10 Year Challenge

Akhir2 ini 10 year challenge lagi ramai yaa di media sosial. Nggak tau siapa yang mulai, awalnya sih saya liat beberapa foto di Instagram, lama2 nyampe juga ke Facebook, terus di Twitter juga rame pada ngomongin. Seru juga, saya pikir. Tapi saya nggak ikutan nge-post apa2, soalnya saya masih dalam semi-break dari Instagram (dan media sosial secara keseluruhan) sejak saya menyelesaikan proyek pribadi #ChristasFirstYear. Jadi saya pikir, ceritain di blog aja deh 10 year challenge nya!

2009

Tahun yang lumayan berkesan buat saya. Bisa dibilang 2009 ke 2010 adalah salah satu tahun terbaik karena….. saya lagi sekolah S2 di Inggris! Bener deh, sampai sekarang nggak bisa lupa sama tahun itu, masih keingat jelas hari – harinya.

Tahun 2009 itu usia saya 22 tahun. Di awal tahun, saya bekerja sebagai Account Executive di sebuah perusahaan advertising lokal. Pekerjaan pertama abis lulus S1. Disitu saya belajar banyak, bos nya pintar banget, teman2 nya asik, kerjanya capek banget, saya pernah pulang jam 8 pagi (!!!) dan masuk kantor lagi jam 3 sore sesudahnya. Saya sibuk banget, ampir nggak pernah ada dirumah. Kemudian saya juga sibuk mempersiapkan diri untuk rencana S2 di Inggris. Waktu itu saya udah di terima di kampus yang saya mau, tapi nilai IELTS nya masih kurang cuma di bagian writing. Akhirnya sekitar bulan April saya berhenti kerja, les khusus writing dan banyak2 latihan, tes IELTS lagi, dan berhasil! akhirnya memenuhi syarat.

Terus saya inget juga soal jalan – jalan ke luar negeri pertama pakai uang sendiri. Waktu itu saya pergi ke Singapore nonton konser Coldplay. Seneng banget, dan trip yang itu kayaknya sih jadi bibit kecintaan saya buat traveling sampai sekarang, hehehe.

Nonton Coldplay

Di tengah tahun saya inget banget sempet stress banget – bangetan soalnya nungguin visa student yang nggak keluar2. Drama banget deh, sampai saya harus ubah tiket pesawat buat berangkat. Tau nggak, visa student saya keluar seminggu sebelum kelas mulai dan 1 hari sebelum tanggal berangkat saya! Saya inget banget begitu pegang paspor saya langsung nangis, emang ya bener kalau waktu Allah nggak pernah salah.

Terus sampai Inggris di bulan September, mulai sekolah, nah ini lain lagi dramanya – drama homesick, kangen pacar (pada saat itu) terus pake drama LDR, drama adaptasi sama sekolah… bener2 ya, namanya aksen Inggris itu susahnya setengah mati, saya inget pas awal kuliah saya harus rekam semua omongan dosen dan diputar ulang berkali2 di rumah sambil bikin catatan supaya saya ngerti.

Hari pertama sampai Inggris – Rambut potong pendek supaya nggak perlu ke Salon selama tinggal disitu 😛

Tapi lama2 kebiasa juga sih… dan saya suka banget sama sekolahnya. Saya suka semua pelajaran di kelas, bener2 sesuai minat dan saya semangat banget buat belajar. Sambil sekolah saya cari kerja paruh waktu dan dapat kerjaan di restoran Burger King, terus siaran di Radio PPI Dunia. Sibuk banget, sering begadang, tapi senengnya bukan main. Maklum, masih muda 😛 Tahun 2009 ditutup dengan road trip keliling Inggris selama 10 hari bareng teman2 – salah satu trip terbaik seumur hidup 🙂

2019

10 tahun kemudian, sekarang. Sama sekali nggak kepikiran 10 tahun yang lalu kalau saya bakal tinggal di Amerika. Lha wong dulu pacarnya beda, hahahaha (Ini nggak usah dibahas ya :P), mana kebayang bakal ketemu jodoh yang tinggalnya di Amerika. Sempet kepikiran sih mau tinggal di luar negeri, tapi kebayang nya ya di Inggris karena waktu itu kan kuliah disana. Tapi Amerika? mana kebayang hehehe.

