Minggu, 31 Oktober 2010

about beauty

Jeder, der sich die Fähigkeit erhält, schönes zu erkennen, wird nie alt werden.

I got those words from someone on youtube. It means, "those who have the ability to see beauty will never get old" -it sounds much cooler in German-. The good part is: I'm so lucky to stay young!

this is the view from around my Neighborhood

Sabtu, 30 Oktober 2010

kawai ne

Don't worry this was a Halloween costume, they don't dress like this everyday. Just thought you should know in case your spending your Halloween in Japan.

PS: yes this is a man and yes he did shaved his legs.

monkey faces everywhere

Funny thing : in a place as serious as a construction site, these were how the fences around that construction site looked. Dont you love Japan?

a working man

One of the key things in Japan that I love is that everyone express them selves through clothes. Its not much of a fashion statement as of a self expression statement. Men aren't afraid of wearing pink or laces or polka dot or anything that seems impossible in Indonesia or in Europe or in America. Here everything can be worn by anyone if it indeed is their personal sense of style.

I kinda fell in love with this man in the picture, he worked at the construction site on the bridge I visited. He was very graceful and to me he looked like a Ninja -minding his own business in the shadows-. He is a perfect example of young Japanese people who all have this kind of self expression -in his case I think its mysterious and dark-.

Don't you think that in a perfect world everyone would have the guts and grace to be them selves and express that in their everyday clothing?

Kamis, 28 Oktober 2010

a more serious note

two days ago me and my lab partners and my professor and sensei-s went to a construction site, not just any construction site but a bridge construction site, not just a bridge construction site, but a cable-stayed construction site. It was very very very exciting for me; first of all we in Indonesia don't have many cable-stayed Bridges, so to see one has always been a privilege -come to think about it, I think we only have two  big cable stayed bridges,please correct me if I'm wrong -, second of all to get a chance to see how this kind of a bridge is built is A-W-E-S-O-M-E! makes me kind of remember why I'm passionate to learn this stuff in the first place; the third point is: I get to bring my camera to the site! lol! so cool it makes me feel like a National Geographic photographer -although non of my pictures are of course anywhere near what those guys do for a living-.

What fascinates me about the Japanese is that they constantly try to make everything more practical, the bridge itself is not located in a crowded city that desperately needs one, its located in a rather small city, and its also not that crowded. The reason the bridge was build -if I understood the video they showed me correctly, since it was in Japanese- is so the citizens of that city can drive from one part of the town two another much faster. If they took the original way It'll take them 15 minutes, if they take the new bridge however it'll take 5 minutes! lol! amazing how these people make such effort for ten minutes! I'm so impressed.  Also they made the bridge as a two leveled bridge, the first level is for car and the second level is two walk and to cycle, this is so the school kids can cycle to school -before the bridge, they had to take the ferry everyday, its expensive- and also so the bridge can be a recreational place for people. The original design of this bridge showed a kid with a bicycle and a couple holding hands, so well, the Japanese think about where their youth go to date -sight seeing is so much more cooler than going to the mall-.

Maybe for you in the west this is rather ordinary, but for me I think this is amazing. In my country no body makes such a fuzz for ten minutes, the people in charge don't even care if the infrastructure can withstand enough water when it rains so the city wont flood. You see the difference?

I envy the people who live in a real country, where there are people who think for the benefit of its citizens.  Oh and I hate those who take this for granted.

Selasa, 26 Oktober 2010

no country for fat girls

How this was never mentioned by anyone who went to Japan is beyond me, because one of the things I noticed right away in Japan was that there are no fat people. period.

I saw this first in Tokyo, but since my being there was only for a few hours while riding in a car to the subway station from the airport and also to ride the subway to Ueno to take my Shinkansen to Nagaoka, I simply thought that my eyes where playing tricks on me. But after being here in Japan for 3 weeks or so I noticed that I can still count all the fat Japanese girls here with two hands! There are exactly 5 overweight girls I've met for these past 3 weeks who seem to be under 30, and 2 fat women above the age of 30, and 2 older women above the age of 60.

