Wisuda

Waktu itu saya dan R sedang jalan – jalan keliling kampus UCLA. Kebetulan ada waktu 2 jam jeda di antara 2 kelas saya, dan karena R bertugas nganterin saya tiap ke kampus (maklum, SIM masih dalam proses dan lokasi kampus nggak aksesibel dengan kendaraan umum dari rumah saya), waktu jeda tersebut kami gunakan untuk jalan – jalan keliling kampus.

Kampus UCLA besar banget dan cukup asri, banyak pepohonan dan taman luas. Gedung -gedung nya campuran antara tua dan moderen. Salah satu gedung yang cukup menarik perhatian namanya Royce Hall. Royce Hall ini adalah gedung yang dipakai untuk tempat wisuda UCLA.

Sewaktu lagi lewat, R bilang, kalau dia rupanya sudah liat – liat informasi soal wisuda program saya. Saya ketawa dong dengarnya. Lah, baru juga minggu pertama, udah ngomongin wisuda aja.. masih ada sekitar 9 bulan lagi sampai saya selesai program sertifikat ini.

Lagian, saya bilang, ngapain ikut wisuda, saya kan nggak dapat gelar. Namanya juga program sertifikat. Yang ada di pikiran saya cuma belajar, refresh ilmu marketing saya, cari koneksi orang lokal, cari kerjaan di perusahaan yang bagus. Gak ada lah kepikiran wisuda.

Si R ngotot dong, dia bilang ikut wisuda itu penting. Mau dapat gelar kek, nggak kek, yang penting kamu kan nanti sudah menyelesaikan satu program, pantas ikut wisuda, katanya.

Tadinya saya juga nggak kalah ngotot, nggak mau lah, buang – buang uang. Lagian masih lama kali, baru bisa ikut wisuda tahun depan. Akhirnya kami nggak bahas lagi, kita lihat aja nanti, kata R. Dia malah sempet ngomong nanti mau ngajak mama dan adik saya buat datang wisuda sekalian mereka berkunjung. Masih tahun depan, banyak waktu untuk nabung, katanya. Walaah… heboh banget orang ini, pikir saya ๐Ÿ˜›

Eh tapi hari ini saya lihat foto teman di Instagram, dia pajang foto anaknya habis wisuda summer school. Fotonya pakai toga, pegang sertifikat. Lucu ya, menggemaskan. Tapi caption dia yang bikin saya mikir. Awalnya terus terang saya lihat foto itu ketawa, dalam hati mikir, ada – ada aja, anak kecil kok wisuda. Tapi setelah baca caption nya (yang nggak usah saya tulis disini ya karena terlalu personal buat teman saya kayaknya), saya jadi mikir.

Wisuda, apa pun programnya, bagi sebagian orang bisa menjadi momen perayaan keberhasilan. Buat si anak TK, berhasil berkembang dari yang tadinya masih ngompol sampai sudah bisa melakukan berbagai hal sendiri. Wisuda SMA, jadi momen merayakan akhirnya masa anak – anak dan menyambut masa dewasa jadi anak kuliah. Wisuda S1, S2, S3 bisa jadi momen merayakan prestasi akademis. Dan masih banyak jenis – jenis wisuda lainnya, yang sah – sah aja untuk dirayakan.

Iya, saya memang nggak akan dapat gelar dari program sertifikat ini. Tapi kenapa saya harus bersikap too hard on myself sampai nggak ingin datang wisuda? Bukannya keberhasilan saya (nanti) juga patut dirayakan? kan saya sendiri yang merasakan lika – liku perjalanan saya dalam proses back to school ini. Yang begadang ngerjain tugas kan saya, yang kerja lembur untuk bayarin sekolahnya suami saya, yang kasih semangat lewat Facetime waktu saya lagi kerjain tugas ya mama dan adik saya.. jadi kalau wisuda saya nanti bisa jadi momen untuk membuat suami dan keluarga saya senang, kenapa nggak? ๐Ÿ™‚

Jadi, sekarang pola pikir saya tentang wisuda berubah. Lucu ya, hal simpel seperti foto di Instagram yang saya lihat sambil lalu ternyata bisa memberikan efek yang signifikan. Until then, doakan saya bisa menyelesaikan program nya dengan sukses dulu ya! Baru deh daftar wisuda ๐Ÿ˜‰

Notes From an Immigrant

Welcome to another post from the โ€œStories from the Westโ€ project which I am doing withย 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 monthโ€™s topic is about โ€œbeing an immigrantโ€. I am sharing my notes about being an immigrant – the highs and the lows. I hope you enjoy the post, and don’t forget to read Dixieโ€™s storyย here ๐Ÿ™‚

At first, moving to a new country sounds flashy. Especially when that country is America. I am one of the many who grew up watching Hollywood movies, listening to songs from American musicians, reading American books (The Baby-Sitters Club, anyone?) and drooling over American celebrities (Fun fact: I used to add DiCaprio to my name in my school notebooks hahahaha…. now you know :P).

