What am I thankful for? (1)

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“Salah satu dari sekian banyak yang harus saya syukuri adalah
bertemu dengan sosok pembimbing yang baik juga peduli.”

Pembimbing saya adalah orang pertama yang menyambut dengan hangat saat mendarat di New Chitose Airport, Sapporo. Beliau megirim foto jauh hari sebelumnya, mungkin agar saya mudah mengenali beliau di bandara, ini lho sosok pembimbing yang akan menjadi salah satu guru terbaikmu. Beliau menyapa lebih dulu saat saya celingak celinguk kiri kanan sambil me-match-kan foto yang beliau kirimkan dengan setiap wajah yang saya lihat. “Ersalena-san? How’s the flight? Anyway, it’s easy to find you, because you’re the only one wearing scarf.” Saya menjawab sekenanya sambil memperbaiki coat karena disambut dinginnya Sapporo meski sebenarnya sudah di penghujung winter. Dari pintu kedatangan sampai parkiran, beliau yang mendorong troli dan memasukkan koper ke dalam bagasi mobilnya. Joke pertama beliau, “trust me, I am strong.” Sayapun tertawa renyah. Dalam perjalanan, kami ngobrol santai dan saya bertanya banyak soal pendidikannya hingga meraih gelar Professor. Saya semakin antusias saat beliau bercerita singkat ketika melaksanakan program postdoc di Canada. Nice talk. Sesekali saya diminta istirahat mungkin karena lelah menjawab pertanyaan anak kampung yang baru keluar for temporary dari negara asalnya atau malah kasihan melihat saya yang butuh istirahat karena long flight. Di dalam mobil beliau mengulurkan selembar selimut biru bergambar Micky Mouse. Rupanya dua putri beliau selalu menggunakan selimut ini di dalam mobil. Saya melihat ada dua selimut dengan gambar yang sama namun yang satunya berwana merah tua.

Saya bukannya diantar ke dormitory (Hokkaido University International House Kita 8) tapi malah di-drop di kampus karena beliau ingin saya menyelesaikan administrasi pengajuan extend payment untuk entrance fee. Sesampai di kampus dan semua urusan dengan student affairs tuntas, beliau menunjukkan meja belajar yang akan menjadi rumah pertama selama study. “I know you’re a moeslem, you have to pray everyday. I will show you where you are able to do it.” Saat itu saya tidak basa basi panjang karena lelah, butuh tidur. Hanya mengucapkan terimakasih dan merespon singkat, “kalau setiap hari saya butuh sholat lima kali.” Seketika saya berpikir, ini kesempatan yang tepat untuk mohon ijin, “jika selama study di jam-jam tertentu terutama siang, sore, dan jelang petang saya menghilang beberapa menit berarti saya sedang melaksanakan sholat.” Beliau menanggapinya dengan sangat-sangat baik. Di lantai dua bagian utara gedung ada satu women’s room dimana setiap pengguna harus memberi keterangan in use di depan pintu sehingga orang lain tidak bisa asal masuk. Diajaknya saya ke lantai 3, ada satu ruangan kosong dan beberapa pakaian sholat yang keterangannya ada beberapa mahasiswa muslim yang melaksanakan sholat di sana.

