AdventureNotes #11: Verona

Padlocks? Really? Padlocks are quite popular in many tourist attractions nowadays, right? Well, this one is different because the picture was taken in the Juliet House, Verona.

Verona is a city famous because of its Romeo and Juliet setting. Well, despite its fictional nature, people still come here to see what’s life in Romeo and Juliet story. What’s in it? Hmmm… let’s see…

Despite of its rather confusing attractions, the made-up attractions to match up the setting in Romeo and Juliet story, Verona is a quite nice place to visit. Actually, I decided to visit this city by accident. I originally wanted to go to Florence or Venice, but the train ticket for both places were costly at that moment – I traveled during the Easter break, anyway. Then, my friend suggested to go to Verona instead.

We can take a train from Milan to Verona. The journey is around 2.5 hours. As I arrived in the train station in Verona, I took a bus to the city center. Unfortunately, I took the correct bus, but to the wrong direction! Haha My trip to Italy was full of this kind of experience. As my friend and I realized that we went on the wrong direction, we hoped off the bus and caught the correct one. Thankfully, I got to the city center. Oh, a little tips for you traveling to Italy, almost all transportation offer day ticket so it might be a good bargain. Anyway, the problem was that it was pouring rain that day! Such not a good day to travel.

Despite the weather, my friend and I decided to still explore the city. It’s Europe, people! When can we expect to not be surprised by the weather anyway? So, we walked pass this building, similar to but smaller than Colloseum. I figure that this kind of building was popular in Italy back on those days. The building is called Arena di Verona.

Under the pouring rain, we walked along the small streets of Verona. We passed this very crowded place, Cassa di Giuletta – Juliet’s House. Well, the story of Romeo and Juliet is fictional and so is the house. I think people just made it up for the tourists. There is also Romeo’s House but I think it is located quite far from the city center. Interestingly, there are loads of people who are even willing to pay to go inside the house. Well, I didn’t. The ticket is too pricey.

I just saw the house from its garden where there are many “love” padlocks attached to the wall. What’s so gross is that there are also some bubble gums attached there. Euwh.

After taking some pictures, we decided to go to Piazza delle Erbe. The piazza is located in the middle of the city. At that time, there was an outdoor market held. We bought calzones for our lunch and they were delicious!

Another interesting tourist attraction worth to enter in Verona is Castelvecchio. Basically, it was a castle, which now is used as a museum. Again, entering the museum is quite expensive so we explored the castle from the outside. The scenery from the top of the castle’s wall is beautiful.

As we walked back to the train station, we passed some churches. It is typical Italy that churches are everywhere and are considered to be tourist attractions. Some churches worth to visit are Basilica di San Lorenzo and Verona Cathedral.

To conclude, Verona may be an alternative city to visit while traveling to Italy. It is small, so day trip should be enough to explore the city. It may be useful to read Romeo and Juliet before visiting this city so that we can absorb the spirit of this city.

Juliets, find your Romeo here!

Jan 15, 2016

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Cara Cepat Belajar Bahasa Inggris

Seringkali saya mendapatkan pertanyaan mengenai cara cepat untuk bisa berbahasa Inggris dengan lancar. Sebenarnya, tulisan ini terinspirasi dari sebuah pertanyaan yang baru-baru ini saya dapatkan: Bagaimana cara menghafal dan mendapatkan banyak kosa kata dengan cepat?