Fast forward to many, many years later, I am now living here, in America! Sometimes I still find it hard to believe that this country is my home now. I’ve only been living here over a year but I understand that as much as I want to make this place home, I’m always going to be an immigrant to this country.

Foreign

Yep, that’s the word that I think will stick with me forever. For the first few months, everything seemed foreign to me. I didn’t know directions, I couldn’t navigate my way around, and I didn’t know a lot of people. As days go by, that sense of foreignness started to fade, but I know I’m always going to be considered foreign to some people, and at the same time, there are some things that I would consider foreign as well.

Loneliness

Not long ago, Dixie wrote a very good piece about loneliness in her blog, which I can very much relate to. Although I am thankful that I have family here, and also have made some good friends, but relationships that you have in your adopted country is pretty much different than what it used to be when I was still living in Indonesia. Here, everybody have their own things and sometimes our bonds are limited by distance because we are not living in close proximity with each other. And while I still keep in touch with friends in Indonesia, I’m unsure if things will remain the same for years to come…

Struggle

Struggle is a part of being an immigrant that one can’t miss. I wish I could say that living here has been easy peasy. But no, behind every pictures in Hollywood or every dream concert that I went to, there’s a big chunk of struggle behind it. At first, I struggled to accept my new status as a housewife. I felt useless because I did not know a lot of things, and I also had to let go a lot of things that I had back in Indonesia (my career, for instance). I also struggled in being patient. Being an immigrant to me means that I have to be patient. Adaptation is an ongoing process and it’s not an easy one, so patience is key. There were times where I lost my patience and boy, it was a struggle to gain it back. Lucky I had my support system!

Opportunity

Now that I have laid out the lows, it’s time to turn the narrative around and make this post a cheery one! It took me a while, but now I believe that with my status as an immigrant, comes opportunity. I am thankful to live in a country where opportunities are endless. I used to struggle to accept the fact that I am over 30 and I had to start over in my career, my life. But then I was able to turn the thought around – I am only in my early 30s and while I am currently “in transition”, there is nothing that can stop me from chasing those opportunities!

Me – currently chasing an opportunity to study

Freedom

They say that America is the land of freedom. Here, you are free to express yourself, free to stand by your opinions, free to enjoy your life the way you want to. Ain’t nobody can tell you what to do, and as an immigrant it is a relief that I have been waiting for. To me, freedom as an immigrant means that I get to chase whatever opportunity that comes my way, my family can live the way we want to, without having to worry so much about what other people will say. Although there are still issues that we need to work on as a society, but living in America has shown me what it feels like to have freedom. Freedom to practice my religion, freedom to stand by my beliefs, freedom to study, freedom to work, freedom to travel and freedom to enjoy life.

Although I did not plan to become an immigrant, I chose to become one the day I chose to be with my husband. Of course there are consequences, there are struggles that comes with it. But there are also opportunities! It is up to me to choose, which way will I take. Will I keep seeing my struggles as obstacles, or will I see them as opportunities that I’m free to reach? At the end of the day, I’m thankful that I took this chance, because being an immigrant in my 30s gave me the second chance I did not know I had before.

P.S If you’re reading this and you’re a fellow immigrant too, I’m always here if you want to reach out! Let’s support each other so we can rise together! x

Back to School

I always knew that I would go back to school but I didn’t know when and where (and how, for that matter!). I had planned to go back to school since I first moved here but unfortunately that plan did not happen until … last week!

I won’t go into detail but what happened was miraculous in my dictionary and before I knew it I was able to start school last week! Hoorah! I am now enrolled in a digital marketing certificate program at UCLA Extension. I should be able to finish this program in the next 9 months or more, it really depends on the courses I will take and the route I will choose.

For now, I am taking 3 classes this term and 1 of them is an online class. This is my first ever online class – and I found it very interesting. Well I’ve taken some Coursera classes before but this is nothing like that because there are live seminar sessions in which we can hear the lecture and also participate in class discussion through an online chat room.

