Room 421: A Memoir

Ecky Nurfitriyani

180410160102

Since 1998, never in the history of my little family did we get hospitalized. Under my mother’s supervision, my father, my mother herself, and I managed to stay out of hospital for two decades. In 2018, though, the record was broken. I was eating lunch with my friends in the middle of what just happened to be a very hot and bright day when suddenly my mom called to tell me that my dad’s been hospitalized. After hearing the news, I rushed to the hospital immediately, the food I had eaten was barely digested.

I did not realize that my dad had been sick, apparently for almost two months as my mom told me, so it was really shocking for me hearing that news. I did notice that sometimes he looked a little faint and could fell asleep literally the minute he sat down on a chair or a couch, but I thought he was just tired, considering his work place was really far from home and he had to go to work since the sun rose until it was getting dark, six days a week. But as it turned out, it was a symptom of a serious health problem.

When I got to the hospital, he was still in the emergency room before he was finally put into an inpatient ward hours later. He was put into a room number 421, just three rooms away from the ward receptionist. I could feel my arm hair raised the moment I walked into the room. One minute in there I had already shivered.

After dealing with the administration, my mom had to leave to work so I had to keep my dad company in the hospital. So there I was, left alone with my dad, in a cold, dimly lit hospital room. I helped him settle in the room, tidied up his clothes and other belongings. When I was done, I sat on a chair next to his bed.

As I accompanied my dad, I didn’t realize that my eyes were tearing up and I felt heavy on my chest, like I was holding back a sob. Somehow sitting there, watching him lying weak in there made me emotional. And the deafening silence in the room didn’t help either because I couldn’t focus on anything else but my dad. I literally met him every single day, I lived under the same roof as him and how did I not realized that he had a serious health condition. Suddenly reality hit me really hard; I hadn’t been alone with my dad in a closed space in a really long time.

For the last two years, my relationship with my dad had been strained. I couldn’t possibly remember the exact reason why but I did remember there was a fight over something that I would say was stupid and unnecessary. There were screaming battles in my house for at least a week. It was an exhausting week to say the least. I was tired from being angry, I was too busy avoiding my dad whenever he had a chance to insult me, scream at me, or get angry at me. We’ve been distanced ever since and my mom didn’t even know about it up to this day. Sure, we still talked to each other, but we barely exchanged more than five sentences to each other in one day and more often than not those conversations just felt awkward, like it was just formality.

Wow, I didn’t know that bringing myself to remember what happened, even in a blur, was a bad decision. I couldn’t hold it any longer as my chest felt heavier and my eyes were blurred, so I left the room immediately to get some fresh air.

I was watching him all by myself until around seven in the evening my mom went back to the hospital after work to check on him. From her disheveled look and the amount of paperwork that she brought, I could tell that she barely got her work done. She must have been worrying about my dad all day.

We gathered around in the small space, my mom sitting on the chair while I sat on the floor next to her. I watched as my mom taking care of my dad, sometimes she caressed his hand and asking how he felt, did he feel dizzy, or did he want anything. It was kind of a strange scene for me to see because even at home I barely saw this kind of interaction between them anymore. And that was when I realized that maybe not only my dad and I’s relationship that’s strained, but my parents’ also. I knew that they fight sometimes, I mean almost every couple do, but I didn’t know that it had an effect to their relationship until that moment.

I felt myself smiling as my parents joking around and laughing over each other’s jokes. The previously cold room had become warmer and so did my heart. It was a rare moment for the three of us to just sit there, talking and laughing, even though there were only the three of us at home. We barely met each other on weekdays, only in the evening to morning. For a long time, even on the weekends, we would just mind our own business in our own private space. I would be busy with college assignments, my mom would be busy doing her work, and my dad would just read the newspaper or fall asleep on the couch while watching the TV. Therefore we barely had family time together anymore. Sadly, we got our family time was only because my dad was hospitalized.

I could feel the tension in the room rose as my mom told my dad to take care of himself more from now on if he truly loved my mom and me, a serious tone could be sensed from her words. I could feel my heart clenched upon hearing those words. She reminded him that he should get better if he wanted to watch me become the person he aspired me to be. I swear to God I was about to lose it. I couldn’t even talk because my voice would just crack. I could’ve just cried right there on the cold floor of the room but I remained still.

