-off. I usually walk around the city centre, enter a few shops I like (as I also prefer to shop alone), and sometimes just wander around farther, just because I want to. I do walk slow, because walking is all about enjoying the journey. I like to hear the sound of people chatting or the bird chirping, but sometimes, I also prefer to put on my earphone to be completely away. Sometimes it's more relaxing that way. 

If I long for a deep conversation, walking is also the best way to do it. I like to take a long walk around the city with a friend while talking about life. Just two hours or three could recharge my energy for the following week. Unlike talking over coffee (although it's also something that I found enjoyable), having a conversation during a walk is more casual. It can be as light or deep as you want it to be, and it will save you from the necessity to always make an eye contact to your acquaintance. Knowing that I can do two things I like at once (walking and having a conversation) at once, I always get excited whenever my friends told me that they are going to come over to York and ask me to show them around.

I realized that time flies faster than I expected, and before long, I'll be back in my metropolitan, polluted city when walking means feeling unsafe that the cars or motorcycles might somehow run you over. It's definitely one of the things that I'm going to miss about living in the UK.

Come take a walk with me.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Sekolah Dasar di Inggris

Sejak dua bulan yang lalu, setiap hari Selasa saya jadi volunteer di salah satu sekolah dasar di York untuk ngajar matematika di kelas dua (usianya setara dengan kelas satu di Indonesia). Meskipun hanya seminggu sekali, saya seneng banget karena bisa dapet kesempatan untuk mengobservasi langsung sistem pendidikan dasar di UK.

Secara garis besar, sekolah tersebut mirip dengan dua sekolah nasional plus di Jakarta yang dulu pernah jadi tempat saya magang dan mengajar. Tata ruangannya mirip (ada karpet besar di depan papan tulis untuk kegiatan mengajar, dan ada kursi dan meja dalam bentuk berkelompok untuk tempat mengerjakan tugas), daftar pelajarannya serupa, cara belajarnya pun banyak samanya (sama-sama memaksimalkan penggunakan alat peraga visual, khususnya untuk pelajaran matematika).

Year 2 di Lord Deramore's Primary School

Ketika pertama kali masuk ke kelas Year 2, saya kaget karena anak-anaknya manis banget. Mereka juga sangat tertib; mereka bahkan baris sebelum masuk kelas setelah istirahat di lapangan sehingga nggak ada yang bertubrukan di koridor. Sebelumnya, saya sudah beberapa kali masuk ke kelas 1-2 di Indonesia, dan kesan yang saya tangkap beda banget. Menurut saya, wajar kalau ada beberapa anak yang sibuk sendiri atau malah asik main di kelas, apalagi kalau kelasnya cukup besar. Tapi di sekolah tempat saya magang ini, ke-28 anak yang ada di kelas anteng banget dengerin gurunya yang lagi ngajar. Gurunya pun santai, nggak perlu teriak, nggak pake marah-marah.

Di kelas, anak-anak ini cukup aktif dan kritis. Jika ada pertanyaan untuk kelas, guru kelas akan meminta anak-anak untuk mengangkat tangan jika mereka tahu jawabannya. Anak yang langsung menjawab sebelum ditunjuk akan diberikan teguran. Setelah satu anak menjawab, guru kelas biasanya bertanya lagi ke satu murid yang lain, "do you think that's correct?" Menurut saya, ini akan melatih anak untuk berani mengeluarkan opini dan menerima kritik, bukan jadi orang yang ikut-ikutan dan asal setuju dengan jawaban orang lain.

Di awal kelas, jika di hari sebelumnya ada tugas yang harus diselesaikan, guru akan memanggil nama beberapa anak dan meminta mereka untuk berdiri. "You all did very well, but I'm really impressed with these students, because they all showed great improvement on their writing." Yang dipuji bukan hanya kemampuannya, tapi usaha dan perkembangannya. Memuji di depan kelas juga menurut saya akan berdampak positif untuk self-esteem anak-anak tersebut, selain sebagai reinforcement agar mereka terus meningkatkan kualitas dari tugas-tugas yang dikerjakan. 