As for the other two classes, so far they are as interesting. One caught me off guard because I did not think that I would need to write a final paper as part of the requirements to pass the class. I mean, the last time I wrote an academic paper was…. 10 years ago? ๐Ÿ˜€

Anyway, I can’t say much for now because, well, it’s just the first week, but surely I will share more about this journey! I’m excited to learn, meet new people, and share experiences! All of this still feels surreal because up until last week I really have no slightest clue that I would be starting school… oh well, here I am now and I better get back to my online learning platform to read materials for my second week. Ah, student life…

Taken in front of Royce Hall – where UCLA graduation ceremonies are held

My Dad

My Dad was an extraordinary man. I also like to believe that he lived an extraordinary life. He fought an extraordinary battle with lung cancer before God decided it was his time to rest eternally.

He was the fourth out of five children, the second-born son in his family. He was the cheeky one, with an outgoing personality. As a father, he was the wheels that kept our family moving. He was loving, he was present, and he was fun.

He wanted the best for this family, so he worked hard. He wanted us to see the world, so he took us. We didn’t have a lot but somehow he always managed to spoil us with presents, family vacations, family outings, and his time.

His time was precious – he was a busy man. Often times he would leave for work before I woke up and only came home after I went to bed, but then my mom made a deal with him – that he had to take me and my brother to school everyday whenever possible. (I guess this made my mom the rock that holds our family together but that’s a story for another day…)

So he did. No matter how late he came home the other night, he always took me to school until I graduated high school. I remember the drive, where we would talk about anything. I cherish that moments, and I kept replaying that moment over and over, wishing that it never goes away.

I guess I was too small when he left, or maybe the tragedy of losing him left a mark on me, that I now startung to struggle to remember details about my encounter with him. It breaks my heart that memories of our togetherness are starting to fade away, that I now only see snippets of images instead of the whole picture when I try to remember.

But I remember the kind of man he was. He was a hardworker, one that still had the time for family and friends. He was much loved by his friends, I know that his staffs and colleagues loved him too. He put family first, always with open arms to help. He was stylish, presentable, neat. I remember his polo shirt and the way he always brings a handkerchief in his pocket.

I remember his upbeat personality, how he lit up the room whenever he walked in, how he liked to sing on events (his favorite karaoke song is Separuh Nafas by Dewa 19 haha). I remember his love for sports, how he played it all – basketball, hockey, golf… and how his love for sports guided me to finish my first 5K race.

Although it has been 12 years since he passed, every day I try to live my life following what he showed me. One can only hope that he’s happy to see that person I have become ๐Ÿ˜Š

I wanted to post my favorite picture of him but I couldn’t find a digital version of it, so this picture will do (and yes, that’s baby- me! :D)

Happy Father’s Day to my #1, and to every outstanding Dads out there!

Es Kopi Ala Dapur Christa

Ahaha gaya banget ya judulnya. Ini semua hasil ngidam es kopi sebangsa Tuku dan teman – temannya yang dulu sering banget saya minum di Jakarta. Disini banyak banget sih yang jual es kopi, mulai dari es kopi Vietnam, es kopi di McD, es kopi di Dunkin Donuts, es kopi di tempat Boba, sampai es kopi gaul buatan Blue Bottle Coffee.. tapi rasanya nggak ada yang sesuai es kopi Jakarta.

Kebetulan awal tahun kemarin saya beli mesin kopi rumahan demi menghemat pengeluaran jajan kopi, dan jadi rajin eksperimen bikin kopi sendiri di rumah. Sejauh ini sih saya udah merasa puas dengan latte bikinan sendiri pakai bubuk kopi (Iya kopinya beli bubuk aja, belum punya grinder soalnya hehe) keluaran Trader Joe’s… walaupun belum bisa bikin latte art. Tapi sudahlah, kan buat minum sendiri, yang penting rasa enak tanpa dicantik – cantikin.

Tapi tetep deh ada yang kurang gitu rasanya.. masih kangen banget rasa es kopi Jakarta yang khas, apalagi sudah mulai masuk musim panas. Saya coba cari – cari resep dengan keyword “es kopi ala Tuku” dan muncullah beberapa resep. Rata – rata semuanya sih bahannya hampir sama – kopi, susu / krimer, gula aren, kadang – kadang ada resep yang pakai susu kelapa atau gula merah.

Setelah beberapa kali coba – coba akhirnya saya ketemu juga resep es kopi susu yang menurut saya paling pas, hore! Resep nya menggunakan bahan – bahan yang mudah didapatkan di Amerika, gampang banget cuma 3 bahan. Supaya nggak lupa, saya mau share aja di blog, siapa tau ada yang mau coba dan cocok juga ๐Ÿ™‚

Resep dan Cara Buat Es Kopi Susu ala Dapur Christa

18oz (~532ml) Espresso – dengan mesin kopi diatas, ini perlu 3x seduh, karena sekali seduh hasilnya 6oz (~177ml). Kopinya saya pakai Organic Sumatra Mandheling dari Archer Farms yang beli di Target. Kopinya medium roast, menurut saya rasanya cukup smooth dan rasa kopinya nggak hilang begitu sudah dicampur sama bahan – bahan lainnya ketika jadi es kopi.

