Project 365

Welcome! This is my own 365 project of creating at least one post per day about the stuff that I learnt, achieved, and found, the stuff that made me happy, or the new thing I did every single day.

The project was started on 21 February 2010. It has stopped for few times but I am determined to continue!

This project is dedicated to myself. I want to feel grateful for every single thing I have. I want to be thankful for my own life. I just want to feel that I have enough.

Tag: myself

"You Don’t Understand Our Cultures"

"You don’t understand our cultures," said a close friend of mine when I was suddenly lost in our conversation about Indonesian/Malay cultures. While he perceived this as a joke, it really hit hard on me. How could he say such a thing? How daring was he to even say that! It was just too hurtful to hear it and I didn’t think he understood why I took his particular comment so seriously.

Being a third-culture kid, I do understand that I am a product of different cultures. I understand that I may not be able to understand those cultures because sometimes only bits and pieces of them were taken. However, some times third-culture kids want to feel belong too. I want to feel that I am belong. For God sake, I am an Indonesian, albeit not a real one since I’ve only lived there for three years during High School. But sometimes you just don’t want to feel being cornered as a fake Indonesian all the time. When you don’t understand the jokes or some phrases being thrown at you, at the very least you’d want to know what their meanings. But if people keep on cornering you all the time; if people keep on telling you that you are a fake Indonesian and you don’t understand Indonesian culture without even explaining the meanings of those jokes or phrases; how are you going to learn to be a real Indonesian?

Or maybe I should just stop trying to be an Indonesian. Just go with the flow and be just me.

And this is one of the many reasons why I always hesitate to go back to Indonesia for good. Is Indonesia home for me? No. Not yet.

What They Think of Me


These words are written by my colleagues during our 2-days team building event in Kampar, Perak. Each person had a paper sticked on his/her back, which can be written by others. It was a fun event full of craziness & adventure. I wish it could be much more adventurous though 🙂 I enjoyed it so much. For the first time of my life, I didn’t feel lonely.

But unfortunately, loneliness struck so easily as soon as I reached KL. Oh I wish I could be surrounded by loving people all the time…

I’m Sorry, Friends…

… for disappearing too long.

Emails are left ignored. Messages are no longer replied. Facebook has been deactivated. Twitter is no longer exciting.

After trying to move on and get on with my life for almost a year in KL, I have decided to cut off all my communication with friends overseas: the Netherlands, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, ah you name it.

For me, this would be the best move so far to get me where I always want: to completely move on. Not knowing anyone’s updates, not looking at their pictures, not saying or hearing those painful words "I miss you too!" or "I wish you were here", or even pretending that I have no friends is the best remedy I could probably think of.

I do feel better being like this and I don’t know until when I’ll disappear from all the social hype. I still feel sad whenever a colleague of mine came back from Amsterdam office for a project. It makes me realize that I haven’t completely moved on yet, but hopefully I’m getting there.

Life in KL is still as unfruitful as it’s always be. Nothing exciting. Boring. No new friends. Just nothing. You know you have no life when you prefer working rather than taking leave days. It’s pathetic, I know. But work is the only thing that makes me completely happy and contented.

The question is, how long can I live in this way?

The Attempt

After going through some rough times that I would even categorize them as depression, I am trying to get back up again and walk with my head straight to the future. It’s hard. I know it is. I will definitely face another roadblocks. Another challenge that can bring myself down to my knee. Especially when I have so few friends. But this time, I am determined to do this. I really want to get out from this dark room that I’ve been living for so long.

If Rumi and Hafez can depend on no one but the Beloved, why can’t I do it? I need to discipline my desire to have many friends that I can relate to inside out. I need to get used to the fact that I don’t have anyone to spend with during the weekends. I wanna stay at home, do nothing, and be OK with it. It’s definitely hard to do it, knowing that I’m a very social person. But its been 6 months and the situation is not getting any better. It was getting worst at one point. I need to start living with no social life. I need to stop having the urge to talk to people. I need to keep my emotion to myself. My stories to myself. My happiness and sadness to myself. I just need to change everything that I was known of.

This is not the nicest way to make me feel better. But I am running out of ideas. Each idea and each step that I did led me to another breakdown. It was not working at all, unless I have close friends that I can rely to and family friends that I feel so attached to. I miss teh Rita and mas Umar. I really do. They are my second family.

