Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Packing Fiesta

New post coming through~! Like I said on the previous post, this time I'm going to rant about packing.

The final announcement for MEXT Scholarship – Japanese Studies was on early August, while we are expected to arrive in Japan on late September. We have about two months to prepare, but I was in the middle of volunteer activity out of town at that time, so my time was cut back for about two weeks :(

So first of all, I bought a suitcase, a carry-on, and a backpack. It's just a coincidence that my old backpack was getting worn-out and it's time to buy a new one, though. I got an electric blue 24' suitcase, a brown carry-on handbag, and a grey-red backpack. It sounds like an easy process; go out, buy, take it back. But nooo actually the hunting process itself spent about a month /orz. I had to hunt in two cities, about five stores to finally get the best deal.

Other than bags, I also had to buy shirts, pants, skirts, socks... All because I recently decided to wear hijab. Sooo yeah cue a change of style. All in all I spent quite a lot... Which only convinces me to save up as much money as possible from my monthly allowance in Japan. /shrugs/

Anyway, I've made a video showing the contents of my bags! That's the first time I filmed anything, the first time editing a video, the first time uploading videos—so please excuse the low quality. I'm learning. 

video


There you can see my suitcase first. Of course there are clothes. I also brought skincare products, cables, hair straightener (!!!), a pouch of toiletries, a pouch of accessories (the black one), and shoes. To be frank, this is NOT the final version of my suitcase, because there are some stuffs I haven't stuffed in there, lol.

The second bag, the carry-on, contains essentials I need during the trip. A change of clothes, a change of hijab, and a towel. There are also little trinkets I prepared for souvenirs for new friends in Japan :) There is actually a puch of makeup too, but I forgot to put it inside.

Last but not least, the backpack. I brought pens, my wallet, a pack of small plastic bags (this is essential for me, because I get motion sickness easily!!), a box of business card, a raincoat (the yellow thingy on the second compartment), a universal adaptor, and a fan (because I'm classy like that). The paper there is my preparation for my final thesis in college! I'm bringing along my future to Japan, haha. In this bag, I will also include my passport and laptop and camera and chargers.

I don't bring books to Japan. Mainly because I don't even have any to help with my research (what kind of a student am I) and I don't want to fill my bags with useless weight... I can find books there, afterall. (Yes, most likely in Japanese. No, I haven't the experience of reading textbooks in Japanese yet, so I'm diving headfirst.)

Other stuffs I plan to bring are: necessary documents, instant foods, instant seasoning, tea, coffe, etc. The instant food will be my life in the first weeks, lol. So much for adapting, huh.

Well... I guess that's it? There isn't much I can talk about here, I guess. I'll see you again in the next experience :)

[UPDATE!!]
I repacked my luggages! I had to take out four clothes and other stuffs to make room for more essentials I haven't put in. The contents of each bag is more or less the same though, nothing major change.

 ---------------
Credit:
BGM: One Light - Kalafina
Tools used: Windows Live Movie Maker; Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX220 Digital Camera

Saturday, September 17, 2016

About MEXT Scholarship - Japanese Studies (1)


Heya heya. 'Tis me, after a looooong while gone. Huh? Where have I been?

Places.

That is to say, I've been chasing my motivation to write to places. (Insert awkward laugh here.)

Soo yeah, yay for a comeback? I still have zero motivation to create stories, you see, so I guess I'll just stick to random posts... while actually giving useful information. Yep. I'm here to grace the world with my experience, along with some tips, about the legendary Monbukagakusho (MEXT) Scholarship – Japanese Studies! At least it's legendary in my school, lol.

So first of all, what is this Monbukagakusho (MEXT) Scholarship? Well to put it simply, it's a full scholarship offered by Japanese Government, carried on by MEXT = Japanese Ministry of Educations, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. I know, I know, even now I'm still wondering where did that X come from. I would love to paste a link describing this scholarship in detail, but I can't seem to find a satisfactory page... Here is the Indonesian page for MEXT Scholarship (http://beasiswamext.or.id/) and the overall Study in Japan site (http://www.g-studyinjapan.jasso.go.jp/en/). There are several programs of this scholarship, and the one I'm gonna rant about is the Japanese Studies program, which is a one-year exchange program exclusively for college students majoring in Japanese Studies.

