The Clock’s Ticking, The Book’s Half Full

Sonia Florence Serevin Pardede (INA AFS to Italy YP 16–17)

Salve! Sono Sonia, sono una studentessa dall’Indonesia e sto studiando in Italia. Sono qui perché vorrei raccontarvi la mia storia di essere in Italia da cinque mesi. Siete pronti? Ma, veramente, quando penso sulla mia esperienza, ho un dubbio..

(Hello! I’m Sonia, I am a student from Indonesia and I am currently studying in Italy. I’m here because I would like to tell you my story for being in Italy for five months. Are you ready? But, actually, when I thought about my experience, I had one doubt..)

Quanto lunghi cinque mesi potrebbero essere? Quanto brevi anche loro potrebbero sembrare?

(How long could have five months been? How short also could they seem?)

Thinking about being here for 5 months, sometimes I happened to think like “What? 5 months? It has been like more than it!”. But, more thoughts came up just like “Impossible, I feel like I just arrived yesterday, just started being here an hour ago. How could five months fly that fast?” Quite strange, isn’t it?

Last year, living my life as a student in Indonesia, five months could pass in a totally different way. They could pass without any particular memories, without anything …… It is just amazing, how can I feel so excited while remembering how these 5 months went.

Christmas. Being away from my Indonesian family for Christmas happened here for the first time. It feels strange, but I still feel complete. That Christmas was so special to me, gathering with my family and (finally) met some of my cousins who I never met before. Wherever it is, Christmas always brings something magical, something that other kind of days can not actualise. All I can do is smiling whenever I remember how my Christmas went in Italy.

New Year’s Eve. Could you imagine, having friends from other parts of the world? Doing many things with them makes me realise one thing : we are different, but also the same! We are totally different, in thousand things and perspective in seeing things, but that’s the thing that successfully united us. We are the same because we are currently in a process of learning things in Italy. New year’s eve with my girls from Iceland, Turkey, Netherlands, Croatia, and Germany happened to be the best new year’s eve ever! Each one of us brought a typical food from our countries. They were delightful.

The snow. In the beginning of January, I went to Tuscany with the Scout. We walked for 5–6 hours, carrying one big bag, in a day. Tiring? Yes. Happy? More than I imagine before. While we were walking to one house on the top of the hill, I saw something white falling down. Yes, it was snow. It was unbelievable, it was my first time seeing snow! I was so happy until I forgot how much tired I was.

Also in the beginning of January, I went to skate with my family. Doesn’t sound weird, right? Yeah, but we skated on a lake! A frozen lake. Imagine skating while seeing a frozen lake down your skating shoes. Well, for me, it was a bit scary, but sooo fun! There were many, many people on this lake. And when someone fell down, you could hear a little sound ‘bum’ and feel a bit of ‘shaking’ on the frozen lake. Yeah, sounds fun, isn’t it?

Anyway, this year’s winter was a bit strange. Snow had fallen in the south of Italy before it fell in the north area, which unusually happened. One of my sister said, “Magari, Sonia ha preso il calore dall’Indonesia quindi, non c’è la neve qui, invece in Indonesia, penso che ci sia tanta neve.” (Maybe, Sonia has brought the temperature from Indonesia so no snow here, meanwhile in Indonesia, I think snow is falling hard.) <which is a joke> Hmmm.. makes sense.

And, there’s one of my classmates who asked me if I had seen snow or not. I said yes, happily. Then she said, “Sono preoccupata e ho pensato molto a te queste vacanze. Avevo paura se non nevicasse. Perché volevo che tu vedessi la neve qui.” (I was worried and thought about you this vacation. I was worried that snow wouldn’t fall. Because I really want you to see it here.) Oh, how sweet.

But, people, not only happy moments that make up my half-full exchange year, but also those not-so-happy moments. All those not-so-happy moments don’t just happen, but they come to teach me some things.

Everything has to be balance. Too much, too little. Too happy, too sad. You can’t appreciate the existence of joy, if you have’t met sorrow. In some cases, you can’t control what will happen, but there’s one thing you can do ; choosing which way you’d use to face it.

Yes, it’s all about choosing. It’s all about deciding thing for yourself. To be yourself, to pretend to be someone else you’re not, to appreciate enough what you’ve got, to see bad things the way they really happened, to change the way of seeing things, it’s all about choices. I depend fully on myself, at least here. And, my choice is to keep writing my book here, and trying to be myself, the best of me.

The clock is ticking, and the book’s half full. I’ll keep writing, not leaving it dull.



The Indonesian Foundation for Intercultural Learning Official Partner of AFS Programs

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Bina Antarbudaya

The Indonesian Foundation for Intercultural Learning Official Partner of AFS Programs