Happy Holidays from The Down Under

This Christmas was the first one that I had to spend away from home, family, and all the familiar faces. While there is nothing like the warm feeling of being back home for the holiday, I’m happy I didn’t completely miss all of our usual traditions which involved putting up the tree, catching up with friends & family, and lots of sugar cookies (more to be found here). This year, I was mentally prepared for a very (quite literally) Blue Christmas, but it turned out that every disappointment is a blessing in disguise indeed. I get to reunite with my best friend who’s home from Adelaide and spend Christmas at hers (my home away from home).

Living in Australia, it can be difficult to find that comfy-cosy feeling of the holidays. Hot chocolate? Too hot. Sledding? More like surfing. But throwing a funky pre-holiday potluck party, a Christmas family lunch (stuffed turkey included), and swapping Secret Santa pressies with friends seemed like a nice holiday hug for everyone and that’s exactly what we did.

While I was practically adopted for the holiday, I couldn’t be more blessed for all the friends and family that make Brisbane home. And while spending the holiday at home is still all so potently irreplaceable, it’s a lovely realisation that Christmas is not only where you find it; it’s what you make of it. Had myself a Merry little Christmas and I hope you did too! X.

DSC_0767Throwback to a potluck party at our place before everybody runs off for their holiday

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DSC_0883Chocolate pavlova with cream, raspberries, and strawberry compoteDSC_0853IMG_0153The cutest organic essentials from my secret santaProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetHome away from home

 

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What To Do in Brisbane This Holiday Season

My first week back in Brisbane had been pretty occupied unpacking luggages, catching up with classes, attending friends’ graduation, recovering from a nasty flu, but the most fun yet, playing tourist in this Queensland’s proud capital!

One of the things that makes Brisbane so exciting is the endless possibilities of things to do in this sprawling city. Unlike the other half of the world and their whole ‘Winter Wonderland’ situation, we celebrate Christmas under Australia’s warm, summer sky. Brisbane is currently spreading festive cheer across the City and South Bank, from parades to markets, free holiday movie marathons to festive lights thrown all over King George Square. Seriously, you just cannot seem to run out of things to check out here.

A few friends and I decided to spend a day exploring some of the major holiday highlights happening in the city. From checking out exhibitions in South Bank to ending the day at a West End bar, here are some of the Brisbane’s holiday bucket list items checked from our little city detour:

  1. Turning into a tech nerd at The Lab. We started the day at the Digital Futures Lab where part of the second floor of The State Library of Queensland is currently transformed into basically a public Tech Arcade. The interactive exhibition allows you to actually walk in the timeline of the world’s technology history. From drawing with Microsoft Paintbrush on an actual Windows 95 desktop to sketching 3D dragons with a Virtual Reality gear, they’re well worth a return trip. 
  2. Taking shameless Instagram selfies at GOMA. Still in the same South Bank cultural precinct is The Queensland Gallery of Modern Arts (QAGOMA). I think GOMA is a place where one can just kick back and enjoy the calm in the madness. Aside from the Instagram worthy exhibitions, they always have fun and creative activities to do for kids and adults (or in my case, it’s always somewhere in between). They’re currently presenting the Yayoi Kusama’s and Gerhard Richter’s exhibitions but when you don’t have time to go in any major ones, check out their Calendars page because they always have free exhibitions to enjoy.
  3. Exploring West End by foot. West End is one of those unapologetically quirky  inner-city corners rich with culture and its own charming local characters. It’s a melting pot of curated designer boutiques, organic grocers, cosy bars and coffee houses. Explore West End by foot (about 20 minutes walk from South Bank) and you might just stumble across some serious vintage shopping scenes. Bag a bargain of second-hand designer clothes at Vinnies or trade yours in for cash at SWOP on Boundary Street. There are some serious retro finds to be had here.
  4. Grabbing a cider at Brisbane Brewing Co. I must admit I was a little skeptical being dragged here by my flatmate Meta as this bar was tucked away down a laneway off the Boundary Street. But take a few more steps and you’ll find yourself in this airy beer garden with hanging gardens on the bar and outdoor umbrella patio table sets. I’m temporarily taking a drinking hiatus for some health reasons, but I took a sip of the apple/ginger cider she ordered, and I’m already finding reasons to come back there again in a few weeks time.

