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

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™‚

Just Like Heaven

Kemarin saya dan R pergi ke festival Just Like Heaven yang diadakan di Queen Mary Park Long Beach. Saya kepengen banget – bangetan pergi ke festival ini sejak pertama kali lihat daftar artisnya yang nggak lain adalah hampir semua band favorit saya jaman (lebih) muda dulu! Mulai dari Breakbot, Passion Pit, Phoenix, dan nama – nama yang saya nggak pernah kebayang bakal ada kesempatan nonton seperti Tennis dan She Wants Revenge. Ya ampun, rasanya nggak percaya, mana tempatnya cuma 20 menit dari rumah! Kalau kata R, inilah salah satu untungnya tinggal di Los Angeles sebagai penggemar konser macam kami (Iya, untungnya kami berdua sama – sama penggemar konser walau selera musik nggak 100% sama).

Ini dia poster festivalnya

Perjalanan saya nonton festival ini juga nggak mulus – mulus amat karena saya awalnya gagal mendapatkan tiket (Nggak sangka, banyak juga orang yang mau nonton band – band lawas tahun 2000an ini). Eh, nggak taunya si promotor nambahin tanggal dan saya berhasil mendapatkan tiket di tanggal tambahan (Jumat 3 Mei) dengan harga resmi padahal baru beli tiketnya H-2 sebelum acara alias hari Rabu kemarin. Hampir juga saya pergi sendiri karena si R hampir nggak dapat cuti, tapi akhirnya semua aman dan kami berdua berhasil pergi.

Karena satu dan lain hal kami gagal datang tepat waktu dan jadinya baru sampai lokasi jam 2 siang, jadi saya terpaksa lewatin penampilan Peter Bjorn and John, She Wants Revenge, Miami Horror sama RAC (huhu). Tapi untungnya (tetep aja untung haha) masih bisa nangkep Tennis, terus lanjut deh Breakbot DJ Set.

Walaupun nonton Breakbot siang – siang tapi ternyata seru juga, set nya singkat tapi ciamik bahkan dia sempet puterin Stardust – Music Sounds Better with You dan Daft Punk – One More Time yang sukses bikin orang – orang makin semangat disko. Penampilannya ditutup dengan lagu Baby I’m Yours yang dinyanyiin live sama Irfane. Seru!

Breakbot

Habis Breakbot, kami lanjut nonton band berikutnya – Passion Pit. Kami udah pernah nonton Passion Pit tahun lalu tapi tetap semangat ingin lihat, dan ternyata nonton Passion Pit di festival lebih seru karena panggung nya lebih besar dan penonton nya lebih rame. Setelah Passion Pit, lanjut nonton Miike Snow – ini juga saya semangat banget karena bertahun – tahun dengerin albumnya tapi nggak pernah kebayang bakal nonton live! penampilan Miike Snow bagus banget, apalagi mereka bawain lagu – lagu hits nya termasuk favorit saya, Animal.

Kami sempat istirahat dari panggung utama dan kembali ke panggung kecil untuk nonton Grizzly Bear sambil ngemil – ngemil, terus balik lagi ke panggung utama buat nonton MGMT yang ternyata penampilannya … biasa aja hehe. Mungkin kami sudah mulai capek, tapi emang sih rasanya penampilan MGMT kemarin kurang greget gitu. Akhirnya kami kabur ke panggung kecil lagi dan istirahat sebentar sebelum nunggu The Rapture. Ya ampun The Rapture ini diluar ekspektasi karena penampilannya keren banget! Walaupun nggak tau semua lagunya tapi kami (saya sih, R kebanyakan angguk2 kepala dan goyang pundak doang) dibuat nggak berenti dansa… serasa lagi aerobik. Yang saya suka dari nonton konser atau festival disini, kalau mau joged silakaann bebas aja nggak perlu malu – malu. Mau gaya apa juga, pokoknya nikmatin aja musik dan bebasin aja gerakan. Asik kaann :)))))

