Ottoman houses in Berat

[Berat, Albania, March 2018] The theme of this year’s Spring School in Tirana, Albania was Space, Place, and Dwelling. One of the participants, she is finishing her PhD in Art History, talked about how faith influences architecture and the other way round. For her presentation, she took the case of Islamic influenced houses in Egypt. When they built their house, the interest was only centralized on what they needed, to have a safe place for themselves with their family. She explained to us that when building their house, they rarely thought about other people’s interests or needs. Along the way, with the influence of Islam and encounters with other culture, they started to build a house in a certain way, they changed the interior functions to allow more private spaces for women as well as the exterior feature, an indented head for instance so that it allows passers-by to shelter from the rain. To this extent, it happened also in some areas other than Egypt, where most of the old houses were built without any additional or external features to accommodate the needs of others. So if you look at the house on the top, a two-storey house, they made their front façade with indented head/second floor. It somehow shows the shifting of the function of a house, from personal to social interest. This city, Berat, is classified by the UNESCO as a rare example of an architectural character typical of the Ottoman period.


Post-fieldwork note 1

The 8-month fieldwork in Ambon has taught me the deepest value of life.


I came there with ambitious plans to learn, to do research, to finish my PhD, to get that dmn Dr. title, in short, to just get things done, fast, well planned, perfectly.


If you follow throughout my journey in Ambon, since the beginning of it, you might have seen how I seemed to struggle to understand my own research idea, the setting, the problems, the novelty, the methodology, the adapting to a new place knowing only a few people, the (tirelessly) meeting new people on a daily basis to answer the same old questions “so what is your research about? Why pasar tradisional? Is pasar interesting to research about, oh really? Pasar is just pasar, right? Or, so you got 10 scholarships, how did you do that? Aren’t you tired of studying? Why would you pursue PhD? Isn’t a master’s degree enough? Or, other personal questions.” when deep inside you actually have no firm answer to any of the question, while you were also greatly doubting yourself or your decision and wanted to ask the exact same questions to yourself, for the thousand times already. The ‘why, Bel?’. [to be continued]

Compromise is an active verb.

Most of our current generation cannot live without internet connection and signal, even to think about it gives us chills. The feeling of missing out, they say. And apparently, this phenomenon is well captured through the recently releases film titled “Susah Sinyal”, a bit challenging to translate the words but let’s agree to say “Difficult to receive signal”. A glimpse of the storyline, it tells about two persons, mother and daughter, coming from metropolitan most sophisticated city in Indonesia, Jakarta, to spend their holiday in a remote area of a far, pretty unfamiliar place in the south eastern part of Indonesia, Sumba Island. In short, they were annoyed by the fact that to get them connected to the Internet was a (insert an idiom of difficult work).

Just recently, I was invited to share my experiences with students during an English camp organized by MELC, Ambon. When they came to pick me up, they warned me “Di gunung seng ada sinyal, paling susah.” (No signal there in the mountain, most difficult bit). I took it lightly as I didn’t have the rush to check the Internet especially when I am socializing with people, at least I tried to avoid it as much as I could. The sharing session went very well, and I was impressed by the enthusiasm the participants showed us. It was only due to the time limit that we had to end the question and answer session before everyone got their chance.

What interests me most is that how the local people who’ve been living in that mountain for years got used to not being able to stay connected anytime they want it to. A friend of mine couldn’t help himself but asking, “how did you manage to live without signal? How could you be ‘able’ to do that?” The other nodded and smiled, as if this question didn’t surprise him at all, “it’s not merely about our ability to adapt to it, being able is one thing, and getting used to is another.” And when they said that, it somehow punched me in the face. I used to tell myself that “to be a subject of our lives, we have to be able to make choice, to object thing, to take control over things that matter and affect us”, to choose not checking on social media when we are socializing with friends, to choose only spending 10 minutes online every two hours, to choose doing this not doing that, and so on. But we, at least I, sometimes forgot that being able to compromise to something we can’t control is also a choice, an active act of being the subject, still.

Cause in that sense, you don’t surrender yourself, but you scrutinize to handle it.

And what also interests me was that they got used to it in so they invented many funny expression to make fun of their situation. “Batu 4G” “4G stone” a sacred stone which enables people to get 4G signal when they sit on or stand next to the stone. Etc.

Bandung – gunting pita.

