Gradschool Life #5 (End) – Leaving Boston, What Did I Miss The Most?

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Running, Sunset, and Charles River

I can’t believe that I finally finish my graduate school at Boston University! Can you believe its been 2 years since I am leaving home in Indonesia to move to Boston? Time really flies when we have so much fun. Its a mix feeling when I have to leave the city in August 6th, 2017. I am so sad leaving the city that has been greatly influence my life in this past 2 years with all the memories, my apartment, great friends that become family, and a lot of fun things that I did in the city. I remember I spent my last week in Boston by exploring the city by walking from Cambridge to Boston, from home to downtown, from home to campus, Trader Joe’s, Brookline, Charles River, Yusuf Mosque, Chesnut Hill Reservoir, and many other favorite place in Boston.

However, I am also happy to finally going home and end a very long distance relationship with my boyfriend, getting closer (in terms of distance) with my best friend and family in Indonesia, and start doing something that I left in Indonesia.

To stay or leave Boston, has been my biggest question since the end of 2016. There are so many freedom and opportunity that I can pursue while I am in Boston yet there are people I love that I can see if I stay in Boston. There are also several best friend in Boston that I am so sad to leave them ūüė¶ It’s been a very difficult decision until finally I decided to go home for a while.

But the next question is.. where is home? A definition of home become a wider perspective to me after I left my heart in so many places. During my stay in Boston, I have been able to visit my lovely people across Canada, my best friend in Puerto Rico and Peru, get an unforgettable experience in Tanzania, traveling across the U.S., even going back to Indonesia twice for conference and thesis research, and visiting my sister in Japan. These experience teach me to travel light and being a nomad if needed with my backpack. I have a 4 hours long conversation with Professor Barry two days before I left and he said, “I am pretty sure even though you are going back to Indonesia, you will be everywhere, Dini. Who knows you will be back in Boston again, doing some businesses or collaboration.”, and Fiona, my favorite staff in my Department hug me when I say goodbye and said, “You will be everywhere, I am sure you will not stay in one place forever.” .. that statement really make me think about myself. Am I a nomad? Maybe for now? Maybe I will settle later in the future when I find a place to settle? Again, the same question, where is home to me?

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Me and Didi with the Coffee Farmers in Bajawa, Flores for our research in May 2017
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He did not attend my graduation in Boston but we have our early ceremony at Kelimutu National Park, Flores!

When I finally land in Indonesia and meet Didi and JP, I feel so happy. Nothing make me happier to be able to see lovely faces for the first time I go home to Indonesia. Then, we have lunch and I see Adrian, his present with JP make me miss Boston a lot — yes in my first day in Indonesia. But surely, to see Didi and then see my sister in that night, I feel home. From that day, I never really stop moving, being a nomad on the road by accompany JP to do his research in Lombok, going to Yogyakarta for another research and academic purpose, got an invitation from Kick Andy to represent Wanderlust Indonesia, went to Ujung Kulon for Wanderlust with Kick Andy team, accompany friends from Seattle who visit Indonesia for 2 weeks, and spent quality time with my lovely people in between.

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Shooting for Kick Andy at Ujung Kulon
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After Kick Andy show with Friends & Family of Wanderlust Indonesia

After 2 months leaving Boston, sometime I really miss some of things that I can get in Boston. One of the #1 thing I miss about Boston is my room in Boston! I miss the not-so-hot temperature in my room where I can relax and being alone, playing my record player / spotify, reading my book and drinking my coffee or tea. Being a nomad for 2 months make me miss that space a lot. I never really know that I will miss my room that much.

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Hello 1472A! I miss you!

#2 РI miss my morning coffee routine! :(( Did you know that I broke my coffee grinder after I use it in Indonesia because it has a different voltage between US & Indonesia? I am so sad that I only have my manual grinder (which has a really bad grinding quality) and it will take longer to make a cup of coffee. Being a nomad and not having a portable coffeemaker such as cafflano make me really miss my morning routine in brewing my own coffee. Oh plus making a breakfast!