16oz (~473ml) Half&Half – Saya pakai Half&Half merek Great Value keluaran Walmart. Karena kebetulan kemarin belanjanya di Walmart, haha. Sejauh ini saya selalu pakai merek yang beda – beda, tergantung lagi belanja dimana, dan rasanya sama aja kok. Tapi kebetulan udah 2x pakai merek ini karena takarannya pas, 1 kemasan buat 1 resep.

2-3 tbsp (~30-45ml) Maple Syrup – Nah ini dia bahan ketiganya. Karena saya masih ragu dengan gula aren / palm sugar disini, saya memutuskan pakai maple syrup aja sebagai pemanisnya. Saya pakai Organic Maple Syrup Grade A Dark Color merek Coombs Family Farms. Takarannya bisa disesuaikan aja sesuai selera, suka manis atau nggak. Menurut sayaaa rasa Maple Syrup mirip lah sama rasa gula aren yang saya ingat di berbagai es kopi hits ala Tuku pas di Jakarta.

Setelah semua bahan dituang ke dalam botol, dikocok – kocok supaya bikin tambah smooth rasanya. Sejauh ini sih saya puas dengan resep ini, si R juga suka, cuma ya karena alatnya terbatas, jadi bikinnya lamaa.. kudu sabar nyeduh kopi 3x hahaha. Nggak apa – apa lah, kan bikinnya nggak tiap hari, buat obat kangen aja ๐Ÿ™‚

Summer Activities

This is another post from the โ€œStories from the Westโ€ project which I am doing withย 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 monthโ€™s topic is about โ€œsummer storiesโ€. Check out some things that you can do during summertime in Southern California, and don’t forget to read Dixie’s story here ๐Ÿ™‚

In the US, summer usually starts with Memorial Day long weekend. It falls on the last Monday of May, and it’s a holiday to honor those who have passed away during their military service.

However, since I am lucky enough to live in Southern California, our “summer days” actually started way before that. As soon as the weather gets a little bit warmer and sunshine’s out, R and I like to go to the beach. So it happens that the beach is only 15 minutes away from where we live, making it convenient for us to go frequently.

I remember last year, my first summer in the US. We went to the beach almost everyday! I was so tired of the cold weather (Mind you I arrived here during winter time), so I was embracing the warm summer days wholeheartedly.

Last year – chillin at the beach

Unfortunately it’s not the case this year. I haven’t spent a proper day at the beach at all this year! ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Somehow the weather is yet to warm up, I still find it too cold whenever I tried to spend a day at the beach. But I’m patient. I know summer is just right around the corner, so I’m counting days to where I will spend most of my days at the beach again.

Anyway, going to the beach is actually just one of the many activities that you can do during summer here in Southern California. Here are other exciting things that you can do during summertime…

Festivals and Concerts

Coachella 2015

I think festival season in Southern California starts with Coachella in April. Then a ton of other festivals follow. From music festivals like Just Like Heaven that I went to, to culinary festivals, book festivals, comic festivals, art festivals… there’s always a festival for everyone! I personally love going to festival, especially music festival because I just like to be part of the energetic crowd! Then there’s also music concerts. Summer is usually the time where musicians go on tour, and living in LA, I am never short of concert wishlist. If I had the time, energy, and money, I’d probably be out going to a concert every weekend hehehe.

Fairs

When I was living in England, I was made familiar with markets. From a small-scale weekend market that usually takes place in your neighborhood to a big-scale Christmas market with tons of stalls, games, and some attractions. Here in the US we got fairs. It is similar to markets in concept, only in a bigger scale. Well, at least that’s what happen here in Orange County, where I live. Last year I went to OC fair and I plan to do the same this year. OC fair has hundreds of booths from food to trinkets, and there’s also a lot of other activities like petting zoo, mini amusement park, and mini concert. It’s fun and it lasts for one whole month!

Outdoor Activities

Summer also means it’s the perfect time to go outdoor. The US is blessed with such beautiful nature and people here like to go out and about when the weather gets warmer. We go out camping, hiking, visiting national parks, or just spending time at the beach or at parks doing barbeque with friends and family. R and I are going to a national park too this month, I really can’t wait! Last but not least, summer is also the time for baseball! Although this one is really not my cup of tea but I would love to see a Dodgers game one day this summer. Let’s hope I can get a good deal for a ticket!