Jujur, saya bingung. Maklum saja, saya merasa tidak sadar belajar bahasa Inggris. Saya merasa, bisa saja dengan sendirinya. Ditanya pertanyaan seperti itu membuat saya berpikir. Baca kamus? Ya, saya pernah melakukannya. Mungking saking tidak ada kerjaan, waktu SMP saya pernah membaca kamus setiap hari. Bodoh sih sebenarnya karena membaca kata dan arti tanpa menempatkannya pada suatu konteks justru menimbulkan kebingungan. Lalu jawaban saya berikutnya adalah membiasakan diri dengan berbagai materi berbahasa Inggris, seperti buku, koran, program di TV, dan radio. Berbagai media tersebut memang bisa digunakan untuk membantu belajar bahasa Inggris. Lagi-lagi, hingga sekarang saya melakukannya. Bahkan ekstrimnya, dulu saya benar-benar tidak mau menonton film berbahasa Inggris dengan terjemahan. Selalu saya matikan sehingga saya ‘dipaksa’ untuk mengerti apa yang dibicarakan orang-orang di film itu. Tidak puas dengan jawaban tersebut, ada lagi cara lain yaitu dengan menghafalkan kosa kata secara tematik. Ini yang paling mudah karena struktur pengetahuan kita, kalau menurut Piaget, seperti peta yang menghubungkan suatu konsep dengan konsep lain. Saya langsung teringat kamus bahasa Inggris pertama saya yang memang bentuknya tematik. Saya teringat juga guru bahasa Jerman saya pernah memaksa seluruh muridnya untuk me-label barang-barang di sekitar kami dengan kosa kata bahasa Jerman sehingga kami selalu ingat – ini berlaku ketika belajar tentang barang-barang sehari-hari, ya.

Dari seluruh tips di atas, sepertinya satu benang merah bisa ditarik. Belajar bahasa membutuhkan latihan karena bahasa bukan hanya pengetahuan, tetapi juga keterampilan. Keterampilan bahasa, menurut Kamus Besar Bahasa Indonesia, berarti “ kecakapan seseorang untuk memakai bahasa dalam menulis, membaca, menyimak, atau berbicara”. Kata kerja di dalam definisi tersebut adalah ‘memakai’. Jadi, bagaimana cara belajar bahasa Inggris? Ya dipakai! As simple as that! Masalahnya…. banyak masalahnya. Tidak tahu mau menggunakan dimana, malu belum lancar, tidak tahu kosa kata yang tepat, dan lain-lain. Sayangnya, alasan tersebut tidak akan berlaku kalau dipaksa, kan? Mau tidak mau, suka tidak suka.

Bicara mengenai paksa memaksa, saya ingin berbagi pengalaman saya yang dipaksa belajar bahasa Inggris. Tidak dari SMP, tidak dari SMA, saya dipaksa berbahasa Inggris sejak sebelum masuk TK. Mungkin ada yang lalu berkomentar, kejam ya orang tua saya? Dulu, saat malas-malasnya belajar bahasa Inggris, tentu saya menganggap orang tua saya kejam. Sekarang? Saya merasakan sekali besar manfaat dari keterpaksaan saya berbahasa Inggris itu. Sekarang, kalau mendapat pertanyaan “Jadi, Za, berapa lama kamu belajar bahasa Inggris?”, jawaban saya adalah “My whole lifetime”.

Sejarah belajar bahasa Inggris saya dimulai ketika orang tua saya menggabungkan saya dengan sebuah kelompok kecil anak-anak seusia saya, sekitar 3-4 tahun, yang bersama-sama bermain sambil belajar. Saat itu, guru bahasa Inggris saya ‘bule’ tulen yang berasal dari Australia. Kami akan datang di sore hari setiap seminggu sekali ke rumahnya. Saya ingat, Beth namanya. Disana, kami melakukan banyak kegiatan, seperti mewarnai, menggambar, dan mainan-mainan anak kecil lainnya. Lalu bahasa Inggris-nya dimana? Anak sekecil kami, yang bahasa Indonesia pun masih minim sekali, lalu harus mengerti dan berkomunikasi dengan Beth yang bahasa Inggrisnya pun Australian sekali. Tentu saja saat itu saya…. tidak mengerti sama sekali! Walaupun tidak mengerti dan sulit berkomunikasi, saya ingat bahwa saya suka sekali datang ke rumah Beth. Berhasil kah saya berbahasa Inggris? Oh, tentu tidak! Sedih ya? Hehe.. Tapi, waktu itu manalah saya mengerti tentang malu kalau tidak bisa karena anak kecil memang banyak tidak bisanya. Saya ambil saya positif-nya, senang-senangnya. Orang tua saya pun tidak pernah memaksa saya untuk menggunakan bahasa Inggris (pada saat itu).