To tell you the truth, even this Japanese Studies program is split into two categories: U-to-U and G-to-G. Both categories will receive the same amount of award though, that is free tuition, free visa, free roundtrip plane ticket, and 117,000 yen worth of monthly allowance.
  • University to University, as its name infers, is a scholarship offered to universities that have already established relationship with a university in Japan. For example, my college has a partnership with Kumamoto University, so students from my college's Japanese Studies department are eligible to apply for this scholarship. 
  • Government to Government, on the contrary, is offered to countries that have bilateral relationship with Japan. This scholarship is eligible for nation-wide students. At least 300 students fight every year to get this privileged scholarship, making it some kind of a legendary scholarship for Japanese Studies students. Oh, and the students are able to pick any Japanese universities they want! Neat, huh.
Enough intro, yeah? Well, the main point is, I've managed to snag a spot for G-to-G MEXT Scholarship – Japanese Studies Program this year! Yep, I'm going to Japan for a year to study in Nagoya University, starting this October. I still can't fully believe it either, haha. The thing is, I've always wanted to go to Japan using my own worth (read: by snagging a scholarship) ever since three years ago, when I first enrolled in college. So... dream comes true doesn't sound too far off.
Now, I'm gonna tell you how the selection process goes. It's been a tiring semester, trust me.
First of all, the requirements. I dunno about other countries, but in Indonesia only third-year students with (at least) N3 certification can apply. Now, I've known all along that I'm gonna apply for this baby, right? Yeah, so I kinda outdid myself and got both my N3 and N2 on my second year, on December and July respectively. I wanna say I worked hard to get it, but the fact is I only studied diligently on the eve of the test, so I guess I can't? /laugh sheepishly/
Anyway, the initial stage is administration elimination. The admission period is around December until January, and what I had to do is complete the application form (downloadable from the Japanese Embassy for Indonesia's website) along with the necessary documents (photo, photocopy of JLPT certificate, letter of recommendation, etc). The announcement is around February.
The second stage is, the one and only, written test. A behemoth that does genocides every year, reducing 300-ish students to 25-ish. It is said that this test is on N2 to N1 level... which successfully made me study my ass off this time. Lol. I couldn't afford to lay back and relax, you know—not when I've been preparing myself for this for three years.
As for me, personally I began my efforts on October/November. My friends and I formed a study group in preparation to tackle this behemoth, and the six of us held study sessions twice a week. In every session, we did a set of test problems: either grammar, kanji, or reading comprehension. We each did the problems, then we discussed our answer. These sessions continued until December where end-term exam was held. After that, in January-February there was an intensive lesson conducted by the Japanese Studies department, solely to prepare for the upcoming written test. Yup, that's how far we were taking it. My precious two-month college break was spent for this... I kinda felt like, "if, after all this effort, I still can't get that damned scholarship... here, eat my middle finger."
Cough. Sorry for the language.
Anyway, the test itself consists of three parts: easy, medium, hard. Each part has a grammar, vocabulary, kanji reading, kanji writing, and reading comprehension section. The easy part is about N4 level. The medium is N3, and hard is N2-N1. I'm not sure if I have any tips about tackling this step... My grand scheme about any test is "manage your time" and "trust your instinct". (No, I'm not Team Instinct.) That's it. No more, no less.
The announcement for this test came late February. The third stage, the interview, is held on early March. Actually I only had about a week! Not to mention right in the middle of that allotted week is the student council's biggest event, in which I participated as one of the key committee member... No one can blame me for crying the moment the announcement was out, okay? It was a stressful week! *hides*
Unlike the written test that was conducted in each region (mine was in Surabaya), the interview test is held only in the capital, Jakarta. The interview was divided into two, or three days. In one day, there were two groups: morning group and afternoon group. I was scheduled for the afternoon in the second day. Along with me were 11 other kids. These 12 participants were then further divided into three groups of 4. Aaand, the interview was conducted in groups instead of individuals. I was in the first group. Just my luck, there was one who was exceptionally fluent in Japanese. Uhhh I was kinda disheartened, but fortunately I could hold my ground as well. There were three interviewers: two Japanese and one local. The questions were common. I'll list what I remember:
  1. Tell us about yourself. 
  2. Why did you choose a Japanese Studies major? 
  3. What do you want to do in Japan? 
  4. [Will add later when I remember more]
Before doing the interview, each of us were given a set of instructions, a guide book for Japanese Studies program, and more forms. It is then explained that only people who pass the interview will have to fill the form and complete the instructions. They would be used for the next stage: elimination performed by MEXT themselves. It's basically redoing the administration elimination. There were application forms, university choice form, and health form. Other necessary documents were recommendation letter, academic transcript, copy of JLPT certificate, and student certificate issued by university. The guide book was something else, though. You can feel the weight of this program just looking at that book. (Punny, haha.)
Feel the weight!!!
Btw, we were able to choose 3 universities out of the 100-ish in the guide book. My choices were: Nagoya University, Chiba University, and Hyogo University of Education. Weird combination? I know, I know. I just wanted Nagoya for its linguistics, Chiba and Hyogo for their interesting courses. Considering the living expenses too, you see. Even though Chiba is not that reasonable... Oh well. Just make sure you guys consider the choices very carefully, okay? There are a lot to add into the equation.
Anyway, after the interview test, there were 20 of us. We were connected by LINE group. Convenient. We talked about stuffs, and from there I found that there is a good chance that all of us get accepted to the scholarship. From experience and all. We bonded quite nicely, I'd say. Besides, we had to wait until August for the result. Just imagine, March to August... The suspense! So we kinda shared our anxieties about the result... like that.
Come August, the result was out. How disappointed we were when we found out only 11 of us were accepted. May have been the result of Japan's declining economy, especially after Brexit? I dunno, but we absolutely didn't expect to be cut down into half... :""""(
Anyway, that's it! All the stages of MEXT Scholarship – Japanese Studies selection process. I don't think I've included many tips, but I really hope this helps, maybe giving an insight of what's to come when you apply for this baby-slash-beast. For those who have their eyes on this scholarship, good luck to you!
I'll see again for another story. I think the next one will include the struggles of packing, lol.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

