The end of an era

The adventure starts tomorrow. Tomorrow! My plane will take off at 11.45 and after that there is no going back. Not that I want to go back, but still. The plans I have been making for years (and years…) will be final. Today is all about doing laundry, packing my bag and charging all my technology to keep me entertained during my 16 hour flight. Apparently I even have time to write a blog (or do I?)

The past week was all about saying goodbye, finishing up the preparations and getting ready to leave. I had a goodbye party where we ended the night with Gras van het Noorderplantsoen, as we should. I am ashamed to say that I still don’t know all of the lyrics. I also updated my entire music library, which makes me excited to sit on a plane for 16 hours and just listen to all the beautiful tunes I have gathered. I bought some souvenirs for foreign friends I have yet to meet (although, actually, I will be the foreign friend, but that’s semantics). I won’t bore you with the rest of the items on my now checked off to do list, but I did a lot (and still found time to completely relax before leaving).

So now the time has come… It all sounds so dramatic, but it kind of feels that way. A lot of people keep saying that at first it is only for six months, and after that I will be back for a little while. But the thing is, of course I will be back in The Netherlands, however, it is the end of my life in Groningen as I have known it. When I will be back, I won’t be a student there anymore, I won’t have a house there and some of my friends will have moved away as well. So it really is the end of an era, especially given the fact that I have been studying in Groningen since 2008. It seems like a lifetime ago that I started my studies, and now I only have to do two more internships (and get those damned 5 ECTS from Psychology) and then I will be done.

Whatever is coming after all of this, I don’t know yet. But until I do, I have more than enough adventures to keep myself busy.

Bestand 31-08-15 11 21 59

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My top 10 sites/apps to use while traveling

I know there are so many lists of travel websites out there. Everybody loves lists. I love lists. While researching my own list I even came across one that claimed they had the top 50 best travel websites. That doesn’t seem practical. At all. Anyway, I don’t care about other peoples’ lists. I made my own. And you don’t have to care about my list, but if you do (or need inspiration for your own list), keep on reading. There is no particular order, the numbers are just there to make a clear distinction.

1. Skyscanner

The best website to get your plane tickets out there is by far Skyscanner
. It allows you to search, not only on a specific date, but also in a week, month or even the entire year. This way you are able to see at what time the tic68331440fcdb3136f7c63373ac158cbckets will be the cheapest (which is, after
all, the most important quality of plane tickets). My very favorite option of Skyscanner however, is the option to travel to: “anywhere”. It is literally in an option not to choose where to go. You don’t have to choose a destination, you can just decide you want to go away for a weekend, from an airport near you. And then you check out what the cheapest destination is for that weekend. An excellent option for adventurous travelers that don’t need a specific plan and want to be spontaneous. Although, this can also be planned months in advance.

2. Kindle

Books are heavy. “No shit, Sherlock”, would be my brothers response to this statement. So I never bring any books with me anymore (with the occasional exception of a travel guidebook). I have recently bought a Kindle and I love it. It allows me to bring hundreds (thousands… millions…) of books with me on my trips. Even though I bought the e-reader, I also got very fond of reading books on my phone. While I’m waiting for a bus, while I’m in bed, waiting for sleep to take me away. It is possible at all times and I always have my phone handy. So it’s one of my favorite apps/websites/phenomenon.

3. Airbnb

Even though I have yet to make use of this excellent website, it is already one I can see myself falling back on in the foreseeable future. On this website you can book special rooms to stay in. A bed and breakfast in Austria, a villa in Spain or a cottage in England, it is all there. Just check out the location where you will be staying and see what is in store. People who have a space available can rent it out and post it on this website, where you can book it for a perfect weekend away.

4. Couchsurfing

If however, you don’t want to spend any money on accommodation, you can always opt to stay at the houses of generous locals who want to meet foreigners. Couchsurfing allows you to meet up with locals, to sleep there, or just to chat and hang out. You can, as the name says, crash at someones couch, but sometimes they have a guest room available. Not only is it a cheap way to stay at an exotic location, it is also an amazing chance to meet locals and let them show you around their city. Obviously, they know all the best places and you can really learn a lot about a culture by traveling this way. And even if you already have a place to stay, you can always post a message asking people to meet up, so you can still meet some fellow travelers or locals.

5. Facebook

resized_philosoraptor-meme-generator-if-one-doesn-t-post-travel-pictures-on-facebook-did-it-really-happen-c8bbd5I’m sorry, maybe you thought/hoped/expected me to be the kind of person that is able to not check Facebook while traveling (who am I kidding? Everyone who knows me, knows that I am the person in the group asking: is there wi-fi?). I like to keep in touch. I like to see what my friends are doing and frankly, I like them knowing what I am doing. So yeah, Facebook made the list.