[Unpad, Bandung – Jatinangor] when I first got the email from the organizer, I was so excited. “At last, Bandung is calling me.” I know it might sound weird and trigger many investigative, if curious is not enough to define the word, questions of “how could you’ve lived in Jakarta for 10 years and Bandung never crossed your mind. Ngana sehat?” Well, it did, or course. Some of my close friends are actually living there, some of my university friends sometimes spent their weekend there, talked about it, tried to drag me to visit the city, and so on. But I was not sure why it kept me that long to finally decide to visit Bandung. I guess it might be that it’s like the crispy skin of my KFC chicken, or the cherry to my piece of cake, or the rempeyek kacang kedelai to my pecel Madiun, I mean, my save-the-best-for-the-last city (to visit). When I got there, the first question that came to my mind was “where have you been Bel, all this time? Seriously.” Like, seriously. Door slammed. .


I found Bandung, or Braga area with its cafés, friendly atmosphere, are just so Tilburg van Java, sorry, Parijs.


And ultimately, I was so grateful to meet and work with these amazing people. They worked hard to ensure that all my needs were well met. Their hospitality, enthusiasm, and motivation were just amazing. And this successful event wouldn’t be possible without the very professional work of @santoprakoso as the moderator, one of the best, so far. I’m sure one day I will see him succeed and accomplish all his dreams. His stories did inspire me and others a lot. So proud to know him and the rest of the organizing committee @sn_silmirizkiya etc. thank you, thank you so much. ❤️

Memperjuangkan Rekomendasi Penelitian

Mendapatkan surat rekomendasi dan atau izin penelitian (dulunya) merupakan momok administrasi untuk para peneliti, terutama yang memiliki afiliasi dengan institusi asing..

Saya mendapatkan ketiga surat ini dalam kurun waktu total 1 bulan. 2 minggu untuk mengurus di Kemendagri, 1 minggu untuk di PemProv, dan 1 minggu untuk di Pemkot.


Sebenarnya prosesnya kalau diikuti tidak terlalu ribet ataupun sengaja dibuat ribet. Memang, dokumen-dokumen yang harus diurus lumayan beragam. Tapi kalau kita terbiasa mengurus dokumen beasiswa atau mendaftar sekolah, kita menjadi setidaknya lebih terbiasa dengan persyaratan-persyaratan ini.


Banyak yang menyarankan saya untuk menghubungi ini itu, saudara saya, saudara dia, dst. Saya bukan mau menolak bantuan dan mempermudah proses, tapi saya cuma penasaran saja, sesulit apa prosesnya, seberbelit-belit seperti yang dibilang orang kah? Menurut saya sendiri, nggak terlalu sih. Biasa saja, normal. Atau mungkin karena saya dari luar daerah sehingga mendapat perlakuan yang berbeda? Semoga tidak karena itu. .

Dengan menjalani prosesnya sendiri, saya mulai sadar bahwa pelayanan administrasi di Indonesia sudah mulai membaik. Meskipun seakan merangkak, tetapi ada perubahan yang cukup besar yang saya rasakan. Semoga semakin profesional ke depannya. .


“…., remember why you started.”

[Antwerp, Belgium; 2017] some quotes I learned both from the participants and the lecturers during this summer school:. “Coffee did help me pull through the PhD” Post-doc.

. “I finished writing my PhD dissertation in 2 months only. It was because my flat got flooded just 2 months before the deadline. Some people perform their best under pressure” Prof.

.”The first time I submitted my paper to a journal, I got minor revision, I thought I was so lucky, but just after that I started to get rejected over and over again.” Prof. .

.”I went to Paris for three months, I don’t speak French, and I hate the people, I have no friends there, so it helped me focus on writing my dissertation, cause I got less distractions.” Post-doc

.”start writing with something you know very well. Don’t edit.”



One thing I always keep in mind, “during setbacks, remember why you started.”

That small things do matter. Love from Gent

[Gent/Ghent/Gand, Belgium: 2017] people might know Bruges better than Gent, some might prefer Gent than Bruges, or the other way round. It doesn’t matter whether the tourists like this city or not, but my trip to Gent was definitely an eye opening one. Exactly eight years ago, a girl coming from rural area started to believe that she could chase her dreams on the day when she got her first international letter, from Gent University in 2009. And strangely it did change her life, that she dared to dream bigger and higher. As simple as getting a letter from abroad. You know what, sometimes, it’s the little things that make life big. Thank you Gent. Thanks a million for making a believer out of me. ❤️ from 20-year old me.