Me and My Europe Trip part 1 (Innsbruck, Venice, Zurich)
Living overseas might be everyone’s dream. People read and hear from many sources and end up knowing that “travelling can help you grow”, “you have to live outside your comfort zones”, “new places offer new opportunities” and other advantages of living outside your home country. I know that I am not an expert traveller nor a person who has travelled to hundreds of countries. No, I am not. I am just a student. But let me say this to you: yes, it is true that travelling can make you grow and open your eyes.
I am an Indonesian who has been living in Sydney for two years for my study. I take a Business Information System major in one of the prestigious universities in Australia. In my fifth semester, I decided to go for a student exchange program and I chose Munich, Germany. A lot of people asked me why I had to do this as I have settled down in Sydney. I have many beloved friends there already. I do not need anything more in Sydney. All is enough. Well, while I am writing this post in my little apartment in Munich, I still don’t have an answer for that. I am now alone, do not know many Indonesians like I do in Sydney, far away from my family in Jakarta and it is even worse with the time differences. I don’t communicate with my parents via skype as often as before. I am kind of person that gets homesick so easily and thus, everything here is somehow a real challenge for me. I cannot cook. I used to live in a homestay while in Sydney where meals were always prepared. I never missed a day without being a person who did not talk to others at all as I could still have my houseparents to talk with. It is just so different now, really different.
If I was immature, I think I could’ve called my parents telling them I gave up and managed all the unimaginable complicated administration processes that I had to go through when I terminated my student exchange program. But, thank you God, You strengthen me. On the first few days after my sister left, I started my solo adventure in Munich. I couldn’t help it sometimes so I cried because the loneliness, silence and boredom could really be felt. I never stop praying to God every night. I talk to Him and say this in my prayer:
“God, I think I’ve started to get used to live with this silent atmosphere. I am okay, God. I really am. Please don’t get me wrong, I do feel grateful for every single breath that I have here. I am happy to be able to have this opportunity to live here. I am good, God. I think I can bear with these all. One thing that I hope from You; please let the day pass quickly. Let the time tick fast so everything will be quick until it comes the time when I have to go back to Sydney.”
It’s been 20 years that I always celebrate Christmas, New Year, Chinese New Year and even my birthday in Jakarta with my beloved family and friends. Those events are always within my summer holiday in Sydney so it’s always a time for me to spend holiday in Jakarta. Germany does not have long break for the end of the year. It is impossible for me to go back to Indonesia with just having two-week off. Of course, it is the flight duration and the cost which are the problems.
There could be thousands things that I could complain if I do not stop. But, again, thank you God, I am smart enough to open my eyes and see the other things. I move my eyes from those negativities to positivities and opportunities that I have here.
As an ordinary Asian person, I feel SMALL to live in a Europe country. I’ve just lived here for a month but I do have already realised that there are so many things to discover in this life. It is an honour to be able to see and feel what some others in my age, from my country, might not be able to experience. Every little and simple thing here can strike me and make me almost drop my jaw. Wow. Europe is indeed a very beautiful destination and a great place to explore life.
The culture, the building, the exterior and interior design, the language, the people, the food, the tradition, the government, the history, the sightseeing spots, the atmosphere, the family, and everything. They are so different and unique. People always say to me: go and travel to many countries while you are in Europe. However, my parents do not allow their not-so-small daughter to travel by herself, no matter what. It actually makes sense and is understandable but…it is just sad. I can only travel if and only if with my sister who is currently taking her master in Finance in Nottingham, UK. Well, two-hour flight UK-Munich seems reasonable to make her visit me so I can travel.
After a week in Munich, I went with my sister to Innsbruck (Austria), Venice (Italy), Zurich (Switzerland) for a week and it was one of the greatest moment in my life.
Innsbruck, Austria; the city of Swarovski.
There is one unforgettable funny experience from this city. As a newbie living in European cities, I had not got used to know that every shop (like all shops, supermarkets, minimarts, restaurants and even McDs!) was closed at 5pm and they do not open at weekends. So, on our first day in Innsbruck, we were having too much fun finding sightseeing spots and did forget the time. Neither me nor my sister checked what time was it. We just walked and followed the map until suddenly we realised that the city became so quiet, like seriously. We barely saw people on the streets. It was truly like a zombie town. Until we passed by in front of an office and there was a board with “Öffnungszeiten” (operation time) and voila, we knew now why.
Venice, Italy; tourists, love and dreams coming true.