This picture I took in Nikko is a perfect example of what the average Japanese girls look like. They are cute, pretty, and skinny. Even after they are pregnant and have children, they still look like this -I've seen plenty of girls having children here, and they are all still skinny-.

My Indonesian friends, who have been here longer also said to me that being thin here is important. Very important. I haven't had the guts though to ask any Japanese girl why this is so because I don't know the protocol for sensitive conversations yet, I however will keep you posted on this matter.

Also I think maybe you would like to know how they can be this thin. I noticed that the food here is very healthy. Their average diet are vegetable soup and noodles. My friends say that Japanese only eat fried food such as tempura if they are feeling like it -maybe only once a week-. What they drink here is non-sugared green tea -ocha- and sugared but not sweet coffee. And also I noticed in my lab, the girls can survive by having only Yogurt for lunch!

This country has not yet failed to amaze me in every aspect. Hopefully my big but will be flatted out while I am here. I say Armin to that.

Senin, 25 Oktober 2010

Japanese toilet seats

OK folks, I've mentioned the whole toilet thing before, but I haven't embedded the actual picture of atypical Japanese toilet seat, so this is it. you must understand what spray and bidet is all about, the picture talks for itself, but the flushing sound, wish I could record it and put it on my blog.

After being here for almost 3 weeks I finally got the guts to push the flushing sound button, I thought what will come out is some sort of calming music or something resembling music, but it turns out the sound that came out was the sound of something similar like when your TV cant get connection and it has that really noisy sound. That's how it sounded, so I wont be using it ever again. I promise you that. Its really uncomfortable and everyone will now what I am doing inside. lol.

Minggu, 24 Oktober 2010


I've been in Japan for almost 3 weeks now and every weekend me and my friends have managed to travel out of the little town of Nagaoka. This week, we went to a place called Nikko.

The Japanese fascinate me, one of the many traditions here -it seems- is to see the changing colors of an autumn scenery, which if I recall corectly is not so in the west, I dont think that in other places people make way out of their busy schedule to make sure they see the pick colors of autumn at the best spots in the country - I merely believe that autumn in the west is taken for granted by most, please correct me if I'm wrong-. In Japan however I heard that people pay attention on whether the trees have turned red or not and when to visit the many spots to see the magic happening. Nikko for instance I heard is the second best place to see this annual event, the first one is Kyoto. My friends and I went to Nikko because it was closer to Nagaoka, it was only a 3 1/2 hour drive.

Nikko is located in the mountains where there are many small little water falls, lakes and huge grass fields and also a lot of trees. Also there are temples and such. but with everyone seeming to come to nikko this weekend, the roads seemed to be an endless journey with only a few stops here and there. So in reality I only saw some of the great spots of Nikko.

But for the record the place is awesome, don't regret even a bit of the journey. If it was possible I'd love to stay longer and see more, but at the end of the day we had to leave. So please note this if you come to Japan at the autumn, it is mandatory to try living as the Japanese do while you are here, so you might as well enjoy the pleasures they have - and you might won't regret trying them out-.

Rabu, 20 Oktober 2010

how a class here works

I don`t know much about the whole Japan country, but in my university, it seems that classes aren`t as important as the research you do. This is very different with what we have in Indonesia, in Indonesia research is merely a formality after which you are allowed to graduate. In Indonesia the classes are what matters. This attitude I brought with me to Japan - or should I say to my new university in Japan?-, not knowing that things work differently here.

There are some key notes after which I declare that classes aren`t important here, these key notes would be :
1. The attendance of a class are less then 10 people
2. About 80 % of the class aren't paying attention to the class -or are asleep- during the lesson.
3. The participants can choose not to come to class

I am not entirely sure if my observations are correct, but this is as far as I have come. I hope that anyone who will come to Japan can benefit from my knowledge and hence not experience the same cultural shock about this country as I have.