Waktu itu, saya pernah papasan dengan kepala sekolah yang sedang menenangkan murid kelas 6 yang lagi panik sebelum try-out SATs. Dengan bijaknya, kepala sekolah tersebut bilang, "You don't have to worry about it. The test is important, but it won't be the end of the world. You have an amazing brain and you've worked really hard. Your parents are going to be proud of you no matter what. You'll be fine!" Saya langsung berkaca-kaca dengernya. She sounded genuine and kind, and I wish I had more teachers like that. Di sini, nilai bukanlah segala-galanya. Setiap anak punya kelebihan masing-masing yang terkadang nggak bisa tergambar oleh sederet angka.

Ada satu hal lagi yang bikin saya kagum: kepedulian sekolah dan orang tua terhadap asupan gizi para siswa. Di sini, setiap waktu istirahat, kebanyakan anak membawa buah atau sayur dari rumah. Sekolah juga menyediakan pisang, jeruk, tomat, apel, dan/atau wortel untuk para murid untuk istirahat siang, serta susu untuk istirahat pagi. Murid-murid dilarang membawa minuman manis dari rumah (termasuk jus kotak). Saya kagum banget karena anak-anak ini jadi terbiasa untuk mengonsumsi makanan sehat sejak dini. 

Saya tahu kalau saya nggak bisa menggeneralisasi hasil observasi saya di satu sekolah dan menarik kesimpulan kalau pendidikan di Inggris jauh lebih baik daripada di Indonesia. Namun, saya benar-benar kagum dengan sistem pendidikan di sini serta cara guru-guru mendidik murid-muridnya. Saya jadi paham kenapa teman-teman saya di kelas yang lahir dan besar di UK secara umum lebih kritis dan berani berpendapat daripada mahasiswa-mahasiswa asia (termasuk saya). Pendidikan dini, menurut saya, memang sekrusial itu untuk membentuk pola pikir dan cara kerja kita.

Oh, and have I mentioned that the students don't need to pay anything to get a top-notch education? That's actually the best part! Because a high-quality education should be a right for every child, not a privilege. 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Abundance of John Green

I used to be a keen reader. I read the fifth book of Harry Potter (I still remember that the translated version I read was exactly 1200 pages) in less than 3 days when I was 10 years old! But now I can't even finish a 200-pages book in a day.

So I listed "read more books" as one of last year's resolutions and bought myself a pink Kobo Glo because I like reading e-books, even though I do miss the smell of a new book, sometimes. And so I started to read again, even though I realized I didn't feel as excited as I was back then. I also began to read non-fiction books, after I ensure that it will still be a light read.

A good book, for me, is the one that can relate to anyone who reads it. If it's a fiction, it will make me feel that at least one character from the book is me. The plot and the story could be very un-relatable, it's the thought and that matters.

That's probably why I like John Green. I have read Will Grayson, Will Grayson and The Fault in Our Stars, just finished The Abundance of Katherines, and currently on Paper Towns.

And of course, Looking for Alaska is on my to-read list.

His novels are quite typical. Young adult novels with a geeky main character who has only one or two best friends, which is embellished with fancy words and deep, quotable sentences. When the characters fall in love, John will make sure that the readers fall in love as well. So he will use sentences like "the smile could end wars and cure cancer" or "if people were rain, I was drizzle and she was hurricane."

I don't really like young adult stories because it's just too young, but John Green's are exceptions. or me, plots are not as important as words and sentences. So yes, even though plenty of Goodreads user thought The Abundance of Katherines is a boring book, I still relish it because it was vastly relatable and thought-provoking as well.

(Source: Pinterest)

I do wonder if a person could really love someone just the way they are. I worry a lot, and I ponder a lot. Like Colin Singleton, I often have negative thoughts about myself, and I repeatedly imagine the worst possibilities of how another person would think of me. I do have questions about myself that I can't answer nor ask to anyone else. I do also push myself to be able to do something remarkable, because being in the middle of a bell shape is not fulfilling enough. But unlike a fictional character, there is no happy ending that is going to happen in just a few more pages. So just hang in there.

Well said, Colin. (Source: Weheartit)

Anyway, I don't only adore his novels, actually, but also the thoughts, passion, and broad knowledge of John Green and his brother Hank; as seen in their vlogs and Crash Course videos. How brilliant are the Green Brothers!


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