There is a hole inside my heart and no one can covers it at the moment. It’s getting bigger and it hurts so damn bad. I can’t cover the hole, but I can make it frozen so that the pain is temporarily gone. So that I will feel numb and eventually, I hope that I will realize that it’s OK to have no one. Because Allah is always with me and never leaves me.

And that’s what I am trying to do. I hope it’s working. InsyaAllah. Please keep me in your prayers.

A Gateway

But do tell me, what’s troubling you? Are you working now? If not, hop on a plane and come stay with me in Taiwan for a week or two. Don’t worry about accommodation and food. I got you covered! I mean it! You just get yourself a plane ticket and a suitcase and come on over. You need a break. We’ll go somewhere…get outta Taipei for a weekend. I sure as hell could use a getaway!

— Jenn

I’ll do everything to make myself better. Even if I have to go to Taiwan. Isn’t it pathetic that I have to go somewhere to talk to people whom I can relate to and can pour my heart inside and out?

I’m going to see Mayu in Brisbane in September insyaAllah… and Taiwan… perhaps after that!

My fourth month in KL hasn’t gone any better… in terms of social life. It saddens me a lot. I’m going crazy if it continues to be like this for a year or more.

My New WordPress Plugin

WP Visited Countries

I’m proud to announce my new WordPress Plugin, which I named it "WP Visited Countries". I started to develop this plugin in the middle of last year, but somehow it never finished. I tried to complete it before I started my Middle East trip, but again, it was delayed. The plugin was working fine but I was not satisfied with the codes. I wanted to find a more neat way to do it. I never developed any plugins before, so it took time for me to learn how to do it the right way.

Since I have nothing to do these days, I decided to resume the project again. After less than a week of changing the codes, looking at old codes, and reading a lot of tips on the Internet, I managed to finish it! Yay!

So, there it is, my new plugin. When it was first released early in the morning, there were no bugs — as far as I knew. But then I discovered that the plugin couldn’t work in multisite feature of WordPress (i.e. having multiple blogs under one WordPress installation). So I had to add some minor changes… I haven’t tested it thoroughly this time. I hope it came out right! Any feedback? 😉

Connected, but alone?


I have just discovered this video! It’s been awhile since I watched a TEDTalk and wrote it here on my blog. After watching this talk delivered by Sherry Turkle, I decided to quickly write it here.

I have complained a lot in this blog about the Internet, gadgets, and social networking sites which have done a great deal in changing the way we, the humans, interact with each other. To be honest, they are not entirely bad. Thanks to social networks, I can be connected again to my long lost friends in elementary school or high school. I remember about a half a decade ago, I used to be the one who searched for them on the Internet and made a mailing list group so that we could keep in touch. When only few people used Friendster, I told everyone to create an account there. When Facebook gained popularity in the US (but not in other countries), I told all of my close friends to move to Facebook :P. I was busy making sure that although they’re not physically close to me anymore, I could at least reach them online.

But now, every single person can be easily reached. Virtually reached, that is. Everyone is on Facebook, Twitter, YM, LinkedIn, GMail, aaah…. you name it! People, including me, are addicted to it. Every time we encounter something, we update our status. We no longer call our closest friends to tell them about it, but updating a status seems to be the coolest way to go about it. Hi-by friends or even strangers suddenly become our best “virtual listeners”. Friends or families are busy with their smartphones while having dinner together. It is absurd, if you really think about it (I’m criticizing myself too, you know!). We spend less time to have a real and deep conversation with people because we spend too much time online with people who we think they care (but they are not, really).

So, this talk by Sherry Turkle  is exactly what has been running through my mind for the past few months or years — except that, she explains it more beautifully and persuasively than I do. One thing that struck me is this:

When I ask people “What’s wrong with having a conversation?” People say, “I’ll tell you what’s wrong with having a conversation. It takes place in real time and you can’t control what you’re going to say.” So that’s the bottom line. Texting, email, posting, all of these things let us present the self as we want to be. We get to edit, and that means we get to delete, and that means we get to retouch, the face, the voice, the flesh, the body — not too little, not too much, just right.

