First Leipzig Trip

Visiting Leipzig has been on my bucket list since I found out that Bach spent around half of his life there as a Kapellmeister for the church (somewhat like a music director).  On February last year, I randomly applied to participate in the Leipzig Book Fair (Leipziger Buchmesse) choir in March.   Turns out that also entitled me with a free ticket to the Book Fair and the Manga Comic-Con.  The songs were 4 Lithuanian songs (the 2017 Guest Country) and two other Balkan songs, which were quite exciting because the comitee sent us a recording on how to pronounce the words in the songs.

My Book Fair ticket was also embedded with local transportation ticket for the whole day.  The fair officially opened at 10 but before 10 am people were already queuing before the door.  Leipzig Book Fair is the 2nd biggest book fair in German after the Frankfurt Book Fair.

 

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The book fair is mainly divided to 5 section and there was 1 section specially for Children’s books, which was super cool.  I would like to spend a whole day there reading, if only my german were better back then.  It’s not merely a book fair , but more like a huge cultural event.  One can enjoy all kinds of entertainment, from book signing, live music performances, games and activities for kids, and there was also a room provided by the MDR, where kids can try out different musical instruments.  After leaving the Book Fair, I still got some time to attend Sunday Service in the famous Thomaskirche.

The next day, I visited the Völkerschlachtdenkmal (Monument to the Battle of the Nations) on a sunny day and having to climb some stairs to get to the top of the building.  This monument was originally designed to commemorate 100 years anniversary of Napoleon’s defeat in the 1813 Battle of Leipzig (which was also known as the Battle of the Nations because it involves Napoleon’s army aided with Italy + Poland + Germans from the Rhine against Russia + Prussia + Sweden + Austria) . The building was mainly a huge stone structure with a coppula on top of it.  Somehow it reminds me of a greek / roman temple, because they have music played inside the hall with huge statues (maybe I watch too many movies).  There is a statue of archangel Michael at the entrance and on the building next to it, there is a museum about the Battle of Leipzig.

 

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I visited the Thomaskirche again afterwards.  Johann Sebastian Bach was buried here, in the altar.  In a small room inside a church there was an additional exhibition about Bach on the last years of his life on the theme of death.  The wall was written with the text from his BWV 60 cantata complete with references to the Bible passage from which it originates.  It was like reading a scientific paper, only this time the paper is the cantata and the citation is the Bible.

 

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Then, I visited Universität Leipzig which is also located just around the corner, on Augustusplatz.  The concert hall Gewandhaus, Opera House, and the university all reside in this corner of Leipzig inner city. Tips for taking a break after a walking trip, just go to a university and you can sit a while and uses the toilet, also refill your water bottle 👌.  The university used to have a church (Paulinerkirche) that was bombed at the time of German Democratic Republic.  But now the church has been rebuilt and by the time of my visit, was still on the finishing step.

Although most museums are closed on Monday, I found an interesting route which is the Notenspur Leipzig (Music Trail of Leipzig). It is a route around the city center that consist of historical buildings/places associated with classical music history, such as churches where Bach used to work, the house of Felix Mendelssohn, birthplace of Clara Schumann, previous resident of Edvard Grieg, and many more as depicted in the picture below.  The points are also equipped with information board and some have interactive features.   After that, I went to Nicolaikirche to watch a free concert from the choir of University of Union, USA.  Unfortunately it is forbidden to take a photograph inside the church.

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Notenspur Leipzig

 

 

 

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Berpetualang ke Ghana

2 tahun lalu, saya berkesempatan pergi ke Ghana dalam rangka tugas kantor.  Iya, ke Ghana yang di Afrika itu.  Nggak pernah ada sekalipun kepikir untuk menginjakkan kaki di Benua Afrika.  Cerita bisa ke Ghana itu agak unik.  Gimana nggak, saya diutus ke Ghana itu H-4 sebelum flight dan sebelumnya gak ada rencana apapun, sama sekali.  Seluruh keperluan visa berhasil (Puji Tuhan) diurus pada H-2.  Mengurusnya pun agak drama, karena di Indonesia nggak ada kedutaan Ghana.  Jadilah agen perjalanan harus membawa seluruh surat dan dokumen ke kedutaan Ghana di Malaysia.