[Fanfic] To Learn Something New (ch 25)

Title: To Learn Something New
Author: Vianna Orchidia / Annasthacy Chashyme
Fandom: Final Fantasy XIII Series
Character: Hope Estheim, Elida
Rating: K
Genre: General
Disclaimer: Final Fantasy XIII is property of Square Enix. I do not own the series and the characters, and I do not gain any profit from this fanfiction
Warning: Me trying to write soulmate AU. Light is not even mentioned here, oh la la.

signal /sig·nal/ n something (such as a sound, a movement of part of the body, or an object) that gives information about something or that tells someone to do something

It was not supposed to be like this. Hope stared at his mark, a small red lightning bolt on the outside of his left wrist, in horror. Next to him, an equally horrified girl clenched the seams of her skirt until her knuckles went white. Both were silent, drown in their thoughts, until Hope gathered his courage and turned to his girlfriend.

Friday, June 24, 2016

[Orific] Serah

If I showed you my flaws
If I couldn't be strong
Tell me honestly: would you still love me the same?
[Locked away - R. City ft. Adam Levine]

Ini kesalahan. Tidak seharusnya aku melewati ruang kelas itu beberapa menit yang lalu. Tidak seharusnya aku memasang telinga baik-baik hanya karena guru favoritku itu yang sedang berdiri di depan murid-murid. Tidak seharusnya aku menginterpretasikan kata-kata beliau dalam artian seperti ini. Salah, semuanya salah. Kenapa aku melakukannya?

Sembari menatap kosong tembok kotor yang membatasi halaman belakang sekolah, aku mengulang-ulang perkataan Pak Surya yang kutangkap dari balik dinding ruang kelas yang kulewati saat akan menuju kamar kecil. Seperti biasa, ketika melewati ruang-ruang kelas aku selalu mengawasi siapa guru yang sedang mengajar dan bagaimana situasi di dalam kelas tersebut. Kadang aku membaca tulisan yang berhamburan di papan tulis. Kadang pula aku memperlambat langkah dan ikut mendengarkan ceramah bapak-ibu guru. Dan, hal itu pulalah yang kulakukan saat melewati ruang kelas 12-Bahasa-1, di mana kulihat guru bahasa Indonesia favoritku sedang bersuara.

Pak Surya adalah lelaki berperawakan kurus tinggi, dengan rambut menipis yang dibiarkan tumbuh sedikit panjang sampai leher. Gara-gara rambut panjangnya ini, beliau menguarkan aura yang 'nyastra banget'. Ditambah lagi, beliau selalu punya kisah yang seru dan menstimulasi otak di tiap jam pelajarannya. Aku sangat menyukai guru bahasa Indonesia satu ini.

Oleh dasar ketertarikan itulah, tanpa pikir panjang aku berusaha mendengarkan kisah apa yang tengah dibagikan beliau untuk murid-murid kali ini. Beberapa kalimat pertama tidak kupahami sama sekali, karena aku tidak menemukan konteksnya, tapi satu kalimat berhasil membuatku terpaku.

“Kalau begini terus, lebih baik saya keluar saja dari sekolah ini.”

Sedikit panik, aku mendekatkan telinga ke dinding. (Tentu saja sambil tetap menyembunyikan diri. Tidak lucu kalau aku ketahuan menguping suasana kelas lain di saat aku seharusnya sedang menghitung sin dan cos.) Aku memang pernah mendengar desas-desus bahwa Pak Surya mulai memikirkan untuk mundur dari jabatannya saat ini, tapi dengan alasan apa, aku dan teman-temanku tidak pernah tahu. Ini tentunya jadi kesempatan emas untuk mendapatkan informasi.