This is the major difference between real conversation and “virtual conversation” (texting, email, etc). Real conversation cannot be perfected with technology. There is no rewind or undo button. We can appear as perfect as we can virtually. We can appear as the person we always want to be virtually. We can pretend to care when we have a hard time to show our care to other people in the real world. We get to do things that we cannot do in real life.

What’s more is that, technology seems to be the thing we turn to when we are most vulnerable. As Sherry puts it: “The feeling that ‘no one is listening to me’ make us want to spend time with machines that seem to care about us.” Technology makes us feel connected, somehow. The moment that we are alone, have nothing to do, waiting for the bus, or have nothing to talk about with the person next to us, we immediately try to reach our small device.

For me, social networks are important to keep in touch with friends that are thousand miles apart from me. But to those who are within few km distances, I’d rather have a meaningful one-to-one conversation over coffee, lunch, or dinner. That’s the only way to understand and learn about my friends. No amounts of emails, Skype, and YM messages can beat real conversation. It is hard to loosen up my addiction to social networking, but at least I know that I still prefer the old traditional way of interacting. With the loneliness plaguing my life, talking to friends online in any way cannot heal this feeling. In order for it to disappear, I need friends who are physically here, talking to me. While some chats and emails did help in motivating and encouraging me, all of them are temporary. They are like medicines that can heal the pain but unfortunately, they cannot cure the actual disease.

I’m not suggesting to ban social networks and abandon them all together. But what I’m suggesting is to spend more meaningful time with the people around us. Talk to them. Know them well. Socialize. At least, put our smartphones away when we are with them. I do get annoyed by it when everyone is with their phones!!! 🙂 So, let’s do myself and everyone a favor that when you sit down with your friends, put your mobile phones away. Prove yourself that you can ignore this device, even though it’s merely an hour long.

The One Thing that is Ignored

It does not matter how busy I am. How many things I do in a day. How many different places I visit. Or how many people I meet and talk to in a day. There is always one thing that is missing. One thing that saddens me. One thing that makes me suddenly cry when there is no one looking.

I’ve been saying to myself, everything is going to be okay. I can get away from this loneliness. Let’s get myself busy with different things. Let’s put a different focus this time. Let’s just not think about it for a moment.

But you know what? Those things are temporary. I haven’t solved the root of the problem yet. I’ve been ignoring what the inner part of me is complaining about. I’ve been treating it as if its opinion is not counted, or to make it even worst… I’ve been treating it as if it does not even exist. I was (and am) being ignorant and for a split second I thought the trick was going to work. Apparently, I was wrong. Very wrong, indeed.

But what can I do about it? There is nothing I can do at this moment. I cannot solve it in a short time. Even if I meet new people here and there, that doesn’t mean I would be connected with them easily. I can talk to them, definitely. But to be connected and to feel that I am comfortable talking about anything to that person, takes not a day or two. For now, while I am waiting to meet friends that I am comfortable with, I am gonna be in the same state… miserable, sad, and lonely.

Does it sound like I am complaining? Maybe I do. I am extremely grateful to be here, rather than in Jakarta. But my heart is saying different things. I haven’t fulfilled its basic needs yet. Sometimes I don’t even realize that tears are pouring down from my eyes. The next thing I know, my eyes and cheeks are already wet. This is beyond my control and I can just hope that this stage of my life will be over soon insya Allah. I am hopeful and I know that He is listening.

I really miss my friends in the Netherlands 🙁

Exploring A New Hobby


There is something about living in KL that is rather unique, different to the life I had in the Netherlands or in any other countries to be exact.

My life back in the Netherlands more leaned to social life. I miss having friends come over to my place, cook for them, play UNO with them, and stay up late with them. I miss the kind of life where anyone is reachable — I can just call one of my friends when I am bored or in difficulties and find myself having a conversation with that person in a cafe somewhere few hours later. When I don’t feel like socializing with one particular group, I can go to another group. I’m surrounded with people all the time.

But this kind of life is not possible here (yet). I have very few friends here, so my social life is currently in a very low state — though I’m not in an urgent situation to fix it because it takes time to find a lot of friends. So I decided to ignore this fact for awhile and accept it as it is. It’s hard, but I can’t do anything with it. I just need to get used to it and I can say that I’m getting there — bit by bit. The few friends that I have here are those people I cherish the most and I can say that I am grateful to have them as my friends :).