That moment, I reflected on everything that had happened between me and my dad. I’m sure that family fight all the time. But it shouldn’t be a reason for them, for us, to fall apart. Maybe my dad being sick was a wake up call for all of us. It was a reminder for me to put whatever it was that happened between us behind and start to make amends with my dad. Perhaps it was also a reminder for my mom. And it was most certainly a reminder for my dad to take care of himself better, because he still has my mom and me.

My dad being hospitalized gave me some perspectives. There is always a possibility of everyone leaving me out of nowhere, even in the middle of a sunny day when I’m just enjoying myself. That possibility should be put in my mind so I would always do things right with the people I love, because I’m afraid it would be too late if I wouldn’t. So in that hospital room, I started to try to reconcile with my dad, and so did my mom. We’ve been rebuilding our little family ever since.

Illustration credit to Deniz Korkmaz (www.saatchiart.com)

Drab Fawn Hour: A Memoir

Rifayanti Adawiyah180410160079

It was May 10th on Thursday afternoon, the sky in Suryalaya has become a little darker than usual. The wind blows, cloudy. All the clouds on the sky right above Windy and Rega seem to outpour its water. Windy has lived in Ciawi for seven years, surrounded by the green fields, foggy morning, birds chirping and built their nests on the tree. Years has passed, Widy is now a 20 years old university student, has to live separately from the lovely house where her mother little brother live too. As the time went by, Widy happened to check on her old social media, hardly used social media. She logged in into the account, a notification popped up on her screen and there was an inbox from her firend. She clicked it, read the message carefully and balled out her yes, she widen her pupils and you can read whether she was shocked or excited. But for what? What was that expression for.

Widy put so much expression only to a message on her old social media messenger. It happened to be a message from her long-gone friend, not only friend but both of their parents were close. Can be called as bestfriend? They lived separately, her friend had to move out of town following their parents. It was his father’s job that forced this one family to live far away from Widy’s family. It was not a big deal at all, Widy thought they were still kids anyway. Two elementary students which happened to be good friends, luckily they lived in the same residents. A neighbor that went to the same elementary school, live near by and have spent time together playing childhood’s traditional games back in 2008.

Seems like Widy stopped functioning because of that popped up message, she has to fully absorb what was that about. It was written from the message ”Widy, time has passed. How many years was it? 8 years ago? Or even 9 years? What a fortunate event, I looked up to my Mom’s old album before we moved to Cilegon and there I found a photo. I was wearing a blue cap, grey polo shirt for children and green trousers, I did looked superb old-fashioned on that photo. Then there I saw you standing next to me and my brother, you were wearing a white shirt, a panda head was attached to it. You were wearing a pink petticoat covering your knees. I thought you hated pink so much? The brown shoes looked good on you, we were 11 years old back then. You were younger than me right? …. So, how was everything? You good buddy? I’ll be in Ciawi on May 7th, let’s arrange a meeting.

There she was again, she remembered her old friend’s face as tall as her nine yaers ago but both are twenty something now. She has not fully remembered or could not even imagined how will they looked like after a long lost contact for nine years. It was Rega, Rega Alghiffari was the one who wrote that message. He just slide into her inbox and typed the text out of nowhere, when did these two became friends on this messenger app? Was that when they were in middle school? High school? Or even during the freshmen year in university? Widy was blacked out, she hardly remembered because both had never talked in that social media app. She replied to Rega’s message, typed a long message and clicked backward then just four simple sentences were sent to Rega. “You remembered that? It was 9 years ago, I guess. Everything in here were good, I am doing fine everything is under control. So, we are both now a university students huh? Okay, a small talk would not mess us up around after 9 years right?

Days has passed, both of them agreed for a meet up. Rega picked the meet up place. They have been talking in the messenger for a while, decided not to over talked all the old memories in the messenger app or they would ended up out of topic once they really met. Days and nights has passed until it was finally May 6th, Widy put on an alarm reminder on her cellphone. She did not want to miss any opportunity to finally meet her long-gone neighbor. Rega called Widy on the phone, it was 9 a.m. She picked the phone call, still feeling drowsy and had to clear her throat or the voice would ruin the mood. Rega told her, his family were on their way to visit Ciawi will arrived around 15:00. They were talking on the phone until her phone runs out of battery and started to heated up, it was a 72 minutes long of talking. Widy asked him to end the conversation then she hanged up. May was actually an ordinary month same as the other months, but she has never been this excited for a several months. Did not meant that she has never lived in happiness, but the excitement on her side can be pictured as if three layers of hot pancakes were placed on the the plate, sliced strawberries sitting on top of this pancakes and honey droplets enhanced the pancake appearance also a cup of hot chocolate milk was set beside the plate, she was feeling sweet.

