Webinar with Nuffic Neso Indonesia

Lately, I was invited by Nuffic Neso Indonesia and PPI Belanda to be one of two speakers in their webinar. This event was intended to be a medium for new Indonesia students who are going to study in the Netherlands this September to get to know everything they should know and prepare. As a delegate from PPI Utrecht, I was also collaborating with PPI Amsterdam. 

I share several tips and experiences about living in the Netherlands. If you are interested to watch, please click the link below:

Love-hate relationship with the Netherlands (Part 2)

Oftentimes, I complain about how expensive the Netherlands is. Of course, it will be terribly expensive if we convert the price in Euro to Rupiah. For instance, a meal usually costs 5-10 Euro or approximately 85.000 to 167.000 Rupiah, while in Indonesia, we can get a decent meal in a restaurant for 30.000 Rupiah including ice tea! Hahaha... but, no that's not my point about this high cost. Compare to other countries like Germany, the UK, or Sweden, the price in the Netherlands is significantly higher. Let's start with the cost of housing. In the Netherlands, even in a small town, the cheapest price is 200-300 Euro for a bedroom only. So you can guess how pricey Utrecht as a big city is. Yes, here with 400s Euro we only get a private bedroom only with other shared facilities. But my friend in Germany says that he lives in a dormitory with a quite spacy bedroom for only 200 Euro, and this is the price in Berlin! Furthermore, in the Netherlands, you must have (and pay) a health insurance for the cheapest option is more or less 60 Euro per month. At first, I didn't think this was a problem until I was told by my friend who studied in Denmark that if you have a residence permit in there you are covered by a health insurance automatically with no additional cost! OMG, why NL... why are you like this :(

My lovely small bedroom for 410 euro per month

As someone with rather thin-skinned and mixed with low self-esteem (yeah, I'm sorry), in the beginning, it was horrible to stay in the Netherlands. It was because of the directness of Dutchies in expressing their words and feeling. If they feel it's good, they will say as it is, and if they feel it's bad, they will also say it. It was kinda surprising also when my Dutch classmate was brave enough to ask the lecturer the question "Why we should learn this?". Like, wooow.... great! That question is definitely a nice suicide if being asked to the lecturers in Indonesia hahaha. This directness also comes to the feedback session from the lecturers. When you have a good remark so that it is, vice versa. Lecturers in the Netherlands expect all master students who are accepted in Dutch universities are capable enough to follow the education system. They don't differentiate between Dutch students who already know the system and international students who don't. On one hand, that's a good news, but on the other hand (especially for me) that is also stressing. So, me with new experiences in study abroad always get very honest feedback from the lecturer such as my English is not clear, my words present too much tautology, etc. The feedback will be more direct if it's given after the oral presentation. Although it must be constructive, sometimes lecturers will tell your drawback as it is. So if you don't perform well, don't expect you will get positive feedback too hahaha. But still, the directness of Dutchies is amazing. Well, later I eventually enjoy this habit because I don't need to try to cover up my feeling or no need to worry if people say okay but actually they are not.

Another thing that I don't feel comfortable is the "super-well-arranged" bureaucracy of the Netherlands. It means that their bureaucracy is rigid and sometimes confusing. I think how messy the bureaucracy of Indonesia is inherited from the Dutch colonialism. Although some processes are integrated, (okay let's admit the amazingness of OV-chipkaart as the all-in-one integrated transportation card throughout the country, for instance), some confusing steps still occur in some companies and public facilities. I have an experience how I was pissed off due to this terrible miscoordination. I was about to have a laboratory check-up for my wife and the problem was since my wife didn't have a Dutch insurance, I had to pay the bill. That's okay, no problem at all. But then it became distressing because I had to go to their office which was 30 minutes away by bus from the laboratory. Well, I did go to the office to pay and finally came back to the laboratory. The terrible thing then happened as the laboratory officer said that the financial officer missed a point of payment. Until that point was paid, the laboratory couldn't help me. Sooooo, I went back to the company office only for clarifying that miss *sigh* and surprisingly, the finance officer said that there was no problem with the payment. The point that was an issue for the laboratory officer was actually free of charge! *crying* With very tiredly facing this mismanagement, my wife finally had a laboratory checkup after all this issue was solved.

