My Story on UGRAD (Part 2)

January 31st, 2018

One of the biggest pleasure you can have while studying abroad is to have people of your nation. I am not denying that. Because it is a thousand percent true. People tend to fond those who have the same birth lands. As Nelson Mandela said, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, it goes to his heart”. Yes, I want to be fluent in English but not by eroding my mother tongue. Speaking Bahasa with these people are so priceless.

It was all started with my personal meeting with my international advisor in MNSU. After we had settled down our concerns, I got down to this question “am I the only Indonesian here?”. Then he said “no”. I was really excited to meet this people. A few days afterwards, my advisor emailed me and send the contact information of the Indonesian people. I contacted them right away. After a small talk in the Facebook, they finally invited me to come to one’s apartment and they welcomed me.

In honor to welcome my arrival on this campus, I don’t know weather it is the part of their tradition but they cooked me Indonesian foods. I almost forgot how Indonesian food taste like. That night was even better since they served me Indomie and we popped some “soda”. That night was running smoothly, we got to know each other. It was started from name then the convo got deeper into hobbies, girls, personal feelings, and so forth. We laughed in the same Indonesian jokes. These people are coming from Jakarta, Sulawesi, and Java but we have the sense of humor. Indonesian will be Indonesian everywhere in the world.

February 7th, 2018

Minnesota State University Mankato is a huge campus with numerous students. it varies from 98 countries all over the world. I do not know whether this is true but I heard this fact on the orientation. I can assume that everyday I will meet different people either in the way to the library or when I have brunch. Every nationality carries each unique characteristic. It is funny to listen to their slight accents.

Based on my observation for the last few weeks and my little research, I could map the behaviors of some people based on their nationalities. Most of them considered as majority are so attached to their groups. Some of the groups Include Koreans, Most Africans, and Americans. I am generalizing, some of them are not. This is really bugging me off. If you are in the US, studying in the US education system, it’s so much better if you use English in daily basis. I said so because these people speak with only their own language and hanging out with the same person every day. I love chilling with my Indonesian friends but that does not mean I have to be with them all the time. I’ve got to sharp my English skills too. This makes them are not approachable. They always ganging everywhere. So, two days ago, I met this Korean people, I greeted him he replied and we talked. It was on the way to my dorm, we had a nice time. Suddenly, his Korean friend showed up and interrupted our conversation. They even spoke Korean in front of me and left me hanging seeing them talking. What a disrespect!

I have also now more confidence to greet people because I know how to do it. it is not as simply as saying “Hi” to people because people judge you (Personal Opinion). You have to say it cool to make you look cool and worth to talk to. The first impression is really important. For example, I said “what’s good” to Black American. They’d reply the same “what’s good” too. For Americans I use “how is it going” or “how are you doing”. It worked for me.

Americans are really hospitable. It is exhibited from the way they hold the door handles for you. So, I walked slowly on my way to the Dining Center, one American walked faster and passed me because he might be into something. That made him reached the door first. He saw, He opened the door for me and bear it for me. He waited to come out and let me go first. Then he let go the door and walked fast again. Seeing these examples everyday made me copy that habit. I did the same thing too ever since. The people that I helped, they never forgot to thank me with a sincere smile. No matter where you are or what your nationality is, goodness is goodness. it is contagious to your surroundings. Some might say that Americans are rude or whatsoever but what I felt is the complete opposite. so, there was one time I asked the room of one professors to one of the random students passing through the aisle. She opened her headset and tried to describe it to me. I was being frank and I had no Idea what she was directing me to because I said I was still new in this campus. I knew she was busy but she still took me there. What a nice person!

February 14th, 2018

It is not always easy to make friends here. Because I’ve always wanted to have an extraordinary English skill like a real native speaker, I would be reasonable, according to my opinion, by mingling with the Americans. If it were in Indonesia, it would be really easy, we Indonesians have a similar sense of humor, hobby, and something in common. Those things are the best ammunition to build bromance. I have asked few people and concluded that networking is their main goal on making friends. This might be true because I have experienced it myself.

Undergoing one month in this state, I thought I would have American friends. I encounter with them every day on every corner of the campus yet none of them puts their attention on me. In the classroom, we can be really close discussing about the lectures, but when we’re out and encountered in the public places, say the Café, they acted like I am a stranger. This is weird. This is one the best reasons why Del is irreplaceable, it always feels like home wherever you are

it is all starting to fade away when one of my Indonesian friends invited me to go to church. the worship is just like anything else beside songs. They are not adapted from congregation hymn books. They are more modernized. It might be because the most congregations are students and kids. They welcomed me, asked me every unnecessary question just to get to know me closer to them. It was warming and happiness all over the air. I have never been treated this nice by Americans before. I don’t usually disclose myself to strangers but this feels different.

