With the completion of my high school, now I began to move to the next step of my life: the college life.The college life offer much more freedom than the high school. You have more freedom to choose what you would like to do for your future. Of course, on the other hand, it also came with much bigger responsibility too.
Although I already had firm plan to go to study to Australia, my father suggested me to do National University Entrance Exam (then known as “UMPTN”, but these days better known as “SNMPTN”). I was half-hearted to enroll as none of the majors seem to appealing to me. They were all looked boring, too ordinary, and likely to give burden instead of challenge.
But I did give it a try. I remember me and my close friend Yulianto did enrolled to join this exam. The exam was held in a university campus at the suburb of Ketintang in Surabaya. I can’t recall what majoring did I take or which university did I choose, but I found the exam was truly difficult. The subjects were actually way beyond what I learned in high school. So it wasn’t surprising that I didn’t make it through.
But since I was preparing for study in overseas, I didn’t feel too much burden over it. I feel like I was in higher ground, and whatever happen with my Indonesian exams, it did not matter.
As I focused more on my planned study in Australia, I had to undergo series of hectic procedures to obtain the permit. I had to do some of medical check to apply for Australian student visa. The medical examination was done in a now gone health clinic at Jalan Kusuma Bangsa, just across the site from the current site of Grand City Mall.
The test involve urine sampling, x-ray scanning, and eyesight testing. Thankfully, it didn’t involve blood sampling as I was scared of needles. The result was submitted to Australian embassy, via my agent. Despite of these, back then applying visa to Australia was quite easy and there were no interview sessions needed at the embassy.
Aside of arranging visa, my agent also occasionally held briefing sessions for the would be students, about the life in Australia and also how to deal with the strict discipline in Australia, plus how to avoid troubles and staying within the rules. Some of the things that they mentioned later proved untrue, while majority were correct. They generally exaggerate the truth, to the point where I got the impression that the agent sees white people as superior race than us.
“Guidebook for Indonesian Students Before Departing to Australia”
I remember how they partly freaked some prospective students during presentation by telling exaggerated stories on how the Australian upheld discipline (something that I latter found to be not completely true).
Since those who attended presentation came from younger ages, they also made presentation about “boarding school” where students must live in dormitory in the school, and students must follow strict discipline from the school, akin to military barrack.
The interior of one boarding school in Australia.
I was initially worried that my college would be like that, but they assure me that I will not be in that type of school.
An exterior of a boarding school in Australia.
As the day of departure nears, I start preparing everything that I need for the study. Ranging from clothing (they said that the weather will be very cold in that time of the year), books, stationary, and also some entertainment items. I bought some music cassettes for my entertainment, as well as new Walkman player to go with them.
I also record some songs to one blank cassette. Some of them came from my sister’s CD collection which she purchased from Switzerland, while others from my friend’s cassettes. Remember, MP3 was still in its infamy and iPod was unheard of at that time.
During compiling, one song somehow awed me. It was “Lovefool” from the Cardigans, which was a hit song in 1997. Its catchy tunes, and sultry singer voice, made me feel like I want to fall in love with someone who hopefully resemble the singer.
Other song that also struck my imagination was “Will You Still Love Me” from Chicago. The song is like theme sounds like wedding song.
Little did I know at that time that both songs would profoundly affecting my emotion once I started my study in Australia.