Dari lantai 3 beliau mengajak saya ke koperasi (di sini disebut Co-op) yang berada di lantai B-1, beliau lagi-lagi mengawali, “I think you can’t eat pork and drink alcohol.” Kali ini saya speechless karena beliau detail memikirkan hal-hal yang related to my religion.  Hanya bisa bilang terimakasih sembari bowing (in Japanese: Ojigi) sebagai salah satu bentuk penghormatan saya secara pribadi. Dalam hati bersyukur karena hari pertama Tuhan sudah menunjukkan bahwa saya bersama orang yang baik, menghargai agama yang selamanya akan menjadi identitas saya. Satu lagi doa saya didengar Tuhan, memohon agar berada di tempat yang memudahkan saya untuk melaksanakan sholat. Melalui beliau salah satunya, Tuhan menunjukkan betapa perhatianNya tidak pernah putus untuk makhluk kecil bernama manusia ini. Anyways, saya tidak bertanya balik beliau menganut agama apa karena saya berpikir urusan keyakinan ialah urusan personal setiap orang. Tapi beliau lagi-lagi mengawali perbincangan saat kami kembali ke ruang belajar, “Saya Budha, dalam hal makanan, saya pribadi mengkonsumsi babi dan alcohol. Untuk penyambutan kedatanganmu sebagai new comer di laboratorium ini, kami berencana untuk mengadakan welcoming party tapi saya harus tahu apa saja makanan yang tidak boleh kamu makan dan apakah kamu ada allergy dengan makanan-makanan tertentu? Kira-kira begitulah pertanyaan beliau saat itu. Dengan senang hati saya menyebutkan beberapa makanan dan minuman yang tidak boleh saya konsumsi. Lalu beliau bertanya kembali, “can you eat beef or lamb?.” “Yes, but I’ve to make sure it’s Halal.” “What do you mean?”, lanjutnya. “In this case, the rules of slaughter are based on Islamic law,” jawab saya.  Beliau mengangguk berkali-kali sampai tak ada lagi pertanyaan lanjutan. Singkat cerita sushi menjadi menu welcoming party saya pada awal April 2017 lalu, beliau dan teman-teman memastikan tidak menggunakan mirin yang biasanya dicampurkan pada olahan nasi untuk sushi agar lebih tasty. Pertama kali makan real sushi, sambil geli sendiri. Lol.

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Salah satu bahan sushi

Ohya, setelah urusan di kampus selesai, beliau kemudian mengantar saya ke asrama mahasiswa, sebelumnya memang beliau merekomendasikan asrama untuk single dan dekat dengan fakultas. Sesampai di asrama, kami diantar manager ke ruangan 209, lantai 2, beliau dan dua orang manager lainnya mengecek semua kelengkapan di kamar dan memastikan saya bisa menggunakan semua fasilitas which is all in Japanese. Beliau juga menyarankan untuk membeli bed clothes karena sistem di asrama nge-rent per bulan. Kata beliau, “uang buat sewa bed clothes kamu save saja.” Saya sangat berterimakasih, Tuhan mempertemukan dengan sosok pembimbing yang peduli dari urusan serius sampai dengan hal-hal kecil. Tentu saja cerita-cerita kebaikan beliau saya selalu share dengan Ayah via telepon, “Pak, salah satu doa Bapak diperkenankan Tuhan, anak Bapak dibimbing oleh guru yang baik juga peduli.” Lalu beliau selalu membalas singkat, “bersyukurlah!”

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Foto pertama kami saat welcoming party, 07.04.2017

“Boleh jadi kami berbeda; agama, tradisi dan beberapa hal lainnya, tetapi nilai kemanusiaan berupa kepedulian sesama manusia akan selamanya menjadi kebaikan.”

 “Even if you’re a minority of one, the truth is the truth.” -Mahatma Ghandi-

Nb: by the way, masih banyak kebaikan-kebaikan lain yang belum bisa ter-cover dalam tulisan ini, sampai jumpa di tulisan selanjutnya…

Sapporo, 09.02.2018

Love,
vf.ersalena

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The Journey of Becoming a Student

As my initial writing on hello veranda, I would like to say thank you a million to those who encourage me to write. I personally have this site about a year ago, but I did not post anything. Hehe… In this first view of my little veranda, I am going to share the journey of becoming a student officially in some simple words. Here we go!

-Apply for scholarship-
In my experience, one thing I did in my very beginning step looking for the scholarship (whatever it is) as long as fully covered. It’s just because I didn’t have much money to pursue my studies abroad and I didn’t want to waste time to think very hard how to collect money for continuing my studies. It will be very tiring. Sure! That’s why I planned right how to get the scholarship. For you guys who are recently having self-commitment regarding to this, it is not bad to take little more time to wait. Pursuing studies is not about how old are you now, isn’t it? Don’t worry.

Okay, back to the topic, I firstly applied some scholarships which are in full funded by Indonesian governments as well as others. One noteworthy thing; whatever the scholarship, apply – passed – take it!!! If not, find another one. In my case, I thank God, I was accepted as an awardee of Indonesia Endowment Fund for Education (LPDP Scholarship). This scholarship is fully covered by Ministry of Finance, Indonesia from the very first step – language training to airways ticket for coming back to Indonesia after completing study (InsyaAlloh, this will be written in detail on About Scholarship).