Nggak kerasa tau – tau matahari sudah terbenam, sudah jam 8 malam dan badan kami serasa mulai rontok. Yeah Yeah Yeahs lagi manggung di panggung utama tapi kami nggak kuat nonton lama – lama. Balik ke panggung kecil dengan niatan mau rileks sambil nonton Beach House tapi baru 2 lagu malah kebawa ngantuk (kok jompo banget ya hahaha). Akhirnya kami duduk manis sambil nungguin Phoenix yang jadi band penutup jam 10 malam. Jam 10 teng Phoenix mulai manggung, dan nggak pakai basa – basi langsung bawain lagu – lagu hits nya. Saya sudah pernah nonton Phoenix di Jakarta jaman dulu (tahun 2008 ya kalo nggak salah). Waktu itu mainnya di venue yang kecil banget. Di Aksara bukan sih kalau nggak salah? Dan nonton Phoenix di panggung besar rasanya jauh lebih seru, beda banget deh nuansanya.

Phoenix jadi penutup manis buat festival Just Like Heaven kemarin. Agak nyesel nggak bisa datang lebih awal tapi nggak nyesel sama sekali udah bujuk – bujuk si R supaya cuti. Dia juga seneng, dan kami langsung bikin rencana konser berikutnya mumpung masih terbawa euphoria.

Come Visit My City :)

Hello April! Spring has sprung and for some of us it’s the perfect time for a break. This month, the topic for Stories from The West is about travel. I’m sharing a quick travel guide to Orange County, where I am currently residing. You can also read Dixie’s guide to Gothenburg here.ย 

If you plan to visit Los Angeles, I’d gladly suggest you to not skip visiting Orange County. Located 45 minutes away from downtown LA, Orange County has its own charm and can really make your LA vacation more special! While I know people mostly come here to go to Disneyland, but there are far more things to do here in OC than just visiting Disneyland. Here’s a list of some things that  that you can do in Orange County (Disneyland excluded!).

#1 Spend a Day at The Beach

Orange County has several beaches, each with its own charm. I might write a separate post about the beaches in OC, but if you only have a day to be spent at the beach, I’d say Laguna Beach is your go – to. Laguna Beach is situated in the south of OC, it’s a bit far from LA, but only a short drive from Disneyland Anaheim. Start your day by having breakfast or brunch at downtown Laguna Beach. Even there you can already feel the laid-back beach atmosphere. There are a lot of small cafes and breakfast places that you can choose, but I personally love Moulin – a small French cafe with delicious pastries. While you’re walking around downtown Laguna, you can stop by Laguna Coffee Company for a cuppa!

There are a handful of smaller beaches in Laguna Beach, you can choose the Main Beach if you want to immerse yourself in the crowd. Main Beach can get really crowded especially during warmer days but I think it’s always fun to people watch.

However, my personal favourite spot in Laguna Beach has got to be Treasure Island Beach. To get here, you can find Montage Laguna Beach hotel, park there, and then take a short walk to the beach. This spot is less crowded, with white sands, and amazing view!

Once you get tired of the beach (but really, how could one gets tired of the beach? :P), next on the itinerary is to check out local cliffside cafes to watch the sunset and have an early dinner. I like Driftwood Kitchen, but there are other great places that you can go to.

#2 Try Hiking

Another thing that you must do while you are in Orange County is to go on a hike. There are several great hiking spots in the area, each with different categories. Well, I’m new to hiking as I just started to hike frequently since I moved here. So I know I haven’t been to a lot of hiking spots, but I’ve been to a few that are easy to do for starters like me, with great views as well.

The first spot is Top of The World in Laguna Beach. It has a few treks, ranging from easy to hard. For starters like me, there’s even a short route that can be done in 30 minutes. The view is beautiful and it’s no hassle to get here, surely this place is hard to miss. 

Another great spot is Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve. It is located just 5 minutes drive from downtown Huntington Beach, just by the Pacific Coast Highway (remember the song?) It’s flat trek with pretty ocean views where you can also do some bird spotting if you are a fan. 

#3 Embark on a Culinary Adventure

I have to say that food is one of Orange County’s greatest treasures. As LA’s neighbour, this area is pretty much just as multicultural, and I might be biased, but I actually found some of the best international tastes here instead of in LA. 

