Category Archives: Life in Europe

How Often Do I Travel?

I started documenting my travel statistics since the second half of 2010, which coincided with the time I moved to Europe for my Master study, simply because before that.. I didn’t really travel much. Here I define travel as “deliberately going away from the city/region I am living in, either for fun or business, for more than a day.”¬†This includes: city-hopping trip, road trip, going home when I’m living abroad, and attending conferences and summer schools.

In the beginning I only documented the start and end dates, and thus the total days I was away, which is 65 days per year in average. If we exclude weekends and public holidays (observed in the country I was living in), we arrive at 42 days per year in average. What about vacation days? Counting days I was relaxing at home and fun trips, but not business trips (conferences, summer schools), I have 36 vacation days per year in average, which is still higher than the number of paid-leave days in countries with the most paid leave days, Brazil and France. I’m quite lucky I guess ūüėČ

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Welcoming 2017 and My 2016 in Review

A little bit late, but… hello, 2017! ūüôā

I’ve planned and started¬†two commitments for this year. The first one…

The second one is something that I actually started 3 years ago, yes, to master German (with Duolingo)! I’m going to start a stickK commitment soon, after a paper deadline. It seems to be an interesting concept, a friend has tried and recommended¬†it. The idea is: you set your goals, then¬†you can set a referee who verifies your reports. You can also¬†(optionally) set the stakes, in which the money can go to either a friend or foe, charity, or anti-charity, if you fail your commitment. Let’s see how it goes ūüėČ

As for my 2016 in review, inspired by a friend who reviewed his year by embedding¬†the highlight of his tweets for each month, I’m going to do the same! But I don’t tweet anymore, so I’ll embed my Facebook posts instead.

TL;DR: 2016 was a great and hectic but exciting year for me. A year of change and transition. I finished my PhD. I went home for 2,5 weeks. I started a Postdoc position, moved to Germany. I went to Japan for the first time, went back again two months later. And finally I turned 30.

Now, let’s start with…

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La Bicicleta

by¬†Carlos Vives & Shakira. If I think of summer 2016, I will have this song playing in the background ūüôā

As a beginner cyclist–my first biking trip was four years ago, only¬†one year after I learned how to ride a bike–, I’m quite satisfied with the biking trips I did this summer: Bolzano-Terlan-Bolzano (30 km), Bolzano-Salorno (34 km) and Saarbr√ľcken-Sarreguemines (20 km). Through these trips I learned that my current limit is 30 km, and on the last two trips I took a train back home ūüėõ . Well, baby steps, next time it will be 40 km.

The picture on the left–my cousin Dhika and Simon– was from the first trip to Terlan, right after I defended my thesis, so I was feeling super free and happy, and in the I-can-do-everything mood. The right one–credit to Daria– was from the last trip to Sarreguemines, in which I was the slowest one in the group ūüėÄ , but I still enjoyed it a lot. The weather was super nice (for Saarbr√ľcken).

I learned my limit quite harshly actually, from the second trip (until Salorno). I was quite sure I could make it to Mezzocorona, just 8 km more, but first I wanted to have a short break. Unfortunately, I stopped too close to the (quite) steep riverbank, and my cramped leg failed to bear my weight, so I tumbled down. Thanks to some bushes I didn’t get wet ūüėõ , but I paid my price because some of the bushes are stinging nettles.

Anyway, that doesn’t stop me… I will¬†definitely go for another bike trips! ūüėČ

Secondly…

Yes, I’m addicted to Zumba! ūüėÄ I’d been wanting to try it since last year, and finally last month I had a courage to join a course here, offered by the Saarland University sports center. I didn’t know that I would have¬†so much fun!

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Not So Wise No More

Picture was taken from here

I woke up sometime last week with a sore throat, I thought “Uh oh, flu is coming…” However, the pain then moves also to my ear, and¬†my head… but only on the left side. That’s when I knew that my upper-left wisdom tooth was causing trouble, again.

Last year, when I was home in Indonesia, I went to a dentist hoping that he would take this troubled tooth out, because I noticed that it grew abnormally towards my cheek. He dismissed me with pain relievers -.- One year later, the tooth grew bolder and causing me pain when I, 1) still don’t have any health insurance in Italy because I’m in the process of renewing my stay permit, and 2) only two weeks away from going back to Indonesia.

At first I was like, “I will endure the pain and wait until I’m back in Indonesia so I can get it removed there (with a considerably lower cost)!” After just one day I gave up and looked for a dentist here.

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Canyoning in Passeiertal

Picture was taken from here

This was the most recent adventure I did :). The activity was organized by the Sports Club University Bolzano, but non-members or even non-students were also allowed to take part. With 30‚ā¨ fee, transportation, barbecue and equipment are all included, which is quite a great deal. Furthermore, the activity was guided by professionals from Acquaterra, so it’s completely safe even for a beginner.

To give you an idea of what canyoning is about, just watch this video.

We did it at the exact same place as in the video, although… with less sunshine and more water. Actually, it was raining when we did it, and somehow the current was too strong (or there was too much water) that the guides decided to cancel the last sliding/jumping/swimming.

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My First Via Ferrata РMasarè

left picture is taken from here

So… do I look like them already? :p

Since last year I’ve been wanting to try¬†via ferrata, but the idea was always dismissed by the bear (a.k.a our via ferrata expert here :p)¬†by reason of my lack of stamina.