Masuk SD, saya pun beralih ke lembaga kursus bahasa Inggris yang lebih ‘proper’ dengan guru-gurunative speaker, atau ‘bule’ asli. Dengan kemampuan yang sedikit lebih karena sudah terbiasa mendengar kata-kata berbahasa Inggris, masuklah saya ke level 2 untuk anak-anak. Hingga awal kelas 6 SD, saya tidak pernah berhenti kursus bahasa Inggris. Saya berhenti ketika kelasnya sudah habis alias mentok. Saya sudah masuk di kelas anak-anak, hingga remaja, hingga kelas dewasa – ya, di usia saya yang masih SD saat itu. Pintar dong, saya? Hahaha lagi-lagi jawabannya tentu tidak. Beberapa kali ujian bahasa Inggris saya mendapat nilai ‘Poor’. Tidak mengerti struktur bahasa atau yang biasa dikenal sebagai ‘grammar’, itulah masalah saya. Membaca,  mendengar, dan berbicara, semua saya bisa. Mengisi pilihan ‘grammar’? 0 lah nilai saya. Memalukan juga kalau diingat-ingat.

Tidak hanya di tempat kursus, saya pun harus berbahasa Inggris di rumah. Ya, setidaknya pada saat makan malam. Saya ingat, orang tua saya memberlakukan aturan bahwa kami semua hanya boleh berbahasa Inggris saat makan malam. Mau tidak mau, ini harus kami lakukan. Dengan bahasa Inggris yang minim, tidak apa-apa! Yang penting mencoba. Pembiasaan ini, saya rasakan sekali manfaatnya saat ini. Jangan pernah menyepelekan kondisi apapun karena kita bisa berlatih bahasa Inggris dimanapun dan dengan cara apapun. Selain itu, saya juga mulai membaca buku berbahasa Inggris pada saat SD. Buku berbahasa Inggris pertama yang saya baca adalah Harry Potter. Ngerti, Za? Not at first. Saya berhenti di bab pertama dan beralih ke buku bahasa Indonesianya. Setelah itu, saya coba baca lagi buku yang berbahasa Inggris sampai selesai.

Selain orang tua saya, saya ingat dulu sekali waktu saya belum masuk sekolah, saya sering diajak oleh nenek saya pada saat ia kursus bahasa Inggris bersama ibu-ibu Dharmawanita. Saya sih tidak ingat apa yang dibicarakan dan dipelajari saat itu karena saya masih terlalu kecil. Tapi saya ingat, ketika saya mulai mengerti bahasa Inggris, nenek saya sering menggunakan bahasa tersebut untuk berbicara dengan saya mengenai hal-hal yang ‘rahasia’. Maksudnya, hal-hal yang tidak boleh diketahui adik-adik sepupu saya. Dulu saya sering menginap di rumah nenek saya bersama dengan adik dan adik-adik sepupu saya. Saat ingin berbicara mengenai hal yang ‘rahasia’, nenek saya menggunakan bahasa Inggris. Senang rasanya saat itu karena dianggap dewasa oleh nenek saya. Haha.

Intinya, selama bersekolah hingga SMA, saya tidak pernah diperbolehkan berhenti kursus bahasa Inggris. Orang tua saya tidak terlalu peduli dengan hasil ujian bahasa Inggris saya atau berapa kali saya absen kelas bahasa Inggris. Mereka hanya ingin saya kursus agar terus-menerus melatih kemampuan saya berbahasa Inggris. Lucunya, saat SMP saya baru menyadari bahwa nilai bahasa Inggris saya di sekolah cukup bagus, tetapi saya tidak pernah bisa menjelaskan mengapa saya memilih jawaban tertentu untuk pertanyaan tertentu. Saya tidak tahu alasan saya memilih jawaban yang benar. Saya selalu bilang, “Pakai perasaan saja”. Tentunya, semakin lama saya tidak bisa selalu mengandalkan perasaan karena banyak bahasa Inggris yang saya gunakan merupakan bahasa tidak formal. Di SMA, saya ingat sekali saat satu kelas saya diharuskan menulis 12 jenis tenses dalam bahasa Inggris beserta dengan contohnya. Saat itu lah saya baru mengerti mengenai logika struktur dalam bahasa Inggris. Bahasa Inggris menjadi semakin mudah dimengerti, sekarang tidak hanya dalam hal membaca, mendengarkan, dan berbicara, tetapi juga dalam hal struktur bahasa.