Westminster and Garden Grove is the place to start if you are craving for Asian food. It’s the hub for Southeast and South Asian communities in Orange County, so you’ll find lots of great Vietnamese, Thai, Filipino, and Indian food here. Sadly, no Indonesian restaurant in this area, but I can’t complain as I can still get food with familiar Asian taste just a short drive away. 

If you are more of a fan of Chinese and Japanese food, then your go-to place is Irvine and Costa Mesa. Irvine is a college town, famous for international students because of UC Irvine’s reputation. Costa Mesa is hard to miss because there’s South Coast Plaza, possibly SoCal’s best mall – definitely worth the drive if you want to spend some $$$ while traveling. 

Of course as an Asian I have to start with pointing out Asian food, but actually Orange County has so much more than just Asian food. Santa Ana and Orange (yes, there is a city called Orange) should not be missed if you are interested to try Mexican / South American food. 

It’s really hard for me to choose one favorite restaurant in Orange County – it really depends on what kind of food you are looking for. Bottomline is, you will never feel hungry in Orange County because there is just so much great food! Take a trip around the world by trying out different kinds of food, all just a short drive away within each other.

Anyway, to sum up this quick travel guide to Orange County – there’s really so much to see / do besides Disneyland. Hit me up if you are ever in the area and need some recommendations, I’d gladly share more of my favorites! See you in the next Stories from The West posts ๐Ÿ™‚

Kunjungan Mama (part 3)

Oke jangan bosen yaa baca cerita kunjungan Mama hehehe. Rasanya pengen cerita yang lengkap gitu, baru deh lanjut cerita2 yang lain. Anyway, di post ketiga ini saya mau ceritain soal road trip kami ke San Francisco.

Jadi, waktu tempuh perjalanan dari Los Angeles ke San Francisco kalau naik mobil itu sekitar 6,5 jam. Tadinya saya dan R sempet bingung, mau naik pesawat (mahal), naik bus (mikir repot di SF nya gak ada mobil karena kali ini kita bawa mama), atau bawa mobil aja dari LA. Akhirnya kami memutuskan untuk bawa mobil supaya seru, dan dihitung2 juga biayanya sama aja kalau kita naik bus plus transportasi di SFnya.

Kami berangkat hari Minggu sore sekitar jam 6, itu juga mampir dulu makan malam dan sempet berhenti beberapa kali untuk beli kopi, isi bensin, jajan, dan sebagainya hehe. Perjalanan ke SF lumayan ngebosenin, karena malam hari kali ya, nggak ada pemandangan yang bisa dilihat dan sepanjang jalan kosongggg melompong. Soalnya kami pakai rute paling cepat, padahal sih sebenarnya ada rute yang lebih indah pemandangannya tapi lebih lama waktu tempuhnya, yaitu lewat Pacific Coast Highway (inget lagunya nggak?). Kami sampai di SF sekitar jam 3 pagi. Langsung istirahat karena jam 10 pagi nya langsung diajak saudara kami yang kebetulan tinggal di SF untuk jalan2 ke Monterey.

Monterey itu kota kecil di pinggir pantai yang jaraknya sekitar 2 jam dari SF. Monterey seru banget, kotanya cantik, banyak yang bisa dilihat, sayang karena kami perginya rame2 jadi agak susah berhenti2 sesuai keinginan, jadi saya mau banget balik lagi suatu hari apalagi kalau lagi panas ๐Ÿ™‚

Setelah seharian di Monterey bareng keluarga, kami menghabiskan waktu di kota SF nya selama 2 hari 1 malam. Hari pertama saya ajak mama ke Pier 39 dan Ghirardelli Square. Dari Ghirardelli Square kami naik SF tram lanjut ke Union Square. Tram ini cukup terkenal di SF, dan biasanya selalu antri. Tapi kalau kamu naik dari Ghirardelli Square, antriannya nggak separah itu kok! Harga sekali jalan $7, cukup mahal sih untuk ukuran transportasi umum, tapi boleh juga dicoba untuk atraksi wisata mumpung lagi di SF ๐Ÿ™‚