Di usia 32 sekarang ini, hidup saya jauh lebih santai. Saya sedang meninggalkan dunia pekerjaan untuk sementara, dan menyibukkan diri dengan urusan rumah tangga dan juga kehidupan kota kecil. Sebenernya dibilang kecil banget juga nggak sih, soalnya tempat saya tinggal sekarang masih terhitung ramai kalo versi Amerika (45 menit dari kota Los Angeles), tapi kalau dibandingkan Jakarta yaaa jauh…. 😀

Saya masih pengen balik ke dunia kerja yang sibuk, walaupun nggak yakin bisa nggak ya begadang2 kayak 10 tahun yang lalu hehehe. Kayaknya nggak mau juga sih sampai begadang2 gitu. Mau balik kerja kantoran lagi, tapi gak mau terlalu ngoyo kayak dulu.

Saya masih suka jalan – jalan, masih suka nonton konser (Untungnya tinggal di tempat sekarang – banyak banget konser! YAY!), masih nggak bisa diem jadi walaupun lagi jadi ibu rumah tangga saya masih ngejalanin proyek2 pribadi kecil2an yang bikin saya sibuk dan semangat.

Ini foto diri terbaru waktu dirayain ulangtahun sama teman2 disini 🙂 karena baru bulan Januari, jadi belum banyak foto tahun ini!

Lucunya, sama seperti tahun 2009, sekarang saya juga lagi nunggu sesuatu yang menurut saya udah kelamaan dan saya mulai khawatir, nggak sabar. Dan karena saya nulis post ini saya jadi ingat lagi, kalau saya nggak perlu khawatir karena waktunya Allah nggak pernah salah.

Kalau kamu, gimana 10 year challenge nya? 🙂

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What to Expect In Your First Year Abroad

This is another post from the “Stories from the West” project which I am doing with Dixie. We will be writing 1 post each month with the same topic, to give you a glimpse of our lives as new immigrants in our respective countries. This month’s topic is about “first experiences” and I am sharing a summary of my first year in the US. Read Dixie’s here and hope you’ll enjoy our stories! 🙂

Just like that, my first year in the US has passed. Even so, I still remember my first day clearly. R and I were very tired from our long journey, but I was excited to start our lives together. I remember the crisp yet fresh winter air that I felt the moment I stepped foot outside the airport. At that moment, it felt so refreshing and it got me so excited. Adventure awaits! So I thought.

Anyway, you are welcome to see a glimpse of my first year abroad on Instagram with hashtag #ChristasFirstYear. For this post, I am going to share a few things that you may expect in your first year abroad – based solely on my own experience 🙂 

Home 🙂

Discovering New Things About Yourself

When you move abroad, you are going out of your comfort zone, and you will discover new things about yourself. As for me, I discovered a new fondness of cooking! It took me a while to get some recipes right and just this holiday season I had the courage to cook for other people besides R 🙂 To my surprise, it was a hit! At the moment I only have two things in my “repertoire” – kastengel (Dutch – Indonesian cheese cookies) and macaroni schotel, but now I’m more confident to try different recipes. I never thought I’d love cooking this much because my cooking used to be pure survival – I cook just so I don’t starve myself 😛

Homesickness

I’m sorry to say this to you, but homesickness is inevitable. I have experienced it and it was ugly. Funny enough, it didn’t happen right away. In fact, it happened to me after a good couple of months living here. I thought I managed to adapt well, I thought I was doing ok until it happened all of a sudden. It took me a while to realize that all this time I have been feeling bits of homesickness but I tried to push it away. Then boom! it hit me, and it hit me hard. If I could turn back time and speak to myself in the past, I would definitely say that I need to embrace whatever feelings I had – the good and the bad. Perhaps this way I would be able to deal with homesickness better. 

Friendship

In Indonesia, making new friends was easy for me. I have friends that I have known forever, I have friends at work, and I also have friends that I know from other friends ;). Here, making new friends is not as easy – I felt like I’m always gonna be the “new girl” because of my immigrant status. Even though R has close-knit friends that I love as well, I felt that I still need to make new friends, so I used to come to a lot of different Indonesian group meetings just to meet new friends, but I couldn’t seem to blend in. It took me a while to realize that I don’t need a lot of friends. I’m happy and content with our close-knit friends. They are family, and I know for sure that we got each other’s back 🙂

Self – Love

Moving and navigating yourself through changes are not easy. Give yourself credit for taking that leap of faith and leave the comfort of your home country! The first year can be tough, but it can be exciting too. There will be a lot of firsts – like your first holiday season, first road trip, first this and first that. Things may be different for everyone – you might be thriving already, you might be still adjusting, you might find it easy to adapt, or you might still be struggling with all the change. Whatever your condition is, one thing that I know for sure is that you got to give yourself some loving. This will help you to make sense of your surroundings better and ease the adaptation process in your first year!