Di perkuliahan, sebagian besar buku yang digunakan berbahasa Inggris. Hal ini membantu saya untuk selalu berlatih menggunakan bahasa Inggris. Selain itu, saya juga mulai menerapkan kemampuan bahasa Inggris saya dalam mengajar. Saya mengajar bahasa Inggris untuk siswa SD, SMP, SMA, kuliah. Niat saya hanya satu, membantu. Tidak berarti saya lebih pintar dari orang-orang yang saya ajar, saya mungkin lebih banyak berlatih. Hingga saat ini, saya masih menggunakan bahasa Inggris dalam kehidupan saya sehari-hari. Bahkan, kalau diingat-ingat lagi, saya mendapatkan semua pekerjaan saya karena keterampilan saya berbahasa Inggris. Lucu, ya? Tidak pernah kuliah jurusan sastra Inggris atauTeaching English as Foreign  Language tapi kok jadi guru bahasa Inggris?

Lalu, bagaimana cara cepat berbahasa Inggris? Tidak ada. Keterampilan bahasa membutuhkan latihan. Menjadi lancar menguasai bahasa tertentu membutuhkan waktu, banyak untuk beberapa orang dan sedikit untuk orang-orang lain. Saya tidak belajar bahasa secara instan. Saya belajar dengan perjuangan. Selamat berlatih berbahasa Inggris!

*Tulisan ini dibuat hanya untuk berbagi pengalaman dan tidak menunjukkan bahwa bahasa Inggris lebih penting dari bahasa lain, ya. Saya masih berbahasa Indonesia dan masih belajar bahasa-bahasa lainnya juga. 🙂

Jan 12, 2016

AdventureNotes #10: Special Edition, Family Euro Trip

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Despite the picture, no, I’m not going to write about my own family trip to Europe. Instead, this article is dedicated to ‘emak-emak rempong’ in Birmingham. It’ll consist of tips and other things to consider in preparing for travel and in traveling in Europe (well, most of the countries in Europe, anyway).

Maybe for most Indonesian, traveling to Europe is a dream. Having read many encyclopedias about European countries, seeing pictures of European typical scenery, and listening to other people’s story of their experience traveling to Europe made me promise myself that someday I will go to that continent. Maybe this is also the case of many people. Besides, the dream to explore the world is always tempting, right?

The world is getting narrower and narrower. The access to move around and to visit the far-away places has been opened. And now, as I live in the UK, I automatically think that it is such a good opportunity to explore Europe! Such an opportunist, I am indeed. However, it is a logical choice as the cost to travel European countries from the UK will be much cheaper than from Indonesia.

Based on conversations with other people who had traveled to Europe (cc: Mbak Magda & Mbak Ari) and my own experience, there are some points to consider in planning the trip and in traveling, especially when you are going with your family. It is going to be different from my usual tips in other AdventureNotes articles because traveling with family is definitely a different kind of challenge.

1. Transportation

The first step to plan your family travel is to find budget-friendly flight or train tickets. Other European countries are easily accessible by flights or train from London to Paris. We can search for the cheapest plan and train tickets using the ‘holy’ technology. I would recommend http://www.skyscanner.net/ as the website offers the comparison of plane tickets throughout the year so that we can really see the cheapest date to travel. Another way to get to European countries is by train. The fast train tickets from London to Paris can be found here: http://www.eurostar.com/uk-en. There is actually another way to travel, which is by ferry. Not too many people know this, but the port in Brighton and Hull offer ferry rides that connect those two cities to some cities in France, Netherlands, and Belgium. It can also be an option to consider. Plan your trip ahead to get the best bargain!

