5 Favorite Things About The US

Hello and welcome back to “Stories from the West” series. I’m doing this project with Dixie and every month we are sharing 1 post about lives in our respective new countries; me in the US, Dixie in Sweden. Can’t believe that this is the 12th post on this series already! Anyway, this month’s topic is about favorite things in our respective countries. Enjoy and don’t forget to read Dixie’s post too! 🙂

Now that I have been living in the US for almost two years, I can say that I made the right choice moving here – although the journey has not been easy, but I did discover a couple of favorite things along the way.

The Nature

The US is beautiful and I love how I can easily be out in nature only with a short drive from my house. The system takes good care of the nature here and they make it easy for us to visit. We have national parks in the US and they are managed carefully, some required an admission fee and some don’t. So far I have only been to three national parks here (Sequoia, Zion, and Joshua Tree) but all of them are breathtakingly beautiful and well managed. My favorite so far is Sequoia National Park, it’s an easy drive from Los Angeles and perfect for a weekend getaway.

Me with the Sequoias

The Entertainment

Well, what can I say about the entertainment here in the US? I guess everybody knows that the US is the capital of entertainment and I live right in the middle of it, in Los Angeles. Living in LA has been great to satisfy my crave of entertainment – there’s always something for everyone, everyday! During the first few months here, I was shocked to see the entertainment calendar – how it was filled by concerts of artists I’m familiar with almost every night! You know how I love concerts and if possible, I would go out every night and watch each one of them haha. So far I have ticked some items off my bucket list in terms of “must-see concerts”… including Justin Timberlake my childhood crush 😀

Justiiiinnn 😀

The Fact that It’s So Easy to Get Food From All Around The World ….

…especially Asian food. Having lived in the UK previously, I remember how hard it was for me to get proper Asian food. Indonesian food? just forget it, I think there’s only 1 Indonesian restaurant in London and nothing at all in Bournemouth, where I lived. Here in greater Los Angeles there are a couple of Indonesian restaurants including a food court with only Indonesian Food stalls! and there’s also 3 Indonesian restaurants nearby UCLA where I go to school… can you imagine, three?! I even had this moment where I got off school and went to one of the restaurants to eat soto mie, as if I was in college in Indonesia hahaha. But anyway, it’s super easy to get international food here, including the ones that I was not familiar with before.

The Theme Parks

I live 20 minutes away from Disneyland California, about an hour from Universal Studios Hollywood, and 1,5 hours from Legoland. Need I say more? hehehehe. I love theme parks so I have and I love the abundance of theme parks in the US. I guess theme parks is a big industry here and they go all out, giving customers a different level of experience with every visit. For example, I just went to Universal Studios horror nights last month and it was so entertaining!

At Universal Studios Hollywood

The Holidays

Americans love their holidays. There’s a holiday for every season, but we are now approaching my favorite one – year end holiday! November is the month of Thanksgiving, a holiday very much similar to Lebaran in Indonesia, where everybody would gather with their families to have a meal – lots of them! Anyway when it comes to celebrating the holiday season, people here like to go all out. Decorations, food, gatherings, all so festive and celebratory. Oh, can I ask what’s your favorite holiday? mine is Christmas! Well, you know why, right? 😛

One big Christmas Tree at my Neighborhood Mall

So that’s 5 of my favorite things in the US. There are more, but let’s stick to five for now. Now I’d love to hear your favorite things from the country you are living in. Please share it in the comment section below 🙂

School Update!

I’m at my second term in school and I’m loving my classes so far. I know I promised some of you to write about my school life so this post is a bit overdue, but anyway here it is! 🙂

So this term I’m taking 4 classes. Three of them are within my Digital Marketing certificate program, and one is actually from a Sustainability certificate program. This is by far the most stressful quarter because everything I’m learning about is new to me. It’s exciting, but at times I found myself putting too much pressure over a 5 points assignment, so yeah.