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Hope you had a good one X.

Slowing down and Staying in

Greetings from room 512.

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I know it’s been more of a death blog than a hiatus by now and if not for me laying queasy on a hospital bed right now, I could not have possibly find the time to sit down to revisit this sweet thing and realized how much I have missed writing again.

If I could blame my final year Design Project** for everything, I would. The last semester  had been a serious struggle juggling between uni and work. School isn’t merely a 9-to-5 job anymore, and I found myself working no matter the time and place, on weekends, all night, sometimes only coming home from uni to take occasional shower and change (I lost count on the amount of times I stole my boyfriend’s t-shirts and hoodie and lived in them for a week).

I flew back to Indonesia right after we submitted our Final Design and (hopefully) rocked that presentation. Without even unpacking my luggage, I had to fly again to East Java for a month for a placement in PGN. By the end of third week at work, this worker bee finally gave up. What started as a mild fever turned into the most horrific pain I had to experience in a very long time. I struggled getting anything into my system without throwing up every 10 minutes, costing me some major emotional breakdown. I stopped coming down to work and by the fourth day, I was hospitalized with Typhoid A.

I spent most of the past few days crying because a). I had to miss a trip to Bali with friends that I had long waited for, b). IV tubes are terribly inconvenient, and c). hospital food just bores me to tears. I could go on with the list of hospital rants, but I somehow started seeing it as a nice reminder that it’s okay to give myself a break every now and then. On a brighter Thanksgiving note, I’m really thankful for my  family here who really sticks around despite my current mental state, mom who flew all the way from Jakarta, shampooed my hair this morning (the hair situation got to the point where I couldn’t tell wet from greasy), and let me sneaked in some sushi deliveries because we are rebels like that.

In the past, I would have pushed through all of the works and vacation plans I had scheduled, but I now realize the importance of slowing down. I’ll be leaning into comfort food once I get discharged in a few days (is it just me or is eating healthily when you’re feeling under-the-weather so unappealing?) and laying low. Happy Thanksgiving and hope you all have a good one. x

 **A course designed to ensure final year Chemical Engineering students have no life whatsoever in their final year. However, I low key miss tagging the team in fresh relatable memes and confessing true emotions in many of the all nighters. 

 

Two Thousand and Seventeen

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It’s almost been a year since I started this blog, and while I often don’t have time to write much, I’m happy with the fact that this journal will always be a click away whenever I need a platform to channel my thoughts, travel adventures, and my love for little things in life.

Looking back, 2016 had been a remarkable year. To say that the first half of the year was tough is an understatement. I remember clearly the days where I was feeling frustrated, bitter, angry, and days where I was simply a miserable mess. But it’s okay, because it taught me to let go. I learned from the hard times, the heartbreak, the tears, from the mistakes and from my own shortcomings. It made me a little bit wiser and a little bit stronger, and as much as it sucked, I wouldn’t change a moment of it because it brought me where I am today.

If I had to pin-point one moment that changed everything it would be moving to Australia. It was one of the most challenging and exciting things that has ever happened to me, and leaving home has changed me and shifted my whole perspective on things. It taught me to survive on my own.

I can’t stress how badly I realized that I love home and the people I call so. There are days where I wanted nothing more than to wake up at home and sneak into my parents’ room and turn on their TV to watch Sunday morning cartoons.These are the things you learn to appreciate more and more as you return home.

