When I heard about the Twin Scholarship for the first time, I thought: why should I apply? What are the benefits of this scholarship for my research? Applying for this scholarship might even delay my graduation. My research is about traditional music in Indonesia and therefore not really related to the Netherlands. But I bravely submitted my proposal anyway
When I was told that I had received the scholarship in February, I felt confused. Unlike the other scholarship students, this would be my first time going abroad. I had to apply for a passport, arrange a visa, buy a suitcase and look for proper clothing for the Dutch weather. To be honest, the preparation made me feel quite worried.
Fast forward to 21 May 2017, I safely arrived at Schiphol Airport alongside my two friends from Universitas Indonesia and Atmajaya. In the Netherlands, we taught ourselves everything. We started by buying an ov-chipkaart, we looked for the right train platforms, and found a hotel for our first day. The first two weeks we were always together. We bought a bike, found a supermarket, opened a bank account and looked around the university. We started to adapt quickly to the culture and people in Tilburg, but it took a while to adapt to the Dutch weather.
Even though it was the end of May and I thought that it would be warm in the Netherlands, it really wasn’t. Considering that the Dutch summer season was starting, I was surprised that the wind was blowing so hard every day. I had to use layered jackets and wear boots to avoid the cold. I even had to buy an extra jacket to keep me warm. I’m not a winter lover and of course I’m grateful not to have come to the Netherlands in the winter (because I believe I would probably get the flu) but this summer felt like winter to me, especially at night.
Another thing that amazed me was the turning of the sun. In Indonesia the sky already begins to darken at 6 pm but in the Netherlands the sun only sets after 9.30 pm. It was hard to say “Hey, let’s have a dinner”, when it was still bright outside the window. And because of that, I had to fast up to 18 hours, during Ramadan. It was the first time for me to have been fasting for so long. I will never forget this for the rest of my life.
Besides the unpredictable weather, my experience during my three months in the Netherlands was amazing. I felt like I was dreaming, I felt so happy! The calm atmosphere of Tilburg, the fresh air, and the friendly Dutch people were so amazing. Even my desire to often ride a bicycle became reality, especially because of the special bike lanes. But not only that, my daily activities were very different as well. In the bank for example, there was no queue and there were no tellers. It really felt different than my life in Indonesia.
During my stay in the Netherlands, I also explored many cities such as Leiden, Haarlem, The Hague, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht, Groningen, Enschede, Emmeloord, and Baarle-Nassau (the famous Dutch-Belgian border). I most often visited The Hague and Utrecht. I met some of my research sources there. I also went to the Speelklok Museum, one of the best musical museums I have ever visited. I spoke with Dutch musicians and Kroncong musicians who live in The Netherlands. As I mentioned before, the hospitality of the people here made it very easy for me to make an appointment.
Three months have passed just like that. I feel very satisfied and happy to have gotten a chance to live, learn, and work in the Netherlands. I hope this scholarship will continue to provide a golden opportunity for students who want to conduct their research in the Netherlands.
Thank you Twin Scholarship, thank you Frans Seda Foundation.