Sunshine? Check. Sunglasses? Check. Zero deadlines waiting? Check. Now the question is, what to do next?
Probably some of you would think ‘aww yeah finally I can go back to my family and see all my friends again!’, but let me politely ask you a question, why? Why would you want to waste Europe’s best season with its long awaited warm weather and thousands of things to do and see, to instead go back to that same old place you’ve known for almost your entire life?
My experience told me that the best way to enjoy Europe is when there’s plenty of sunshine. If you take a look around, you will see smiley faces and that parks are always full of people who are ready for some good fun. No one walks with their hands on their pockets; instead they embrace a good deal of vitamin D on their faces and of course, great companions next to them. No more gloomy faces, pale skin, and dripping wet socks because you forgot to put on your boots. Getting those shorts and tees out without the need to even check the weather app on your phone, because you know for sure that it’s going to be a good day outside.
Now the least you would do is to stay inside.
Call up some friends to chill at the park, or hop on a bus to go to the nearest beach. Even plan yourself to go on a weeklong trip to the French Riviera, or down to the Aegean Sea. Feels like going wild and out? Take the cheapest Ryan Air to one of the Spanish Mediterranean islands, or secure tickets to the most thrilling music festivals from rock and R&B, to techno, gabbers, or even head banging metal. Not to mention backpacking through beautiful Italian cities, meeting with new people from all the hostels you’re going to stay in, and maybe finding your beautiful European chick who could be the one you’ve been looking for.
And the very least you could do is to forget about these possibilities, and book a Garuda flight from AMS to CGK.
At least that’s what I didn’t do last summer. And instead I joined one of the world’s top culinary school and live in the so-called love capital of the world for the whole summer. C’est la vie mec.
But after spending a year away from home without any of my loved ones visiting, why did I choose to not book that cheap Garuda flight everyone was talking about? Why did I choose to instead follow my passion and be more away from home?
Because I valued my time and the fund that I’ve been receiving from my parents very well. The so-called International Business double degree program between Universitas Indonesia and Rijkuniversiteit van Groningen that I’m currently enrolled in will only last me for two years. Which means two chances of every season. And two chances of not regretting the choices that I’ll make each season.
And I’m glad that I passed the first summer without any regret. By enrolling at the Centre de Formation d’Alain Ducasse in Paris, France for their summer program, I learned not only about French culinary techniques and style, but also about how the restaurant industry works, how food is such an essential part of every Frenchman, and most importantly, I learned about their culture. You could learn every cooking technique from YouTube or cooking books, how to make the perfect roux or how to prepare an amazing jus, but you could never learn how the real French chefs work or how to deal with them if you’re not there experiencing it yourself.
Luckily enough, as part of the program I was selected for an internship to cook at one of the two Eiffel Tower’s restaurants. Yes, La Tour Eiffel. That big chunk of metal standing in the middle of Paris’ 1er Arondissiment. And the experience was an eye opener. Who’d ever guess that they have separate kitchen for making sauces located 100m away from the Eiffel that needs to be delivered everyday through the employee’s elevator? And how the locker room inside was as small as a rabbit hole to fit hundreds of people working at the Eiffel Tower? And how the kitchen brigade is as close as it gets to a family, and that they’ll be waiting each night to get intoxicated from substances just to wind up from a long day’s work?
In school, it never felt like anything before. Waking up at 7am in the morning to take the RER train to Argenteuil down from Pigalle station was never that easy. All these sleepless nights didn’t seem to bother, and the train ride was always a thrilling ride, excited to know what I was going to learn for the day. Frankly, it felt like going to school again for the first time as a child.
And that was the reason why I did not come home. That was the reason why I chose to spend Eid-ul Fitr chopping carrots and onions in Paris. Because if I did actually went home, none of this would happen. Sure, it’s always nice to see your family again and your old friends and buddies face to face to tell them what you’ve been doing so far. But why not tell it to a complete new person? A person whose background is far different from yours, a person that you can learn so many new things from each conversation, a person whom you’ll never know will give you new links for your future life?
Although following your passion and doing something that you love will always leave you feeling amazing, getting out of your comfort zone and to actually enjoy doing were the things that rewarded me the most. Yes, I know it is going to be a bumpy ride to get to that point especially if we’ve lived all our lives in the same place with the same people speaking the same language. But once you’ve owned that feeling of uneasiness and anxiousness, it’s a journey with no ending from then on.
If I’m entitled to give you an advice, it would be this: just don’t buy that ticket. Instead tell your parents to just give you the money and spend it instead to buy a one-way ticket to Florence, to Crete, or to Marrakesh. Find yourself your old dusty passion that you let go because you never had the time to take and brush it off, and look for a summer course in that field. Learn a language you’ve always been wanting to learn and go learn in the birthplace of it. Read new and exciting books at the time you’re alone, and don’t, just don’t, ever rely on people as an excuse to not do it. If you don’t like to travel alone, get to know people. Hostels are there exactly for us cheap students with limited money and limited people to travel with. Inside there are more people like you, so say hi to them and surely the next picture in any famous building will feature him/her on it.
So ask Google to find yourself amazing things to do this summer, and have fun making memories for the rest of your life!
Photo credit: Author’s collection and le-banyan.com
Editor: Deandra Madeena