Early morning in Suryalaya sky, bright sun came out of the peak of Syawala Mountain. Days has passed, it was May 9th that day. She has woke up, still has her socks on, lumps of blanket warmed and narrowed the bed. A notification popped up, it was an early morning message from Rega. She spring from the bed, became fully energized and read it carefully. Rega told her that they will have a meeting at a small new café in Suryalaya, located near their elementary school. This place was used to be a barn, a rice storage to be specific. The son of this rice storage barn changed it into a café, Rega have visited this place with his father once. Compared to the other cafes, this one has small tiny details that would caught your attention and you would feel warm just by sitting on that café, Widy agreed to his recommendation. Besides, that café is located near their elementary school, different kinds of topic would probably came out to keep them on the conversation. Day has changed to noon, noon has changed to evening, the sun has set and the evening has changed into midnight, midnight has changed and the sun has risen up.

It was May 10th on Thursday afternoon, the sky in Suryalaya has become a little darker as if all the clouds above Widy and Rega about to outpour its water. Rega has arrived in the café first, a moment later Widy has arrived there too. She was amazed of how small the café was, has never been to a café that is as small as this one, Bengala Café. As soon as she has arrived, she entered the café. It was narrow, a group of coffee lover that counted up to fifteen people would not fit in this place, a half of it would do. Shade of brown and yellow caramel colours dominated the entire medium-sized 7x11m café. Widy entered the café, on her right side found a reading-corner where books were displayed, you can sit on a bamboo couch, it has nice ornaments too. The strong smell of roasted coffee beans filled the entire café, luckily there were only three customers five including both of them. She has not moved a muscle, but her eyes observed all the vintage ornaments, not much but simply well decorated. He was right, this place would helped them reminiscing their old childhood memories, sharing their coming of age stories would be good too. As the coffee was served to their table, they started talking time has shown it was almost 2 and a half hours, none of them stopped the conversation except she took a sip of her coffee. That was a good time to remember, drab fawn color mixed well with the brown yellow caramel ornaments.

Word count: 1.636

Photo by: Rifayanti Adawiyah. 2018/04/01.

https://vsco.co/ruby-jpg/media/5ac102358a92f923aa0000000

My Nights in Asia Africa: A Memoir

Eres Ferro Bastian
180410160048

At daylight, it looks like your typical museum for tourists. Decently maintained, but uninteresting. You rarely ever gain access to its balcony, even though there are several park benches. When you enter, two guards will stand by to open your doors and scan your bag while you walk through the metal detector in front of you. You’ll probably linger to look at the globe near the entrance door, sadly you’ll be hurried by the guards to register, to gain access to whatever room is open. In the Entrance Hall, you’ll find that the room is too bright and too bleak to begin with, but you move further, and you can find a display of statues depicting the event of the Asia-Africa Conference, with Soekarno standing in front of several historical figures. His speech recording sometimes can be heard, if you’re lucky. That is the only statues you can find in the Entrance Hall. When you move to the middle of the Entrance Hall, you can find museum pillars with newspaper clippings about the Conference. Sadly enough, they are scanned and put into the wallpaper for the museum pillars. Most of them are so enlarged so that they get pixelated. On several pillars, you can find historical figures and their slight descriptions, which you can access easily through Wikipedia, complete with their pictures and even more detailed description about them. The Interactive TVs are dull in colour, unfinished in development – some buttons do not work and the information from it are the same as in Wikipedia articles.

That’s about it in the Entrance Hall, you’ll then be guided by the small poles leading to the museum corridor. As bleak as it gets, the only paths you can go to are the restroom and the Conference Hall. You can only enter Audio Visual room when there’s an event going on, and you can rarely visit the library. Fortunately, you won’t find the conference hall that bad. You can sit on the armchairs and the room is huge. After that, exit. That is all.