Having an issue with the bureaucracy could be a disaster

Well, all of these stories don't mean to scare you or hinder all of you who want to study or live in the Netherlands. Like yin and yang, everything has its balance. Although I do complain, I must admit that living in the Netherlands is super comfy. I think what people say about the stage of studying abroad is true. Now, after have been living for a year, I guess I can adapt to and gradually love this country, especially my lovely city, Utrecht! Thank God for this great opportunity, to let me have an experience living and studying abroad. I hope this love-hate relationship with the Netherlands makes me stronger more and more.


Love-hate relationship with the Netherlands (Part 1)

It is almost a year since the first time I came to the Netherlands. It means that I have already passed the halfway of my 2-year master degree in Utrecht University. Is it fun? HAHAHA that is maybe the hardest question for me to answer.

To be fair, I want to explain the two sides of this country: the good and the bad (or anything that makes me uncomfortable). And disclaimer, this story only represents my experiences so maybe some parts can be biased so I'm sorry. So let's begin with the good! I found the Netherlands has a diverse population and in my perspective, there is little segregation between ethnicity. I don't feel like a stranger here and people always try to speak Dutch with me as if I were a citizen of the Netherlands. Even though afterward I confess that I don't speak Dutch, all people that I have ever encountered always automatically convert their language into English. It's not a problem when you can't speak Dutch here. It's a true relief for international students here including me actually. Nonetheless, of course, speaking simple Dutch is important willy-nilly, such as to understand signage and some regulations which are always written in Dutch. Also, when traveling by bus or train, the operator seldom announces some information in English. I think it's not unusual because they provide the infrastructure for their citizens, not for tourists.

Next, I love the Netherlands for their hospitality. I think Dutch people whether native or not are very friendly. For instance, in my neighborhood, we always say hi or hello to each other even though we don't really know who they are. My wife who lived for a year in the UK also feels amazed with how people here treat each other. She compares them to British people in London who always look ignorant and grumpy. Although it is not 100% true and does not present most of the population, I can say that all the people here are really friendly. So don't forget to always say hi or hello to the bus driver when you hop in and say goodbye or tot ziens when you hop out the bus because that's what people always do here.

I also love the Netherlands for its clean street and how they manage the city. In the beginning, I took this situation for granted. Like, I live in a developed country in Europe, of course, this cleanliness is not strange. But after I went to Germany and Belgium, the closest countries, I realized that cities in the Netherlands are far better than cities in those two countries. For instance, in Antwerp, Belgium, it's very common seeing rubbish in the street especially when you walk in the deprived neighborhood. But in the Netherlands, I feel that the street is always clean. Moreover, I think there is a regulation which prohibits someone to be a beggar (if you are poor, the government will give you a low-skilled job and you have to do it, instead of being a beggar), so beggar hanging around in the Netherlands is rarely seen. But that not the case in Germany and Belgium. Homeless people and beggars are everywhere there. It's kinda surprising for me actually because I thought poor people should be looked after by the government.

The scenery from my apartment which is super lovely!

The last good thing for me is that the Netherlands is a home far away from home. Since this country has a long history with Indonesia and they bring the culture back here when they colonized Indonesia, it is not difficult to find anything related to Indonesia. Indonesian food? A lot. Even if you miss kerupuk, I can guarantee that the closest supermarket has it namely "keropoek". Indonesian language? Sometimes Dutch has similarities with Indonesian. Some streets in Utrecht and Amsterdam are also named from Indonesian cities or islands. I can say that I don't miss Indonesia too much because I can easily find something related to my home here (I only miss my wife and my family, they are not here).

This rendang can be found at the nearest supermarket (AH)

However, nothing is perfect, not even the Netherlands. Why? Let's see them later in my next post.

[to be continued...]


Life and Inferiority

I would not say that my life was so miserable for me as God has granted many things that I wished for so far. But sometimes, just once in a while, you can't resist feeling disappointed.

I realize that being appreciated is my life generator. I mean, that makes my life seems easier for me to pass through. Then, when I don't get that much in such period, seems like my life is empty and powerless.

Also, I always remember that life is like a Ferris Wheel, sometimes you're up, sometimes you're down. Maybe this is my turn for being down.

I hate myself when this situation is considered as me not feeling grateful for everything that God has given. I do feel grateful. I thank God for many things. But I just can't deal with myself, with my brain, with my heart, why I can't be like others. I feel like a loser.

I don't know.
I think I missed something.