Ketika Badai Sudah Reda

Please play this song as you read along. I promise you, you will fall in love with it.

Now that an entire semester has passed, where should I begin?

Before:

Mungkin sudah saatnya kamu melupakan apa yang memang tidak pernah diartikan untukmu. Mungkin sudah saatnya untuk akhirnya membuka diri kepada kemana ini akan membawamu. Walaupun masih sakit, aku yakin suatu hari kamu akan pulih; dan aku yakin kamu akan menerima lebih dari apa yang kamu inginkan. 

Jangan putus asa sekarang- 

You are more than just a fallen dream.

-Jakarta, 28 July 2017

After:

Tidak disangka sudah hampir satu semester aku lewati disini, di Institut Terbaik Bangsa*. Ya, aku sadar bahdwa ini semua hanya akan berjalan untuk dua tahun, dan setelah itu aku harus berpisah dengan mereka ke negara asing. Maka dari itu, aku ingin mencoba lari sejauh mungkin diwaktu 2 tahun ini. Aku telah membuka diri ke hal-hal yang dulunya aku anggap “taboo” dan aku sedang mencoba untuk tidak terikat kepada sesuatu yang dari awalnya memang bukan untuk mengikatku. Dunia ini, dan kepercayaanku atasnya, lebih dari hanya sebuah tulisan. Aku sadar bahdwa aku harus lebih terbuka & lebih menerima.

Bersama dengan itu, aku yakin Tuhan ingin aku mencoba untuk lari sejauh mungkin. Sebelum akhirnya waktuku disini habis. Ini hanyalah awal dari penjelajahanku. Dan aku berharap, pada akhirnya, aku bisa berlari lebih jauh dari apa yang awalnya aku bayangkan.

-Bandung, 28 November 2017

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Credits: mohtz.tumblr.com

Yes,

I am well aware that 5 months is an awfully long time to not appear in writing. That I’ve gone beyond people’s remembrance of my blog’s existence to even write here anymore. Within that time, however, I found myself experiencing an abundance of things that I would often bookmark as something I’d write about. But I could never find the right words to illustrate them correctly. To tell you the truth, I have made several attempts to write again but they always end up as unfinished drafts that would leave me unsatisfied with how lacking I am in my flow of words. In fact, writing this now, I have absolutely no expectations of delivering these words to you knowing just how terrible I have been with my blog. Regardless, I am still here writing.

Anyhow, remember when I wrote about crying two days in a row out of ‘plain fear’ when I learned that ITB had accepted me (that plain fear being the realisation that I would not pursue my undergraduate degree in America)? Well, I think those two days have changed me incredibly, in a way that I am now numb towards whatever life proffers to me. Between those two days, I felt something inside of me poured empty. There is nothing left there, and that nothingness had morphed me, almost immediately. I don’t know whether or not that’s a good thing: that I no longer expect a lot of things from life, but I realise that that has helped me experience things in a more pleasantly surprising way.

When I first introduced myself to Bandung, say, I was pleasantly surprised at how brisk the atmosphere was; especially around the boarding house I lived in for three months before moving to a more commodious space. The tiny room I had occupied was equipped with two very broad windows which allowed natural light and wind to enter very easily so I would always open them as far as they could go. In the morning when I wake up all groggy, the room would be filled with an unbearable chill piercing into my body: I had to first close the windows to sleep in.

I shared the same experience when it comes to meeting the friends that I have now. To tell you the truth, I walked into ITB with absolutely no intensions of making friends. I wanted to graduate as soon as possible, with no strings attached to any human being. And I had my faculty’s benefit for that: in the School of Business and Management, it only takes us three years to complete our degree. But that all changed when I decided to meet the other new students of the international class who transferred from Abu Dhabi over breakfast, right before re-registration hour, and when someone courageously gathered all the *noisy people into one, (anti-)depressing, group, that of which consisted of people I would have never imagined to be friends with.

Because I don’t yet want to introduce these wonderful human beings to you and end up writing a novel about how things unravelled from there on, I thought it would be better to keep quiet about this first, especially noting how terrible I am at procedural writings. But yes, life happened to want me friends. And truthfully, I don’t hate it.

It’s interesting to say that people from my past have said that I have gotten a lot happier. Which is true, because I am a lot happier than who I used to be. At the same time, however, I find myself breaking down emotionally, most of the times physically, because of how overwhelming the changes that I have had to endure have been.

What sort of changes?