Yet, this museum adorably and probably witnessed my short little journey inside. These journeys you and I will find dull, but I find remembering them a joy. Not because the memory was interesting, no, but because my senses tingled in there, it got super-sensitive. Maybe because the museum is alive, you know? Just like in the movie Night at the Museum. Because every time I was there, the broken-white rough walls, warm street lights designed like it was in the 50s, its tedious stone pavement, made me adore this museum. Even though what happened there was quite unimportant.

I

It was always on Tuesday, when I arrived at the Asia-Africa museum. I was late an hour, and I was already dazed trying to find where I could park. I found it 300 meters away from the entrance of the museum, near the intersection at Jalan Naripan. It was my first visit to the Asia-Africa museum for a small film screening. Atumbua 39’ Celsius was the film, with Riri Riza, whom I had never known before as the guest for the event. I entered hurriedly the museum through the side entrance. The corridor was filled with white neon lights, with white walls, and white tiled floors, creating a wider feeling. If only the floors are a lot whiter, and of marble ceramic instead of plain white tile, I would enjoy strolling through the corridor. Following the direction given by the security guard at the entrance, I entered the Entrance all. Inside, the film was already running with a lot of people. They probably already knew that Riri Riza was inside. The hall was not completely dark, they turned off the big lights and kept the small spotlights for the displays on. Somehow it gave a warm feeling, albeit it was freezing inside. Everyone was all focused on the movie, and I was quite troubled trying to find a chair, the empty ones were at the front and I was afraid to block the audiences’ view. Yet, this old man came, in his Pink Floyd shirt, jeans, and sandals, which I never knew what their songs are. He came to me and grinned lightly. He was warm enough to give me his chair, and went to the front row, sitting with probably the guest stars. He was probably the owner. Not too long after that, the film was paused for recess for Maghrib. I walked around the Entrance Hall, with the fluorescent yellow spotlights aimed towards the displays and statues. The hall felt different, it was warmer. It gave you the atmosphere to stay silent and focus, so everyone was silent and wandered the hall slowly. The marble ceramic floors and the white yellowish wall gave a sensation of luxury for me. It was cold, but that was what I wanted, and I wished that the museum would open this way. Shortly, the film continued until the credits, and the old man in Pink Floyd shirt stood up to greet Riri Riza to the stage. I guessed right, he was the owner.

I was never really interested in films until the discussion began. The film was unique enough, giving messages through tapes because of the difficulty to access East Timor due to the anarchy in the area. So that was it, I thought it was another different experience. Not everyone inside was enthusiastic about the event, but Riri Riza and the old man spoke endearingly. I didn’t get what they were speaking about at the beginning, but I knew they hold dear the Indonesian film industry. Finally, after a short while, I picked up what they were talking about. The Indonesian Film Industry is having a hard time catching up with modern standards, Indonesia lacked theatres designated for unrecognised films made by locals and screening at theatres such as XXI and CGV are extremely expensive and had a lot of regulations. Thus, they send their films to world festivals, many of them are well-praised, but that was it, there are no theatres in Indonesia who wants to screen them. Realising that, I knew that I should have paid more attention to Indonesian film industry. That was also when I realised that Riri Riza is one of the most iconic film figures in Indonesia, by browsing through my phone.

After the talk had ended, everyone was eager to take a photo with Riri Riza, while I stood up and left. Leaving with a big smile, with my hands lightly touching the rough walls as I left, the museum switched on the something in me. More appreciation for local films.

II

So I invited my two close friend to the museum, the film was Chacun son cinema, or To Each His Own Cinema – an anthology of 34 short films made by 36 directors. Only one of my friends came along, let’s call her Pim. We arrived early, this time, it was quite late in the schedule, but the event also started late. I gained access to the Audio-Visual room. The floor was covered with dark green carpet, and the light was bright. The walls are of wood with holes on several parts and some part of the wall also jutted out to the inside of the room, probably made so to absorb the sound well. Pim invited her friends and were on their way. The film started, and the lights was completely turned off, everything was dark except the projection screen. I didn’t understand the filmuntil the recess for Maghrib, in which I realised that it was an anthology of three-to-five unconnected films, except that they were all about cinema. When the recess came, I went to the parking lot near the exit door to accompany Pim smoking. We didn’t talk much, most of the time we enjoyed the silence at dusk. The street lights were all on, few cars were passing by, sometimes smoke went through my vision, accompanying the sweet twilight I was looking at.