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Missing this routine a lot ūüė¶

#3 – Which related to breakfast, I miss cooking a lot. Not to mention, cooking with Kuniii, my lovely roommate in Boston. We have such a good time cooking together in our kitchen in Boston and I have to admit that not being able to have your own kitchen to cook your own food make me sad. Oh and I miss my groceries shopping routine to Trader Joe’s!!

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Lovely roommate, Kuniiii!
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and this kitchen!

#4 – I miss being active in outdoor that much! I miss my bike, being able to walk a lot in a decent street and nice temperature, running along Charles River or Chesnut Hill Reservoir, hiking in the weekend, camping, roadtrip, yoga & meditation, oh how I miss that a lot! How I miss the fresh air and being able to see clear sky and fresh water.

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In our hiking & camping trip to Grand Canyon – Sedona – Antelope – Bryce – Zion

#5 – Surprisingly, I miss being a student! I love University, being in the classroom, having a discussion with friends & professor, doing some paper & presentation, being in the library, call me nerdy or what, but I really love being a student in Boston! Btw I will update you later about a profile video that my Department created to feature myself as one of the International student in Boston University (BU), it was so much fun! In the end of my study in BU, Professor Barry and Professor Samuel Mendlinger also nominate me to receive a Graduate Excellent Award from our Department and I am so humbled to receive this award.

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From left to right: Prof. Greiman a.k.a Ginny, Prof. Steve, Prof. Barry
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With Melani, my best friend from Puerto Rico & her family
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With Prof. Samuel Mendlinger, our guru ini Tourism!
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Do I look happy? ^_^
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Our field trip to Tanzania!

#6 – I miss the freedom and doing whatever you want without someone judging you or asking about your life, where are you from, what is your job or occasion, and dress casually. In Boston, I can even wear running gear to go everywhere or a sandal inside the classroom in the summer or hot weather! I remember every time I take Go-Jek or Uber in Indonesia, most of the driver always so curious about your life and asking questions such as: “where are you from”, “are you not working”, “are you a student”, “what are you doing here”, “are you married”, and other questions. I guess our society culture is just so curious to know about other people life and people do love to talk and making conversation.

#7 –¬†Last but not least, I miss my companion in Boston! Group of Indonesian students & professional in Boston that turn into a family, group of classmates, oh how I miss them after spending 2 years with them! Hope everyone is doing good & we stay in touch!

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Best friends!!!
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Jepeee, I know Fall classroom will be difficult without me around you, right? :p

I guess that’s so far the list of what did I miss already from my Boston life and now, I have to come back to my other “home”, I don’t know for how long, and where life will bring me next. For now until the end of this year, I want to enjoy my time before starting something new next year, I was thinking also to write a book of my travel journey (any idea/comment? :D).

What I always believe until now is that happiness is a state of mind. It does not mean that after I leave Boston which make me so happy, I will lost my happiness. Happiness is inside ourself and hopefully I can take it wherever I move.

Thank you LPDP for the scholarship that make me able to stay for 2 years in Boston, and for everyone who is helping me in finishing my Master Degree in Boston University, you know who you are and your support means a lot to me! Love you all!

Welcome back to Indonesia, Dini! 

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In a boat journey around Ujung Kulon National Park. August 2017

Gobind, Ikhlas, dan Sederhana

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Saya selalu suka perjalanan, baik itu di kereta, mobil, jalan kaki, sepeda, atau seperti saat ini di pesawat. Banyak kontemplasi atau proses pemikiran yang terjadi ketika saya di dalam perjalanan. Terlebih ketika kita di dalam pesawat tanpa koneksi internet, saya selalu bisa menghabiskan buku-buku yang selalu ingin saya baca atau menonton film yang selalu ingin saya tonton.

Kali ini, buku pertama dalam perjalanan 12 jam pertama ini adalah 99 Wisdom oleh Gobind Vasdev. Lucunya, saya dulu pernah ngefans banget sama Gobind waktu dia menjadi peserta di reality show di TV berjudul ‚ÄúPenghuni Terakhir‚ÄĚ. Bahkan saya sampai sedih waktu Gobind kalah. Menurut saya waktu itu Gobind itu unik sekali, sederhana, idealis, baik hati, tidak terlalu ambisius dan apa adanya, dan sepertinya menurut pengalaman yang sudah terjadi, kaya gitu lah tipe laki-laki yang selalu bisa menarik hati saya.