2. Accommodation

As I would suggest hostels for solo travelers, my friends who traveled with their family suggest AirBnB as the best accommodation option when traveling with family. The website, https://www.airbnb.co.uk/, enables you to search suitable accommodation for your family. The process of renting an accommodation from AirBnB is pretty simple, actually. Just search for the accommodations, compare the available options, and book the chosen one! There are just some things we might need to consider as we are actually renting a place owned by a person. It is recommended to check the guest reviews and contact the owner beforehand to see the owner’s flexibility – for instance when we are going to arrive late at night and such.

3. Car Rent

As most countries in Europe are located closely to each other, many modes of public transportation are available to help us move from one country to another. There are buses and trains connecting one country to another. As they are easily available, they can be considered as an option for your trip. However, traveling with family sometimes requires high level of flexibility, which does not go hand in hand with public transportation. Renting a car may be the best deal for families traveling to Europe. Some people are worried because they don’t have an international driving licence, but actually Indonesian driving licence is widely accepted here. Renting a car is also a simple process as you just need to book the car online and pick it up in your chosen place. The most convenient place to pick up the car is in the airport so that you don’t have to think about how to get into the city from the airport. Choosing the car that you want to rent is also a crucial step because you have to match the car with your needs. The chosen car should meet the number of seats needed, its GPS readiness, and whether it is in manual or automatic mode. Again, your preference will affect the cost.

4. Food

This is an inevitable expense during traveling. And sometimes, it cost a lot, probably a huge percentage of the total traveling cost. To reduce this expense, people who travel with families can consider to cook their meals throughout the journey. As AirBnB accommodation usually provide kitchen, it is quite an easy thing to do. Local shops and amenities will provide quite good range of groceries and food supplies. Easy peazy! For Indonesians, bringing ready-made food is also a good option.

5. Inner City Transportation

As in some European countries parking spot is a difficult thing to find, it may be a good choice to park your car outside the city and commute using the inner-city public transportation in order to explore the city. For some cities with bad traffic, such as Rome, it is also a very good option. You can usually buy inner-city public transportation tickets easily. Some cities offer family tickets, some others offer day tickets. It is an advantage to know these things beforehand to avoid unnecessary cost. A thing to consider in mind for families with children under 5 who may still be in stroller, it is better to commute by bus than metro or tube because bus is easily accessible whereas metro or tube requires you to go underground, sometimes without adequate facilities.

6. Attraction Tickets

For some families, strolling down the streets of beautiful cities or enjoying the scenery is enough. For some others, going into a tourist attraction is a must. Most tourist attractions offer group or family tickets. Ask for this when you are purchasing your ticket. Sometimes there are also city pass, which enables your family to enter several attractions with only one ticket. Sometimes, there are also 2for1 tickets or other promotions offered by companies or the attraction itself. Do search and take advantage of those promotional tickets!

With those points explained, there is no one-fit-for-all explanation. Each family should consider different aspects before deciding on the travel itinerary. There are three crucial factors need to be taken into account when planning your Euro Trip:

1. Time

Consider when you are going to travel. Is it a long school holiday? Is it winter? Is it summer? The time you are traveling is important because it will affect how you choose your outfit, whether it is easy to drive a car (it can be very slippery when the road is frosty), and if the day is going to be longer or shorter. It will also affect whether you enjoy the atmosphere or not – traveling during summer school holiday can be uncomfortable if you don’t like crowds.

How long you are going to travel is also a factor to be considered. Is it worth it to rent a car if you only travel for 5 days? How many cities do you want to visit? It is mostly important to determine your destination cities. Most Indonesian tours aim to visit as many cities as possible. Is that what you want? Or do you want to absorb a city’s spirit so that it’ll take you some times in one city?

2. Budget

I think this is the core of all travel plannings. How much do you want to spend for a trip? If it is okay for you to spend millions, probably you’d choose a nice hotel in the center of a city instead of AirBnB. I would suggest to budget every single detail of your trip. For example, I budget the food cost for each day to be GBP 20 or the cost of attraction tickets to be GBP 100 for the whole trip.