I admit, my school itself is a whole different level there than it was in Indonesia. I had to upped my study game to merely pass (I’m glad that all those late nights in the library had successfully paid off). In the weeks leading up to my departure, I remember being absolutely terrified about not being able to “click” with the new place. But never had I been so wrong. It seems like I’ve made more new friends in the past 6 months than I did in 20 years. It may sound crazy, but these improbable friendships often seem destined. It’s when the cliche sayings of “You cross paths for a reason” make absolute sense. Coming from different parts of the world and despite all of our differences, we were there for each other. I’m eternally grateful for the moments I got to share with them, big or small, from pulling up all-nighters in the library cramming our final Unit Ops reports to all the parties we went to with a little bit of liver functionality that we have left.

2016 gave me a lifetime supply of stories to tell and moments to look back to. I’m thankful for the times I spent laughing my face off, the times I stayed up talking to someone I loved, and the times it made me feel invincible. Unlike all other years, it left an impact. As for 2017, it’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings. Happy New Year from yours truly.

x,
Amanda.

Some of my favorite moments from 2016.

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12 Things I Love About Coming Home for Christmas

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While going home for the holidays may mean long flights and an overstuffed suitcase, it’s something I know I will always look forward to from this year onwards. Living abroad has taught me that Christmas is so much more than just a holiday cliché and here’s why I’m truly grateful to be home this most wonderful time of the year.

  1. The warm feeling of being back home and snuggling in my parents’ bedroom again, watching holiday movies with sis and sneaking grilled cheese into the room.
  2. Being back in my own time zone, sleeping in my own bed with a sign over it that says my name and is slightly embarrassing. And oh, duvets. Sweet glorious duvet.
  3. Driving suddenly becomes way more enjoyable than any other time during the year because you have the perfect excuse to render to Christmas songs to your heart’s content and possibly beautiful lights popping up everywhere you go.
  4. The morning you pulled out the mighty box of Christmas tree, lights, and ornaments and putting decorations up with people you love most.
  5. Baking Christmas cookies and the smell of freshly baked goods.
  6. Reuniting with my favorite cup of caramel macchiato and Starbucks has red cups so nothing else matters. (No they don’t have Starbucks in every single corner in Australia. You’re lucky to even spot one.)
  7. Having access to your entire wardrobe and make-up collection again. Because life with only 3 pair of shoes and one shade of eye shadow just ain’t the same.
  8. Catching up with old friends and family and being asked about life in Brisbane. Not to brag, but it’s been lit and definitely the highlight of the year.
  9. Family dinners that carry on forever and in which you had a little too much candies and end up dancing to The Chainsmokers with your little sister because sugar high is apparently a real thing. Also having family members tell embarrassing stories about you when you were little (which they tend to get more and more exaggerated every year.)
  10. Being fed like a child because your mother decides you’re not eating well enough at school and seems to want to satisfy all of your Indonesian food cravings. Also finally not having to worry about not being able to afford restaurant bills.
  11. Grandma’s occasional foot massages. And naps. So many naps.
  12. Spending time with your family, friends, and simply being surrounded by people who matter. Because there’s truly no place like home for the holidays.

I came to realize that the best things in life are the people we love and this year I appreciate being home more than ever before. Merry everything and a happy always. X

Notes From a Homesick Heart

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I can’t even begin to find the words nor contain the excitement of writing my first post since moving to Australia. I know I’ve been on a long hiatus but all this moving and settling down have been keeping me so occupied that I didn’t have chance to blog much about the whole experience as it was happening. Today marks exactly one month since I moved here as well as the anniversary of Indonesia’s Independence Day and seeing all these posts about celebrating the big day back home, I couldn’t be more homesick.

As great as it has been so far, I won’t lie – moving here from Indonesia, leaving my family and friends behind, was gut-wrenching and has been one of the scariest yet most exciting things that has ever happened to me. I didn’t realize how much I could miss home up to this very day. I spent the whole afternoon looking at the photographs and videos that we took on our last family getaway, browsing for Indonesian food recipes, and actually listening to different versions of our National songs on Spotify. So here’s a little note from my homesick heart.