If you have lived abroad for more than one year, what was your first year like? Did you experience the things I mentioned above? I would love to read your stories in the comment box! 🙂

My 2018

Today’s December 31st and here I am sitting down comfortably at the house. I don’t have any plans for tonight’s New Years Eve but I will be spending it with family 🙂 I always miss my family in Indonesia more during the holiday season but I’m hopeful that we can be reunited soon!

I just decided that hope is my word for 2019. I am hopeful and holding on to hope. Things have not been as good as I wanted in 2018, but only today I got to be reminded of hope. There is really no reason for me not to be hopeful and keep my faith because all this time God has been so good to me and my family. Anyway, here are my 2018 in retrospect.

January – We had a car accident the second day I arrived in the US and we had to let go of our car 😦 so, we made our first big purchase as a family this month! There were also other firsts this month for me… I re-learned how to cook (I was able to cook during my UK days but it was pretty much a grad student survival cooking :P), learned to make my own latte and smoothies, and started to pay attention to skincare! I also went to Passion Pit concert which was great. Unfortunately, this was also the month where I lost my aunt due to her illness 😦 may she RIP.

February – This month was quite busy for us – we had our cousin visiting from Indonesia for their honeymoon, and at the same time we also had a mini staycation as a belated wedding gift from our family. This month was the month I started to get to know my neighbourhood better – I learned to navigate myself around and get used the public transportation system. February was the coldest month, but the family made it warmer.

March – I realised that I have started to gain weight since I moved here, so I started to exercise more regularly. I joined a local gym to take PoundFit classes and I loved it! However, I stopped going after a month because they change their class schedule and it does not fit mine :\ I should stop making excuses and go back to this routine next year. On the other hand, we went exploring Los Angeles whenever we got a chance, playing tourist in the big city. I went to museums, gardens, and the beach! I started to fall in love with the city ❤

April – This month started with a HAIM concert with R. I also became a member of the public library in my city and started to read regularly again. I started a Goodreads challenge – 12 books for 2018, knowing I might fail it like past years. But turns out I was wrong! Not only did I manage to finish it, but I also managed to read 22 books in total this year! YAY me! Perhaps I should write a “books of 2018” post sometime this week… hmmm.

May – One of my bridesmaids / best friend came to visit this month and we had so much fun together. I went to stay with her for a couple of nights and it was so refreshing to be able to get a girls getaway like the old days. Another thing that made this month special was Justin Timberlake’s concert! It was a dream come true since I have been a fan since his NSYNC days 😛 We also started the month of Ramadan this month and it was my first time fasting in the US.

June – My brother and sister in law along with aunts and cousins from R’s side came to visit for Eid, making my first Eid here in the US so merry and warm. I missed my family in Indonesia but I am thankful for new experiences this month. With the days that got warmer and longer, we also spent a lot of time at the beach which I had no complaints about. I guess this is one of the perks of living in Southern California!

July – It’s R’s birthday month and went on a couple mini trips. First, we went to Las Vegas for a weekend with our family, then we went to San Francisco to meet my grad school friend who was visiting from New Zealand! It was so good to reunite with her after 8+ years 🙂

August – Summer is officially here and I think I spent most of it at the beach… it’s really a privilege to live close to the beach! I also scored a last minute ticket to Sam Smith’s concert at Staples Centre for only $20. Woohoow! And…. followed by a Smashing Pumpkins’ concert the next day with R. I can say that summer was a blast and I have no complaints.

September – Fall was around the corner and this month I was disappointed for the first time. Despite the delayed good news, I managed to go to my first football game to watch Rams vs Cardinals. Football is a big thing here and although I still don’t understand the game, I enjoyed the atmosphere of watching a live game.

October – I became the coordinator of our friends’ wedding here. It was an Indonesian – American wedding because although both bride and groom are Indonesian, the wedding culture was a mix between both countries. Through this experience, I met new friends and also relive my love of coordinating and organizing things – something that I haven’t done since I am currently taking a break from the corporate world. Ooooh how I can’t wait to go back! 😉 On the downside, I caught a pretty bad cold and it made me very homesick at the same time. It took me a week to recover, can you imagine?!

