A country with more than 18,000 islands, home of the largest lizard (Komodo Dragon) and the largest Muslim population in the world, and a country full of arts, culture, and beautiful people. It’s where I found a second chance when I felt like my whole life was falling apart.
The year was 2017. In that year, I felt like I had no one by my side. I thought I had no friends, no family who understands, no person who knew my pain. My academics was perishing because I couldn’t focus. I didn’t know how I’d start over but I really needed a new beginning.
“I didn’t know how I’d start over but I really needed a new beginning”
Here came a scholarship that was perfect for me. My mom was getting really worried about me, that’s why she was glad she found a way to get me out of the environment that was making me sick. She asked me to apply for the ASEAN International Mobility for Students (AIMS) Programme because (a) I was qualified (b) I’ve always wanted to travel (c) I needed an escape.
I was never motivated to do anything, not even to apply in this scholarship (that I didn’t know I badly needed back then). I gave it a shot. I applied and was blessed to be accepted. All I could think of at that time was “THANK YOU, LORD! THANK YOU FOR THIS WONDERFUL OPPORTUNITY!” It was the only thing I looked forward to until the end of the semester. I was finally getting out of my comfort zone and doing something with my life.
Months before our departure, I started preparing my things. I shopped for new clothes, luggage, shoes, and all the things I think I will be needing for the trip. As I prepared my things, I started taking care of myself as I indulged in Philosophy and self help materials. It was a new phase in my life and I had to make certain changes inside and out. It was my first time going to another country without knowing anyone. It was scary yet exciting.
“It was a new phase in my life and I had to make certain changes inside and out”
In our pre-departure orientation, I met another student who got accepted in the Program. Her name is Lauren. I always thought she was uptight (that’s why I was afraid of her at first), but we became very good friends. Back then, we didn’t really talk to each other. We were totally different people. It took a lot of badgering on my part for her to truly like me. She said that with me, she felt like she can be who she really is (which for me was amazing!).
September 2017. There I was. Meeting my first International friends, learning about their culture while sharing mine. I was eager to make friends with anybody and everybody. I’ve never been extroverted all my life. I made friends with Indonesians, other Asians, Europeans, and Africans. It was the most exciting feeling ever!
I’ve never felt so included. Whenever I think about “College”, I always remember Binus and Indonesia. I remember meeting people who’ve never known me before, but treated me as if I was part of their families. They were always there for me even at times where I just wanted to lock myself up in my room and shut them out.
I remembered getting my henna tattoo in Kota Tua; the first time I ever saw a Komodo Dragon in Taman Mini; Stargazing and being one with nature in Bogor; Marvelling at the breathtaking view of Kawah Putih and the tea plantation in Bandung; Visiting temples, witnessing how Wayang and Batik were being made by hand, and tasting the most expensive coffee we’ve ever had in Jogja; Watching the Kecak fire dance and while carefully avoiding wild monkeys in the temples in Bali. I keep these beautiful memories I have with myself and my friends wherever I go.
I’d like to thank them all for the acceptance, for the travels, for the shared laughs, for the trust when it comes to vulnerability and pain, for the late night car rides around the city, for the last minute karaoke plans, for the weekend drinks. All of those beautiful memories slowly redeemed me.
“I’d like to thank them all for the acceptance, for the travels, for the shared laughs, for the trust when it comes to vulnerability and pain… All of those beautiful memories slowly redeemed me”
I’d like to thank them for making me feel loved wherever I go, and for teaching me so many lessons about open mindedness and self love. Indonesia will always have a special place in my heart. It felt more like home than home. If you’ll ask me if I’d go back… I will, in a heartbeat.