I’m sorry for all the times I called you boring and lame. I didn’t see that there will come a day where I would miss your cracked sidewalks, your local cafes where I spent most of my Friday nights at, your endless summer warmth, and the faces of people who call you home. You gave me so many wonderful memories and friendships to last a lifetime. It’s safe to say that my fondest memories are locked behind those walls of my high school classrooms and my beloved alma mater Universitas Indonesia. I miss all the random movie nights and going to our go-to ramen place cornered at a gas station near home where my friends and I would always end up at whenever we ran out of places to hang out at. We would stay late and had countless conversations about how the future would unfold or simply reminiscing our high school days.

You gave me the loveliest paradise and trips of a lifetime. You still have the most beautiful beaches and sunsets I’ve ever seen, the most gorgeous paddy fields, and the most diverse of cultures I’ve ever experienced. I promise to explore a lot more of you whenever I’m home. Although you’re not always a pure bliss (I still don’t think I can cope with your traffic jams), I can never express how much appreciation I have for what you have brought to my life. We all grow up and move on, but that doesn’t mean we forget where we came from. Because no matter where I end up or where this crazy world takes me, you are and will always be home.

Dirgahayu Indonesia. You’ve come so far and even further you will go.

Ps. Looking forward to eating my way through Pesta Rakyat this coming Sunday and celebrate Independence Day with all fellow Indonesians.

Summer Bliss

This week has already been a series of bad luck; starting from a major accident that I got into on Monday morning (which I’d rather not talk about), an ugly allergy reaction and the nasty flu that caught me after. All of this only leads to my organized plans falling apart including work and a medical check-up appointment for a student visa that had to be rescheduled until after I fully recover. I usually get stir crazy after being in bed for more than a day, but I made the right call and opted to get the rest I needed.

Since the days pretty much forced me to stay in my pajamas and bed all day, I decided to try my best to stay positive and reminisce about a picture perfect weekend spent on an island getaway last week. I posted some pictures and videos up on my Instagram and Snapchat, which surprisingly led to so many people commenting and personally messaging me to ask where I went (half actually guessed Bali in the first try). One wouldn’t guess that only two short hours by speedboat from the bustling city of Jakarta, you’d find such a gorgeous and pristine place. Tiger Island, or Pulau Macan as they call it, is a true hidden gem and even that is an understatement.

The accommodation (we were in the Island hut) was the most romantic I ever stayed in with a deck and stairs over the sea. At night we laid down on the deck stargazing for hours and in the morning we got out of bed, stood by the sea and watched the sunrise. One of highlights of the trip I must say was the little island hopping adventure I had with my siblings the next day. At the crack of dawn, we took a little paddle boat out and rowed our way to a nearby island. There were no people occupying it and it was just the three of us snorkeling and swimming on the beach where warm sands meets crystal clear turquoise water. It was so calming and serene that we simply didn’t wanna leave. There were plenty to do – and not to do – involving a lot of soaking in the sun, listening to my Spotify summer playlists (mostly by Kings of Convenience), and taking lots of naps.

While this may or may not be my last official family vacation before I’m leaving for Australia in just the count of days, I’m glad that it was such a bliss and filled with beautiful memories to look back on. Looking forward to sunnier days and recovering real soon. Have a great week.

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetThis epic cold has me missing sunny days

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetOur eco-friendly hut with no air-con. But who needs one when you have the sea breeze?

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetA private deck to our own side of the beach

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Because if you’re not barefoot then you’re overdressed

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What every morning should be like if I had my way

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Paddled our way across to this breathtaking (unoccupied) paradise and was worth all the sunburn

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My absolute beach essentials (minus my SPF 50 sunscreen) 

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Irresistible naps after mornings spent lazing in the sun, swimming, and snorkeling

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Then waking up to this, I could really get used to.

Processed with VSCO with hb2 presetTo say I fell in love with this place is an understatement because no words or pictures could really do the place justice