So those are the things that you can do during summer in Southern California. Is it any different than where you live? I’d love to hear your stories in the comment box. See you in the next Stories from The West post, and have a great summer ahead ๐Ÿ™‚

Catatan Ramadan 2019

Nggak berasa ya, sekarang sudah hari – hari terakhir bulan Ramadan. Ini adalah Ramadan kali kedua saya di Amerika, kali kedua sebagai istri, jadi tentunya banyak hal menarik yang bisa saya rangkum buat bahan kenang – kenangan di blog ๐Ÿ™‚ Oh iya kalau mau baca cerita Ramadan tahun 2018 disini, tahun 2017 disini ya.

Oke, lanjut. Awal bulan Ramadan kali ini saya berasa lemes banget, rasanya puasa tuh berat banget, hampir seminggu saya jam 3 siang udah berasa lemes, lesu, kedinginan, dan cuma bisa tidur sampai menjelang buka puasa jam 7:30 malam. Saya sempet nanya2 di Twitter, gimana sih tips nya puasa panjang, dan juga nanya2 sama teman disini. Jawabannya bervariasi sih, tapi banyak yang bilang, makan kurma! Alhasil saya coba deh sahur pakai kurma, begitu juga pas buka puasa. Eh bener lho, nggak tau karena kurma nya, atau karena badan sudah beradaptasi, Alhamdulilah habis itu saya kuat puasa, nggak pakai lemes – lemes dan kedinginan lagi.

Sama seperti tema keagamaan pribadi saya akhir – akhir ini, tujuan saya di Ramadan ini pengen cari kedamaian dan ketenangan hati. Lumayan luas ya artinya, tapi Alhamdulilah saya mulai dituntun ke arah yang bikin saya senyum – senyum di bulan Ramadan ini, melalui bentuk yang bermacam – macam. Hehe, bingung nggak? Intinya memang kedamaian dan ketenangan hati itu memang personal sekali ya sifatnya.

Ramadan kali ini saya banyak menghabiskan waktu sendiri. Jadi karena sempat merasa lemas di awal Ramadan, saya memutuskan untuk libur sejenak dari berbagai kerjaan freelance saya. Eh, di minggu kedua saya sudah sehat, malah R yang kerjanya sibuk banget dan lembur terus. Jadilah saya sering buka puasa sendirian dan banyak waktu untuk mempelajari hal – hal yang memang ingin dipelajari ๐Ÿ™‚

Tapi, mungkin karena saya banyak sendiri, mungkin karena sudah satu tahun lebih belum pulang ke Indonesia, Ramadan kali ini saya merasa kangen banget dengan Indonesia. Kangen keluarga besar, kangen komunitas, kangen puasa bareng – bareng, bahkan saya sempet bilang sama R “duh sedih juga ya disini sepi puasanya, nih lihat deh temen2 di Jakarta pada saling kirim2an hampers lebaran, disini mana ada yang kasih hampers” Cetek banget ya keinginan saya hahaha, tapi bener sempet ngomong gitu ke R pas saya lihat instastory teman – teman di Jakarta yang saling berbagi kiriman makanan berbuka atau sahur.

Eh, nggak taunya, nggak disangka hari Jumat ini ada teman saya telpon pagi – pagi, bilang mau mampir ke rumah karena dia lagi ada urusan di daerah saya. Pas buka pager, dia dan suaminya nenteng hampers dong buat kami! Isinya puding coklat rumahan pakai fla, yang nggak sabar saya makan buat berbuka puasa nanti. Yaampun, terharu banget deh. Beneran saya bilang, gak ada kepikiran sama sekali bakal dapat sesuatu buat lebaran disini, karena kan beda aja ya budayanya. Taunya malah dapet kiriman, Alhamdulillah ๐Ÿ™‚ Kadang – kadang, keajaiban itu bukan sesuatu yang masif, tapi tetap aja efeknya bisa membuat hati tenang, senang, dan senyum – senyum seharian. Alhamdulillah ๐Ÿ™‚

Semoga Ramadan kali ini juga memberikan ketenangan dan kedamaian bagi kamu, kamu, dan kamu, dimanapun kamu berada. Semoga kita masih dipertemukan dengan Ramadan berikutnya dan bisa menjadi pribadi yang lebih baik lagi di hari – hari selanjutnya, dan semoga kita tetap diberkahi dengan keajaiban – keajaiban besar atau kecil yang membuat hati senang. Mohon maaf lahir dan batin, selamat menjelang lebaran ya!