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Buku ini tidak saya temukan tapi menemukan saya, melalui adik saya yang memberikan buku ini sebagai hadiah ulang tahun saya yang ke-27 kemarin, dititipkan lewat teman di Boston yang sedang pulang ke Indonesia. Dia pun menemukannya melalui temannya yang memberinya buku ini. Kebetulan kah? Sepertinya tidak. Sepertinya semuanya ada benang merahnya. Kenapa dulu saya bisa suka sekali dengan Gobind, dan setelah bertahun-tahun akhirnya dia datang kembali hari ini ketika saya menuntaskan buku yang menyentuh hati saya ini.

Buku ini rasanya menemukan diri saya di saat yang sangat tepat dan saya baca di saat yang tepat juga. Hampir 90% dari buku ini bercerita tentang menjadi ikhlas, berserah diri, mengalir saja, percaya pada-Nya, dan tidak mengejar sesuatu untuk mendapatkan kebahagiaan. Buku ini mengajarkan hal-hal sederhana yang susah untuk dipraktekkan melalui kejadian-kejadian kecil dalam hidup. Bahwa lawannya cinta adalah takut, bahwa untuk bisa bahagia kita harus bisa merelakan, menanggalkan keakuan, ingat bahwa kita tidak pernah kehilangan apa-apa karena kita tidak merasa memiliki apa-apa.

Buku ini mencoba berpikir kebalikan dari orang-orang kebanyakan yang ingin sukses dengan terus mengejar dan meraih ambisi yang diinginkan. Buku ini mengajak kita untuk menerapkan BERAS MERAH = BERserah, ikhlAS, MErelakan, dan pasRAH. Satu hal yang masih terus aku latih untuk bisa mencapai kesana.

Terimakasih, Gobind..

Emirates flight, May 2nd 2017

Being Minority Make You More Respect

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How does it feels to be a minority?

I never really feel it until I am living by myself here in the US – surviving graduate school and living in the US. In Indonesia, I always part of majority society. Being a muslim, wearing Hijab, born and raise in Java island, getting into public college, working in Jakarta (the capital of Indonesia) after graduate from college. Very typical majority Indonesian in a country where 90% of the population are muslim even though we are not a muslim country who applied Sharia law as a national law.

One way to also feel being a minority is when you travel to a place which have none of your people. You are the only people standing in the room in your race, background, and religion Рfor example. But if you travel, maybe you do not really feel it because you can just move to the next destination which bring more comfort to you, which you can see more common food and culture like what you have at home.

Lately, I feel not comfortable hearing some issue where the minority society have to be controlled by the majority people. The best example to put it is a lot of rejection on LGBT community in Indonesia that become the hot topic lately. The question that always come in my mind is that,¬†“Do they ever feel to be that LGBT people, being pressured by the society? Do they ever hang out with them and try to understand what their feeling? Do they ever consider that we are all the same human being?”.¬†I feel that a lot of judgement and hatred create by the majority instead of minority society. Just because they have a lot more people who agree on A idea, does not mean they can killed the B idea and not respect them at all.

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Being majority is somehow dangerous. You have a lot of support from the other and your action sometime caused just because by what the other did. Not truly from what you feel or you wanna do. You can also can easily made judgement and supported by your majority people. Your behavior driven by what the majority do.

Being majority is tricky. Your opinion can be heard easily in the public but sometime its bias to understand exactly if the opinion right or wrong. Because sometime what most of the society think its right – it become right. Even though its actually wrong.

Being majority is being in a comfort zone. And some people do not wanna get out from the comfort zone. Ever. Just because they are afraid to face the uncomforted feeling of minority.

But, have you ever wanna try and feel being a minority? 

