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˜‰

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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

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!

Finding Peace

For a while I refrained myself from writing about this, even though I have been thinking about this (a lot) for quite some time. I understand that it might be controversial to some, but hey this blog is called ‘Christa Bercerita’ because this is where I tell my stories.. and today it’s about faith.

I was born and raised Muslim, I am still a Muslim and I should note here that I was brought up in an interfaith household. My dad was a devout Muslim, my mom is a devout Christian and together they raised me as a Muslim. Whole my life, I am used to the exposure of the two faiths, and strangely enough my husband comes from a diverse background too – half of his family is Christian, while he is born and raised Muslim. So – that’s a little background about me.

Fast forward to the last few years, I started to question my faith. Not the Islam that I grew up with, but particularly the way some Indonesians Muslims practice their faith …. (I don’t want to generalize but that’s how I see it). In the past few years, I’ve seen more and more people / friends / colleagues / family / acquaintances getting more religious and especially with social media they are spreading their “newly-found-again” faith out loud.

I get it, I’m all about free speech and I (try my best) to value everyone’s opinion. But there’s this thing that I found very disturbing. I found that the narrative of this whole “newly-found-again” (or in Indonesian – hijrah) Islam is mostly (again, I don’t want to generalize) fear.

I’ve lost count of the times I went to a sermon, only to hear about how I’ve done soooo bad as a human being and I’m super sinful that I will burn in hell. I’ve lost count of the instagram posts telling me that I will get X punishment in hell because I donโ€™t cover my hair or because I didn’t do this and that.

Truth be told these things donโ€™t make me feel peace at all, instead they make me uneasy, and I thought being religious is supposed to bring peace on to my daily life.

I mean I don’t want to pray because I’m afraid that if I didn’t I will burn in hell. I don’t want to give to the poor and needy only because I want something in return, as I often hear, “give to the needy, your prayers will be heard!” I mean do I really have to have a motive in giving back? That does not feel right. I want to give because I feel like giving, because I feel thankful, and I want to pray because I want to feel close to God, because I want to feel peace. Not because I’m afraid. And definitely not because I want something in return!

So yeah, I kind of stop following Indonesian Islam (if there’s such thing.. but you know what I mean). Which is a bit sad, because I know Islam is all about communities and at the moment I don’t feel like I belong in my own community.

Thankfully, I am starting to find peace at my mosque here. Although I am yet to go there often, I love what I’m hearing so far. Every sermon I heard made me smile, made me feel at peace, and maybe I’ll find my community here. For now, I’ll continue observing Ramadan with an open heart, may this month brings Peace to you and I โค

Sunday

I woke up early, and we decided to get breakfast. We tried a brunch cafe not far from our house, only 10 minutes drive away. We were the first guests when we arrived at 7AM, right when they just opened. Not long after, another couple came in. Then another. And another. It was a full house by 7:30AM. Wow, it looks like the cafe is quite popular in the neighborhood. Why haven’t we been here before, I asked R. Let’s try the food first, he said.

I ordered a typical American breakfast menu – eggs, sausage, potatoes and toast. Only I asked for the toast to be changed to english muffins. It’s the closest I can get to crumpets here :)))) R ordered pesto bagel – it was really good, he said. I also had a cup of latte which was not bad at all, similar to what I usually make at home. But it’s Sunday, I want someone to make my coffee because I don’t wan’t to deal with the dishes :)))))

After breakfast we spent a bit of time at the beach, then went back home. I did some freelance work, R went on relaxing. He needed the rest&relaxation day after his long week.

I was too caught up with work when I realised it’s already past 4PM and we haven’t had lunch. I woke R up, we were both starving. Well, it’s the perfect time to use our Gyu-kaku points, I said. Let’s go! He said. There’s nothing better than eating good food with points, which brought down our bill to 50% less! ๐Ÿ˜€

Btw, tonight is the start of Ramadan. We will be fasting for a whole month starting tomorrow. So we went to Target to stock up on some pantry items. I haven’t finished my meal plan so I just stock up on some fruits, oatmeal and protein bars for our suhoor. We will be fasting for 15 hours this year, and this is going to be my second Ramadan in the US. I’m excited! I’m hoping for some miracles this month and I’m also looking forward to reflect and give back.

Now I’m relaxing at home. It’s been a long day. R is right beside me, watching Game of Thrones. I don’t follow the series, I just don’t get the hype. Don’t get me wrong, I tried to watch a couple of episodes… Anyway I let him have the TV every Sunday night, so here I am typing in my WordPress app while listening to Spotify with earphones on. All good, it’s been a good day, and I hope it will be a good Ramadan for us all ๐Ÿ™‚

5 Phrases That Make You Sound Like a Californian

You are reading 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 โ€œlocal lingoโ€. Don’t forget to read Dixie’s story here and hope youโ€™ll enjoy our stories! ๐Ÿ™‚

Some of the best way to immerse yourself into a new culture is by speaking is language. This is actually a part of immigrating that at first I didn’t find too hard to be done, because I already speak English. Even so, I still found myself confused at times when I was talking to a local, because they were speaking in some lingo that I was yet to understand. It took me a while to understand these phrases, which I am going to share with you.

“To get to Hollywood from Santa Monica, take theย 10 toย theย 110 toย the 101″

If you look at Los Angeles’ map, you will see that this city has a lot of freeways! The freeways are numbered, and if you spend just enough time in Los Angeles, you will hear people casually use freeway numbers in sentences to describe directions. I found it very confusing at first and I had to sort of memorize LA map to finally be able to understand what do they mean when people are using these numbers. Oh, and btw, try to avoid the 405 at all times ๐Ÿ˜‰

“What’s up, Homie?”

Are you following American Idol this season? If you do, then you probably saw how Katy Perry called Alejandro Aranda – one of the contestants, her homie. Homie is an American slang from homeboy, mostly used to call your guy friends, someone that you are close with and hang out regularly. This phrase is mostly used between people of Mexican-American background, and since there are a lot of people with Mexican-American background in Los Angeles and Southern California in general, you would probably hear this phrase often.

“I’ll Have it Animal Style, Please!”

There is a fast food chain that Californians really love, and it’s called In-N-Out burger. This chain is different than most burger chains because it keeps its menu simple, in fact they only have fries, cheeseburger, beefburger, soft drink and milkshake. That’s it. No fancy burger menu, no sides, and definitely no seasonal menu like McDonalds. The best thing about In-N-Out is that they never freeze their produce, so it’s always fresh. Anyway, although their menu is simple, they allow you to customize your burger as you like, and there are a couple of “Secret menu” that everyone likes to order. One of it is the “animal style”, which means extra sauce, grilled onions, and mustard. The best thing? you can order both burger and fries animal style!

Image source: https://www.bustle.com

“I’m from SoCal but I went to NorCal for College”

Contrary to popular belief, Californians never refer California as Cali. Instead, they separate the region by NorCal or North California which is basically San Francisco and other cities up north, and SoCal or Los Angeles, Orange County (where I live) and San Diego.

“I Had Like, a Super Long Day”

Do you remember Cher from Clueless? Then you would probably remember how she likes to use the word like in a sentence. Adding the word like in a sentence is so common in Los Angeles (well, probably California in general). I heard it’s originated by people from the Valley (the upper north area of Los Angeles) since the 80s but it’s like, becoming super common to be used casually these days!

So that’s it! 5 phrases that will make you sound like Californian. Is there such thing in your city / country? Do share in the comment box, and I’ll see you in the next “Stories from The West” posts ๐Ÿ™‚