Minggu, 13 Juli 2014

Seorang Pelancong

Buat dia, cuaca musim panas di Jerman terasa pas: tidak terlalu panas, tidak terlalu dingin. Walaupun hujan kadang tak tahu waktu: deras di saat payung tertinggal di rumah, dan tak berawan, apalagi hujan, sedikitpun ketika dia bawa satu set lengkap jas hujan, payung, dan sepatu boot hujan.

Seminggu sekali, dia akan pergi ke stasiun kereta api, melihat pelancong yang lalu lalang, dan merasa diberikan kekuatan. "Pelancong-pelancong ini, tak tahu ke arah mana mereka pergi. Bagi mereka, kota ini sangat asing; sering mereka salah tram atau bus. Melihat mereka, aku merasa lebih beruntung."

Mereka belum tahu siapa yang harus mereka percaya.
Dia sendiri, adalah seorang pelancong. Pelancong yang umurnya lebih lama sedikit dibandingkan pelancong-pelancong lainnya di stasiun kereta. Kadang dia masih berpikir, apakah yang pelancong-pelancong lain yang lebih tua pikirkan tentang dirinya? Seberapa berbedanyakah hal-hal persepsi mereka tentang tempat ini?

Baginya, waktu adalah variabel tak terukur. Persetan dengan detik, menit, jam, hari, minggu, bulan, dan tahun. Dia dan semua orang barangkali tahu tentang seberapa fleksibelnya waktu: dia bisa jadi terasa sangat panjang, maupun sebaliknya.

Dan sebagai pelancong, di awal dia merasa waktu terasa sangat panjang. Kini, ketika akhir masa melancongnya semakin dekat, waktu jadi terasa sangat pendek. 

Apakah setiap yang melancong merasa seperti itu? Atau, apakah alam menyambut mereka yang akan melancong lagi dari awal di tempat baru, ataupun kembali pulang?

Walaupun waktu jelas-jelas terasa memendek, satuan-satuan waktu masih digunakan untuk menghitung mundur. Pada jangka waktu itu pun, pikiran seperti memerintahkan, "Ini mungkin kali terakhir kamu berada di tempat ini," atau, "Apa kamu sudah menyerap semua yang ada dari tempat ini sebelum kamu beranjak pergi?"

Dia, si pelancong, tahu persis, ada tempat lain yang menginginkannya kembali. Dia pun ingin kembali, dan merasa nyaman dengan sekeliling. Tetapi, dia tak ingin melalui transisi yang menguras energi. Bukan, lagi-lagi, soal zona waktu saja, karena dia beranggapan waktu itu tak terukur. Tetapi juga soal jiwa, manusia, langit, dan pepohonan yang berbeda dari tempatnya kali ini.

Dia akan kembali melalui trampoline, merasa dimainkan oleh tangan-tangan tak terlihat, terombang-ambing, karena kombinasi semua perbedaan itu. 

Tapi dia harus melaluinya. Bukan hanya karena itu konsekuensi dari titelnya sebagai pelancong, tetapi juga karena dia ingin kembali ke pangkuan mereka-mereka yang langsung mempercayainya di detik dia menginjakkan kaki di tempatnya kembali.

H-15 kembali ke Indonesia. Bremen, 7/13/2014, 16:25 CEST

Minggu, 06 Juli 2014

DAAD-RISE Scholars Meeting in Heidelberg

On Thursday, July 3rd, I went to Heidelberg to attend the DAAD-RISE Scholars Meeting for 3 days and 2 nights. What is DAAD-RISE? As I have told you in previous post, it's a research internship program in science and engineering in Germany, for American, Canadian, and British college students.

Heidelberg, is a beautiful city in Baden-W├╝rttemberg, a state located in southern Germany. So, as you can see, it's a long way to get there since Bremen is in up north of Germany.

The schedule is pretty packed. We had a welcome meeting in Alte Aula Heidelberg, the oldest hall in University of Heidelberg. Do you know that this university is the oldest one in Germany?

I know, the picture is not super nice, I'm sorry.
A better picture! Thanks to Daniela Wiesen!
It was amazing to see all passionate young scientists and engineers from all over the world (yes, I realized there was a high number of international students, too), and discussed about the project they were working on, or how their colleges were.

I didn't expect that people would be so surprised when I told them that I go to MIT, though.

I think this was my first time having a name tag with MIT name attached to it.
There was a brewery banquet, with a really nice wine (that's what I heard from the others), and a nice main dish.

Kulturbrauerei Heidelberg, photo by Daniela Wiesen.
However, since I was fasting for Ramadan on that day, I got a takeout for my main dish and decided to explore the town!

Yes, Heidelberg is full of little hills, unlike other German towns which are pretty 'flat'. On picture: Schloss Heidelberg, the castle that I visited the day after!
Heidelberg also has a river, called Neckar, that goes through the town. What is so amazing, there is a big park along the river where people could just chill, do barbeque, play beach volleyball, among other things.
The day after, we had different presentations from companies, and Master/ PhD programs in Germany, which was really interesting, and eye-opening. There are so many opportunities to study or work in Germany. There was a little 'career fair' as well, but it was less intimidating than the career fair I attended in Fall semester on campus. You should check DAAD website to know more about study, research, and work opportunities in Germany!

Less intimidating career fair. Photo by Daniela Wiesen.
In the afternoon, we got a chance to explore Heidelberg deeper, and with a tour guide. I usually don't want to pay for one, because I would rather get a kugel of eis, instead, haha. I really liked my tour guide, she knew every little thing about Heidelberg and history pretty well.

One of catholic churches in Heidelberg. Do you know what is interesting? Yes, its color! It's bright white, which is uncommon for catholic churches in Europe.
To the old bridge that crosses Neckar. 
More Neckar!
Schloss Heidelberg! It was a wedding present from a prince to a princess. They got married when they were 16.
From Heidelberg Schloss, you can see beautiful Heidelberg!
Giant wine barrel inside the Schloss.
On the evening, there was a game between Germany and France, and it was really interesting. I didn't watch it, though, I was too exhausted from the tour (it was 31 degrees Celsius!), so I decided to take a nap, haha.

We had a barbeque after the game, and a little party to celebrate the 10th year anniversary of DAAD-RISE program. The beverages were free-flow, including beer and soft drinks. So, past ten, I could see some people turning red and getting drunk. Not really cool, but that happened. Germany is known for beer and wurst, but if you drink, that doesn't mean you can drink as much as you want to 'immerse' yourself in a new culture, right? Just my two cents.

10 years of DAAD RISE Program! Photo by Daniela Wiesen.
I noticed one thing, though. The apple juice in Germany is carbonated, meaning, it's like a soft drink. I have tried to distance myself from soft drink, but I failed because of the apple juice. Not only apple juice, they also have carbonated water (aka. sparkling water), and I find it really strange.

On the last day, after we checked out the hostel, we went to the university to hear presentations from our fellow scholars about their research projects. They seemed to do cool things, and I was inspired by them so much! From an origami concrete building (civil engineering project, you can fold your concrete!), to nanocapsules for targeted drug delivery applications; I felt like I was nothing compared to them.

We also took a giant group picture...

Guess where I am! Photo by Daniela Wiesen.
I have few weeks left in Germany, and I will do my best in my research project. Auf wiedersehen, Heidelberg and DAAD-RISE friends, until next time!