Being a minority teach you a lot to see the other people perspective that you will never see it if you are in the majority pool. That feeling when you finally said to yourself,¬†“Oh, this is how the feeling of being a minority”,¬†or in my case, I become more understand how harder it is to be a non-muslim in Indonesia, for example.

Being a minority is not comfortable but that is where you learn the most. When you get out from your comfort zone and grow yourself. Understand yourself better. Not driven by your majority people.

Being a minority is a gift that you have to be blessed. Because with that, it increase your empathy to the other as you feel how hard it is to be different with the majority. Thus, it will eventually lead you to have more respect to the other and not easily being judgmental to people.

What does it means to be minority?

It means you will always have an interesting perspective to see the world differently and trust me, you will be more open minded if you can see it this way.

So, to every minority in the world, lets not feel sad and bad. We are all should embrace the differences and change the way the majority think to be less judgmental, not easily assuming, and we can create the world the same place for everyone. No major or minor. It just different. It just all the same human being. It just beautiful.

And do not get me wrong, I put my respect even higher to every “majority” society who can act like the “minority”. ¬†I encounter with some of these beautiful people in my life (even though not a lot of them) and I have my full respect to all of them ūüôā

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I found this interesting poster as a part of campaign from Wellesley College Muslim Society (Al Muslimat) with the hashtag #UnderstandingIslamMonth2016

 

Practicing Zen Meditation

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Taken by Andrea at Lake Waban, Wellesley College

My first attempt on meditation was in Halifax last September 2011 with the Shambala Meditation Center. The reason why I join the meditation practice that time is because my host mother & sister always go there to meditate in their public meditation practice once in a week. The practice include sitting & breathing meditation, continue with the talk, and refreshment (tea & snack) time.

I enjoy the meditation a lot. But I never do it again when I come back to Indonesia. There is no community that I can always come to meditate and I do not seek for one, maybe there are some right now that growing in Indonesia.

When I arrived in Boston, I try to seek the meditation practice place to join. Last year, I was joining a meetup community in Meditation and come only one time since its a bit too far from when I live. I also find there is Shambala Meditation Center in Boston but we have to pay as a membership to join the practice, even for the first time. I search for other center to compare and then accidentally I found out there is a Zen Meditation class in Boston University that we can register & earn credit for our transcript. Without thinking twice, I sign up for Zen Meditation class this Spring semester 2016! (January – May)

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Mark Houghton is my Zen Meditation class instructor and he is a very interesting person. I remember in the first class, we still have a lot of students in the room (around 35) and he said,¬†“I did not start counting your attendance until the 3rd class. You can try this class, if you like it – stay. If you don’t like it and feel like you are too busy – leave. But one thing I can tell you, this is probably one of the most important class in your study.”

At the end of the class, I come to see him and said that I am interested to know more about meditation community in Boston and he gave me the information about¬†Cambridge Zen Center (CZC).¬†He is one of the founding member of CZC and also founded Open Meadow Zen Group in Lexington.¬†“Come to the Cambridge Zen Center. You can check the schedule in the website and it just behind the BU (Boston University) Bridge.”

He also inform me that BU also has the Zen Meditation Community and meet every Wednesday night at 7.30 PM in the basement of Marsh Chapel but since I have class every Wednesday night, I cannot attend that session.

Until last Thursday, we have around 25 students coming regularly to the class and I started to recognize some names and people.

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So, I made my first time coming to CZC at January 28th, 2016. There is always a free walk-in meditation instruction class at Thursday evening 7pm, so I come at that Thursday evening with my bike from BU to CZC that only takes me around 10 minutes.

Together with around 7 other people, we join the introduction and practice sitting & breathing for 10 minutes. After that, the person who lead the session bring us to the Dharma Talk session where we hear the talk from the Zen Master or the other and there will be interactive discussion about meditation practice, about Zen, about life and everything. The Dharma Talk is also a public event where everyone can sit and learn. It always begin with the 5 minutes sitting meditation.

I ask question in the Dharma Talk about what makes Zen different with other meditation center and what is the relevance between meditation and Buddhism?  