3. Condition

Traveling is an exhausting activity. Yes, despite the fact that it is fun and enjoyable and blablabla, it is exhausting! Therefore, you need to consider you and your family’s physical ability. It is especially important when you are traveling with very small children. You won’t want half of your trip cancelled because you are too tired, won’t you? Measure your pace and plan your trip accordingly.

So, plan your next trip now! Don’t worry too much because you are the only one who knows what you want and what you are capable of. And as a wise man says, when there is a will, there is a way.

Jan 10, 2016

AdventureNotes #9: Como

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Como? Where is it? Coming from an Asian country, I’m not familiar with the non mainstream tourist attractions in Europe. Como is one of them. It is actually a small city located near Lake Como, where it got its name, in Italy. The city borders the country and Switzerland.

Why did I go to Como? I actually went there to visit a friend. I needed a place to star near Milan, too. My friend was a student there and she lived in a student accommodation, just enough for two people to sleep. Her accommodation was not too far from the city center.

To get to Como, people can use trains. There are many trains passing this city. As it is a quite ‘famous’ place for people to come to spend their day off, it is not too difficult to get there. I think it is around an hour train ride from Milan.

Como is such a small city, anyway. The city is beautiful with its lakeside scenery. There are lots of hotels and cafes because people come to enjoy the city. Like other Italian cities, there is also a famous Gelato shop there. Despite the cold weather, I bought and ate Gelato when I was there.

There are not too many tourist attractions in Como, but people can certainly enjoy Lake Como by hiring a boat. Besides that, the hilly contour of the city makes people able to hike to the hill to enjoy the scenery. I think a memorial of Volta was built up there because of his relation to the city.

I quite like the atmosphere there because it was not too crowded and it has its own charm with its little shops, outdoor market, and gardens.  I think it is an appropriate place when someone seeks serenity.

I will be happily recommend this place if you need sanctuary for your holiday. It is also close to Milan, and considering the condition, maybe this city is a better place to stay.

Jan 08, 2016

AdventureNotes #8: Lost in Rome

This article is way long overdue. So sorry! but since I’m an active traveler again now, it seems that I have to continue this AdventureNotes series.

Anyway, for this session, I’ll write about Rome! Who doesn’t know and doesn’t want to visit this city? It has its own unique charm and to be honest, you’d want to visit this city again and again, strolling at its small alleys. So, I’ve been in Rome twice now. The first one was when I did my solo Euro trip and the second was when I did a Euro tour with my family. This article will be based on the recollection of my memory from both trips.

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People coming to Rome by plane will most probably arrive in Leonardo Da Vinci Airport. I took a train from the airport to get to the city center, Roma Termini Station. The journey was short and pleasant. However, when I stepped my foot on Roma Termini, it was very crowded; lots of travelers, lots of beggars, lots of officers, and lots of sellers. I was shocked and therefore tried to find a quiet place to think. I needed to adapt before finding my way around.

I had a quite interesting experience in Rome because I was lost for a while! It was kind of funny actually because I tried to find my hotel at that time. The hotel was supposedly not too far from the station. I walked around and around, asked people but still couldn’t manage to find it. It was difficult to find it because there was not too many people who can speak English in that area. After a long 2-hours search, finally I could enter my room! The owner responded to my email and came get me. It turns out that there was no sign of the hotel and actually I walked pass that hotel several times without noticing.

The first time around, I tried to use the Hop On Hop Off (HOHO) bus to get around Rome. I purchased the ticket online for a 24 hour pass. During my time there, I found out that the HOHO bus was not that available. One time I had to wait for 30 minutes until the bus arrive. Additionally, the traffic in Rome was just not good. I thought that it might be faster to walk! Seriously.