Via ferrata, the Italian words for ‘iron road’, is a protected climbing route usually found in the Alps. It is called the iron road because there is (almost) always a steel cable that runs along the route, fixed to the rock every 3-10 m. The climber can securely hang (with the climbing aids) on the cable, limiting any fall. (source: Wikipedia, of course)

Not only that the climbing activity requires¬†a very good physical fitness, but reaching the¬†ferrata¬†route itself usually requires¬†some hiking. It’s not like a helicopter would drop us at the start of the route, then pick us up after we are done :p. That’s why the bear was hesitant, because he thought I’m not fit enough to handle the long and tedious journey.

However, this summer, somehow he is convinced that I’m now able to do it (thanks to poweryoga ^^). So here we go!

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Playing with duoLingo

Da die Katze viel freie Zeit hat, lernt sie Deutsch, so dass sie mit der Familie des Bären sprechen kann. Sie lernt mit einem Spiel, welches duoLingo heißt. Es ist interessant! Die Katze lernt so schnell.

I knew of¬†duoLingo¬†for the first time on one of the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)¬†seminars, as one of prominent online courses for language. At that time I was thinking, “Hmmm… interesting”, but that’s all, I didn’t even bother to try it.

However recently, my friends were talking about it, that they learn Italian through this game, beating each other in the leaderboard. It is quite great especially when you have nothing else to do and want to defeat the boredom by doing something useful. So I decided to visit the site, and was excited when I saw that they have an app for it. The app is cool! Because having the game in my mobile phone, I can play while waiting for the bus or train, or even on the bus/train ride, or on the bed before going to sleep… perfect!

Now I’m on level 7 of German ^^ I hope I can finish the lesson (game) soon and move to the next step, watching movies or reading something in German. My goal is a basic German comprehension *for the upcoming ski holiday with the bear’s family on February ;)* so that I could at least understand what people are talking about. Participating in the conversation is of course the ultimate goal, but learning a language is like baby steps, don’t rush it :p.

And then after that… Italian! ūüėÄ

Cheers, optimistic cat ūüėČ

Cat Scratch Pad: Whiteboard Wall Sticker

The idea comes from the bear actually. He’s been wanting to have a whiteboard, but unfortunately, the dorm where he stays is not so flexible about things one can put on the wall. I like the idea, I mean… sometimes we need to write or sketch things down out of our mind, and using a whiteboard will save some papers. Save papers, save trees. Besides, in my new flat I have empty spaces on the wall and I’m free to put anything I like on it *I will have to repaint the wall at the end of the contract anyway*.

At first, we looked for a traditional whiteboard. The small ones, e.g. 60 x 40 cm, are not so expensive, but I don’t think that size is sufficient :p. So I searched for an alternative. I know that wall decals or wall stickers are popular nowadays, so there must be a whiteboard wall sticker. And yes there is, and it’s naturally less expensive than the traditional whiteboard! :D. Read more »

Benvenuti a casa mia!

After a series of living in dorms: a mini apartment in Nancy, a single room with shared bathroom and mini kitchen in Bolzano and a single room with private bathroom in Trento, I finally move to… my own flat! It’s called monolocale in Italian which basically means studio: the bedroom-living room-kitchen all in one space, and only the bathroom that is in a separate room.

I moved out from the comfortable Studentato San Bartolameo because there is a rule that a PhD student can stay in dorms (in Trento they are operated by Opera Universitaria) for the first year only. After that they kick us out like, “C’mon, you’re a grown up and already familiar with Trento.. go find your own place!” ūüėÄ

I started looking at the advertisements and collecting the phone numbers since 2 months before my contract ended, but it was difficult because… I don’t speak Italian that well *my Italian only works in the canteen and restaurants, i know… it’s been 2 years, shame on me* :(. So I decided to find it through an agency, which is the easiest way since the agent can speak English ^^, but requires extra money — I paid one month rent plus some taxes to the agency as the commission. Anyway… I found my cute small apartment!

It’s in Povo, quite far from the city center of Trento (around 3 km away, uphill), but only 10 minutes walk to my office ^^. I fell in love instantly when I saw this place, and it’s quite cheap compared with other monolocale in the city center. It’s in an old building *well almost all houses in Povo look like they were built centuries ago*, but the owner tried to make the interior looks new. And what I really like is that it is completely furnished, with complete kitchen utensils, matching set of bed cover, table cloth and curtains, tools.. everything!

Enough of the text, check out the pictures!

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Say Cheese! (Part 2)

Long long time ago… when I was still in France, I decided to start this cheesevestigation. But somehow it stopped abruptly. Perhaps after I courageously tried this cheese with blue mold, and that experience left me traumatized.. for a while :p.

Now that I’m in Italy, which also offers me a great variety of cheese, I will continue my investigation ^^. Here it goes…

Mozzarella

I’m sure this cheese is already well-known around the world. It is originally from southern Italy, traditionally made from Italian buffalo¬†and later cow’s milk¬†by the¬†pasta filata¬†method (source: Wikipedia). It is usually used on top of pizza, or pasta. But it could also be consumed freshly as snack *grin*, or, my favorite, to be served in my salad with olive oil and balsamico.


picture is taken from here

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