6. Google

Everything you need to know, Google already knows. Google is the almighty oracle that can answer all your (travel) questions. What are the cultural norms, where to go for vegan food, what local cuisine should you try? You know Google, and if there are ANY questions you have about an upcoming trip… You know where to ask it.

almighty_google__screenshot__by_jasminasusak-d4ysset

7. Currency Converter 

If you go to a country with another currency, this is a must. You’ll need to find out what your money is worth abroad. It always takes me a while to get used to the different values, and until I do, I use apps like these. Or use a calculator, if you want to be more old school (which, sometimes, I do).

8. Instagram

Sharing is caring. Beautiful travel pictures will not only give your friends and family an idea of all the amazing things you are seeing, but it will also give you something to look back on when you are back home. Old school alternative: Facebook. Or keeping your pictures on an sd card until you are back home and you can sort everything out.

9. Google maps

How will you know where to go? I am aware that Google is already in this list, but Google Maps has such extreme value that it deserves an entire number itself. It tells you where you are, where to go and even what kind of facilities are in the neighborhood. An added app that is very, very convenient is Maps to go (click here for Android). Obviously being abroad means no roaming, because it’s very expensive. So if you’re out of a wi-fi zone, you can use the maps you downloaded, and still know where to go. I only discovered this app recently (thank you Vera), but it is already in my top 10.

10. Jetlag Rooster

This last website is very easy to use. If you fly out of your timezone (and let’s face it, your trip is not very adventurous if you are staying in your current timezone) you can fill out all of the details of your departure and the site will give you a sleeping schedule to adjust to the time difference. I think it is better than just staying up while it is dark or sleeping in the middle of the day, and you can even click the option to start before you have even left.

jet-lag-is-coming

So this is my top 10. Please let me know if there are any websites or apps I will definitely need abroad!

Awkward Goodbyes

I am leaving in one week and two days and so I have already said goodbye to some of my friends and acquaintances. Honestly, I never had to say goodbye like this so it’s a little new for me, but so far, I have made one keen observation. It can be quite awkward. Because saying goodbye now, for a long period of time, is actually not much different from saying goodbye for a weekend. In fact, it is pretty much the same.

In general, people don’t just want to say: “goodbye”. Often, this is followed by something along the lines of: “talk to you later” or “see you next week”. I have even noticed that most people want to know exactly when they will see you again, simply so they can say: “see you on Monday a week from now”. I guess people like to be specific.

But now that I’m going away for a longer period of time, saying some of these things will just be a lie, because I won’t see you next week. And maybe we will talk later, but it will not be in person. So when people get to that point in the goodbye bit, they will stop and think and smile, but they will still need to say something. Because a simple goodbye (or “ok doei”) doesn’t seem to be enough. Maybe it is because of the uncertainty of when we will be seeing each other again. And I have to be honest and tell you that I myself have been guilty of wanting to add something to my “goodbye”.

So now, they will say “we’ll talk on Facebook” or “maybe we will see you in Groningen when you get back”. I guess it’s true, but it is so vague that it won’t take away the uncertainty of when we will be seeing each other again.

And then there are the people with whom I don’t want any uncertainty of seeing them again. I want to already set a specific time to see them when I get back so I can look forward to it and so I know I will see them again in the future. I am going to miss my friends and family so bad and secretly (well, not so much now anymore) I am already a little homesick. And I haven’t even left yet.

How I already gained 11 friends in Jakarta before I even got there

So there is this thing called couchsurfing

For those of you who don’t know it: where have you been? Surely it wasn’t planet earth.

I posted a message there with my plans for the next five months and it was nice to see all kinds of people sending me messages in response. Some were expats wanting to make friends, others were locals wanting to show me the city and I even have some offers to travel together already.

The hospitality is overwhelming. It’s good to know I won’t have to be lonely while I’m in Jakarta.

On the other hand, how am I gonna make time to meet everyone?

I really like that there is this kind of medium where you can just post a random message and people respond and want to meet up. It makes traveling to a completely new city much easier, just knowing that there are likeminded people out there (and that there is apparantly internet in Indonesia – just kidding ;) )

I’m curious about the culture and I read everywhere that people in Indonesia are also very curious about Westeners. I read on someones blog that he felt like a total celebrity because everyone was staring at him on the streets. I guess this will make it easier to connect to locals and get to know them.

I hope I will learn some Bahasa Indonesia soon, and I am working on it. I actually found this site, where you can sign up and get more than a hundred actual digital lessons for free! I have finished lesson 1, so now I know: Selamat pagi! Apa kabar? Baik-baik saja. Apa nama anda? Saya Sanne. Terima kasih. And… Some other things I have already forgotten. But I will learn and eventually I’ll remember. And if there is one thing my travel experienced have taught me, it is that hand gestures go a long way.