Well, first of all, there’s this almost inevitable trend amongst college students (note: not applicable to everyone on certain conditions) called “living alone” that subsequently carries “individualism” along with it too. As someone who’s never done a difficult day of work, who has the memory of a goldfish and the carelessness of a Zahra Thania towards money, deadlines, times of eating, and time in general, and who constantly has a personal driver who would take her as her heart pleases which consequently fails her at navigations, it’s plausible to say that I was not terrific at taking care of myself. In fact, I can not take care of myself as mannerly as other people. Which I suppose could explain why the only reason I ever really contact my parents is when I fall sick, or basically when my gastropathy and headaches come running to me like a train.

And then there’s also the academics that I have to keep up with. Although the studies in SBM aren’t tremendously challenging or at all difficult when compared to other faculties, since they are mostly comprised of exhibitions and group projects, managing the time and mind to actually sit down and study the core understanding of it, is. I’m sure that if I had the same ambitious drive back in high school, I wouldn’t be as disappointed with the results of this first semester. Regardless, I am not regretful.

All in all, now that the storm is over, I think it’s fair to say that although things didn’t work out as I have planned it to, I am wholeheartedly pleasant with how things turned out to be. It’s true. If God has decreed something for you, irrespective of your plans, desires, and sufferings, what will occur and how it will unravel is entirely up to God. Whether or not they seem to be in your favour, in the end, you will learn to understand that what God has decreed for you is what is most suited for you. You may not see it now, since your existence in His plans is not necessarily strictly until death, but you will come to see it some day.

In my case, I just happened to see it now after a long time hurting myself.

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“Sometimes fate is like a small sandstorm that keeps changing directions. You change direction but the sandstorm chases you. You turn again, but the storm adjusts. Over and over you play this out, like some ominous dance with death just before dawn. Why? Because this storm isn’t something that blew in from far away, something that has nothing to do with you. This storm is you. Something inside of you. So all you can do is give in to it, step right inside the storm, closing your eyes and plugging up your ears so the sand doesn’t get in, and walk through it, step by step. There’s no sun there, no moon, no direction, no sense of time. Just fine white sand swirling up into the sky like pulverized bones. That’s the kind of sandstorm you need to imagine.

And you really will have to make it through that violent, metaphysical, symbolic storm. No matter how metaphysical or symbolic it might be, make no mistake about it: it will cut through flesh like a thousand razor blades. People will bleed there, and you will bleed too. Hot, red blood. You’ll catch that blood in your hands, your own blood and the blood of others.

And once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”

-Haruki Murakami, Kafka On The Shore

The Last of College Dilemma


So I finally sent a withdrawal letter to UMass Lowell on June 30th, which I double checked with my friend who I trust for these matters and since then, I’ve never dared to look back. Strangely, I’m also not looking forward to anything at all in the institution that I will be attending by next month. If anything, the most I’ve done -apart from doing what most incoming students are- is praying to God that everything works out for me in the end. In the meantime, I haven’t really been doing anything worthwhile due to my “becoming numb” towards my interests so forgive me for not writing to you at all for the past several weeks.

lost without you


I think it’s funny now because half a year ago I was still constantly refreshing my email awaiting for a letter or announcement from all four universities that I applied to, and now I barely even do so because I know I wouldn’t receive anything like that anymore.

It’s funny now because I used to get excited of imagining how different things would be by July and the months after “knowing” that I wouldn’t be here in this country anymore, and now I don’t imagine anything at all.

It’s funny now because all the effort that I have given in seems like a dream instead of a memory.


Below is the withdrawal letter for you to read in case you were curious of how I overcame my college heartbreak:

Dear University of Massachusetts Lowell,

My name is Zahra Thania and my student ID is: ——— and I am a registered incoming freshman at your university.

I’ve gathered enough courage to write this email to let you know that I am unable to attend your university as my family and I are not yet financially prepared to pay for the tuition fee and therefore would like to withdraw my admission from the Manning School of Business.

I apologize for not informing you anytime soon. I’ve only recently decided to stay in my home country, Indonesia, and attend the Institute of Technology Bandung after thoughtful consideration.

Thank you for taking your time to review and accept my application. Please let me know if I need to fill in any form for my withdrawal.

Sincerely,

Zahra Thania Atmoko.

This will be my last post for my College Dilemma series as I have finally made a decision to attend a certain university (note: it’s ITB). Once I begin my college days, I will be sure to let you know and write a new series of stories and I hope that you will keep being here.

