Thursday, April 7, 2016

About what is "lucky" and what is "hard effort"

I've migrated to the Netherlands in December 2015. So it's only been 5 months since then. In those 5 months, a lot of things happened. One of them was the start of the permit application, which involved us hiring a lawyer to sort things out. It cost money, time and just a lot of effort. Not to mention the other things that we had done (and paid) before we found out that we should get a lawyer to deal with the immigration instead of doing it ourselves. Long story short: it has been complicated and expensive. Oh, did I mention "long"? The process is still on-going and I still haven't got any permit to live here permanently.

And then I got told by someone that I am lucky to be able to live here. At that time I was too flabbergasted to give a quick smart retort to that statement, but the next day I thought about it and it really pissed me off. So far, there's no "luck" involved in our effort in getting me migrated and settled here permanently. It's all hard effort and a lot of money (that also came from hard effort). We didn't get chosen by the Dutch government and given a free living permit. That would be "lucky". No, we have to go through all the bullshit like everyone else who wants to migrate to this country. We're fortunate because I didn't come from a war-torn country or that I had to migrate because some people wanted to kill me. I am lucky in that sense.

A lot of people (in some countries, not gonna point finger) are saying "we only accept legal immigrants!" "refuse them if they enter illegally!" and so on, without really understanding how it is still bloody difficult to get in legally. It's never a straight forward process in ANY country. Especially if you're coming from a developing country and trying to get into a developed country. Some people even asked me, "Doesn't the Dutch government give special conditions for Indonesians to migrate here because... well, you know, what the Dutch did to your country back then?" which is an understandable question. Like, yeah, why don't they give special conditions for Indonesians, considering they had killed and pillaged and enslaved many people in the Nusantara back then? Well, sadly, the answer is no, the Dutch government doesn't give any special treatment just because I'm an Indonesian. Everyone needs to go through the same procedure.

And that's fine, because that's just the way things are. But don't tell me that I should feel lucky.

And then I thought, how terrible it is for refugees who struggled so much to stay alive to come to a country and got told they should feel lucky and therefore they should not be asking too much, for goodness sake! Screw that. I agree that any country should have a solid plan when they're taking refugees in and not just do it only for the sake of doing it because we're talking about the welfare of everyone, both the host country's citizen and refugees. That requires a lot of planning and also the cooperation of the community. I'm not suggesting that every country should just open their doors and let people in without any real plan on how to make that work in the long term. But that's why you have a government, no? To think about this kind of thing.

I think the Dutch government, when it comes to refugees, is dealing with the issue a bit better than its neighbouring countries. Although, we need to wait a bit longer to see the real results.

It's not easy to uproot yourself, and therefore, no one should take that for granted.


Friday, March 18, 2016

The Perks of LDR, or Having Space is Really Great!

Long-distance relationship has its own perks. It's space. The infinite amount of space, regardless how far or close you are geographically. It doesn't matter whether you're 14,000 miles or just 3 hours-drive away, you will still have that amazing space between you and your partner. Of course, as with almost anything and everything in life, it might act as a double-edged sword. It might hurt or help you.

In the case of helping the relationship, with long-distance relationship you don't need to have a mental space, which I personally think is harder to conjure than just acknowledging the physical space. When you are in close proximity with you partner, you don't get to run away when you need some space. You have to create the mental space in your head and that, I found, requires a massive effort. Especially if said partner is in the same room, breathing too loudly or something like that.

Space and distance can also help one to focus on what actually matters, instead of the emotional side of things. When you're too close to the subject that is pissing you off or driving you mental, you can't (easily) think, okay I want to scream at this person now but I won't because it's not productive or nice. It will take a longer time for you to calm down and start processing things more objectively. When you have the distance and the space with it, you can just turn off your computer (or phone) assuming you're up-to-date with the latest technology and not relying on letters (can't even remember the last time I wrote an actual letter to someone), and then get the contemplation going. Or, alternatively, you can just go out and see your friends and have a laugh, feel better and go back home, with a full realisation that you won't even have to see the subject of your annoyance at least until a couple of days.

Relationship is tricky. Talking about cliches and boring statements. It's like trying to have a domestic scale of an UN assembly, constantly trying to work together despite the differences. In my case, it's even more similar because I don't share historical or cultural background with my partner. We're from a completely different culture and family. It is cultural shock, but it is also relationship shock--transitioning from long-distance to no-distance.

I might sound a bit ungrateful now considering a lot of couples in long-distance relationships would just do almost anything to be together and eliminate the distance. I'm not ungrateful, though. In fact, writing this reminded me that I (well, we) need to concentrate on being better. Maintaining a long-distance relationship is hard work, but then again, maintaining any relationship is hard work. Which is why I think it's worth living for.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Let's write for your immune system!

A friend recently told me that writing about traumatic or upsetting events for a little as 20 minutes a day for only 3 days would boost your immune system for up to 6 weeks.

My reaction to that was, REALLY? Apparently there has been a research about it and my friend actually met the lead author of the research. I think it's safe for me to believe that he's not just trying to cheer me up. Come to think of it, I have actually done it. I was more productive in writing when I was upset, rather than when I was happy. I think most people share that trait. Most of my writer friends are very productive when they're in a crappy mood. And I have to say that after writing a long post or letter about an upsetting whatever, I would actually feel better (although generally the writing process itself didn't help me solving the problems).

I'm going through several processes at the moment. The main thing is my migration process. Now we are going to deal with the visa/living permit process and after 3 months, I'm going to leave this country. This is not a simple process and I haven't actually thought about the reaction from my family. So far, they have been acting like it's not a big deal and that I will come back home soon. I have mentioned the fact that I am not going to come back anytime soon (at least for 2 years), but it seems it fell on deaf ears (my mum's ears mostly). I'm sure when my visa is out and they realise that it's going to happen soon (like in a week's time or something silly like that), they'd start to fret. So far, my mum's concern is about my unmarried status. She thought by (actually) living the life that I have planned would not bring me closer to getting married. Little that she knows it has never been my priority. Actually, she knows that (because I've told her so many times) but she refuses to acknowledge that, as usual. My dad's concern is that I'm wasting my time. For him it's security and future savings and not much anything else when it comes to what-matters-in-life. So, again, the idea of living life the way I want it to be just doesn't seem appealing or responsible or unselfish.

Another thing happening now is the return of the prodigal son. Classic. My brother just returned from a 2-year master's degree abroad and he is still crashing at my parents' while his apartment is getting a makeover. Ever since he's back, it feels like it's 1995 again. But worse because he's older now and he feels he knows all the right things. I don't mind it as long as it doesn't involve me, but woe is me, because the little sister will always be the little sister, although she is 30 now.

I've been saying to myself: this will end in 3 months, and so far it helps. I still get upset and need to vent but most of the times the thought of finally starting a life that I have been dreaming all these years helps. It also helps when I have a partner that is constantly trying really hard to build what we would call home together. Recently I just found out (he kept it a secret until a few days ago) that we would be moving into a new house and it's houseboat! Living in a houseboat in Utrecht has been a thing that we both dreamed we would be doing. You should check this if you have no idea what I'm talking about (although ours is teeny tiny). So it is exciting and I am definitely looking forward to go back to Holland and have that healthy distance from any patronising advice.

Back to writing to increase the immune system: I think it's worth trying although it might not work for everyone. I can't say that I feel amazing now, but I can tell that I am less upset about what happened in the morning today. So, I guess it does work in some levels :)

Happy writing.