Sukarno once said that he only needs ten young motivated people to change the world, I wonder where these young people are. Seems to me everywhere I go -whether Indonesia, Japan, or other places - the youth has lost their hope, what about the future then?

Selasa, 19 Oktober 2010

sick in a foreign land

I can hear the voice of my friends in the back of my head yapping at me about taking care of myself so I don't get sick - which I found very amusing at that time-, but when it did really happen it was no walk in the park. Two days a go I felt that the air was getting very cold, at that time I didn`t realize that I had caught a cold - which must be the reason why I felt cold-. So when I started to sneeze, I took it as an alarm to go home as fast as possible.

The wind was very hard on me on my way home, and after I did get home I slept most of the day. The next day I decided not to come to campus, -although I already felt much better-, because I thought I only have my self to count on this time, so a little rest would be best - I don't want my sickness to get worse-.

I have no Internet connection in my Apato, no TV, and not really much to do. I was afraid of going out because it was very windy and cold. so I was stuck in my small room. and I was very much home sick.

Missing your parents is one thing, but to miss your whole life is another thing. I miss my friends and my boy friend who usually take care of me in such situations. I am however always very looked after. I feel like a little child always surrounded by nice people and loved by most - here I am just another sick foreign girl-.

In such situations back home my boyfriend would buy me soup - or make me one-, my friends would come by to my place and cheer me up - while teasing me about being sick-, my parents would worry and tell me to do all unnecessary things. For here, I only have myself to count on, to make my own soup, to cheer myself up and to worry about myself -and to be honest that's a tough job-.

But at the end of the day hopefully I will learn something about my experience in being in a land far far away - just like how I learned to take care of myself when I was sick in a foreign land.

Kamis, 14 Oktober 2010

about punctuality

I heard that Japanese are very punctual on everything and one of the concerns my father had when I left to Japan was the cultural shock of me not being able to come on time -since I am Indonesian, I also am very well adapted to what we call "jam karet" which if literally translated means rubber watch, but what it actually means that on time for us can reach from half to one hour after the appointment-. So since my father had brought it up, it had also been one of my priority concerns. What I do now in Japan is I come to the lab everyday at 8 a.m -which is still very early in Japans lab standard- so in order to do so I put my alarm off at 5 a.m -so I can`t be late. But in my experience with several young Japanese, they are not as punctual as they are myth  to be - its either that or my German upbringing which came to surface lately and forces me to come to an appointment 15 minutes earlier is the real problem - but point taken, they are not that punctual in informal appointments.

As for the formal ones, I have no experience of yet. I will inform you later on of course, because you must understand how time works where ever you live - or you are simply doomed.

about the language

I wonder if it`s just me, but does Japanese sound a lot like French?

There are some explanations however for my Hypothesis, the first one is of course that they do sound a like, - they have similar sounding accents, intonations and whispering -, the second explanation would be that I have gone so out of my mind because I don't understand both languages and find non-present similarities on both ends.

Which one do you think it is?

Selasa, 12 Oktober 2010

shopping etc

Japan is exspensive - everyone knows that. But I`ve learned from my fellow Indonesian and also my Japanese tutor that you simply have to be tricky with money here - every city and every corner, has their one cheap thing.

Food here costs about ¥200 - ¥4,000 which is expensive -especially coming from Indonesia, I convert it into rupiah and the prizes here make you think sometimes to not eat at all! But there are second hand shops -which are cheap in Japanese standards but still have high quality products - and also the occasional cheap stores - again in Japanese standards.

Last week me and my Indonesian friends went to a city a called Iruma. It was a 4 hour drive from Nagaoka in the direction of Tokyo. The reason why we went there was because there was a mall the that sells expensive brands -such as Adidas, United Colors of Beneton, Armani etc - only for maybe one third of the real cost - or at least 30% off.