Goodbye now! I hope to write to you soon x

On Being Accepted to UMass Lowell

University of Massachusetts Lowell was the first university I sent my application to. I learned about this university through a cousin who graduated from the school earlier and thought it would be a suitable idea for me to apply there too. I first attempted to apply through early decision but had it transferred to regular decision because I haven’t sent all of the required documents yet. *surprise!* After awhile, I had been emailed again to send some additional materials for further evaluation. So I sent them my IGCSE’s and the first semester of my senior year grades. After they promised me 5-7 business days to complete the evaluation, they sent me an email on the 6th of April.

Because of the time difference, it was nearing midnight when I received the email. I had attempted to read the whole email before my droopy eyes went back to sleep. And I did! And it read:

Dear Zahra,

Congratulations!

It is my pleasure to accept you to the University of Massachusetts Lowell for the fall of 2017 semester with the major of Business Administration. The admission committee was impressed by the academic ability and personal qualities you demonstrated in your application materials. We believe you will make the most of the abundant opportunities available to you here and look forward to welcoming you to campus. (…)”

Similar to Bryant University, I chose the major Business with a concentration in Management Information Systems which I will write about in the future, Inshallah. But unlike Bryant University, I didn’t receive any awards that would help cut the tuition fee. I also didn’t really put enough effort in applying for scholarships due to the overwhelming amount of other things I had to do at the time. The funny thing is, UMass Lowell’s tuition for out-of-state students almost equals to Bryant University’s tuition with the awards they’ve given me. So basically, UMass Lowell seems to be a lot friendlier in terms of tuition and costs.

The campus is also not so far away from my uncle’s home. My cousin who previously attended the school told me that it was legitimately only “20 minutes away”, which is great because that means I’m closer to family. But still, regardless of which university suits my heart better, I am still waiting for an epiphany about this decision. Because as I have mentioned many times before, this isn’t something that should be taken upon lightly. At least not for me, because college is very important, especially noting how my choice of destination is across the world with an entirely different atmosphere. If say, my choice was to stay in Indonesia, it wouldn’t be as overwhelming.

So that’s all I had to talk about. There’s not much I can tell you right now, because obviously I haven’t made a decision and I feel like it’s much more comfortable for me to keep these sort of things discreet until they’re sorted out.

Thank you for reading my post! If you have any questions regarding anything related to what I put in this blog, please feel free to comment or email me something. I hope you’ll have a lovely night. May peace be upon you.

…to be continued.

On Being Accepted to Bryant University

I first discovered about Bryant University through an education fair in Jakarta. My mother had told me to approach *that* university’s stand  we didn’t really notice at first after having looked around the assembly hall and was unable to find a university that I was interested in. To my surprise, Bryant University had the major I was looking for at the time (actuarial mathematics). I met with Claire Dunning there who was the Senior Assistant Director of International Admission and was educated about Bryant University. I took a generous amount of new information that I was unable to find easily across the web along with some BU flyers and her business card, finishing off with a thank you and a new school to apply to.

Bryant University was the second school I finished my application with around the beginning of November (I think) through the Common Application. I applied for the International Business -Computer Information Systems instead of Actuarial Mathematics after having second thoughts about what I expect myself to be studying for the next four or so years. Afterwards, I was given the link to my Applicant Status Page where I’m able to monitor my application status and see which required documents are still missing.

On December 11th, I sent my SAT scores without knowing how much I received after having taken it in the 3rd of December. I only learned afterwards that my SAT scores, though were above what I initially hoped for, seemed like “I could’ve done better”, but left it at that. Later, with the help of my English teacher who acted as my counselor, we sent all of the school reports, as well as some recommendation letters from my English and Math teachers. I also asked a friend of mine to write a recommendation letter and you can read it here at the end of this post.

I didn’t get to send my English Language Proficiency result, because when I was about to, I received an email from Claire on January 27th that my application has been marked complete and that my English Language Proficiency result was waived, meaning they probably didn’t need it.

I wasn’t aware of the admission decisions date, I only knew that it will be available by mid-March, hence I didn’t really worry about it, thinking it’s still a long way to go.

Long story short,  I realized that Bryant had emailed me to let me know that a decision upon my application had been posted in the morning of the 3rd of March. And without hesitating, I immediately opened my application status and through looking at the confetti falling from the top of the page, I learned that…I have been admitted to Bryant University’s class of 2021. 