I think the better option to get around Rome is by public transportation. Almost all of the attractions in Rome are reachable by many different means of public transportation, such as bus and metro. It was much quicker and cheaper. On my second visit to Rome, I bought a one-day travel card that I can use to get on all public transportation in Rome. It costed like a quarter of what I paid for the HOHO bus and I managed to see more Rome tourist attractions!

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From both visits to Rome, I managed to enter some places, such as Colloseum, Roman Forum, and St. Peter’s Basilica. I had to buy tickets for the Colloseum and Roman Forum, but the entrance was free for the St. Peter’s Basilica. Rome is such a popular tourist destination so that to enter the attractions, we would be most likely have to queue, sometimes for a long time. Therefore, actually during the online ticket purchase, there is an exact time allocation for us to visit. However, it seems that the system did not work because I could enter Colloseum and the Roman Forum one day later than the appointed schedule on my ticket. All attractions mentioned above were worth to visit, besides they are legendary!

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Besides those attractions, Rome is also famous for its outdoor attractions, such as Piazza and the Trevi Fountain. I went to Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona, Spanish Steps, and Piazza Venezia on both of my trips. I love the environment in those neighborhoods. Some of those places are quite close to each other so that I could just walk. It was really nice actually comparing to taking a bus or metro because I could explore the small and charming alleys near those places. I even passed the Pantheon on my way from the Trevi Fountain to Piazza Navona.

There are still many attractions in Rome that I haven’t visited. I wished I could visit the city again, longer the next time around. Surely one or two days are not enough to explore this city.

Now, for the tips of visiting Rome!

1. Be ready with your Google Maps to find your way around because not too many people can speak English.

2. Buy the daily or weekly travel tickets. The attractions are easily reachable by public transportation. It is safe, even if you travel alone.

3. Beware of the weather. Rome can get very hot during the summer. The weather gap between this city and other cities in Europe during spring is also noticeable. Get hydrated!

4. Stay alert, especially in crowded place because there are quite a lot of beggars and strangers who may try to steal. Moreover, the city is packed during the summer months, it can get super crowded.

5. Try the gelatto and icy drinks! They are good. Regarding the foods, for Muslims who have to eat halal food, there is this restaurant really near to the Roma Termini station that sells halal and very yummy and delicious foods.

6. Purchase your tickets online. Sometimes they offer discounted price tickets or Rome pass that could get you into many different attractions in cheaper cost.

Let’s go and travel to Rome!

Jan 01, 2016

Belajar Berumah Tangga dari Negeri Seberang

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First of all, pardon my language karena sudah lama sekali tidak menulis dalam bahasa Indonesia. Tulisan ini akan menggunakan bahasa yang lebih santai dan tidak formal, anggap saja seperti saya berbicara.

Anyway, sebenarnya hanya ingin sharing sih tenang rumah tangga. Walaupun saya adalah newbie di ranah ini, tapi boleh lah yaa sekedar curcol-curcol dan menyampaikan opini. Jadi, 3 bulan terakhir ini adalah periode terpanjang saya dan suami hidup bersama.

Walaupun sudah lebih dari 1 tahun menikah, kami awalnya hidup terpisah dan mengalami LDM – Long Distance Marriage. Well, setiap kondisi hidup memiliki ujiannya masing-masing, kan? We’ve succeeded going through that phase. Lalu kami harus berpindah ribuan kilometer jauhnya dari ‘rumah’ kami. A fresh start for us to build a new life. Disini, di tanah rantau di negeri orang ini, kami mulai benar-benar berumah tangga.

