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.


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