After the recess had ended, discussion was held. What could I say when I had almost zero understanding of the films except for their own plot. However, everyone inside had clarity in what they were discussing about. Especially the friends Pim brought, they knew filmmakers such as David Lynch, Wong Kar-wai, Lars von Trier, Roman Polanski. They knew how different Asian films can be when screened side-by-side to the European films. It made me realise how unknowing I was in films. When I realised that the films I was intrigued at such as Nymphomaniac, Antichrist, The Elephant Man, Chungking Express are made by the filmmakers who participated in making the anthology. Coming home, I realised I should have given more attention to the context of the film. Appreciate the artistry of cinematography each filmmaker gave. Coming home, I always felt Asia-Africa Museum smiled at me, as I always come home with something new.

Photo by Agung Darmawan, retrieved from bandungtrends.com/wisata/museum-konferensi-asia-afrika

Hard Realizations: A Memoir

Hard Realizations

Muhammad Aulia Rachman

180410160007

One day, I sat on the bench in front of the class. Had I not listening to my music playlist, I would think a lot of these final days in high school. In three days, we were going to Bali as a part of a week-long study tour, which was more a “tour” than a “study.” While most of the friends I know began to think what should they brought to Bali, I remained silent and minding my own business, just as most would do. Had I not joined my parents in their reunion with their co-workers, I might carry two suitcases to Bali and spend too much money on souvenirs, and pleasing everyone else but me. I fell in love with Ajeng, my former classmate and my gaming counterpart, but I found that by stalking, it did not make the situation any better. 2015 was not my peak performance in class and in social skills.

The day comes and we embarked on a three-day journey through the roads of Java by singing, talking, and even messing around with each other. Although the road was unpleasant for most of the times, it was something that makes everything worthed. 2015 might be the end of the line, I once thought. I was not special, I was not famous, I was not someone that people would rely on, but I was something that people always look upon when they need certain knowledge – especially in English and History. My seat was on the back of the bus and it is near the window, which was my special place in every study tour like this one. We had one local guide to lighten up the journey, but I felt that I was out of place and started to put out my earphone and listening to my music playlist. Kemal, one of my classmates, were the rudest and the silliest person I could ever meet. He bullied everyone else, but at that time, he was just messing around and people never take that seriously. Everyone laughed whenever he was around. I believed that Kemal is a nice guy who had discovered the good side of being a bully and a silly person.

At that time, all I had in mind was Ajeng and how attractive she was. I would write another novel about her, but it was certainly not possible to do so, and I knew that it would be so corny to write it all out. I could write a poem about her. Had I did not end up being a small-time stalker, it would be so much better for me and for Ajeng. Because of that careless stalking and purposely wandering the schoolyard, I ended up a bit embarrassed when people brought Ajeng in every conversation and for the worse, it also became a talk of the school. Ajeng and I were mistakenly known as a couple, but we were not even dating at that time, and at this very moment, I knew, I fucked up. A lot. In every conversation about the relationship, people will always bring Ajeng’s name and I would deny everything they threw at me about this.

I had a few friends accompanying me in the back seat of the bus. They are Stevanie, Anggi (nicknamed Tio), Fauzi, Mahardika, Arin (nicknamed Aye), and Syauqi. These guys would be hanging out with Kemal a lot and I knew these guys would make everything better, in the worst of times. They are the “Jelema Gobs,” it was something I made up, but it was something that would perfectly describe Kemal’s gang. They would mess around with people for most of the times and thinks that it was something funny when they had to had a prank on Fauzi. He was tall and nice, but he was Kemal’s target for most of his time in our class – he had just become the class’ meme, people even called him “Korong” or in short, “Jirong.” Not something pleasant to the ear, but it was something funny. I recalled that people began to call Fauzi “Korong” since 2014, a year before the study tour, and there was certainly a lot of things happened back then.

