Back with me, Dini Sekar Langit, live broadcast from Den Haag. What’s up Indonesia? This Saturday evening, after the Queen’s Day or Konninginedag, 30th April, I, as usual, spend my time lazily with my beloved laptop. I used to spend my Sat nite with lovey-dovey LDR thingy on Skype or doing something trivial. This weekend, after a handful of joy and share in glamorous wedding ceremony of Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (I don’t have any TV so I watched it online on my fave channel, BBC, only because I love British accent), I did a trip to Clingendael, and ended up here with my beloved laptop again. Sat nite special with this 14.4inch LCD, a blanket, soft pillow, and PJ. Yawning, stretching, yawning again, checking my fridge, looking up my cupboard and finding no food except shrimp crackers, I decided to write something useful. Sorry, for filling up this very first paragraph with trivial things about a lonely girl’s activity at Sat nites. Actually, my life is not as pathetic as you think, since I regularly pay a visit to my foster grandmother here.
Back to business. Well, this is April, or almost May, month wherein people set their mind to pick up school. Or, if that’s unsignificant for you, let me put it this way. April or May is a month when lots of international trip opportunities are offered and finalized, for example, summer school opportunities. Why is it in April/May? Simply, it’s because the summer school or those similar trips are held in July/August. For people residing outside the country of event, they must arrange passport, visa, applying scholarship, and bla and bla and bla first before picking up the date around the event to set and sail, no, I mean, to set and fly.
These international things are precious for us, college students. Why is it? International trip for free, sponsored by a scholarship or grant won by your achievement, is remarkably increasing your status. I might not be so rude, but, yes, we are from third world country. Flying around the world or even as frugal as backpacking is a lavish thing. One-way ticket Jakarta-Amsterdam costs 700euro or 7.7million rupiah. Which Indonesian college student on earth can afford that by their own pocket? With the so-high diversity in economic status of families in Indonesia, even the students’ family in one campus, they who can fly overseas are considered rich. And, super-rich if they can afford the tuition fee bla bla bla living cost bla bla bla by their own pocket. I mean, I’m from moderate-income-making social class, yet, my family can’t afford the total cost for one year study in The Netherlands. Then, the war rule happens:
Going overseas is lavish (for us). Being a student in a college overseas is even more prestigious (I might sound sarcastic, but people often listen to overseas experience with gaping mouth). That’s why not all of students in an Indonesian college can do it. This means if you have an opportunity to go overseas, by your achievement (winning scholarship, obtaining sponsor, etc), not by your own pocket, then you’re GREAT.
That’s my current status, or at least what people think about me. But I’m really sick of this fact. Come on, guys, going overseas is lavish because only FEW people are eager to sacrifice something to reach it. Like all other achievements in this world, you need to sacrifice something to take it. My friends who are my fellow Indonesian students, although they paid the cost by themselves, also did sacrifice in money, in English capability, in survival. I, who did not pay a cost, even suffered more since I had to win HSP scholarship to make sure I would not be knocking around.
The condition in campus worsen this. Too often I noticed that opportunities for going abroad, for example, a one-week training, summer course, short course, MUN, research competition, were found in words of mouth. I admit that I had to seek information by myself from my senior, who was already in Den Haag. Every bit of information helped. From a fragment I found in internet, from a blog written by former HSP recipient, from a correspondence with fellow current recipients, etc. Some of my friends who participated in national-international competition like Trust Danone indeed learned the vacancy from big announcement at faculty. But that’s only a tip of the whole iceberg. I participated in Lee Kuan Yew business plan competition – though I failed – and I got the vacancy from network. The same applied for YLI (Young Leader Indonesia). Recently, my boyfriend and his team passed the semifinal for Dell Social Innovation Competition for Texas, yet, who on earth learned this opportunity if not informed by words-of-mouth first? I didn’t complain for my failures, instead I did it for the impression that the first natural selection is to SEEK THE VACANCY by yourself. If that was the case, I promise I would not inform my colleagues of such competitions. I would not be this aggressive if the way to seek the vacancy is just dropping by your faculty office and taking a look at the papers attached to announcement board, which is definitely not the case. Well, I agree that college students are supposed to be proactive by themselves, but why don’t campus facilitate this means of seeking?
I propose an IT system, just like what I experience here in The Hague University. Campus has a portal. Only students and staffs whose username and password are registered can access the portal. Each student has his or her campus domain email address. Actually my former university has this, too, but it’s not compulsory or not automatically created so each student has to sign up for campus domain email address. The benefit of this automatic campus domain email address is the admin can send all the informations by email. The ultimate benefit of the portal concerning the international project is to favour the spreading of the information to all of students. Administrator of “International Competition” section is paid for diligently digging info of international competition in web or from words of mouth. This created fair initial condition for all contestants. Scholarship, research grants, competition, ah, you name it.
You know what, my method of seeking the information is always by googling. I insert related keywords on international competition, and several results appear. I click one of the links, most of them also are portals, and find lotta links to the organizer of the competition. Most of them, sadly, are unsuitable for me. The problems range from the size of the team, the set dateline, themes, efforts, etc. Plus, we need to google daily or weekly to find that precious one out of hundreds links. If you wanna make it practical, you need to subscribe to RSS feed, which can spam your email. Actually I subscribe to jobseeking site, which does well without spamming my mailbox. But, how convincing is a competition-seeking website promises not to spam my mailbox, I am reluctant to add another subscription in my mailbox.
Back to our case. I resume the sacrifices you need to sweat before going abroad. First, the eagerness of the participant to either save their money for future cost in travelling abroad, or increasing any capability for winning something. Second, IT system to support my idea of fairness in competition. Third, the last but not least, never treat your failure in going abroad as evidence for your un-existence (or in-existence?) in this world. Ok, for most Indonesian college students, going overseas, especially for far faraway land such as Europe/US, is a privilege. Lavish and pompous, if I may call it. However, if you still desire to go abroad temporarily, yet the doors are still closed, just do any other national competition in the meantime. National competition can fill your time-sheet and keep your flame burning. It’s just like searching a job (God…now this blog mixes my personal mourning experience with advice). When you’re still not accepted into any “good” 9-5er job, just do any part-time/freelance/schoonmaken (Ok this is exaggerating. Schoonmaken means cleaning service) job to fill your leisure time. Simple, huh? And if your luck isn’t at international competition, it’s better you invest your sweat at any other interesting competition.
If you have a die-hard mentality for competition, just like I, it’s better not to be too picky for it. Instead, stimulate your talent by diligently joining competition you’re interested in. Well, honestly, having stable monthly income from scholarship and internship dampens my war-like spirit. But, recently, I’ve joined an essay competition. Can’t explain, I need to be in war-mode again, since my study will end soon in July, so will my internship. If I were not in war-mode by then, I would not be ready to face the real world again, out of my stable income >_<.
Then, as I said, going overseas is just as any other project. Some perceived it lavish, pompously sought by those need acknowledgement. Nope, I convince you, I’m not a girl desperately needs acknowledgement. I was not dying for my scholarship. Even if I hadn’t received my HSP, I’m quite sure I wouldn’t have been died by desperation. I would have continued my life, seeking another field to boost my knowledge and experience. I’m not an inspiration. I’m just normal human being who rises and falls in my youth. I just want to share my opinion. An opinion from a girl who thinks that going international is not a lavish thing. I can do it. I will do it again in this year. I challenge you.
Dini Sekar Langit
Come back to Indonesia soon ^_^.