I love my Sustainability class although I wish I took it in class instead of online, I’m pretty sure I would have learned a lot more if I could get a chance to interact with my classmates and lecturer in real time. Well this is my second online class but I think it just made me realize that I prefer in-class teaching instead of online, although I can say that I’m digitally savvy but still.. nothing beats the classroom experience hehe. Anyway the Sustainability class that I’m taking is called “Global Business Practices in Sustainability” and the title is pretty self-explanatory, I love how I am able to learn about doing business sustainably and learn best practices from well-known companies. My interest in Sustainability kept me going although I found myself overwhelmed at times, learning about those new terminologies outside of my Marketing world. But hey, one’s gotta keep learning!

I’m also taking a Digital Marketing class, Social Media Marketing class, and a Personal Branding + Influencer class. I actually just finished the latter; it was only a 5 week class but was very insightful and inspiring to say the least.

So the Personal Branding class was about how we need to develop our personal brand, how to become an influencer, and if you are on the marketing side – how to manage one. It’s interesting to see how Influencer Marketing in practice here in the US because the lecturers are practitioners and they also brought in several guest speakers, including an actual fashion influencer who spoke to us about the hard work behind all those flashy insta pictures. However, what’s most inspiring to me is that the class also taught me to reassess my own personal brand – not that I’m planning to become an influencer, but for future career and basically in order to get to know myself better. The activities and assignments helped me to reflect and as a result I now have a better understanding of my own personal brand – something that is considered a necessity today, especially since I’m planning to rebuild a career in Marketing after finishing the certificate program.

Me and the lecturers of my Personal Branding class, taken on the last day of class

Phew! That sounds like a lot, isn’t it? Hehehehe.. don’t worry I’m having fun and I have to say that going back to school even after 10 years of graduating is still exciting and if anything it’s more exciting than my previous degrees because at this point of life, I have a better understanding of what I want and what my interests are 🙂

Anyway, I hope all is well with you and I’ll see you in the next post.. thanks for reading! ❤

5 Quirky Things About America

Hello and welcome back to “Stories from the West” series. I’m doing this project with Dixie and every month we are sharing 1 post about lives in our respective new countries; me in the US, Dixie in Sweden. This month’s topic is about the quirks we found about the adopted country. Enjoy and don’t forget to read Dixie’s post too! 🙂

Festive Season all Year Long

Back in Indonesia, festive season happened twice a year; on Christmas and Idul Fitri. That’s when I would see decorations everywhere, in houses and public spaces; Green/Gold for Idul Fitri and Red/Green for Christmas. Here in The US, it seems like there are reasons to decorate/celebrate all year long, with different ones each month… like how we are decorating for Halloween in October, Thanksgiving in November, and of course Christmas in December. Well, they say the more the merrier!

The Measurement System

This is one of the hardest things that I need to adapt, seriously. I don’t understand why the US use miles instead of kilometers when it comes to measuring speed / distance, pounds instead of kilograms when measuring weight… and so on. Why can’t this country be “normal” like the rest of the world?! :)))))

We Talk Loud… Oops!

I don’t know why, but Americans tend to talk loud especially in public, for example when they are on the phone. I could easily hear whatever they are talking just because they talk so loud! I’m sure you know what I mean if you have met American tourists or if you have seen American movies… trust me it is what it is in real life, and sometimes I found myself starting to do the same thing especially when I’m talking with my classmates! O-ow!

A Different Approach on Advertising

In Indonesia and the UK, Advertising are primarily used for commercial goods, sometimes business goods. Here in The US, it’s common to see ads for lawyers, doctors, and the thing that I still find funny… prescription drugs. I’m not sure how it is in the East Coast but try to drive the freeway in California and you would see a ton of billboard ads for lawyers and doctors. Try to watch American TV network and you would see at least one ad for a prescription drug, followed by long disclaimer, of course.