Rice, vegetables, fruit and walking

These four words pretty much sum up all of my great intentions for the time in Indonesia. During one of her pep talks, these four keywords were mentioned by my friend Jeanine (thank you for unknowingly giving me a title for a blog. I really enjoyed our day <3) and she is so right. If this was all that was waiting for me in Jakarta, I would still be pretty happy (but it is not, which makes me even happier).

Because I don’t eat meat or fish, a lot of people warn me about the hard time I will have finding something to eat in Indonesia. But for me, it’s very simple. I have set my mind to a plate of rice and vegetables every night for six months, and nothing could make me happier (except for the fact that I am having the adventure of a lifetime). I seriously think I will not get sick of eating the same thing every day! I am actually looking forward to the simplicity.

Here in The Netherlands, I eat a lot of fruit, but it is so expensive (doubting my fruit addiction? Check my fruity Instagram: @traveling_sunny. #healthylifestyle ;)). Even though I decided quite some time ago not to save money on healthy food, it always costs me an arm and a leg. In Indonesia, fruit is so cheap! I cannot wait to try all the exotic fruits and save money on the regular fruits that I have grown to love.

I’m also used to get my exercise by jogging or cycling, but in Jakarta, I will not venture out into the traffic on a bicycle (because I don’t have a death wish) and jogging while inhaling all of the smog and avoiding cars and scooters doesn’t seem like the best idea (not to mention I won’t have my running gear there). So I have found other ways to stay/get in shape.
First, ever since I knew I was going to Jakarta (which is a long time, I’m kind of a planner) I decided Indonesia was a great place for me to learn yoga. So I will take a yoga class and practice yoga every morning. Also, because I am slightly afraid of the traffic, I will walk a lot! I’ll walk twenty minutes to and from the hotel where I will do my internship, and I will walk everywhere else (within reason). It will prepare me for all of the long days of traveling later on! Also, I think I will do quite some swimming. You know why. No? Because it is hot in Indonesia, that’s why.

As you can read, I am not only looking forward to the standard experiences of moving abroad for a serious amount of time. I am also very excited about the little things, the daily routines and the new life this place will be able to give me.

I’m just pretty excited in general.

Fears and excitement

I find it rather weird that all I feel when approaching the date on which I will fly more than 11.000 kilometers to another part of the world is excitement. Shouldn’t I be the slightest bit nervous?

The truth is that I am ready to leave Groningen behind and start over somewhere else. I have lived here for a long time and I have really enjoyed my student years, but I can’t wait to discover new parts of the world.

In these days of preparation I spend a lot of time Googling. I try to figure out all the sights to see in Jakarta, I want to know what to wear, what to bring, what to leave behind. I have looked up cinemas in Jakarta (just because I can), I have researched phone plans (even though I will just pick something in a store there) and I have even looked up the Asian toilet system (I found this link extremely useful and will think of this as the biggest trial of all. Barney said it best: Challenge accepted).

This pre-fun is great. I have found all kinds of awesome places to visit and knowing I will be able to do most of it, increases the fun exponentially.

But Google also brings up some horror stories about traveling abroad, especially alone and especially as a woman alone. Of course, some of these results are caused by the search terms I enter into the machine that knows all.

You hear a lot about people being scammed, robbed, harassed and I even read the most horrible story about someone being poisoned, only so they could bring them to a “doctor” around the corner with the miraculeus cure, which led to ginormous bills afterwards. All of this information has led me to fear two things.

  1. Having something stolen.
  2. The traffic.

Because I will be abroad for more than six months at a time, I will bring my laptop. I will also bring my fancy camera, to provide you (and future me) with idyllic pictures of landscapes (and selfies). I will bring my iPhone so I can Google map stuff, and yes, I do realize I sound like a complete Westerner (sue me). But with bringing my most prized possessions comes the risk of them being stolen.

I have taken some precautions. I will keep them out of sight most of the time, I will upload all of my photos regularly (because the pictures will be more valuable to me than the camera probably. However, this won’t stop me from crying if something were to happen to it). And I will keep my laptop at home or at hostels in safety lockers whenever possible.

The second point is something I am not looking forward to yet. Luckily, the place where I will do my internship is at walking distance of my house, but for other locations I will probably not be able to do it all with the walking bus. So I will have to take an actual bus, or a train, or a taxi. And I am slightly dreading this. But hey, it’s all part of the great experience, right? So I will suck it up and do it. After all, cycling through the Folkingestraat in Groningen has already thought me a great deal in that department.

So there it is, my two biggest fears, written and thereby virtually eternalized. But I do have to say, other than these two points…

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