Hari terakhir sebelum pulang kami sempat ajak Mama lihat Golden Gate Bridge karena ya memang nggak lengkap ke SF tanpa lihat jembatan ini, ya nggak sihh… dan kali ini karena kami naik mobil sendiri, jadi bisa lihat jembatannya dari Marin Headlands yang letaknya diatas bukit, jadi pemandangannya lebih keren! Kalau memang kamu ke SF dan ada mobil sendiri, coba deh lihat Golden Gate Bridge nya dari Vista Point/Marin Headlands daripada dari visitors centernya. Musti bayar tol sih, tapi pemandangannya worth it kok!

Setelah itu, kami mampir juga ke Lands End. Ini sesuai namanya bener2 kayak di ujung dunia deh. Tapi pemandangannya juga bagus banget! Sayangnya lagi mendung ya (tapi di SF emang hampir selalu mendung kan… kalo mau cerah ya ke LA hehehehe :P), tapi pemandangannya, suasananya, bener2 menarik. Kalau nggak pakai mobil sendiri, transportasi umum kesana agak susah karena ya letaknya emang jauh dari mana2, jadi kalau kamu ke SF dan ada mobil sendiri, wajib banget ke Lands End!

Karena terlalu terpesona sama Lands End, kami akhirnya pulang jam 8 malam dari SF… padahal tadinya mau lihat pemandangan sambil pulang, batal lagi deh. Perjalanan pulang lebih parah dari berangkat karena kami udah capek banget dan memang jalanannya luruuuuus aja tanpa ada pemandangan apa2. Kami harus stop berkali – kali untuk istirahat dan akhirnya sampai dirumah jam 4 pagi ๐Ÿ˜€

Pengalaman yang cukup seru road trip bareng Mama ke San Francisco, walaupun kalau boleh pilih mungkin besok2 road tripnya siang2 aja jangan malam hari supaya nggak terlalu capek hehe. Kalau kamu, kapan terakhir kali road trip?

Kunjungan Mama (Part 2)

Seperti yang udah saya sempat ceritakan beberapa waktu lalu, kemarin ini saya kedatangan Mama dari Jakarta selama sebulan. Nggak sangka, sebulan tuh ternyata cepat banget berlalu. Tau2 Mama udah pulang lagi ke Jakarta, dan saya kembali ke aktivitas normal lagi….

Kemarin saya sempat tanya di Instagram, kira2 nulis blog tentang apa yaa.. terus ada beberapa jawaban yang bilang supaya nulis cerita selama Mama lagi disini. Kayaknya satu post bakal kepanjangan, jadi saya pisahkan postnya jadi beberapa bagian.

Kalau ditanya, ngapain aja selama Mama disini? jawabannya sih nggak ada yang terlalu spesial banget, seperti yang udah saya ceritain di post ini, minggu pertama giliran Mama ketemu orangtuanya R dengan bonus main salju, terus minggu kedua kami di rumah aja dan jalan2 sekitar daerah rumah saya, minggu ketiga kami ke San Francisco (cerita menyusul!) dan minggu keempat kami sempet ke Las Vegas sekalian mampir lagi ke rumah orangtua R untuk pamitan (cerita menyusul juga yaa). Yaampun, ga berasa kan sebulan itu?

Selama kami kebanyakan dirumah aja, waktu kami banyak dihabiskan dengan hal2 simpel seperti nemenin saya belanja groceries, masak bareng, jalan2 keliling area rumah bareng, sampai nonton TV bareng. Ini nih yang paling sering kami lakukan, apalagi kebetulan kami sama2 senang nonton TV series Amerika. Jadi, nonton apa aja kami kemarin?

The Passage – Ini drama sci-fi, ceritanya soal wabah virus yang menyebabkan manusia berubah jadi makhluk semacam vampir gitu. Mirip kayak The Walking Dead, tapi menariknya serial ini menceritakan awal virusnya berkembang, gimana manusia berusaha mencari obat buat virus tersebut, sampai muncul gadis “penyelamat” yang namanya Amy. Kami suka nonton ini, seru soalnya! Kalau kamu suka drama2 sci-fi Amerika, pasti suka juga deh.