Beberapa tahun lalu, saya adalah pengamat. Saya tinggal di negara asing dan mengamati keluarga-keluarga Indonesia, yang boleh dibilang anti-mainstream. Kenapa? Karena kehidupan berumah tangga disini, walaupun dari sisi pengamat, memang berbeda dengan apa yang dianggap ‘normal’ di Indonesia. Yang jelas, hasil pengamatan saya saat itu membuat saya kagum. Di keluarga pelajar Indonesia, saya tidak melihat ada perilaku klise ‘ayah bekerja dan ibu memasak’. Yang ada, ‘ayah dan ibu bekerja dan keduanya juga memasak bersama’ dan karena salah satu atau salah dua dari ayah dan ibu adalah pelajar, maka mereka juga belajar. Sebagai contoh, sebuah keluarga yang cukup dekat dengan saya menunjukkan bagaimana pasangan suami istri dapat bekerja sama dengan baik. Sang suami setiap hari ke kampus untuk belajar, meninggalkan istrinya yang harus mengantar anak dan kemudian bekerja paruh waktu. Siangnya, si istri yang sudah selesai bekerja harus menjemput anak. Apabila si istri bekerja lebih lama, maka suami harus menggantikan tugas menjemput anak. Lalu sorenya si istri – dan suami kalau sudah ada di rumah – memasak bersama sambil mengobrol. Kemudian mungkin malamnya mereka harus membersihkan rumah atau memasak pesanan makanan. Melihat kondisi ini, saya kagum karena kerja sama antara suami dan istri ini seperti well-oiled machine. Keduanya bekerja, keduanya berusaha tanpa mengesampingkan kewajiban dasar sebagai suami dan istri.

Dari hanya berperan sebagai pengamat, sekarang saya mengalaminya sendiri. Saya dan suami hidup berdua di negara yang jauh. Now, we call this place home. Karena kami baru berdua saja, semua memang lebih mudah, tidak se-hectic gambaran diatas. Tapi tetap saja hidup disini berbeda dengan di Indonesia. Tidak ada ‘mbak’ atau ‘bibi’ yang membantu, tidak ada juga warteg yang meringankan beban memasak. Semua harus dikerjakan sendiri. Disini, suami saya banyak menghabiskan waktu untuk belajar di kampus dan berorganisasi (iya, suami saya aktivis – nggak bisa diam maksudnyaa). Saya? Saya banyak berkegiatan dengan ibu-ibu warga Indonesia yang bermukim disini sambil melakukan usaha kecil-kecilan yang menghasilkan tambahan uang jajan. Kondisi ini membuat saya dan suami harus pintar-pintar membagi waktu dan pekerjaan sehingga hidup kami lancar. Kadang-kadang suami harus rela jajan diluar ketika saya terlambat bangun dan tidak sempat menyiapkan bekal. Kadang-kadang juga saya harus bangun hingga larut malam menunggu suami pulang dari rapat organisasinya. Untungnya, kami memahami posisi masing-masing dan menghargai pasangan kami sebagai individu. Saya tidak harus diam di rumah menunggu suami saya pulang karena kata suami saya ‘Kalau kamu dirumah terus dan nggak bersosialisasi, kamu nggak akan jadi diri kamu sendiri dan nggak akan jadi diri kamu yang aku suka’. Beberapa kali saya membantu suami saya belajar dan kemarin, saat banyak pekerjaan menumpuk, suami saya menyuapi saya saat bekerja. Mungkin kami memang belum di tahap well-oiled machine, but we’re getting there.

Seringkali saya berdiskusi dengan suami. Mungkin kalau tidak tinggal disini, kami tidak akan seperti ini ya? Mungkin saya tidak akan belajar macam-macam resep masakan. Mungkin suami saya tidak akan pernah bisa memasak. Mungkin kami tidak akan berlatih tentang kerja sama. Kondisi saat ini tentu jauh dibandingkan dengan keinginan kami sebelum menikah. Suami saya ingin istri yang tinggal di rumah dan mengurus anak-anak. Kerja dan kegiatan lain diperbolehkan asal hanya menghabiskan sedikit saja waktu di luar rumah. Suami saya akan bekerja, pergi pagi pulang malam. Kenyataannyaa? Jauh ya dari mimpi kami.

Tapi dengan begini kami belajar bahwa idealisme akan kalah dengan realita. How to cope with the reality is what important. Kami belajar bahwa intinya dalam berumah tangga kami harus bekerja sama dan saling mendukung. Masih ada beberapa bulan lagi untuk melatih kebiasaan baik tersebut dan semoga sampai di Indonesia nanti kami masih akan terus menerapkannya!

Dec 09, 2015