After the talk, someone come to me and said, you have an interesting question about Buddhism and meditation. That statement bring us to talk until 11pm about what is actually the value behind meditation and is meditation part of Buddhism, is Buddhism a religion or a practice, and other interesting perspectives.

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That first attempt at Cambridge Zen Center bring me to come again in the other Dharma Talk session every Thursday evening. I also never skip my Zen Meditation class by Mark Houghton every Thursday afternoon from 12-1.30pm. Let say, Thursday is my meditation time & taking some hours break from the routine.

In my BU meditation class, we always have the same sequence starting with¬†Breathing (standing & stretching hand)¬†for 10 minutes,¬†Relax¬†by laying down in the mattress and stretching our body for 10 minutes,¬†Sitting Meditation¬†by sitting and feel the breath (inhaling to “clear mind” and exhaling by feeling “don’t know”),¬†Interactive activity¬†by experience interesting activity together with other student to understand more about ourself & the other.

In the class, Mark mention that Meditation is about Self actualization & being fully a human being. Knowing ourself better, being comfortable with ourselves, its about mastering our internal & not disturbed by the external. 
Meditation is not a discipline that you will expect result in the end like learning piano everyday. Its not like that. Its a habit that you will find the result on going. And how to create a habit? By doing it repetitive. In the about same time, everyday. You will feel that it will make you feel better and save your life. 
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I started to practice Meditation daily even though its always hard to keep it as a habit in about the same time everyday. Sometime I do it right after I wake up in the morning in my bed, sometime I do it after my last Isya prayer before I sleep, sometime I do it in the end of my running at Chesnut Hill Reservoir / Charles River, sometime I skip it. Its hard to create it as a daily habit.

But I am willing to do it everyday because I believe meditation is a good practice. I feel that by practicing through BU class and Cambridge Zen Center since the end of January, I can improve my sensing to the other (empathy) and also help me to focus, more patient, and always think positive. What Mark saying that it will make us feel better and save our life, is not too much. I believe its true.

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Zen itself means relax,¬†not worrying about things that you cannot change. Zen practice teach us how to be fully human being and thats happen “before thinking” or before your mind works, which you not knowing anything. Zen is keeping this “don’t know” mind always and everywhere.

They believe that when we are thinking, we and the Universe are separate. When we let go all thinking, we and the Universe are the same. If we want to attain our true self and help others, we must let go of all our thinking. Then our mind become clear like space. Clear like space is clear like a mirror Рred comes, red. White comes, white. Everything is reflected just as it is. 

How then, to keep a clear mind, always and everywhere? The answer is very easy: when you are doing something, just do it. When you walk, just walk. A hungry person comes, you can give him food; a thirsty person comes, you can give her something to drink. There is no desire for myself, only for all beings. That mind is already enlightenment, what they call Great Love, Great Compassion. (http://cambridgezen.com/index.php?c=about.us&p=our.teaching)

 

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You can find more about Cambridge Zen Center in their website  and I quoted some of their history:

The Cambridge Zen Center was founded in 1973 by some of the earliest students of Zen Master Seung Sahn, the first Korean Zen master to teach in the west. It was established as a residential Zen practicing community and is still thriving with more than 35 residents in training and more than 120 practicing members in the greater Boston area.

As one of the largest Buddhist outreach organizations in Massachusetts, and the second largest residential Zen training center in the U.S., CZC has a convenient location near Central Square between Harvard, MIT, and close to Boston University. They serve a diverse ethnic community and are frequently visited by students, academics, professionals and people from all walks of life, religions, professions and lifestyles. Outreach to ongoing Zen groups at various universities include Harvard University and Boston University, as well as teaching at public schools and ecumenical events with other spiritual traditions.

Zen practice is know quite famous across the US and it started in Providence, Rhode Island. I would like to visit that place since its close to Boston. It started with the student community to student community. From Brown University in Rhode Island then heard by Yale University in Connecticut, NYU in New York, Harvard – MIT – BU in Boston, and spread across the state until west coast as well like Stanford University.