Humongous Food Portion

I remember the first time I was here on vacation; I was shocked to see how big the food portion in the US is! This makes eating out relatively cheap because you can buy a portion and get enough to last you 2-3x meals. After almost 2 years in the US, I can say that I’m getting used to the food portion and just take home whatever I have left. As soon as I reach home, I would reportion the leftovers into smaller containers and store it in the fridge. At first I was not comfortable in saving food in the fridge because in Indonesia food can get bad easily due to its humidity… but it’s not the case here, your leftovers can still be good for the next 3-4 days or so, as long as it’s kept in the fridge. I still found it weird, but I guess I’m starting to get used to it now.

So those are the 5 things that I found quirky here in the US. It was hard for me to adapt to those quirks but as time goes by, it has became the new normal for me hahaha… anyway, let me know if there’s some quirks in your country, I’d love to hear it too! 🙂

A Small Victory

I have been dealing with insecurities. There. I said it.

It took me a while to understand it, before I was finally able to fully acknowledge and accept it, and now I’m starting to let it go.

To give you a little bit of background, let me recap what has happened in the past 2 years. I got engaged, quit my job, traveled, started freelancing, got married, moved to the US, dealt with numerous paperworks for immigration purposes, became a housewife, and just recently started school. To think of it again, it has been crazy.

Along the way, I felt insecure many times. All those changes opened up a door and I somehow let insecurities came my way. I tried so hard to fight it. I tried to count my blessings, I tried to enjoy the little moments, the small victories, but at the end of the day it was still creeping.

Maybe it was not that bad because I felt like I still had a good life. There were challenges indeed, but it was manageable. There were days when I felt so insecure but I somehow always managed to bounce back the next day. There were good days and bad days, and I was okay with that. Little by little things were starting to fall into place and I thought all those insecurities were part of my adaptation process and I managed to deal with it. Done.

But then I started school, and I realized that my insecurities was holding me back many times. I refrained from doing the things I used to do, like participating in class, engaging in discussions, and I started to notice how it could lead to bigger issues as I am preparing myself to restart my career here in the US.

After I did some research, I found iBunda.id, a counseling service that offers online sessions. I specifically wanted to find Indonesian psychologists/counselors because I thought they would be able to understand my situation better. I’m so glad that I found them and after my session I was able to understand what was going on with me.

Like I said, with understanding comes acknowledgement and acceptance, and now I’m starting to let it go. To say that I’m free of insecurities is not 100% true. I still feel it sometimes, but I can manage it better. I don’t let it haunt me nor I let it bring me down like it used to. Instead, I accept and move on.

I used to think that my school is not significant because it is “just a certificate program”, not a prestigious MBA or PhD. I don’t know what got into my head for me to think that way because that mindset led me to feeling insecure!

Thankfully that mindset did not stay with me for long. I have then learned to celebrate more small victories, appreciating all the little things, simply because they matter. Today I am celebrating another small victory – a satisfactory grade this term! Wait let me rephrase because that sentence was still influenced by some insecurities.

Today I am celebrating because for the first time in my academic career I got straight As!!!! YAY me!!!

I don’t know what the future holds but I know for sure that for as long as I work hard and do my best, I will be okay. I will try my best to not let insecurities hold me back, so I will be okay.

If you happen to be dealing with your own issues, I hope you remember to celebrate your own small victories, because they matter 🙂 sending positive vibes to all! x

In America, I…

It’s the first day of September which means I am back with another post from the “Stories from the West” project which I am doing with Dixie! Each month we are writing 1 post about the same topic, to give you a glimpse of our lives as new immigrants (Me in the US, Dixie in Sweden). This month’s topic is about the things we learned from our adopted countries. Read mine below and Dixie’s here 🙂 Enjoy!

I learned to live more sustainably

Actually, life here in general is far from sustainable, but somehow it drove me to live my life more sustainably. Let me explain. When I got here, I was quite surprised to see how common the takeout culture is, and the amount of waste that came with it! They made me realize that I needed to do something. You see, whenever you eat out here, you would get enormous portion (especially coming from Indonesia). Obviously not every time you could finish that portion, so the option is to bring it home. And when you ask your server to bring home your leftovers, you would get it boxed in plastic containers, with plastic cutleries, and plastic bag. And it happens so much that I started to feel uneasy about it. At the same time, I was made aware of recycling (something that I never do in Indonesia), so I did some baby steps by starting to separate my recyclables and trash at home. Then I went on with minimising the use of single-use plastic. A couple months after, I’m still far from being completely sustainable (To be honest I don’t know what the world actually means), but I am doing baby steps!

