Sunday, August 21, 2016

A Well-Deserved Getaway

I have been wanting to go to Singapore for months. There are a few countries that are on my go-to lists, but I need one that's close and affordable, because I realized how much money I spend for vacation last year (in my defense, I only lived in Europe for only a year so it would be stupid not to travel around). Singapore seems like a perfect destination, especially because I haven't been there for 10 years at least. Then I looked for a friend who wants to come along as traveling in twos is my favorite way to wander.

I'm glad I decided to go to Singapore. It's clean and extremely well-managed, embellished with highly modern buildings but also old, traditional ones (I always love the juxtaposition of that), and supported with reliable and comfortable transportation modes. It's a country that's too tiny to be compared with mine, obviously, but still, I'm amazed. The only thing I hated about Singapore is the hot, boiling, humid weather (even worse than mine). Singapore feels like Europe, only more homey.

The color of Singapore

Penang was our second destination. It felt even more like home there. Penang was laid-back and artsy. A nice town to walk around, despite the weather. Not only the atmosphere, the food was also awesome. The whole city reminded me of Jogjakarta, and a little of York.

The historic Georgetown, Penang

Kuala Lumpur was a lot more mediocre. I'm glad we only spent 26 hours there and spent them to explore two great museums (Islamic Art Museums and City Gallery), Central Market, and just walk around the downtown area. 

Malaysian Batik at Kuala Lumpur City Gallery.

The highlight of my trip, though, was the parts where I can reminisce my life in the UK. The weather was absolutely a lot nicer in the UK, but I could walk around a lot (65 kilometers to be exact), use reliable public transportation, immerse myself into hundreds of people who don't speak my language, observe different culture, rely on google maps to get around and get lost once in a while, talk with strangers, and visit tons of museum with great exhibitions. I felt so energized afterwards.

Traveling is not cheap, but I learned from the last three years that every penny I spend during the trip is going to be worthwhile. It's something you do only for a few days or weeks, yet will inspinre you for years and years. While I agree with people who encouraged Indonesian youths to explore the mother country, I think traveling abroad once in a while is also necessary. It's going to open your mind, challenge yourself, make you deal with the unexpected and try to roll with the punches, and in the end, appreciate your life and what you have at home. 

So save up, and go. Once in a few years. With a small group of people. Plan. Near, far, wherever you want. And relish all the experience and the details you'll see.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

About Leaving Another Comfort Zone

Last Friday was my last day at work. I still remembered how inferior I felt during the first few weeks of working in PASKA Kemdikbud, because I have to work with talented, bright, young people who have more experiences than I do.

It turns out, there's nothing to feel intimidated about. Yes, they are smart and ambitious, but they're not condescending, nor do they make me feel stupid and unheard. In fact, I became the most assertive version of myself in the last few months, and I just couldn't be prouder.

The beloved, extraordinary team.

From them, I learned about politics, economy, education, policy making, and everything else that's happening on the news, thanks to our diverse background & their broad knowledge. But further than that, they taught me about life, too. That Allah's plans won't ever be late nor wrong, that sometimes we don't get what we want and we need to be resilient, and that we have to fight for the things that are worth fighting for. They taught me to be more assertive, to not (always) take things personally, to be ambitious in pursuing what I aspire to be, to do something and not just whining about something we don't like, to always make other people (even our subordinates) feels heard and appreciated, and so much more. 

Before I got selected to be a part of the team, I did expect meeting talented, smart, hard working people that I can learn from; but never expected good friends who would listen and accept me for what I am. I never expected having another support system whom I can trust and be myself around. Never thought they would enter the circle I kept small. And yet they did! 

Because even when I become the geekiest, weirderst, most gullible, most idealistic, or most ambitious version of myself, I'd still feel heard and accepted. Even when I felt immature and emotional, they would still be there.

Just in case any of you read this, I want to say thank you for the last 6 months (that actually felt like forever, given the work burden). Thank you for making my first working-at-a-company experience bearable and memorable. And thank you for your kind words at the farewell dinner, which I will definitely hold on to when I'm having a bad day.

I usually hate saying goodbyes, but after saying it repeatedly for the last three years, I don't anymore. Leaving means entering a new world, exploring new things, and meeting new people. It means enlarging the circle even more, and finding another comfort zone. Because goodbye means hello, and that's something I should feel excited about. And it's not even goodbye, anyway, because I believe our paths will cross again someday soon.

As cliché as it sounds. (Source: weheartit)

So even though I have been in mellow mode since the last two weeks, I feel grateful and delighted that Allah had introduced me to them. His plans have and will never fail, so why should I worry about the future, again?


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