The truth is there are plenty of such places in Japan, which is a really huge advantage. so if you`re here please don't waste your money to much, Japan can be a shopping heaven to you know -cheap shopping senses will find you, if you try!

important words

After being here for about one week, I can`t help but notice some very useful and important words you should be able to say, I think those words are すみません (sumimasen) and お願いします(onegaishimas). the first one can be used to say sorry or simply excuse me and the second one means please.
Why are they very useful? because every conversation with people you want to ask help with -whether the postman, Secretary, waiter, etc- always starts and ends with those words. As a foreigner -which is evident because I look different than the rest of the bunch - to be able to say those two words seem to be a very huge amusement to them and it also shows them that you have some sort of appreciation to the culture - in instance Japanese love it.

of course there are also other words that are super useful, but I think those two words describe the Japanese the best - although I might not be credible enough to say that since I`ve only been here for a week.

Senin, 11 Oktober 2010

in Nagaoka

Nagaoka is a small city in its size, but nevertheless I notice that everything is still very much Japanese - very High technology. The main station -Eki in Japanese- is still very big city like, and the toilets are also as cute and high technologically advanced as the toilets in Tokyo. Why do I bring this up? because I think that it`s very cute, very convenient and very worth mentioning. The Toilets here have 4 other buttons -other than the usual big and small flush- the bidet, the splash, the stop button and - wait for it- the flushing sound. The bidet and the splash is a button to pour water in order to clean you know what, and the stop button is to stop that water. The flushing sound however I think is a button you use when you are making toilet noises when you are doing you know what. its very kawai I think. Also the seat on the toilet is heat able, which simply means you can control the seats temperature, I think that this will be very convenient in winter, when its so cold you are lazy enough to use the toilet.

Back to the main topic, Nagaoka is small but still very city like - there are shopping malls, supermarkets etc. My University - The Nagaoka University of Technology- is a bit further from the main city, maybe about half to an hour from it. and my apato is -as the Japanese say- only 5 minutes away from my campus. although with my speed of walk it is about 20 minutes - I`m Indonesian, I walk slowly.

Right now, in October, the weather is good, its about 17-20 degrees Celsius. In Tokyo, you don't Get to see snow, yet in my Prefecture -The Niigata Prefecture- snow can be at least 50 cm in height! Tokyo and Niigata is separated by mountains. My friend said when we went from a city near Tokyo back to Nagaoka that when you drive from Tokyo to Nagaoka you will see everything grey and gloomy and then you go through the tunnel -through the mountains- to Nagaoka and at the end of the tunnel you will feel like Alice in Wonderland, because everything is white as far as the eye can see.Although my friend did say that although it might appear to be beautiful etc like wonderland you are actually getting yourself to hell - because its very cold. I of course only hear the wonderland part and cant wait to see it in person.

This city of Nagaoka feels like a perfect get away. Everyone is very nice - they don`t even lock their cars here because its so save! After being here,you might actually wonder if -other than the incapability to speak English - the Japanese do indeed have any imperfection.

view from my apato

Sorry to skip right to the end of my first day, but this is the view from my apato. welcome everyone!

First day In Japan part one

Hopefully it's not to late to update my journey this past view days. There has been some communication difficulties so sorry for the delay. Anyway I went to landed in Narita not knowing anyone on the plane and was to shy to speak to the person beside me - who was a pretty Jappanesse but spoke good Indonesian. In the back of my mind I hoped that this flight would be like my flight to India where coincidently I got to know the person beside me and we talked the whole flight - he also ended up helping me A LOT at the airport. But sadly the world doesnt always go as you wish - just like two years ago when I did not wish to get a new friend on the plane to New Delhi but I did, this time when I did wish for it I didn't. I kept hearing my friends voice saying that I should try to communicate with someone to ask them how the hell I will arrive at Nagaoka - hopefully someone on this plane has the same destination, and I could go with them. But until the plane landed I sill haven't got the nerve to talk to anyone. Finally in the shuttle train from one part of the airport to the other I made eye contact to some Indonesian person and spoke to him. I asked him whether he was going to the same direction as I am - Ueno Station for this matter - he wasn't ofcourse. But I got to talk to so many other nice people, and some of them was this man - maybe in his 50s- and he offered me a ride to the station. At first I was verry hesitating because I didnt know him and he was obviously a guy - which is scarry - but then after very careful observation and thought I decided to go for it. Luckyly he turned out to be from the Indonesian Embassy - his name was Bambang - and he was very Nice to me. So I ended going from the Airport to my destined station - Ueno Station - using a car. Before dropping me off he wanted to drop off another passanger to the Shinjuku area - an Area I recall often read in my Manga books. so I got to see the city of Tokyo that day - and it was so pleasant!. Tokyo is very clean and everyone dresses up very nicely - thats what I first realised -, if Scott Shuman was here he would've got so many good pictures! and many of them are using bycicles - which is so cool. The city itself is contoured -like San Francisco - but the vibe you get is very New York like, alhough I must add even when its such a big city it still feels very town like - friendly.