One of the interesting fact that I just found lately after practicing Zen meditation is that Steve Jobs is also practicing Zen Meditation since 1970-ish which is very early when Zen practice entering the US. Many article said that he create Apple design and the way he think based on Zen value. One of the interesting one written last year: http://www.businessinsider.com/steve-jobs-zen-meditation-buddhism-2015-1

 

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To close this, I will quote their “The Human Route” poem that they always post everywhere. To me, practicing meditation is part of self discovery to help myself being more compassionate to the other and train my mind to always clear like a space, every time – everywhere.

The Human Route

Coming empty-handed, going empty-handed ‚ÄĒ that is human.
When you are born, where do you come from?
When you die, where do you go?
Life is like a floating cloud which appears.
Death is like a floating cloud which disappears.
The floating cloud itself originally does not exist.
Life and death, coming and going, are also like that.
But there is one thing which always remains clear.
It is pure and clear, not depending on life and death. 

Then what is the one pure and clear thing?

Boston Socrates Cafe #5 | Seoul Soulongtang | “Take Chances, Don’t be Afraid!”

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After around 1 month winter break, me and Andrea finally made the 5th Boston Socrates Cafe that we plan in the February 4th in the middle of our rush week. The third week of the spring semester at Boston University.

We have a lot of interesting topic that we want to discuss. During my journey in Canada, I was having a lot of “Socrates Cafe” too on the road with either people I know or stranger on the road. I always wanna discuss it back once I come back in Boston.

But that afternoon, we decided to eat Korean food named “Seoul Soulongtang” in Harvard Avenue close to campus and naturally talk about what we have in mind. We come up with the topic of how the bravery to take the chance is also a gift that not everyone can have. Maybe its simply the feeling or spirit that move you to take the chance and not be afraid of something that will not happen yet. But for some (or a lot of people), taking chance to do something that they really want, is seems impossible.

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The discussion appear because we found the case in a person who want to take an exam that she really want to take but it seems always impossible for this person to take the chance to finally register for the exam. Being afraid of something that she not even experience yet was the fear that hard to beat.

In life, we always have the moment where we are considering taking the chance or not. In my life, so often, I take the chance even though I did not know where it will lead me. Maybe its what Aries mostly do, a spontaneous and not thinking twice when we do something. But I feel that by allowing myself taking the chances, it will grow more possibility to have more choice in life that might lead to any opportunity that we never expected.

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Continuing the discussion, we are then talk about how as a person, so often we are demanding to other people in order to get support, motivation, and to convince us taking the chance. But what if that person not around you anymore? What if there is no support and motivation from that person, will you still able to take the chance?

This is our next discussion which make us rethinking again about who is the most valuable person in our life, what if that person die or gone from our life, can we still have that bravery to take the chance?

Thats the point when we realize that if we believe in God, maybe we should consider rely on God as I am a muslim and Andrea is a Catholic. If you don’t believe in God, well, then maybe you should have a better confidence in believing in your capacity.

To be able to be brave anytime to take the chances, maybe we should believe in ourself more than the other people. Most of the time, the other people believe in yourself more than you. That way will help us to be able to motivate and convince ourself to take chances, with or without the most valuable person in our  life, who most of the time help us in our life decision.

What do you think?

 

Love does not need to be understand

My mom send a short message through whatssapp this morning when I wake up saying that my dad sending her a youtube video link when I pitch at Seattle last year in November about Wanderlust. She said that she is very happy and proud of me watching at that video even though she does not understand what I am talking about, because its in English. She even did not know that it was 1 year ago, she think it just happening and ask if I need help with a kind of voting or something. Oh, she is too cute :”)

Then she said, she will pray for whatever I want, she hope it will come true and successful, even though she did not understand.

It suddenly make me very sad and missing her so much. My mom is one of the very few people that can easily make me cry without even trying hard.

Even though she does not understand what is the meaning of my pitch, she can tell that she is happy and proud of me, and love me.

Love does not need to be understand.
It is a universal feeling that every human can have.

Love you, mom. To the moon and back.

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Like a sun, our mom’s love is whole-hearted, without even asking back
The photo taken today at the surprisingly warm weather of Boston in December