M. Aziz Putra Akbar (INA AFS to Italy YP 16–17)

I tucked my two palms into my coat pocket. I covered my body with a sweater inside the coat, a T-shirt inside the sweater and a tank-top inside the T-shirt. Not to forget, a fine black scarf around my neck. Yups, this is my first winter!

A low temperature, humidity above 90%, strong wind gusts, and hail droplets were able to add my love of a soft warm bed equipped with double blankets. However, today I had to go to the airport by train. Unfortunately (again), the train has not arrived from the previous station, therefore I had to wait on the platform for several more minutes without heater. I was going to use my phone to call someone, but flashed an idea to look back on some images that were stored neatly in my phone gallery.

It’s been five months already I’m standing in a foreign land. It means that I’ve spent half of the program and I will have the remaining half again before I go back to Indonesia. Last December, I got a chance to feel the Christmas celebration with my host family. My host family did not go to the church, however they celebrated the Christmas Eve at home with all of the family members. They cooked several delicious meal such as roasted lamb, grilled seafoods, and many more. We had dinner altogether, chit-chatting while waiting for the next day. Exactly at midnight, we shook each other’s’ hands, giving a peck on the cheek and say: “Merry Christmas”. Not to forget, the most awaited moment is to open the gifts that have been prepared under the Christmas tree.

The Christmas Day marks the start of the school holidays. I was released from my obligation to go to school for almost 2 weeks. This is used by my host family to take me to visit some landmarks on this island, one of which is Nuraghe. Nuraghe is a building composed of large stones and they were exist since hundreds of years ago. I had the opportunity to visit one of the nuraghe at Barumini City. From this place, I can see a magnificent panorama. During my lifetime, I often see the endless blue sea, however this is the first time I saw an endless green-hilly-terrain. Beautiful and charming! Bellissima!

Unfortunately, I had to go back to school. Last October, I had a presentation about Indonesian cultures at the request of my English teacher. Well, then, one afternoon I met a religion teacher. She said that there are 3 teachers of religious studies and currently they are planning to do a small project of interfaith discussion. So, they asked me if I could carry out a presentation about my religion, Islam. Of course, it will be an honor to do that. No half-hearted, I will do a marathon presentation of as much as 9 times in about 2 weeks.

It turns out that preparing a presentation is not that easy. I realized that I am not a perfect Muslim, certainly not infallible. I had to rack my brain to look for things that could easily understood by them. Many common questions such as: Are the 5 times prayers obligatory? How do you do it? What are the consequences of not doing so? There are also some questions such as: Do women use the veils when they sleep? What sport that Muslims cannot do? What type of clothes does Muslim men use?

There are some questions that I think are funny, but those questions came out because they didn’t know about it, and so this is my job to introduce a little bit about Islam. However, of all these questions, most is: “What do Islam think about other religions? And in Indonesia, there are many religions, how do you live everyday?”.

Well, so far, I always proud of the moderate Islam in Indonesia, where Islam and other religions can live peacefully in Indonesia. Although, I did not close my eyes, I know that lately there were some ‘sparks’ or small conflicts related to the religious issues. However, as someone who currently is ‘out of home’ can only pray that Indonesia and Islam can live exist without problems.

Once again, certainly 5 months in a foreign land is not always skipped with joy. There are times when problems arise. If in November I wrote that there were some language barriers, I am grateful that the barrier has been slightly reduced. However, other constraints is when I feel somehow ‘bored’ to the work that I do everyday. For example, going to school, going back home, eat, doing some activities, and so on.

These things were not only experienced by me. Through the group chat among exchange students, the majority of us feel the same way, at least during this period of time. Until finally there was one friend who said: “If you start to feel bored, it means that you have arrived at ‘home’”.

I learnt from that message. I am now learning to enjoy every second that appears. I certainly have ambitions and plans of what to do in the future, but I’m trying to keep that ambition so that it does not dominate my thoughts. It’s hard to get things done for today if we our eyes seeks for tomorrow.

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My phone suddenly vibrated, someone was calling me. Unfortunately, I could not answer that phone call. The train I waited for so long almost arrived.

Today, I’m going to the Cagliari Elmas Airport from Marrubiu Station. From the airport, I’m going to fly to Venice, the city of love. I will meet 5 other Indonesian friends and will attend the Carnival of Venezia.

Want to know more about our story of our trip in Venezia? Continue reading it at: www.lahakukudupiye.blogspot.com (Indonesian version only).