Mr. Bambang decided to drop me off at a station called Meguro. He said that it was easier that way, because Ueno Station is a very big Station, he was afraid I got lost there, so he said it would be easier if I took the Subway - which was not underground- to the Ueno Station and then changed to the Shinkansen train there. Also if we went from the Meguro Station, he can help me buy the tickets, in Ueno he cant - so thats a very big point there.

In Meguro - while I bought my tickets- I realise one very important thing people keep saying over and over : Jappanesse dont speak English. Even if they do, you probably dont understand it. So there it goes all my English washed down the drain. Luckily Mr. Bambang was there to help me, so he was the one who did most of the speaking.

Then I got to the train, and sat. My Station was about 8-9 Station away so I got plenty of time to observe these people - who were for me very interesting. AS I said before they all dressed up very nicely. the man are wearing suites and the girls just look good. I notice that all the girls are pretty slim - I'm the most overweight there, and I'm not even THAT fat.

When I arrived at Ueno station I realized that I couldnt read the tickets - they used Kanji. so I panicked. I didnt where to go - other then the direction Mr. Bambang has described to me before- Ueno is big! but I went with my guts and went to the right direction - ALhamdulillah.

The Trains here are only 4 minutes apart each other. I think this is a big deal because we are speaking of a bullet train -they are 300 something km/hour - and to have them only 4 minutes apart is for me very high technology. ALso I must add here that for all the years Shinkansen had been operated no body had been killed in any accident and that the average delay of the train is only 6 seconds! WHOUCH. also you should read carefully your ticket and it will tell you exactly where to stand on the platform.

The Shinkansen - although I know its very quick- doesnt feel that fast. On my way to Nagaoka I saw the scenery gradually changing from the City landscape into the mountains and villages of Japan. I feel at home somehow - at least I see some things familiar, such as trees and mountains and houses- but I know I'm so far away from home.

Senin, 04 Oktober 2010

beberapa jam sebelum keberangkatan

"All my backs are packed I'm ready to go.
I'm standing here outside your door
I hate to wake you up to say good bye
I'm leaving on a jet plane
Don't know when I'll be back again"

Indonesia, I'll be back soon. Japan, I'm coming!

Minggu, 03 Oktober 2010

my friends part 2

This group of friends are my high school sweet hearts. They know it all, take it all and love me for all. It's like having a small family. Everyone should have one of those. This picture only holds 9 of us, when there are actually 14 of us, but after almost 6 years of knowing each other, I am still very proud that we have survived this long. Especially when most of us are separated and have nothing real in common in the real world, but somehow this friendship works anyway. Time has shown for us that it does change people, that time does change friendship. But we still stand tall. Love you guys! I'm gonna miss you all so much!

Preperations Part 3

Following up on my last post about preparations and how to save space in your luggage, I think I did a fantastic job in cutting my 2 suitcases into 1 suitcase. How did I do it?

It was all thanks to my friend Vita who pointed out that clothes if being rolled are less space-y. I immediately tried it out and whoa la! I succeeded in putting all my cloths into one suitcase!