A totally unrelated picture but it’s so beautiful righttt? This was taken in Catalina Island 🙂

I learned to work hard(er)

Hard work is nothing new in my dictionary but here I got to see how hard work can get you places. If I could one choose one thing that I learned about this country, I would definitely choose hard work! Despite only living here for a short time, I was able to meet a lot of people from different backgrounds already and they all showed me how hard work can be valued in this country. I guess it is true that this is the land of opportunity so it’s up to us to work as hard as we can to grab as many opportunities as possible!

I learned to celebrate individuality

Coming from a country which culture put a high emphasis on conformity, at first I found it surprising to see how much individuality are valued in this country. I learned that individuality does not mean a bad thing nor that it means you are selfish, but in the age of #selfcare, it is important to put yourself first and learn to accept yourself, in whatever condition. It’s okay to be different and it’s also okay to celebrate it.

To sum up, I know that my life here is just starting, I have this long road ahead of me. But I’m glad that I get this second chance of learning new things and expanding my horizons by moving to America. These are just the three things that I learned from this country, I might share more in the future, as I am adjusting myself more to the life here. Thanks for reading, and if you are also an immigrant, what are the things that you learned from your adopted country? I would love to hear your story! 🙂

Suka Duka Tugas Kelompok

Sebagai anak kuliahan tentunya saya ketemu lagi sama yang namanya tugas kelompok. Apalagi program kuliah saya lebih fokus pada praktek dibanding teori jadilah semakin banyak tugas, termasuk kelompok.

Nah, tugas kelompok ini ternyata banyak suka duka nya dan rasanya kok saya baru berasa banget sekarang ini ya. Sungguh, mungkin udah kelamaan nggak sekolah tapi rasanya dulu – dulu kok nggak pernah mengalami dinamika tugas kelompok seperti sekarang ini?! Hehe..

Tugas kelompok ini rasanya benar – benar kayak ikut undian. Nggak ada yang tahu gimana hasilnya. Kalau beruntung, dapat kelompok yang enak banget dan lancar banget kerjanya. Kayak kelompok A saya (kita sebut aja begitu). Anggotanya 3 orang, dan hampir 3 bulan kami kerja bareng, nggak pernah ada masalah. Pernah saya agak beda pendapat sama mereka berdua, tapi saya anggap nggak penting lah jadi saya ngikut aja, eh hasilnya dapat A, berarti emang saya yang kurang paham kan konsepnya 😛 Kami juga pernah kerjain tugas bareng di cafe pinggir pantai yang dilanjut dengan happy hour hari Jumat malam.. seru ya :D. Pokoknya, kelompok yang ini oke banget deh!

Tapi saya pernah juga dapat kelompok, kita sebut aja kelompok B, yang semuanya diaaam seribu bahasa. Untungnya waktu kami kerja bareng cuma 1x kelas, proyeknya pun nggak punya bobot nilai yang besar. Aduh tapi kelompok ini, nggak ada yang mau inisiatif, masing – masing anggota kayaknya sibuk sendiri, alhasil saya yang musti mengarahkan diskusi kelompok untuk cari ide. Parahnya lagi 1 anggota nggak datang di waktu hari presentasi, tebak dong siapa yang ambil alih…?

Ada lagi kelompok yang semuanya mau ngomong. Nah kelompok C ini juga bikin pusing. Pernah kami menghabiskan waktu 20 menit cuma untuk muter – muter bahas sesuatu yang ujung – ujung nya nggak ada kesimpulan dan nggak jadi dipakai di dalam presentasi. Walaupun orang – orangnya baik dan nggak nyebelin, tapi entah kenapa kalau diskusi tuh kok rasanya pola pikir kami nggak nyambung semua ya… jadi seringkali capek muter – muter bahas sesuatu dan susah banget untuk menyamakan persepsi dan frekuensi. Haduh!