November – It’s our anniversary month and it’s our first! Yay! how time flies when you are having fun 🙂 we went to Palm Springs and Joshua Tree National Park for our anniversary and we had a good time. I’ll surely post the story here sometime later in the new year. I also celebrated Thanksgiving for the first time with R and our cousins. It’s also the end of #ChristasFirstYear – a project I started on Instagram when I first arrived in the US. Unfortunately this month I also experienced several anxiety issues which I am currently dealing with.

December – My birthday month! Since I finished #ChristasFirstYear project, I took a little break from social media and also started to practice mindfulness more regularly. I found it helpful to tackle my anxiety issues and I started to have a better understanding and awareness of my feelings. I am yet to receive the good news that I have been waiting for, but I am patient and hopeful.

Thank you 2018, Hello 2019 🙂

So there goes my 2018. It has been an eventful year – full of firsts but it is also a challenging one. Adjusting to life in a new country, becoming a wife, dealing with uncertainty… but I am certain that with hardship comes ease and that I am so blessed. ❤

Happy New Year 2019 to you! May you have a blessed year ahead. Thanks for reading and see you in the new year 🙂

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas


Christmas is undoubtedly my favourite holiday of the year for obvious reasons (pssst… it’s my birthday! :P). It will be my second Christmas in the US, but only this year I am starting to notice more things about Christmas here because last year’s Christmas was like a whirlwind – I was too busy with moving, adjusting, and everything.

Although I don’t celebrate Christmas religiously, I have been celebrating Christmas all my life. To me, Christmas used to mean family gatherings, which means food, presents, and more food. Here in the US, I began to view Christmas a little bit differently.

As I am celebrating my second Christmas in the US, I can see how everyone is excited about Christmas. People would start to decorate their houses with lights as soon as Thanksgiving passed. Speaking of decorations, they are no joke!

Image from: http://imged.me

Yes, people would decorate their houses like that. Another common thing that people here like to do as Christmas is approaching is buying gifts. I am familiar with gift exchange as I used to do that with my family back in Indonesia, but it seems like Americans give gifts to everyone. Colleagues, friends, family, even the mail lady or your newspaper boy! It’s similar to how THR is during Lebaran in Indonesia, but instead of giving money, it is more common to give a present here.

There is a unique gifting tradition in the US that I just discovered called White Elephant. It is a game where a group of people exchange gifts with one another. However, there is a special rule which lets people steal your gift. So what happens is you gather with your group and each person bring a present that they will swap with each other. Everybody has to open their present in public and the next person has the option to steal the previous person’s present or open a new present. It’s interesting and can be a great party activity especially if played with people that you are close with!

All in all, I can see now that Christmas here means more than just food and extra holiday. It means celebrating the presence of the loved ones in your life – and because Americans like small talks a lot, Christmas can also mean extending your good wishes and positive vibes to everyone that you meet on the street. It can be as simple as saying “Happy Holidays” to the cashier lady in the grocery store or listening to your barista’s holiday plans while she was making your latte 🙂

I hope you are surrounded by warmth and love this holiday season, wherever you are. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Sunny California ❤

This post is the first out of a blogging series titled “Stories from the West” which I am doing with Dixie of Her Little Journal blog. We will be writing 1 post each month with the same topic, which revolves around living abroad and settling down in a new country. We are both from Indonesia and we moved to a new country around the same time. She now lives in West of Sweden while I am here in the West Coast of USA, hence the project title 🙂 I hope you’ll enjoy our stories, and don’t forget to read Dixie’s here.

365/365

If you have been following me on Instagram, you might have seen a project that I have been doing for the past year. Started when I arrive in the US a year ago, I put out a picture every day on Instagram with the hashtag #ChristasFirstYear. Well, picture no.365 is still on the draft because I wanted to take a break from Instagram for a bit (posting each day for a year turns out to be a little bit overwhelming), and I also noticed that I have been feeling quite a lot of emotions leading up to day 365! 

You see, I am the type of person who are so used to having plans, checklists, projects, and all that. Every year I like to reflect on my life’s adventures that year and I would expect to see some accomplishments – travel to new places, career related, relationship related, anything that can give me a sense of progression. Unfortunately, as I look back at the past year, at first I found it hard to see that I am progressing this year. 

It made me sad and affected my mood for a couple days, I even had a small breakdown during a video call with my mother and R. I had this urge of wanting to limit contact with my friends in Indonesia because I felt jealous to see how their life is progressing while I felt that mine is not. Poor R did not know what to do, and I did not know what he could do to make me feel better. It wasn’t until I heard my mother’s words that I really get it. 