We arrived in Banyuwangi at dawn and ate breakfast in one of the last restaurants near the port. Fauzi “Korong” and Tio were posing to what seemingly looks like long-lost brothers as I enjoyed seeing the sun rises from the east. They did not even take a bath when they hugged each other in a playful manner, and I had barely eaten anything ever since the first day of the journey. It was a relieve when I knew there is a restaurant and immediately eat what I’d like to eat that morning. Miss Alis, my homeroom teacher, who was also my favourite teacher, had worried if I was ill due to lack of food intake for most of the journey. I knew I refuse to eat for most of the times and pretends that I already filled up my belly.

Two days felt like it was just five hours. The bus finally parked on the lower level of the ferry boat and we were standing and hanging out together on the upper level while seeing the sea as far as our eyes can see. The ferry’s bobbing was hard to deal with and whether it’s acceptable or not, I forced myself to look like a drunkard while maintaining a sober state of mind. As long as the teachers and friends see it as something funny, I am okay with it. A few hours later, we are landed in Bali and the bus was some kind of “all Hell broke loose.” We were partying and dancing to the rhythm of dangdut, while everyone else dancing around and shaking the bus to the ground, my mind was… thinking about Ajeng. Most of the journey, that is. Although we were suffering from severe fatigue.

The week-long journey finally ended and the bus was packed with souvenirs and snacks. They were having a good time together and it was a very pleasant journey, to an extent. They stopped at Jogjakarta to buy even more souvenirs and snacks and I used this stop to ask a security officer whether there was any university that likely to have an English major and located to the nearest rented dormitory available in the area.

For most of the night, I could not sleep well as Kemal danced in front of Fauzi Ahmad (nicknamed Uji Pump, because he had a lot of… experience in playing “pump.” That dancing arcade.) and made everyone who saw him with Aye bursts out laughing, although they had to keep it down. Fauzi is seen to be sleeping while his head was leaning towards the bus’s floor and the word “Melendoy” was used quite often as Kemal continued dancing in front of Uji Pump (this person was, in any way, not related to the rapper Lil Pump). Jelema Gobs and I had to do the same. We were laughing that night not because we are trying to laugh at Uji Pump, but we are trying to laugh at how uncomfortable his sleeping position was.

My, how time flies so fast. I did not have enough footage to remember it all, but I was glad I was there. It was amazing and memorable, had I not forgotten where did I put the folder which contains all of my photographs taken there. Might even have to see it again to refresh my memory that seemed to be fading slowly.

The photo was screenshotted from my older Instagram post.
Link to the post: https://www.instagram.com/p/38hEyNAayW/

My Tales on Canterbury: A Memoir

Aryo Wibisono
180410160063

My Tales on Canterbury

Aryo Wibisono – 180410160063

I was initially reluctant to accept the program. It was very expensive and the teenage me thinking

that wasn’t just worth it. “I know the way you feel about the money situation, but this is a very excellent opportunity to expand your knowledge on English language.” With the way my mom comforted me to enrol on the program is very typical, really. But how anyone bar socipathic person could refuse any mother’s plead to basically sacrifice my parent’s income to better their children’s future. My wish to go abroad to an English-speaking country had crossed on my mind times before and this time I was persuaded. I will enrol on the program, a “study tour” to Canterbury, Kent. Mixed feelings of excitement and guilt entered my mind; what if my parents just doled their money out on a scam? What if the program was disappointing? The Headmaster of my school of however assuaged my worries, said that everything is taken care of and also used words similar to my mother. However, a second person’s opinions are always comforting, especially if it comes from a person I deeply respect.

So, my inner conflicts had been resolved then it was time to prepare stuffs that I would be bringing while I was abroad. I packed my clothes, prepared all of the school equipment, medicines in case I fell sick, and some money to buy some stuff over at Canterbury. A week later, all of us who enroled to this program were told to rendezvous at the front of the school gate. When I arrived on the scene, I was astonished that none of my high school acquaintances enroled on this program, though it was expected because I was the only student in my year class that was into English language (and it was also expensive) but instead I was greeted by several students from Junior high of my school and several students from outside the school. Bunch of unknown faces that joined this program meant that my social awkwardness of my teenage self were under the microscope.

Our group that consisted of a bunch of naive students and teachers from both my school and the unknown students’ school were about to travel to England. Our group’s guide met us on Soekarno-Hatta and gave us a briefing about the travel. All of her words could be summarized that it would be one hell of a long flight; or to be exact: it was a 20-hours travel with a couple transits at Brunei and Abu Dhabi. It was an excruciating experience traveling that far since it was my first time going abroad. It was worth it however, since Canterbury is a very nice town.