-Surf the Internet-
First of all, I looked for some universities in Japan with excellent reputation in education system and research. I read official website of each in advance then classify them based on the appropriate division as well as laboratory. Mostly universities in Japan provide some laboratories depend on each division. Important to note, it would be better to find the division or laboratory in each university based on our background and interest of study.

-Find A Supervisor-
After getting some reliable information through the internet, I sent an email to each professor in each laboratory in some different universities. FYI, we cannot apply through education agents for studying in Japan, we are required to be independent. We also must know well who we are connected with, understand right what the laboratory and university need. When I sent an email to some professors, first and foremost I requested the possibility for being a graduate student in the laboratory or university and introduced myself — introduction does not mean mentioning complete name, previous university, and major only; yet more than that, it will be more interesting to briefly mention what you have been done, what you are doing recently, and what is your future plan.

When receiving responses from professor and if he/she is interested in what we already mentioned, we can decide the most possible one and keep on communicating.

-Keep on Connecting; Be Active Applicant-
I personally kept in touch with my supervisor – checking email every single day. In case of mine, long communication through email helped me knowing what should I do then? My supervisor informed a lot of essential things. I could not mention one by one in this writing. Please do not mind me.

Subsequently, my supervisor kindly asked to send documents such as copy of bachelor certificate (signed), copy of transcript (signed), copy of official language certificates (TOEIC/TOELF ITP/IELTS/TOEFL IBT), journal publication (if any), letter of sponsorship, letter of recommendation, curriculum vitae, motivation letter, executive summary of bachelor thesis, research plan as well.

  • In my experience, administration officer requested copy of transcript which must be separated into a page for a year which means four pages in total for four years. So then, I needed to ask permission to my previous university and how to do it. Alhamdulillah, it was not that difficult. I was grateful that my previous collage made everything I needed easily.
  • Letter of sponsorship. Your supervisor somehow wanted to make sure your scholarship is enough to cover your life in Japan. This letter is also essential to be attached.
  • Letter of recommendation is needed from your lecturers in previous university or/and experts related to your background of study or workplace.
  • You need to write the motivation letter as great as you can, it would be better to write it in single page which covers all about you.
  • Regarding to the summary of bachelor thesis, two or three pages are enough and systematically compile your thesis.
  • Research plan. I was little bit thinking deeply about this one and paying much more attention how to write it in well-planned. A week to accomplish this, and I did not forget to discuss it with my senior studying at university and asking friends or lecturers to review.

-Send Hard Copies of the Documents-
Not only soft documents needed but also, it is necessary to send hard copies of them and make sure it will be received by supervisor in the university before due date. As an information, everything you sent will be accepted by your supervisor at first, if everything is alright he/she will let you know that he/she will confirm them to the student affairs. We just need to wait what is the next step.

-Entrance Exam-
Welcome to the most challenging session!
This session will be held on the days that we dealt with the supervisor. Based on my experience, the entrance exam held in three days with three different lecturers; two of them are professor and one is an associate professor. Each of them concerns in different specialized subject. In addition, there are some ways in this part like, face to face (interview) via skype, email examination (interview), or even directly attend the examination at the university. All depends on the interviewers and laboratory (faculty) requirements.

Announcement-
A month after entrance exam, the university will officially announce the final results. What did I do while waiting? DOA (in English: Pray). As a human being who has no strength without my God helps, I begged God to hear my Doa and make them true. In the early of December 2016, I officially accepted as a graduate student at Hokkaido University, Japan. Alhamdulillaahirobbil aalamiin…

I could not express what I felt through the words. I am more than grateful how God makes the scenario of mine so much surprised. I also want to say uncountable thanks to my family, tons of thanks to all the teachers, huge thanks to LPDP Scholarship in helping my dream comes real, millions of thanks to the supervisor, interviewers, student affairs at Hokkaido University. Thanks so much to the dean, lecturers, administration staff at Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, University of Mataram, last but not least to those who keep on strengthening me through all the ups and downs. May God bless you all today and the days to come.

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Here I currently study for two years 

Hokkaido, 17.12.2017

Love,
vf.ersalena