So I’ve shifted my focus. I’ve decided to focus more on how to get away my boredom. I’ve been forcing myself to be creative, to find a new way to kill my free unemployed time, and to be busy in an interesting way without involving other people. I’ve decided to explore new things or new hobbies that I can do on my own away from the Internet and computer.

Doing puzzles is just one of them. I never was a fan of puzzles. In fact, I didn’t remember having any sets of puzzles when I was a kid. I was more of a Barbie kind of girl. It was only when I was in Istanbul that I enjoyed doing them. So I decided to give it a try this time. I couldn’t find a cheap puzzle set in KL, but luckily I found one in Jakarta. It turned out that it’s quite fun to do it, even alone! It made me feel so addicted. I discovered recently that, just like Sudoku (one of my favourite games too), doing puzzles may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Awesome! The bad thing about it is that: you have to keep on buying new puzzle set whenever you finished solving it! (I’m broke to the max)

The other thing I want to do is knitting and/or stitching. I used to do it when I was in Junior High. My mom taught me how to do it and I remember I quite enjoyed it. The thing is, I don’t remember how to do it anymore and I need money to buy the materials (and a tutorial book). I think they’re quite pricey and I have NO idea where to buy them in KL. I’m still exploring 🙂

Culture Shock: Malaysia

A friend once told me, “Their language is the same with ours. Their culture is similar too. Why do you still need to adapt?”

Ooooh, yes! I still need to adapt and I’m struggling with it.

Culture shock is inevitable, even for a person like me who have lived in 6 different countries across 3 continents. Living in a new country is like starting your life all over again from scratch. Finding new friends. Getting acquainted with a new culture. Learning a new language, dialect, or accent. Getting familiar with the life pace. Getting used to the routine. Not knowing where to go. Not knowing who to ask for a shoulder to cry on. Not knowing where to find your comfort zone. Adapting. Adapting. Adapting.

They are all part of the stages that a person may have to go through when living in a totally new place. It is normal and I expect this to happen when I’m about to embark on a new life. It is known that there are four stages of culture shock: excitement/honeymoon, withdrawal, adjustment, and enthusiasm. I went through those stages when I first came to Indonesia, Australia, and the Netherlands. It took me at least two years to reach the fourth stage — the stage where I feel very much comfortable and familiar with the place, people, culture, and everything surrounding me.

What I find most shocking about starting a new life in Malaysia is how fast it was for me to shift from the honeymoon phase to the withdrawal phase. It took me less than two weeks to feel restless, moody, lonely, and isolated. The honeymoon phase passed in a blink of an eye. I even forgot that I actually went through that phase! Why is that?

When it comes to Kuala Lumpur, there is a lack of excitement within me to explore and get to know the city, its people, and culture. What can I say? Indonesia and Malaysia share almost the same culture and language. There are barely any differences between us. Unlike Australia or the Netherlands, I am not THAT curious. This is also not the first time I visited this place. I’ve been here two years ago and have pretty much visited some (touristic) spots. So I wasn’t interested to see them again.

But those are not the only reasons. When you are a student (especially in a foreign country), you are part of the recently established “community”. You are one of the newly enrolled students. You are not the only one in the boat. Others take the same boat too. They experience the same thing: struggling to fit in the new culture and environment. They share the same struggle as you do. And they need new friends as much as you do.

What about now? It’s a totally different scenario. I am no longer a student. I am a jobless immigrant. I belong to not a single community. I am alone in this boat. There are no meet and greet sessions. There are no orientation programs to go to. There are no available activities or events. I have to search them by myself. That’s the different.

Don’t get me wrong. I have few friends and most importantly my sister whose presence has helped me to get over my loneliness. But I can’t constantly depend on them and disturb them. They have their own life and I am the only one who can fix this problem.

So… is that it? Well, not really 🙂 I’m in the process of getting up again after a week of miserable moments. I’ve contacted some people on CouchSurfing to meet up (and would probably join some activities too) and I’ve applied for a volunteer work. I love being busy (with activities, not with studies haha) so I’m trying so hard to find some things to do while looking for a job (and while waiting for my laptop to be repaired). Traveling outside of Kuala Lumpur is currently not an option as I am penniless and jobless :). I would love to, though!!

I am confident that I can go through this, insyaAllah. I just need to be a little bit more patient. Yay to the new life!