Semua Serial Dokter2an – Hahaha dijadiin satu aja deh kategorinya. Habisnya, saya dan Mama suka banget nonton serial TV tentang dokter dan rumah sakit. Mulai Grey’s Anatomy, Good Doctor, New Amsterdam, sampai The Resident kami tonton semua. Dari ke-4 serial tersebut saya paling suka Good Doctor, dan paling biasa aja sama New Amsterdam. Tapi, R paling suka sama New Amsterdam jadi kadang2 dia suka ikut nonton juga bareng saya dan Mama kalau kebetulan New Amsterdam lagi tayang.

A Million Little Things – Serial drama yang lumayan bikin mikir. Ceritanya tentang persahabatan 4 orang cowok dewasa, saya udah pernah ceritain di post ini sih. Kebetulan waktu nulis post tersebut saya baru mulai nonton, tapi lama2 kecantol juga hahaha.. eh taunya pas Mama disini, ternyata dia suka juga, jadi kami nonton deh tiap episodenya sampai kemarin season finale. Tenang aja, no spoiler! ๐Ÿ˜›

The Gifted – Ini juga udah saya bahas di post terdahulu. Mama ternyata suka banget nonton ini, nggak sangka lho. Sayangnya serial ini udah tamat dan katanyaaa nggak bakal lanjut lagi ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Kalo diitung – itung, banyak juga ya serial TV yang kami tonton bersama. Tuh kan, pantesan waktu berasa cepat banget, ternyata banyak abis nonton TV hahaha… walau simpel tapi seneng banget, Mama juga seneng karena bisa lebih update daripada nunggu episode terbaru di TV Indonesia. Yah, itung2 quality time sama Mama ๐Ÿ™‚

Jadi begitulah part one dari cerita saya menghabiskan waktu bersama Mama sebulan kemarin. Makasih ya udah baca, more stories later!

Home Away From Home

Another month, another “Stories from The West” post ๐Ÿ™‚ This month, Dixie and I are writing about finding “home” away from home.  In this post, I am sharing a reflection of what does home mean to me, now that I am settling down in my adopted country. I hope you have been enjoying our stories so far… and don’t forget to read Dixie’s post too! ๐Ÿ™‚

My first year in the US was all about firsts. First experiences, adjustments, and adapting to my newly adopted country. There were a lot of things I found outside of the ordinary, there were a lot of things I did not understand. Did I miss my home? I did, many times, although I didn’t know what exactly did I miss besides my family and friends. For a while, I kept comparing life here and there. When I bought my grocery, I screamed inside when I saw the price of tahu – my favorite. I am fortunate enough to live in Southern California (where Indonesian people is abundant), but I complained at the taste of bakso that I had in a local Indonesian restaurant here (nothing like the bakso that I had in Jakarta!)

To be honest it took me a while to realize that I need to stop converting US$ to Indonesian Rupiah (our income is in US$ and we spend it mostly in that currency too, so why bother converting to other currency?). I need to stop complaining about the taste of Indonesian food, and start counting my blessings that I can still find Indonesian groceries and food rather easily here. Most importantly, I need to stop looking back.

I told myself that I need to start calling this place home. For a while, I did not want to decorate our living space because we are still renting and we have a plan to move. I told myself that this is just temporary, so why bother decorating? But I finally realized that although temporary, I need to make this place home. I may not know what the future holds for us, but for now,  this is home. 

Home ๐Ÿ™‚

It’s the same as my situation here. I don’t know what the future holds, but Indonesia will always be a part of me. I can’t keep looking back to my life in Indonesia, instead, what I can do is adding bits and pieces of my life there to enrich my life here. I’m sure it will make my life here more meaningful! After all, this is one of the perks of being an immigrant – you get to have two homes wherever you go, both figurative and literal.

If you are an immigrant like myself, tell me, what does home mean to you, now that you are away from home? how do you find home in your new country? I’d love to hear your stories! ๐Ÿ™‚