Why is this so? Logically clothes -whether being rolled or not - should consume the same space, but they don't. because rolled clothes can easily be pushed together to create more space. meaning that in rolled clothes, you can simply squeeze in more.

Hopefully this tip can be of any good for someone out there. haha.

my friends part 1

I don't think that anyone can live by them self. Every time anyone acts in a way showing that they think they can live by them self, my grandfather used to say to them:"Kalo kamu mau hidup sendiri, hidup di hutan kamu! Jadi Tarzan! ngomongnya Owak owek sama monyet". ("If you want to live by yourself, go live in the Jungle! Be Tarzan! Use monkey talk to speak to monkeys!"). The point is that other people are important for your well being, and also I think that having friends -close friends I mean- is one of the best things in life. I genuinely mean that.
I am very blessed to have an appropriate number of close friends-one for every occasion, lol!-. I usually stuck with them in some part of my life. This picture I have in this post are my 'PSM' friends. Who are basically my choir friends. Although I don't really remember why I am friends with them, but I am very lucky to have them.
I am very very proud of each and every one of them.
Going away also means parting with friends. You want to believe that the distance and time won't change anything. but you always know in your heart that somethings bound to change -either for the good or for the bad-. What you do know when you part with your friends is that you love them and that you wish them well. You hope that you can keep contact. and most of all, you hope that the friendship will endure the distance and that it'll last for a lifetime.

Jumat, 01 Oktober 2010

Preperations Part 2

For those who wonder about my preparations to study abroad, I gladly inform you that I have solved some parts of my problems. How did I do it? It's all thanks to Google himself.
Call me weird, call me stupid, but some things do work like magic. You can almost ask Google anything! although your own faith and religion should not be left to Google. Anyway, I Googled "Packing 1 Year", and I ended up pocking my nose in so many interesting pages, ones I find most interesting however are:

thestudyabroadblog.com which is a very good summary of everything really necesarry. All of the things of this blogs packing list, I do have with me, whic means that I am on the right track.
www.your-study-abroad.com which has mentioned every helpfull link about the whole packing subject.
matadornetwork.com which has a very harsh way of cutting luggage and helps us consider things.

 The last link however helped me the most because it gave me a tip I immediately tried out on my own luggage - which is rolling your socks into your boots/shoes, to save space. This method worked so well, I got so much extra space! Thank you for the tip!

However, other than that, I also had to sacrifice some of my clothes -which are my jeans and some tops-, and my Mie Goreng.

I will try to keep you posted on the whole mater of preparations. Hopefully I'll have some other great news soon:D

my hometown bandung

Bandung from Lisung by asih
I think it is only proper to think fondly about your own hometown before embarking on a long trip. For me personally, I've been trying to breath in every little detail I love about Bandung - and Indonesia - as much as I can, because I know I'm gonna miss all of it. I am trying to have an appropriate stack of memory before parting with it.
About 2 days ago, me and my friends went to a restaurant high up hills in Bandung - Dago Pakar, Northern part of Bandung. These kind of places are very popular here in Bandung, and are one of the nicest places to go to in Bandung. Why is this? This is because from these hills you can see the whole Bandung, and if you come here after dark, you can see a see of lights right in front of you.. Its simply irresistible.
However nice it all is, I must say that I don't go to these places that often. This is because nice views have their own price range, and this price range is not mine- in other words, they are expensive. Mostly I only come here on very special occasions, which usually include being paid for all dinner expenses. Nevertheless, since I am leaving Bandung soon, my friends have decided that this is a good enough reason to have dinner at a nice restaurant - hence the whole fancy dinner. So we went to this restaurant called Lisung - highly recommended by our friends and is said to be the least expensive of all and this is what I see.
Lisung may not be the best place to see the view of Bandung, but its stunning still. The lights are beautiful, the food is nice - not special, but nice and definitely one of the least expensive in the area -, the atmosphere is good and most importantly I am here with good friends.
This is my hometown, and I am gonna miss you. But trust me, this picture of you that night, Bandung, will go with me wherever I go.