Singkat cerita, visa saya dan pak bos keluar dengan selamat.   FYI, kalau pergi ke negara Afrika hampir pasti harus vaksinasi demam kuning (yellow fever).  Penyakit ini ditularkan oleh nyamuk.  Daftar lengkap vaksinasi yang disarankan kalau kita bepergian keluar negeri bisa dilihat di sini dan di sini untuk versi singkatnya.  Vaksin demam kuning ini bisa diperoleh di Kantor Kesehatan Pelabuhan Bandara Soekarno – Hatta

Mata uang Ghana adalah Ghanaian Cedi (1 Cedi = 3000 Rupiah per tulisan ini dibuat).  Berhubung di Indonesia nggak ada penukaran mata uang ini, saya bawa USD ke Ghana.  Tips kalau pergi ke negara – negara yang mata uangnya agak sulit ditukar di Indonesia, bawa USD / Euro ke negara tersebut.  Maskapai yang kami pakai adalah Emirates, transit 1 x di Dubai dan lanjut ke Accra, ibukota Ghana.  Sesampainya di Accra waktu lagi menunggu koper di conveyor belt, tiba- tiba listriknya mati , welcome to Ghana 😅  Ternyata di Ghana sering mati listrik selama 3 tahun terakhir salah satunya karena bendungan pembangkit listriknya kering (thanks to climate change).  Akibatnya, harga bahan pokok di Ghana termasuk mahal (menurut Numbeo, lebih mahal daripada Jakarta).  Waktu ke mini market setempat, kebanyakan produk -produknya merupakan produk impor dan produk Ghana-nya mungkin hanya 30-40%.  Oya, cuaca di sana panas tapi mirip – mirip Jakarta deh, dan banyak nyamuk juga.  Dimana-mana ada pintu kawat nyamuk.

Berhubung acara di sana padat, kami cuma sempat jalan – jalan hari terakhir sebelum pulang.  Itupun subuh – subuh 😂.  Tapi nggak apa – apa, karena di Accra banyak bangunan bersejarah yang bisa dilihat, cuma berhubung masih subuh jadi nggak bisa masuk dan foto – fotonya pun gelap.  Anyway, ada beberapa foto yang lumayan representatif walaupun kualitasnya pas – pasan 😀

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Black Star Gate  
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Ferris Wheel di Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park.  Kwame Nkrumah adalah perdana menteri dan presiden pertamanya Ghana. Dulu, Ghana merupakan koloni Inggris dan namanya bukan Ghana melainkan Gold Coast.  Di taman ini ada mausoleumnya juga, sayangnya masih pagi jadi belum buka.  
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Flagstaff House, istana presiden Ghana
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Black Star Square / Independence Square, letaknya di seberang Black Star Gate

 

 

Menemukan Indonesia di Perantauan

Bulan Agustus ini, nggak kerasa saya sudah #hampirsetahundiDE. Anyway, ini adalah kali pertama saya merantau ke luar kota/pulau/negara/benua setelah tinggal dengan nyaman di Bandung, di mana sekolah, kampus, gereja berada di radius kurang dari 3 km saja.  Tapi justru di perantauan inilah saya banyak menemukan hal- hal baru tentang Indonesia yang saya malah belum tahu sama sekali ketika masih tinggal di Indonesia.

Berawal dari salah satu mata kuliah dimana kita diminta presentasi dan salah satu topik yang harus dipresentasikan adalah tentang abu vulkanis. Langsung dong saya pilih itu, saya yakin betul kalau referensi bahasa Indonesia tentang topik tersebut bakalan melimpah (secara Indonesia terletak di Ring of Fire).  Dari mengerjakan tugas itu, saya baru tahu kalau 75% penduduk Indonesia tinggal di radius <100 km saja dari gunung berapi.  Nggak lupa erupsi Tambora tahun 1815 yang mengakibatkan “year without summer” di belahan bumi utara.

Di kuliah yang lain, Klimatologi, salah satu materinya adalah tentang siklus Nitrogen.  Dari SD mungkin kita udah tahu kalau atmosfir kita itu tersusun dari 78% nitrogen.  Tapi nitrogen itu gak selamanya melayang-layang dalam bentuk gas di angkasa. Nitrogen bertransformasi dalam siklus nitrogen (lihat gambar di bawah).  Nggak cuma air, nitrogen juga ada siklusnya.  Nitrogen adalah salah satu komponen asam amino, penyusun protein.  Manusia bisa memperoleh nitrogen dari makanan (sayur /tanaman dan daging/telur).  Nah, tanaman bisa memperoleh nitrogen dari udara melalui proses fiksasi (contohnya tanaman kacang- kacangan yang bisa “mengikat” nitrogen di udara dan langsung menggunakan nitrogen tersebut) dan melalui petir yang mengubah nitrogen menjadi senyawa yang lebih aksesibel bagi tanaman (seperti amonia).