It read:

Dear Zahra,
On behalf of the Admission Committee, it is my pleasure to congratulate you on your admission to Bryant University. We are very pleased to invite you to become a member of the Class of 2021. The Bryant community joins me in commending you for your accomplishments and your promise for future success.

I am also excited to share with you that you have been awarded a Bryant University Award in the amount of $13,000 for the 2017-2018 academic year. This award recognizes your academic performance, your extracurricular involvement, and your demonstrated leadership. The award is renewable for four consecutive years, a $52,000 value, provided you maintain a 2.7 cumulative grade point average (on a 4.0 scale) as a full-time undergraduate student.

(…)

At that moment, unlike many others, I didn’t instantly react positively. In fact, it took me quiet some time to process this celebratory news. I was more confused than I were excited at first. I think it’s because I wasn’t certain what to do with this information now, and because I was already having quiet an upsetting morning.

The same reaction, I received from my parents. None of them really congratulated me…which was okay because I tried to understand that it may be because they too needed time. Therefore, in unraveling my emotions, I sought to others and tried to hear their responses. Some were genuinely happy for me and really wanted me to attend Bryant, one hopped around like a bunny (hint: it’s the friend who wrote the recommendation letter) and some were more persevered in their reaction and simply congratulated me like a birthday wish. I absorbed all of their responses and slowly understood that I should be more grateful in hearing about this news.

Though I’m still unsure whether or not I will attend Bryant University, due to the distance and cost of attending, I’m certain that I’d like to go there. In the meantime, I will continue to observe where this will lead to. And for all I know I wouldn’t want to do, is not saying yes to an opportunity I had struggled for and settle for less.


To Whom It May Concern,

With great gratification, I recommend Zahra Thania for admission in your university’s economics course. Zahra demonstrates tremendous effort and growth throughout her studies. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing her make profound contributions both in and out of the classroom. I am confident that she will continue to display the same commitment and diligence in everything she does. I highly recommend her for admission to your institution.

Zahra is a perceptive, sharp and analytical individual. Driven with her demand of understanding the world, she developed a passion for economics. She did, in fact, struggle to comprehend the material at the beginning of the year, but her response to her difficulty reflected her determination. Zahra speaks clearly and eloquently about her conclusions and responded to questions in a thoughtful way. She is an active participant in class and is happy to voice her own viewpoints during class discussions, and often asks for further clarification of points covered in class. Her work consistently reflects a level of insightfulness and attention to detail that is unique to her demand for quality.

I am certain that her intellect is capable of handling even the most demanding courses available. Zahra refuses to be daunted by challenging coursework; rather, when confronted with complex issues, she simply devotes herself and seeks further clarification until she has a firm understanding.

Aside from her academic qualities, Zahra engages herself with competitions such as speech and more outstandingly has frequent wins of ‘best speaker’ in debates. Her natural talent to conclude and fiddle with words to form great arguments bring her unique viewpoint, combined with her awareness and familiarity of content alive. She offers all the qualities of a good leader, and all of the characteristics desirable in an ideal team member.

Based on my observation of her abilities, I strongly believe she has the potential to be an outstanding student at your university. Her intellect is such that it demands further study. I highly recommend Zahra Thania for admission to your undergraduate program. If you need any further information, please feel free to contact me –

Sincerely, Karuna Shivani Rocco Rinck

(School Peer)

This has taken me a full week to write. I hope this might help your curios minds about being accepted to a university overseas as a young, Indonesian and Muslim woman. If you have any questions, you can do so by commenting below or emailing me through zeet19@icloud.com

That’s all for tonight. Thank you for reading! I hope you’ll have a wonderful evening.

to be continued…

College Dilemma pt.2

This is the part where I get conflicted.

(…) continued.

The three factors that I mentioned previously that hinder me from attending universities abroad cannot be altered unless God decides to give me way from a source nearly impossible for my own capability to reach. But on the other hand, the effort I have given myself into aren’t necessarily washable or easily ignored: an analogy would be someone having second thoughts a week before their wedding after preparing the ceremony.

And I was that person.

Even though I’m completely aware of this, I somehow managed to convince myself that whatever happens, whichever university I attend, I will (with Allah’s permission) remain grateful and thankful. As someone who’s quiet stubborn and hopeful of her dreams, it’s not an easy thing to do. Heck, back then I would even say things such as, “Oh I don’t know what I would do if I had to stay behind in Indonesia for college. I think I might be depressed. Mental, even.” But now, none of those things really matter and I doubt I would feel the same as I did in the past.