The church is a bit modernized. Every week is divided into two sessions: Wednesday and Sunday. The church is really fun to chill at. There is billiard, all kinds of board games, unlimited food, musical instruments that can be operated all the time placed on the basement. I usually come to the basement almost everyday to play pool and music with my Indonesian friends.

I personally perceive that a religion regardless what it is, does not only focus on the vertical relationship but also the horizontal one. Before the worship begun, we are catered with hot beverages and some American foods. This food is cooked by the local family there for free. while enjoying our food, we gather in the basement and interact. The affection is shown by noticing others. After the worship, we also gather in the basement and play. It feels like second home.

We also did some outdoor activities like skiing. Skiing was very challenging to me. I thought it was going to be easy just like the scene I saw on some movies but it wasn’t. The pastor drove us to the Mt. Kato and we might choose either to snowboarding our skiing. Either one is fine for me but skiing really caught my eyes. I suck at this sport and fell over and over again. Luckily, our pastor lessoned me how to do it step by step. After a few hours rehearsal, I could finally beat my first hill. What a day!

February 21st, 2018

I have mentioned before that when it comes to studying, the American education system has a more practical approach. Without hesitation, I would say that it is true.

I am taking MET 425 Lean Manufacturing. For those who don’t know, Lean Manufacturing is a discipline who focuses on diminishing the waste on the plant. for every plant on earth, this course is really crucial to increase the productivity.

Exactly 4 days ago, we went on a factory tour to learn about what actually Lean Manufacturing is. It was at Saint Peter, one hour and a half drive from Mankato. Since I don’t have any personal transportation, the vice president of this MET Department let me tagging along to hers.

The company we went to was Alumacraft, it is a small – medium sized company. We were welcomed by the managers and lectured a basic code of conduct in the company. After putting on all the safety equipment, we went inside and observed how the steel and lumbers could be transformed into such beautiful boats.

It was really noisy inside the factory. I couldn’t really ask the managers and workers and they seemed really busy with their affairs. Even, I could manage to talk to them face to face but still I would not understand anything. The sound of the machine was really hurting my ears. It was all paid off, I have now better understanding about the real use of Lean Manufacturing.

We then moved to the boat inventory and the maintenance. The boats were stacked outside, waiting for the customers call. It was a fun trip. The managers offered us to have a full-time internship there. I’d love to take the opportunity but because of my Visa Status, it seems impossible.

February 28th,2018

I love studying here in Minnesota. Even the weather is killing tropical – country human. After two months, it gets to the point where the excitement going downhill. seeing the same snow everyday in the same place would be a tedious. I’ve gotta visit at least the closest city to also loose the stress a little bit. one day without books and assignment.

My Indonesian friends thought about the escaping the routine as well. So, we were planning to go Minneapolis to find some fresh air.

It was on Friday February 23rd, the perfect time to execute it. One of my friends just got his new car so we were using that car. We were three persons going on this trip, one of the two picked me up by the front lobby of my dorm. I was really hyped. The trip would take 2 hours – drive. It was quite distant and we did not want to burden all the costs fuel to the car owner. So, we split the gasoline.

The view was wonderful. During the trip my eyes were pampered by the snowy meadows and freezing forests. I opened down the window, I glanced while inhaling the cold – fresh air.  It felt like I could forget all my problems, quizzes, and the upcoming exams. I guess my eyes were glowing and my soul was relieved seeing this. Upon our arrival at Minneapolis, we drove slowly sightseeing the city view. Unlike Mankato, the city is filled with antique buildings.

In Minneapolis, we stopped by to some places but the most memorable place is the Minnesota State University. One of the best universities in the United States. The campus was hella huge. I have got to be frank but I am kind of jealous to this one. On UofM, in turns out to be a lot of Indonesian people, approximately 50 students. we had been told there was an Indonesian event there. It was also one of the reasons why we came there on the first place. We attended that meeting and it was a blast. Meeting with other crazy amazing Indonesians there was a blessing in disguise. We mingled, we talked, and introduced myself. I was very proud to convey that I am a Fulbright Scholar from Del Institute of Technology. Even none of them knew it. lol. it was even more intriguing because they served us Indonesian food like Gado – gado, Lontong, etc.

After the event, our curiosity of exploring this huge campus was messing with us. so, we took a walk for a moment and took some pictures. The day was almost turned into night so we wrapped it up. It was a tiring day so we stopped the Japanese Buffet Restaurant to eat.

To be continued to 3rd Part.