“Dari sekian tahun yang lalu, dengan pemimpin sekolah yang berbeda-beda, sekolah ini tetap saja tidak mengalami kemajuan. Kesejahteraan gurunya masih dipertanyakan. Kurikulum berantakan. Murid-murid tidak diperhatikan secara memadai. Padahal saya sudah berusaha untuk membantu, memberikan aspirasi—tapi kalau tidak ada niatan berubah, mau bagaimana lagi? Lebih baik saya pergi.”

Oh Tuhan. Pak Surya merasa tidak puas dengan sekolah ini? Tidak berubah, maksudnya apa? Rasanya sekolahku baik-baik saja... Memang ada saat-saat di mana aku merasa tidak nyaman dengan berbagai kebijakan sekolah, tapi apakah seburuk itu di mata Pak Surya? Aku menarik napas dalam-dalam.

“Lihat saja, sudah berapa tahun sekolah ini absen dalam berbagai perlombaan. Lomba pidato tempo hari saja tidak menang, padahal dua tahun kemarin kita juara nasional. Di mana semangat memperbaiki diri dari sekolah ini?”

Hatiku mencelos. Lidahku kelu. Napasku tersendat.

Peserta lomba pidato yang gagal mempertahankan kemenangan beruntun sekolah kami, itu aku.

Segera aku memacu langkahku. Menjauh. Tidak ingin mendengarkan lebih lanjut. Secara otomatis tubuhku sampai di halaman belakang sekolah, yang sepi senyap karena ini masih jam pelajaran. Dengan napas terengah, yang lebih dikarenakan syok daripada lelah setelah berlari, aku menyandarkan punggung di salah satu sudut. Setelah berdiam diri beberapa saat pun, napasku masih putus-putus. Dadaku masih sakit. Ucapan Pak Surya masih terngiang.

“Karena aku kalah,” sadarku. “Karena aku gagal.”

Pak Surya yang kukagumi, beliau ingin pergi, karena aku tidak berguna. Aku sudah mengecewakan guru-guruku, teman-temanku, bahkan kakak-kakak kelasku yang tahun lalu maupun dua tahun lalu memenangkan lomba pidato tersebut. Aku tidak serius dalam berlatih. Aku tidak bersungguh-sungguh saat mempersiapkan diri. Aku tidak memberikan yang terbaik ketika tampil.

Karena aku kalah, Pak Surya akan meninggalkan kami.

Aah, kalau saja waktu bisa berputar kembali. Aku ingin memutar balik waktu. Aku ingin mengulang lagi penampilanku di lomba pidato. Mungkin dengan demikian aku bisa melakukan yang lebih baik. Atau mungkin hasilnya akan sama saja. Isi pidatoku tidak sebagus itu. Kenapa aku memilih tema abstrak untuk pidatoku sih?

Aah, kalau saja waktu bisa berputar kembali. Aku ingin memutar balik waktu. Aku ingin mengulang lagi waktu pembuatan naskah pidato. Mungkin dengan demikian aku bisa membuat yang lebih bagus. Atau mungkin hasilnya akan sama saja. Kemampuanku tidak sebaik itu. Kenapa aku mendaftarkan diri untuk lomba ini sih?

Aah, kalau saja waktu bisa berputar kembali. Aku ingin memutar balik waktu. Aku ingin mengulang lagi saat pendaftaran peserta lomba pidato dibuka. Dengan demikian aku tidak usah mendaftar. Dengan demikian siswa lain yang akan berkompetisi. Dengan demikian siswa lain yang akan tampil dalam lomba, memberikan yang terbaik, dan membanggakan sekolah.

Dengan demikian tidak ada yang perlu pergi dari sekolah ini.

Hanya saja, aku tidak bisa memutar balik waktu. Menyadari hal ini, aku menggigit bibir kuat-kuat. Membiarkan rasa sakitnya berputar di otak. Agar aku bisa mengabaikan panasnya mataku, basahnya pipiku, gemetarnya tubuhku. Rasa sakit bagus. Kalau tidak bisa memutar balik waktu, setidaknya aku bisa menerima sakit. Bukankah aku patut dihukum karena sudah mempermalukan almamater? Benar. Bagaimana kalau sekalian menghilang saja? Ada di sini pun aku tidak berguna untuk siapapun.

Biar aku yang pergi.

Aku tidak kuat menahan sakit ini.


