変更 (Change)

Bina Antarbudaya
6 min readDec 10, 2018

Nabila Yasmin Pohan (INA AFS to JPN YP 18–19)

The change started 7 months ago.

Yet still, that thrill and realization still hasn’t fully dawned upon me yet. Sometimes I would stop in the middle of my track in the crowded Hiroshima station in the way home, stared at the Japanese signs and plugged off my earphones to hear the Japanese language spoken freely around me.

It still doesn’t feel real, a little (literally, I’m short) girl from the east part of Kalimantan is now roaming around the west part of Japan. Every time I got the chance to look at the flag, I reminded that now I’m staring at the white flag with the red full circle in the middle of it, not the usual red and white flag that I usually stared at for the last 16 and half years of my life.

It’s afternoon in the middle of autumn when I wrote this article, in the middle of an internationally famous coffee shop near Hiroshima station with this iced Americano that I kind of regret on buying. I know that it’s supposed to be bitter, but I don’t think that it would be THIS bitter. God I feel like I’m drinking a juice of tire. I’m only on the second smallest size, and it’s not even half finished yet. How does one of my favourite idol enjoy the biggest size of it with extra espresso, I couldn’t wrap my mind out of it. Those who know the reference of this article’s title would surely know who am I talking about. Oh well, at least the barista was cute. He asked me if I wanted it cold or hot when I surely said ‘Ice americano’ before. His embarrassed laugh and smile is a fair exchange to this bitter tire juice, I guess.

Also no offense to those who truly enjoyed the drink, I simply enjoy sweet things better. As I’m not accustomed with bitter tastes.

Season changes, from the humid summer to chill autumn. I never experienced autumn before, thanks to the tropic climate of Indonesia, I’m so really excited. I read that it’s supposed to be a season of oversize sweaters, fuzzy socks and warm chocolate drinks. So far, I’m enjoying the season, but really, I would prefer anything to the hot, sweaty, sticky summer. I think that’s the best way to describe Japan’s summer. It’s not that different with Indonesia, but I think the fact that I’m the only one with the hijab on while everyone else not, definitely played some kind of role to my psychological perception towards this summer.

In summer, however I got the chance to went to Osaka! My sponsor arranged this 3 days summer event to every student who got the scholarship. Our bond is definitely better know, compared to the awkward first dinner in march before. This is also when I realized that I’ve been slacking off with my Japanese studies, as everyone was really good at it. It was a slap to the face that made me study harder since I was definitely behind everyone else. We were supposed to went to one of Johnny’s group concert but since the strong typhoon unfortunately hit Osaka that night, we were forced to stay in the hotel. It was fun, though. We as the students playing games, and before that, the sponsor took us to the Japanese restaurant where we could order basically anything. There were a lot of foods. I’m not even exaggerating, we really had no self control on what we were ordering, but hey, we had fun.

I also got the chance to go to one of my dream place, Universal Studio! My previous host family took me there, and I couldn’t be more grateful to got the opportunity. The Harry Potter attraction was my favourite, definitely. It was worth the one hour queue that my host cousin and I should bear. We stayed there until the studio was almost closed, and I don’t really feel like leaving at that point. Staring at the night Osaka sky in Universal Studio is finally crossed in my bucket list. I can’t believe it just happened.

This is out of topic, but my hands are now currently shaking because of the caffeine that I drank. Oh lord I could imagine me tossing around in my bed, not being able to sleep tonight. Remember kids, don’t drink too much caffeine if you’re not getting used to it or you’ll ended up like me. Maybe it’s a good thing, maybe this would stop me from procrastinating and making me productive. Does it worth the shaking hands, I don’t know. I’ll tell you in the end of this article.

We had summer camp in Hiroshima. I know you guys know what Hiroshima is known for, which is a city that got an atomic bombed back then, in August 6th 1945; 08.15 a.m. I’ve been known this information since I studied it at school, but I never got the chance to see it through the Japanese perspective. Through the hibakusha’s perspective. How the bomb completely changed their lives, how the terror and horror from the bomb didn’t stop even after it ended. The actual condition of the corpses, and the radiation that screwed their bodies if they lived through it. We got the honour to hear the story exactly from the hibakusha’s perspective, and I really felt like crying. You see, I’ve been always a girl who wishes about world’s peace. The song, heal the world by Michael Jackson was definitely the one that opened my eyes into the cruel reality that I couldn’t see. It faded through time as I got older since that pure heart has been tainted by lots of stuffs, but this experience was definitely my second eye-opener.

I was reminded that I had this dream of peace, and I was taken back to how I felt when I was an innocent child. It’s nostalgic. Dare to say, rendezvous, even. I hope I could play my part in world peace, even if it’s small. And I hope you could, too.

Things changed for you. Whether it’s for the best or the worst, you wouldn’t know it right away. Life always have its own special way of telling you stuffs. But just know that everything happens for a reason. Someday in the future, you would look back and say, “Oh, so that’s why it happened.” Mine started with my new host family in the end of summer holiday. Things are different now, and every family has its own distinguished rules towards one another. I made mistakes once, twice, honestly, I’ve lost count. But I realized that it’s a way for life to make me a better person, to learn from my mistakes and tell me that I’m simply, a mere mortal that is far from the word perfect.

I don’t know how I’m managed to insert that little thought about life in the end of this article, I think I need to blame it on the caffeine that pushes almost every thoughts that I have in my brain into this article.

Now that I think about it, the bitter taste isn’t really that bad. After all, it’s the thing that made this article finished, anyway.

Maybe, it is finally time for me to realize that ‘change’ isn’t something to think about, like counting how many days have passed since I left Indonesia, how different Japan is, how different is your experience compared to others. Sometimes you just simply, don’t think and just go through with it. Just like how this article is finished because of my sweet tooth-self decided to order a bitter, caffeine drink, maybe it will help you get through everything, even though at first, it tasted like tyre juice.

But it’s done, and that’s all that truly matters.

And there’s a chance that perhaps, you will crave for that tyre juice-like taste in the future.

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Bina Antarbudaya

The Indonesian Foundation for Intercultural Learning Official Partner of AFS Programs