You might be wondering how? Well, I think I mostly owe my sincerest gratitude to my friend Bagasrafi who passed away last month for being a great reminder to me. A reminder that life is truly brief and that we shouldn’t ponder too hard on these worldly matters; that at the end of the day, putting our trust in Allah and being concerned over the Hereafter is what truly matters.

dsc00992
A cute photo as a tribute to Bagas for reminding me. He would’ve hated me if he knew I did this! 

(My statement above does not mean you shouldn’t be concerned about the exams and university admissions though! You should. Because it’s tough. And hopefully that serves as a reminder for you to continue studying and praying hard!)

After having a new perspective of this dilemma, at first I wanted to completely ignore the idea that I still have documents to submit to those six foreign schools. I wanted to simply forget that I ever wasted so many dedications in making it to submitting my application. But I decided that it was wiser to continue the admission process until a letter of acceptance (or not…) is given to me.

So what now, Zee? Well…what other choices do I have? Apply here, in Indonesia.

Where will you be going? Hopefully either one from these three: UI, ITB, UGM. And if you were wondering which class I’ll be taking, I’ll most probably be taking FEB (Fakultas Ekonomi Bisnis) international class.

By the way, which universities abroad have you sent your applications to? Tons! Here they are:

  1. University of Massachusetts, Lowell
  2. Bryant University
  3. Northeastern University
  4. Boston University
  5. University of Calgary
  6. University of Alberta

And yes, I did all of the application procedure myself, along with some help from my English teacher as I needed a counselor to sort out the transcript. Anyway let me know in the comments below if you want to read any more posts that’s related to this topic. It would be a delight to know your requests!

Therefore, I hereby declare another beginning of tackling university admissions in which I will try to document them in words right here, in this blog.

(…) to be continued.

College Dilemma pt.1

Today I want to write to you about a topic that many of my relatives and friends ask me the moment they realize I’m a senior in high school. It is never a simple topic to begin with considering how much of a dilemma it has given me, but I have always wanted to write about it sort of as a way to get it out of my chest. And as you can tell from the title of this blog post, it’s about: where I am going to for college.

If you don’t know me in real life, then you wouldn’t know that I personally really want to study in America ever since I was a child for many reasons not a lot of people can understand, apart from the general knowledge that America is the heart of numerous of leading campuses in the world. Now that I’m a senior (12th grader), I decided to begin searching for universities that placed a seat in my heart, and ended up applying to four schools in America and two in Canada.

college-post
BU was among the schools I wanted to attend the most.

The application procedure isn’t at all difficult in my opinion -it is stressful, yes I understand, but because these universities have very informative websites, I didn’t find any trouble in finishing my applications. And in case any of my readers are interested in applying to America, I advice you begin your research as soon as possible and take the exams that are required such as the SAT (if you’re not under the American curriculum) and IELTS. Then, open the Common Application for more information on applying to universities. You can also find helpful articles there such as how to pay for college, exploring different schools and even virtual tours around the campuses! So do plan ahead, because college is something that you cannot take lightly. Besides, it is always good to be prepared in a journey than not.

That being said, I reckon you might now be wondering why it’s a dilemma for me if it wasn’t at all difficult. Well, here comes the tricky part.

Firstly, I am a Muslim, and a young female one at that. Therefore, travelling to a faraway country cannot be done without a Mahram according to Islam. Even though I have relatives there and I have spoken to them about this topic, they too seem to advice me to stay for now. Secondly, the financial place my family is at isn’t amazing enough to handle purchasing this long term commitment despite the fact that it could with a few determinations. I suppose it’s the same for everyone who wants to study in America where most schools cost an average of $33,215 (or Rp 444,000,000) annually, unless you come from a family where a string of five-digit numbers for a school year is a piece of cake. Thirdly, and controversially one of the reasons I chose this particular country, it is very far away from Indonesia.

Though I’ve known these factors long before sending in my applications, I was reluctant to accept them and always tried to reason to my parents about it as if they weren’t clear enough. It took many months of delusion for me to finish my requirements to apply to those 6 foreign universities. I took the SAT, IELTS and several of Cambridge IGCSE’s that truthfully took a lot of hard work and money. Plus, if I were to calculate the total amount of money my father had spent in paying for the application fees for all 6 schools, he’s spent around $490. It may not seem much until you convert it to Indonesian Rupiah whilst adding the payment fee.

This is the part where I get conflicted.

(…) to be continued.