Friday, July 23, 2010

China totally changes me

Just like one of Grace Suryani’s books’ title: Tuhan, Mengapa Aku Harus ke Cina? (God, why do I have to go to China?)

I’ve been living in China for almost three years now, and during my “darkest times” here, I often felt that I was stuck here – having to stay here for 5.5 years is not a short time! I often questioned myself, why did I decide to come and study in China? I always wanted to study abroad because I got bored staying in the same place for 18 years, and because my parents always wanted me to do so, as well. But then, after being away from home, I just realized that it is very hard to be far away from our family. The reality is just not as beautiful as my imaginations before.

During those hard times, I always tried to remind myself that I can be here was only because of God’s plan. It was totally an “accident”. I actually had applied for another university in Jakarta – Atmajaya - and my dad even had paid 1/5 of the total fee we had to pay (thank God he hadn’t had decided to pay the whole fee at one time). Right before my departure to China to join a one month-long study tour in Qingdao, my dad’s friend came to my house. He is a doctor, that was why my dad told him that I was going to medical school in Jakarta. Then he suggested me to go to China, because his son is studying “there” too. Cheaper school fee and language advantages were the other reasons why my dad got excited to send me here. He actually did not really want me to go to any universities in Indonesia (neither did my mom). Especially because I’d started learning Chinese since I was 6, so my dad thought it would be great for me – I could use the opportunity of living in China to improve my Chinese, yet the lecture is in English. Double advantages, he thought.

That was before I came to know that the doctor’s son was my senior since I was in junior high school, and I had the schedule to visit Suzhou – the city I’m living now – besides Qingdao. What a coincidence, indeed!

So, before I came to study here, I’ve been here once and got to know the condition of the university and also the living accomodation. All is great. There is no single university in Indonesia that I know ‘till this second having circumstances like universities in China do. Totally perfect circumstances for studying. Too perfect that there was no shopping malls or any refreshing places nearby, though, hahahhaa.. While in Indonesia, almost all universities are located near the shopping malls.

It was all accidentally, that made me thought that these all can happen only because of God’s plan. What else can explain, eh?

That’s why, because I believe that this is His plan, I also have to believe that this – studying here – is already the best for me. His plan is the best, remember? So there is no need to worry. There was a time when everybody was thinking to move to another school in other cities or countries because they thought this university was bad. With people surrounded me thinking those things, they made me did too. But again, I reminded myself about “how could I be here”, then I was relaxed. God is the Provider, to whom I trust my whole life, and I shall not to worry.

Of course, there was a time when I wanted to escape from here. Feeling that I could go nowhere else. Feeling bored. And the pressure is always on during exam time. A LOT of things to memorize in very LIMITED time.

But, there are so many things I have learned during my stay in China, that if I weren’t here, I wouldn’t have experienced them. Want me to mention SOME of them? Here we go!

1. Living in a dormitory
It is not an easy thing to do. Indeed! You know, where you have to live together with so many people with different characteristics and personality, backgrounds, habits, manners, EVERYTHING! Well, we often – if not always – fight with our siblings or parents, who have been living together with us since the very first time we took our breath on the earth. Now, that we have to live together with “strangers”. No, it really means STRANGERS. People you never knew before.

Believe me, we had a hard time during our first semesters. We fought a lot, we had so many problems, we hated each other. It’s all because we didn’t KNOW each of our friends well yet.
But as time goes by, slowly we’ve learned how to cope the differences between us. We’ve learned how to understand each other, and we still ARE trying to understand each other. Now that we know our friends’ characteristics and personalities, we can get along quite well – at least that’s how my opinion is. I get closer to friends that I didn’t even really talk to in the first semesters :D and I am enjoying my life with each and every of my classmates here right now! I feel lucky to have them as my second family and brothers and sisters. How I love them!

2. Meeting people from another countries
We have Indians, Pakistanis, and Americans. I also make friends with other people from the church. And now I have some Korean friends too. I make so many friends from different countries! It is always interesting to know other countries’ culture and behaviors.

3. Taking care of each other, especially MYSELF
Well, in 18 years, never had I wondered what to eat today, how much money I had left this month, what kind of drugs I had to take when I was sick, etc. Here? I have to! If I can’t take care of myself, then I won’t survive. I learned how to manage my money – something I never done before and I always wanted to do. Well, I still can’t manage my money well, but at least I’m making a try, hahaha.. Better that nothing, right?

Of course, we also have friends who will remind each other to eat, to study, eveything. I really feel that my friends are my family here, and I hope they think so.. I never had taken care of my friends as much as I do here. Well, you don’t have to remind your friends to eat or to do something they have to do at home, do you?

4. Cycling and driving!
Yayayayaya, cycling! I rode my first bicycle here, in China! Two-wheeled bicycle, haha.. I couldn’t ride any kinds of transportation back home. I always have somebody to drop and pick me up. Since most people in China ride bicycles, I had to learn riding it. With the help of my friends, I finally made it! And now I even can drive a motorcycle! Me, who never knew how to park, never care about direction, now can do it all. Yes, I’ve learned a lot here! See how would I be without my friends? :)

5. Facing my fear
You might have been bored to hear about this story, but I will never get bored to retell it to everybody! Because it was the greatest moment of my life – so far. You’re right! It was when I finally could hold a mouse! Hahhahahaha.. Awesome! Feel really proud of myself :D
See? Those things would never happened if I weren’t here, if I hadn’t decided to come to China. There are still A LOT of things, of course, but if you want me to mention every of them, I won’t finish ‘till next year! Wkwkwkwkwk.

Moreover, I wouldn’t have met all of my friends here if I weren’t here, that’s for sure.
Being honest with you, what I’ve gained outside the class is WAY much more than what I’ve gained inside the class, hehe.. But life lessons are the ones that make you grow, right?

So, if you ask me now, do I regret my decision to come to China? NO. Am I happy here? Absolutely YES! :)

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