I remembered back then, years ago, I could only see pictures of Venice from magazines. I looked at them and deeply asked myself “when could I be there? Someday.” Venice does not change and is not different at all from what I saw and see on those magazines or internet. It is so pretty. I kept saying to myself every step I had in this city: another dream just came true. Venice is always crowded, full of tourists. My parents had always told us to be aware of thieves and pickpockets in Italy. They were worried and we did understand why. This’ our first Europe trip, and without parents. Moreover, amongst the other cities on our trip, we spent most of the time in Venice.
When people talk about Venice, of course, they will also talk about gondolas. I barely took a chance to ride a gondola as it was so pricey. The standard price for the entire Venice is 80 Euro per ride. I found it was too expensive as I was only with my sister, just the two of us. Considering 40 Euro for a gondola ride? I definitely could get new eyeshadow palettes with that money, I thought. But then a gondola guy approached us and he talked to us to offer a ride. I told him “not now, maybe tomorrow.” With his English-Italian accent, he said “why tomorrow, ladies? Tomorrow would be raining, the weather is not good tomorrow.” I looked at my sister and she just said everything was up to me. “It’s too expensive for a ride,” I complained with a small smile. He, then, ensured that the views we’d see from the ride would not be disappointing. I still doubted. Then, he gave me a 10 Euro discount. (That was just like a bargaining theory!) It was actually still expensive for me but then, since he had reduced the standard price and I was already in Venice, why not? It could be my one and only chance to ride a gondola with my sister, just the two of us. Next time? I might ride it with my future husband and my sister with hers. Oh, come on, no one knows. And at the night, guess what? There was a thunder storm. The weather was really bad on the following day. That gondola guy, he’s good to use weather as an excuse to get customers.
Zurich, Switzerland; a contemporary, old, luxurious city.
It was a fault to visit this city as the very last destination of our trip. I just needed to take a tram for less than 2 minutes from our hotel to the heart of the city and along the street all you could see were boutiques like Hermès, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Bottega Veneta, Dior, Michael Kors, IWC and many more. Of course there are also Zara, H&M and other similar shops. This city was pretty expensive compared to the other two cities. I didn’t know whether it was because we were already tired to explore or it was indeed the city that does not have many to offer. This might be my least favourite city amongst all but my sister surely loves Zurich. However, hands down, this city is just as beautiful as Innsbruck.
So, I have visited Innsbruck, Venice and Zurich. Now, which is my most favourite one? I am not gonna lie. This is my favourite city amongst all:
Munich, Germany; the perfectionist, peacefully lonely lovely city.
This is where I can find the most calm version of myself. I don’t know. I can’t express it with exact words. It is just like a feeling of ‘I belong here’, somehow. Maybe, it is because I’m familiar with the language. But, wait, Austria and Switzerland also speak in German although with different accents. See. I cannot find the reason why. But, surely, there is something, like the ‘X-factor’, between me and Germany.
As what I have written at the very beginning: I wish I could be back in Sydney quickly. Everyday and every time I look at the calendar, there are always two thoughts in my mind:
- Come on. February please comes quick. I want Sydney.
- Couples of months more before I leave Munich. Am I able to go back to this city again later?
I do not hate living in Munich. I just feel lonely sometimes living overseas alone. But, what could I do? All I must do is just to live with it. I believe Germany has plenty of things that I have to learn from. It will make me grow and open my eyes even wider. All of my friends that I met here are all Italian but they do have different characteristics. This could be another thing that I should see in this life; people are unique, not everyone could suit me and of course, I should not fit myself for them. Again, all I need to do is just to live with it.
I am supposed to find the real me. I am supposed to change my bad habits. I am supposed to gain knowledge, 80% about life and 20% about academics. I am supposed to explore other cities in Europe. I am supposed to obtain experiences as many as possible. I am supposed to explore myself through my me-times. And of course, I am supposed to have a more intimate relationship with my God as He is the only One whom I can depend on 24/7. Too many things I am supposed to do. I have no spare rooms for others to interrupt me with all negativities. Do you wanna walk with me? Yes? Let’s go together. No? Okay, bye. I just wish I can be a person with better visions about life, people and diversity after I finish my semester in Munich.
After writing this post, a thought comes to my mind. Maybe every international student experiences homesickness, loneliness, boredom and misses their family or beloved ones. These stuffs are undeniable. Each of us will always have it. Nevertheless, it is a choice for us whether or not we want to make this adventure fun and precious by letting it go and dealing with it.
I came to this website to write and spill my mellow thoughts out but this story, somehow, ends up to be an enlightenment for me.
Munich, 13 October 2014