Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Three Student Cities for Me

7 years ago I was just a clumsy kid who used to wear thick wool or cotton jacket to go to school in Athens, Ohio. It was my first experience to go abroad, and only-God-know-why, He sent me halfway around the globe to live in the powerful and all-proud United States of America. Athens, however is an exceptional place on earth. It is famously known as the tree-city in the USA due to it's green environment, the host of Ohio University, and also one of the most haunted place in America. Ohio itself in fact is an exceptional state too. It is bordered by the Lake Erie on the north and Appalachian mountains at the down south. You'll meet people who speak with Canadian accent, and also people who speak Appalachianese (if such language does exist) here. People often mistakenly saw me as a Guatemalan instead of an Asian boy.
Ohio University, I spent more time here rather
than in Athens High School.
In Athens, I felt like in Athens. Meaning that, this place (by the mere presence of Ohio University) honors knowledge and science, freedom of expression, friendship and tolerance. Just like what the ancient Athenians in Greece try to embody in their city-state. Athens would be nothing without this university. People from every corner of the world come to study here, which then contribute to the multicultural and diversity atmosphere of this town. Every year there's an International Street Festival throughout the Court Street (Uptown) and Halloween Block Party. Different kind of seminars and festivals are being held, together with art exhibition and a lot of other student's activities. This small town must I say is alive because of the university. Although I went to Athens High School, the strong tie between town life and campus life is inseparable. During my first couple of months of staying in Athens, I remember even calling this place as Madinatun-Nabi due to it's safeness. Rick Kraince, my hostdad parked his car in front of a shop Uptown without closing it's window. When I asked him would it be safe, he laughed and said: of course, di sini tidak ada pencuri. I was surprised. First, because my first hostfamily (The Kraince-Biegeleisen) could speak Bahasa very good and second because of the civilized nature of this city. I then proved it by myself when I left my bike in Baker Student Center for nearly a week in winter, unlocked, yet when I came to get it, it's still in the precise same position. I must say that I felt safe in Athens. I traveled with my bike alone in the daylight and midnight without any problem. Athens is too small for any big crimes, too peaceful for any riots.
Behind the seal of Leiden University. Minerva,
the goddess of knowledge and wisdom is
the symbol of this school.
After spending wonderful year in Athens, I came back to Indonesia. In 2009 I graduated from high school and later continue to another student town: Yogyakarta. Yogyakarta, for me, is a perfect city. It combines art and creativity, youth spirit and culture, education and tourism in the same bowl. Being the only "monarchy" province in a republic country, Yogyakarta is the bastion of Javanese court values. Spectacularly, the crown of Yogyakarta hosts many universities and colleges, with Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM) as the ultimate destination. Being accepted at UGM is probably every high schoolers' dream in Indonesia. This university is the best, and after all some of Indonesian great names are related to it. Yogyakarta literary nurtured me to be independent, creative, and to be a free thinker. This is the city where street musician could play wonderful tones as if they are professionals, and a place where rich spoiled kids from Jakarta can sit on the sidewalk and eat at angkringan side by side with some dark-skinned fellas who traveled far-faraway from Papua.

I experienced alot of valuable things in Yogyakarta, met with amazing friends, great scholars, and also experimenting many things. I involved in student activity, mainly the press association, and of course in moot court. In this very city I declared the birth of Lontara Project, in this very city I made some of my best masterpieces, either in term of writing or music. In Yogyakarta, you can smell the music. In Yogyakarta, you can feel the beauty of friendship in diversity. In Yogyakarta, you can taste the best of food.
Kissing Ganesha, the god of knowledge in Hindu tradition,
Ullen Sentalu, 2013.
In August 2014, I moved to another student city. This one is not in America or in Asia. Europe is a new thing for me. Netherlands, has always been there inside history books, stories of my grandfathers, and my imagination. When I came to see the manuscript of La Galigo in Leiden on 2013, I fell in love to the city. Finally, after passing several tests, I managed to put my feet back to Leiden, but this time is not for a short visit. If Ohio University was founded in 1804, UGM in 1949, then Leiden proudly claimed the year of 1575 as its establishment date. This city in sense of its connection with the academic world, is a very important bastion. Here, all books which were banned by the Vatican due to its secular nature, found safety. Galileo's books were published here, and so did other scientific readings. Leiden is also a bank of unexplored raw materials that are waiting for me to be researched.

Entering 2015, I begin to see option to be an academician as career opportunity. I love being surrounded by scientific environment. Three student cities to live in are probably more than enough signs from God. The freedom of thoughts, the freedom to express yourself, and the egalitarian community find me in my best shape. With the support of sincere partnership and friendship, I would certainly feel at home in these places. Now, let's make Leiden as a new home.

13 January 2015

1 comment:

Chanidapha Yamyim said...

long and interesting journey ^__^