After we landed at an airport in London, we rendezvoused at the lobby with our study group counselor, a half-Indonesian man born and raised in England. Our level of excitement were about the same as him with ours over exploring one of the most historical landmark on England and him just generally excited he was in charge with people he shared heritage with. Throughout the two-week our, he was always very helpful and very responsive toward us.

We immediately took a bus that will deliver us to our dormitory in Canterbury. What I saw while we were in a bus were very eyeopening. The architectures of building on the sides of the streets of London are just beautiful. The architectures were clean and very modern and the one that are antiquated are very well maintained. In that moment, I had wished that Jakarta were like this. It just affirmed my belief at the time that we were unable in my lifetime achieve this kind of advancement. But again, I was blind to the rich and long history of England as back then I had only known England is just a mere country on Europe.

The dormitory were located at nice rural side of the town so there were plenty of plants and trees that made it look very pastoral. Apparently this dormitory was for expats because I saw a lot of Japanese in this dormitory. Our counselor told us that this dorm was owned by a Japanese company. That explains well why the outdoor of this place was very serene and zen-like. We were told to leave our luggage in our assigned room because we would immediately go to a small college on Canterbury Town.

The college served as some kind of meeting place for all the participants from various countries. At our first week, the counselors took us on a short tour around Canterbury, showing various districts around the famous landmark of Canterbury: The Canterbury Cathedral. They told us about story of Thomas Becket, The Archbishop of Canterbury and his feud with King Henry II that led to his assassination by King Henry. The next day, We were now took a tour inside the Canterbury Cathedral itself. Just the look from outside you could really tell how magnificent the architecture was. The style that is well-preserved from the Middle Age made it look very Gothic compared to all the modern buildings outside of the Cathedral. Then inside, we see a very grand hall that serves as the choir of the church. The visitors were forbidden from entering the hall as it is a sacred place that only the priest and bishops are allowed to use it. We were then guided to the lower level of the church. There was a stand that marked the location of the assassination of Thomas Becket took place. After a good amount of thirty minutes inside the church, which was hot like hell, ironic since this was inside the Cathedral (apparently the AC was not functioning because of the renovation that were going on in the Cathedral) we were guided outside to the cloister of the Cathedral for resting and it made sense to me because the serenity of the cloister and the soft breeze around the cloister put the body and mind at ease.

Because this is a study tour, there had to be some kind of studying activities in the part of the program which there were. We visited and partake in a small local elementary school where we share experiences in the class about our English knowledge. It was pretty interesting talking to other people of different nationalities just because of the cultural differences. After the class, we went to University of Canterbury where we took a small tour inside the building. The University also prepared us with their presentation on what they were offering on this university.

But I think the most interesting part of tour around the city on this part of the tour that we were visiting a club. Yup, tour of a night club on a study tour program. Surprisingly, our teachers weren’t mad at all. I think it’s fine to have the kids who took the study program to having fun. Besides, the bar only serving regular water, not alcohol beverages. I was told by Chancellor, our counselor, that this place was the only place for this type of nightlife around Canterbury. That showed just how small this town is.

The second week of the study tour was tour around London and Cambridge, a sort of break on Cambridge because of the universities tour and definitely a break on London. The students just shopped for things while I only bought CDs and a Monster Energy drink because carrying about £200 on a trip aboard wasn’t gonna cut it on London while everybody else brought roughly £1000 on the trip. The trip was very straightforward.

In the end, I learned the history surrounding the magnificent architecture that is Canterbury Cathedral and we, the Indonesians, were the most liked group of all the nationalities that took this study tour (that was pretty neat). The only complaint about this tour that a big portion of members in the group were very vain, and materialistic. The first thing they said when arriving to London, A certain junior high students asking the counselor are there any clothing retailers in the area. Not my type of person at all.

I arrived back again in Indonesia a typical angsty teenager, but with a glimmer of hope looking into the future. I interacted with people that at my teenager years are very radical to my views and I am very grateful of it.

Photo by: Tom Nailor

My Tales on Canterbury (Final Version).docx