Ngomong- ngomong, nggak berasa deh, saya sudah berada di penghujung semester pertama program sertifikat saya ini. Baru mulai sih, belum ada setengah jalan. Sejauh ini saya suka banget kuliahnya, walaupun masih sering capek karena ternyata kuliah sebagai istri di umur 30an tuh beda banget yaa sama kuliah waktu masih lajang … hahahaha, badan rasanya capek mulu berbagi tugas antara kuliah dan mengurus rumah tangga. Walaupun sebenernya saya punya tanggung jawab yang sama dengan R dalam hal rumah tangga, tapi tetep aja sejak kuliah ini saya sering berasa capek banget… padahal dulu kuat kuat aja tuh kuliah, kerja part time dan siaran radio pas di Inggris! 😛 emang namanya umur nggak bisa boong deh 😉 Nanti kapan – kapan saya ceritain lebih lanjut deh tentang hal ini.

Thanks for reading and have a good weekend! 🙂

3 Books About Being an Immigrant in America

Hello and welcome to a new 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 we are sharing some book recommendations about our adoptive countries and I’m sharing 3 books about immigration in The US. Happy reading and check out Dixie’s post here 🙂

I love that I have been able to read more since I moved to the US. I guess it’s one of the goods things that came out from my down time when I was still adjusting to life here – all the free time I had made me manage to get back to my reading habit, something that I was not able to do when I was still living in Jakarta.

If you have been friends with me on Goodreads, you would know that most of the books on my shelf are fiction, mostly young adults or romantic comedy. Yes, those are my favorite genre. But, I have developed an interest towards immigration stories here in the US, because, well, I am an immigrant myself, and immigration is an issue that is widely discussed here. So, for this post, I am going to share 3 books about immigration that I found deeply moving and I really enjoyed to read. Happy reading! 🙂

Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen by Jose Antonio Vargas

This book is a memoir written by the author himself, a renowned journalist who happens to be undocumented. The book tells you about his journey – how he was sent to the US from the Philippines to live with his grandparents, with fake papers. Through great storytelling he told us how he first found out that he is undocumented, how he is fighting for his status, and the life that he has built in the US. I felt so moved by this book and I can only imagine the things that he went through. As you probably know, immigration is a big issue here and sometimes we are only exposed to one side of the story. This book gives you another one, and it’s a good read if you are interested in the issue.

We Are Here to Stay: Voices of Undocumented Young Adults by Susan Kuklin

This book is a collection of short stories from undocumented young adults living in America, written by an author and photographer. The stories are so heart-warming and it gives more perspective than the news about immigration in popular media. Well, I guess I have to warn you as well that this book is also heartbreaking. Through this book we are taken to peek the lives of these young adults that were brought / came to the US when they were still kids. Most of them don’t know life besides the one they have lived in the US so it is really heartbreaking to read about their stories… but at the same time these stories taught me a lot about hope and perseverance because despite everything, these young adults are striving and they are hopeful.

American Like Me: Reflections on Life Between Cultures by America Ferrera

Do you remember America Ferrera? Well I remember her from the TV series Ugly Betty that I watched several years back. I haven’t heard from her in a while until I found this book. It turns out that she’s a good storyteller too! She shares her story about coming from a Honduran family and compiles great stories from other notable public figures like Jeremy Lin, Randall Park and Kal Penn. The book does a great job in capturing stories of Americans with a diverse background and it makes me rethink the meaning of being an American in today’s society. For a long time, the image of being American to me is limited to the ones portrayed in Hollywood movies I saw growing up. Yes, those are true, but through this book, and my own experience living here, I learned that being American is such a wide spectrum. It is a heartwarming book and enjoyable book, and I recommend it if you want to get a better understanding of what it means to be an American in today’s diverse society.