Siklus Nitrogen

Oke, intinya ini bukan tulisan tentang siklus geokimia.  Tapi pada saat kuliah ini, profesor saya bilang fiksasi nitrogen melalui petir itu hanya cukup signifikan di negara yang banyak petir seperti … Indonesia ! Lha saya malah baru tahu tentang hal ini.  Saya baru ngeh beberapa waktu lalu ketika saya denger petir untuk pertama kalinya selama di Jerman, sementara kalau di Indonesia udah bosen saking seringnya.

Peta Petir Sedunia (lihat Indonesia, banyak kan petirnya)

Saya tinggal di Essen, 1 jam saja dari perbatasan Belanda- Jerman.  Salah satu hal yang sering saya lakukan sejak tinggal di sini adalah memperhatikan kata- kata /frase dalam bahasa Belanda atau Jerman yang ada padanan literalnya dalam bahasa Indonesia. Contohnya kenapa ya bahasa inggrisnya “rumah sakit” itu “hospital?” Lalu saya sadar kalau “rumah sakit” itu bahasa Jermannya “Krankenhaus” (Kranken = sakit, Haus = rumah) yang mirip sama bahasa Belandanya (ziekenhaus; zieken=sakit, haus= rumah).  Nggak cuma menemukan padanan kata bahasa Indonesia, saya juga baru tahu kalau “pit”(istilah bahasa Jawa untuk “sepeda”) itu berasal dari “fiets” (bahasa Belandanya “sepeda”). Ternyata kosakata bahasa Indonesia banyak banget loanwords-nya ! Di asalkata.com saja ada 72 halaman daftar loanwords bahasa Indonesia yang berasal dari bahasa Belanda.  Saya banyak cari tahu dari tagar #sabtunedina juga di akun twitternya Mbak Lorraine Riva .

Dari akun twitter beliau, beberapa waktu lalu saya juga menemukan artikel bahasa Belanda tentang nama – nama jalan di Bandung dan Jakarta tempo dulu.  Saya jadi agak menyesal dulu waktu di Indonesia nggak banyak jalan – jalan keliling kota (lebih sering ke mall, tentu saja).

Masih banyak lagi hal tentang Indonesia yang saya temukan di sini.  Mulai dari makanan Indonesia kalau lagi main ke Belanda, juga komponis – komponis Hindia Belanda yang punya karya berdasarkan musik gamelan.  Tentang 2 hal ini kayaknya saya bisa bikin postingan tersendiri karena bakalan panjang banget :))  Saya jadi makin semangat belajar dan mencari tahu tentang sejarah dan budaya Indonesia. Salah satu wishlist saya mumpung lagi di sini adalah bermain dan belajar ke perpustakaan Universitas Leiden, yang katanya punya koleksi literatur Indonesia yang lengkap.

Untuk menutup tulisan ini, saya mau bilang : Selamat ulang tahun ke-72 Republik Indonesia ! Nggak apa – apa ya telat seminggu :’))

Javanese Marketplace
Miniatur tipikal pasar di Pulau Jawa tahun 1850-an (Rijksmuseum Amsterdam)

 

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Masih di Rijksmuseum, ratifikasi Perjanjian Breda (1667) antara Inggris dan Belanda, yang menukar Pulau Run (Kepulauan Banda) dengan New York / Manhattan

 

PS: Sebelum saya menulis tulisan ini, saya menemukan satu lagi istilah bahasa Jerman yang ada padanan literalnya dalam bahasa Indonesia : “jembatan keledai” !

We Listen to Reply

Based on my previous blog post, chronologically this post should be about “How to Apply for Germany Student Visa” or “First Week in Essen” and so on, but anyway :p.  A few months ago, I found this quote from Stephen Covey somewhere in either my Facebook timeline or Tumblr dashboard

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At the moment I was like “Wow, this is so freaking true”.  I personally don’t like to talk if there is nothing I want to add and I feel annoyed if in a meeting or discussion people just throwing out their opinion without a point and just reciting everything else that has been said before, just for the sake of replying.  I am not saying that I hate people expressing their opinion, but at some point at some institutions this ineffective habit of throwing pointless arguments is just, well, time-wasting.