Laughing, laughing, until my cheeks start to hurt
So that I don't betray the dreams we saw that day
Singing, singing, until my chest feels tight
So that I don't betray the expectations again
[Forty-seven - Mikito-P]

Saturday, February 13, 2016

[Orific] Hancur: A Sequel

Suara hujan. Tik-tik-tik, makin deras, lalu angin, tik-tik-tik, kaca jendela basah kuyup. Aku basah kuyup. Berlindung di bawah atap ala kadarnya di depan sembarang toko, aku masih menjadi sasaran empuk tetesan air hujan yang terbawa angin kencang. Dingin. Aku mulai menggigil. Kepalaku pening.

'Seharusnya tadi aku pulang lebih cepat,' sesalku. Bodoh karena sudah menunggu sampai awan mendung berkumpul sedemikian pekat, tolol karena mengabaikan cakaran angin dingin yang membawa bau hujan dari jauh. 'Seharusnya aku pulang lebih cepat,' ulangku dalam hati. Bukan malah bersikeras menanti munculnya seorang lelaki yang tidak memberi kabar. Dan lebih bodohnya lagi, dalam kondisi begini, aku malah mengecek ponsel dengan harapan melihat notifikasi pesan masuk dari yang kutunggu.

Nihil. Mataku bergeser sedikit ke arah empat digit angka di sisi atas kanan layar. Satu jam lewat dari waktu janjian. Aku ingin tersenyum tapi bibirku malah bergetar karena dingin. Aku mengusap mata karena seperti ada air mata di sana, tapi hanya dinginnya hujan yang kurasa. Satu jam dan aku masih mencoba percaya pada lelaki itu. Aah, bodoh, bodoh.

'Hiiragi Maki, kau benar-benar goblok,' aku memarahi diri sendiri. Hanya saja, mengatakan hal itu rasanya sudah terlalu klise—aku tidak tertarik meneruskan. Mari alihkan perhatian saja.

Sambil menarik anak rambut yang jatuh ke depan mata, aku mulai menghitung-hitung. Probabilitas terbesar aku baru akan sampai di rumah sekitar pukul enam, atau tujuh kalau aku tidak beruntung. Nanti aku mau berendam air hangat yang lama. Sepertinya aku masih punya lilin aromaterapi yang sangat kusukai itu, jadi aku akan menyalakannya juga. Setelah puas, aku bisa langsung ke tempat tidur karena semua pekerjaan untuk besok sudah kusiapkan sebelumnya. Sekali-sekali tidur sebelum jam sembilan boleh lah, apalagi rasanya aku lelah sekali. Mungkin satu bab novel misteri itu sebelum benar-benar terlelap. Yap, rencana bagus.

Oh, aku juga harus menelepon Shou-kun besok pagi.

Perlahan aku berjongkok lalu memeluk lutut. Tidak punya energi untuk sekedar menangis.

.:.:.

“Shou-kun. Ini Maki. Kemarin kamu tidak datang... Jadi kapan aku bisa menemuimu? Kamu tahu, untuk membentakmu habis-habisan? Karena aku marah. Marah sungguhan.”

Pip. Pagi ini, ponsel Shou-kun masih tidak bisa dihubungi. Akhirnya aku meninggalkan pesan saja, karena aku tahu ada kemungkinan Shou-kun hanya menghindar dan sengaja tidak mengangkat teleponku. Pesan yang bodoh, pula. Seharusnya kan aku langsung memarahinya, terang-terangan mengatakan kalau aku sakit hati setelah dia melanggar janjinya. Maki yang biasanya pasti bisa menyampaikan rasa kesalnya dalam beberapa kalimat pedas, dan Shou-kun akan meminta maaf lalu mentraktir sushi—bam, kondisi kembali seperti sedia kala.

Masalahnya, aku lelah. Terlalu lelah untuk berbicara dengan berapi-api. Terlalu penat untuk mulai berbicara dengan Shou-kun tentang dinginnya pertemanan kami belakangan ini. Menyalahkan diri sendiri rasanya beribu kali lipat lebih mudah. Aku tinggal melemparkan kata-kata tanpa suara pada orang di dalam cermin itu. Toh dia menerima dengan sepenuh hati. Bahkan tidak berusaha mendengarkan logika. Lihat, lebih mudah, tidak perlu tenaga. Aku sudah kehabisan tenaga.

Orang di dalam cermin itu menatap kosong. Padahal semalam tidurku nyenyak. Begitu bangun, aku sadar energiku sama sekali tidak kembali.

Maka sekali lagi aku menyalahkan diri sendiri.

A/N: I'm sorry again, Maki. You have to bear the burdens again.