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.

Notes From an Immigrant

Welcome to 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 “being an immigrant”. 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 Dixie’s story here 🙂

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? 😀

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 😊

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!

Summer Activities

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 “summer stories”. Check out some things that you can do during summertime in Southern California, and don’t forget to read Dixie’s story here 🙂

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! 😦 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 🙂