Not until I have moved to Germany that I found this quote way way more relevant to my daily life.  FYI, I live in Essen, the 6th biggest city in Germany, the 2017 European Green Capital City with around 560.000 inhabitants.  It’s a very busy city along the Ruhr River, home to the famous steel company Thyssen Krupp and in the 19th century was a highly industrialized (and polluted) area.  People here are highly busy but not that english-speaking as another bigger cities such as Berlin or Munich, just to name a few.

Before I come here I have taken a German course in Bandung for 1,5 years.  I was thinking that “Well, I might not be able to write something in perfect German but I think I can manage that”.  Turns out I was wrong.  Yes I am able to understand some German terms, yes I can write e-mail in German but I cannot understand what the people are saying in German.  At all.  So I can start a conversation but I am not able to interpret what the response is.  Up until this time (4 months) I only manage to understand at the most 50% of what people are saying.  This is because they speak very differently with whatever it is I have learnt. Different speed and different accent.  There was a period when I was so overwhelmed by the fact that I cannot understand spoken German that I just didn’t want to go anywhere.  Even asking for toilet location at church can be overwhelming, simply because I was too afraid that I wouldn’t be able to understand the reply.  And I learnt it the hard way that to learn a language in its native land, you simply need to understand, and you should thrive to listen and understand what the question is.  (That also includes the courage to ask “Could you repeat a little bit slowly?”)

To speak about linguistics would be too far, but this is the point of communication.  How could I reply, if I don’t understand what the question is in the first place ? I have experienced this same thing with Sundanese and Javanese language back then.  But I never think of it, after all people will ask me question in Indonesian anyway, so why bother?   But here, I was given the basic, most important lesson in communication the hard way (well, according to my previously-spoiled-life-in-convenient-city). We listen not to reply, but to understand first.

 

October

I don’t really like October

Somewhere in the past, somebody left in October. Another also left in October.  The former left to another hemisphere of the earth while the latter left for a new stage in life. So it is normal (?) if I always welcome October cautiously.  Triggers are everywhere.

And yet this October will be full of drama

What, So What, Now What ?

 

One of my favourite thing to do is attending seminars. Like seriously, if I could spend my whole life listening to people talking about something in particular, listening to lectures, and reading book, I would. There is nothing more satisfying than gaining new knowledge…only to find it buried down deep for the rest of my life (until now, hopefully).

Last year I attended a Bible Camp on Christian Apologetics and last Saturday I found myself in a similar but slightly more comprehensive seminar by the same speaker and I could not help but start wondering “what have I achieved this year?” Seems like whatever I was learning last year just stay there, unanalysed even though I am really trying to implement it in my daily life (super difficult, though). So the thing is that for me, I am searching for so many knowledge and found them not useful, yet. Or it was me not trying to make use of all of them. I always get motivated in a seminar and by the time I get out of the building, the motivations disappear like a vapor into thin air. I also fancy collected tons of training materials, only to found it not being used until now, where I found myself wondering I could have done this project better, if ony I refer to those training materials. My bosses have also admit that they attended lots of training or seminar and then buried the material somewhere inside that enourmous cupboard on the corner of the room.

This made me recall an event I was doing last month with my colleagues. It was a training and bonding activity and one of the key message that kept resonating inside my head is “reflection”. So let’s say that you have a particular event in your life. How big it will have impacted your life will be determined by your reflection on the event. What is the event, so what you feel about it, and now what you will do about it. Those are the questions that were continouously being asked by the facilitators. Although to be honest, most of the training materials are quite heavy on New Age worldview, which are not suitable with my worldview, I had quite a battle inside my heart over it throughout the training *sigh* . Anyway, without routinely reflecting on everyday events, my life and the worldview I hold onto wouldn’t be developing too. In short, we can develop much more progressive toward a better person, if only we tried to routinely reflecting, in my case, on those seminar materials, training, and of course, life’s tribulation

Cheers,
Lydia

Disclaimer : The title of this post are mottos frequently said by the EcoLearningCamp team