Life is not always about plans, checklists, projects, progression, and all that. Sometimes life can put you on hold, letting you navigate through it in your current situation. The situation for me is that I am still waiting for my permanent residency, and the chance to finally settle as a resident here. It’s okay. It takes longer than I expected, but it’s okay. 

Come to think of it again, I am being unfair to myself if I think that my life hasn’t been progressing at all this year. The progress may be different than what I planned and projected. But once I was finally able to see the silver lining of my current situation, I can now see the kind of progress that I’ve been making this year. As a newlywed, I have been progressing to become a better partner for my husband. My mother always said that getting married is a lifetime process of learning and understanding, and I think we are moving in the right direction. As a new immigrant, I am progressing too! At least now I can navigate myself through this city that I’m living in and I can definitely take you around Los Angeles if you decided to visit me 😉 And as for myself in general, this year has taught me that I have more patience and strength that I can ever imagine. 

That, my friends, is how I believe my life is still progressing despite everything that is happening 🙂 Thanks for reading and wishing you happy holidays! It’s getting festive here and I hope it is in your place, too 🙂

Satu Tahun

Sudah hampir satu tahun saya menikah dengan R. Nggak berasa banget ya. Perasaan baru kemarin kami saya sibuk ngurusi acara pernikahan dan siap2 pindah. Eh nggak berasa, udah mau satu tahun aja usia pernikahan kami. Ya, satu tahun memang seakan tidak ada artinya dibanding pasangan2 lain yang sudah lebih senior. Tapi bagi saya cukup spesial, karena saya masih suka nggak percaya kalau kini kami telah menikah, apalagi setelah menjalani LDR bertahun – tahun. 

Waktu lagi first dance, setahun yang lalu

Kalau ngomongin pernikahan kami selama setahun ini dalam satu kata, rasanya saya akan pilih kata seru. Seru soalnya kami banyak mengalami dan menjalani kejadian2 yang menarik. Beberapa highlight nya akan saya ceritain disini. 

Yang pertama soal adaptasi. Semua orang bilang namanya nikah itu 180 derajat sama pacaran. Dari dulu saya udah kebayang, tapi namanya nikah setelah LDR itu lebih seru lagi, soalnya kami tadinya hanya pernah menghabiskan waktu bersama selama kurang dari 1 bulan selama 5 tahun kenal. Sisanya jarak jauh semua. Nah pas udah nikah, saya pindah, kami tinggal bersama, kami jadi hampir 24 jam bareng terus sampai bosan 😛 . Kami harus adaptasi terhadap banyak hal – beberapa hal sudah saya bahas di post ini, dan kami juga harus adaptasi terhadap hal – hal yang lebih “serius” misalnya cara mengatur keuangan, cara menjalani hidup, sampai cara komunikasi satu sama lain. Iya, semuanya udah dibahas sebelum nikah, tapi tetap aja begitu dijalani tetap kaget dan perlu adaptasi! 😀 

Terus yang kedua adalah soal momen2 pertama kali yang kami lalui bersama. Namanya juga tahun pertama, apalagi tadinya kan kami jauh2an, jadi banyakkk banget momen pertama yang kami lalui di tahun pertama pernikahan ini. Mulai dari pertama kali mengunjungi tempat baru, pertama kali road trip di Amerika, pertama kali naik pesawat domestik di Amerika, pertama kali beli barang2 untuk rumah tangga, pertama kali masak bareng, pertama kali sakit, pertama kali A B C…..  termasuk pertama kali berantem hebat! Hahahaha. Ya coba ngaku ada nggak yang di tahun pertama pernikahannya nggak berantem hebat? :))))))))

Pokoknya, menurut saya tahun pertama pernikahan itu seru. Seru karena kami akhirnya bisa bersama – sama setelah bertahun – tahun LDR, seru karena kami bisa menghadapi berbagai masalah bersama, dan juga seru membahas hal – hal dan mimpi – mimpi yang akan kami capai bersama di tahun2 berikutnya. Iya, seperti pasangan2 muda lainnya, kami punya banyak mimpi dan rencana. Semoga rencana2 kami di-ridhoi Tuhan dan dibukakan jalannya. Amiin. 

Untuk merayakan anniversary pertama ini, minggu depan kami akan liburan singkat. Nggak lama2, 1 malam aja, dan nggak jauh2, hanya 2 jam perjalanan ke national park dekat rumah. Nggak sabar, karena saya belum pernah kesana dan merasa udah lama nggak liburan 😛 nanti saya cerita2 lagi yaa pas pulang… 🙂 

Have a good weekend!