Living in the Netherlands

It has been more than a year since I started to live in The Netherlands as part of my journey as a PhD candidate in the SCENT Project. It all began when I did the interview with the supervisors and the management team of the SCENT Project in Amsterdam on December 5th 2018 with the other ESRs. 
The supervisors, Management Team and the ESRs took a picture together after the SCENT interview in Amsterdam, December 5th, 2018
I am very grateful to be chosen as ESR8 who will do the research about the Conducted Interference Measurement Techniques at the Department of Telecommunication Engineering at The University of Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands. It is an exciting and also challenging experience for me, because this is the first time I am studying and living abroad outside of my country, Indonesia.
The Netherlands is one of the countries with high quality of education in Europe. The collaboration between the academics/universities and the industries and governments is very common. The academic atmosphere in the university itself is also engaging. Everyone can openly discuss and criticize about something. People are more egalitarian, where everyone can call each other by their first name, and the power distance between each other is low.
Besides the experiences in the field of Electromagnetic Compatibility, I also gained valuable experiences on how to interact with people from different cultural backgrounds. I get to know people from many countries. Each person has their own character and cultural background. It is exciting and also challenging for me to learn how to deal with differences between us.

The members of the Telecommunication Engineering Group, University of Twente
I also learned that maintaining healthy work-life balance is one of the key aspects in doing PhD. Learning and enjoying things outside the lab and the office is also important. Besides the beautiful nature and the cities, the culture in The Netherlands is one of the things that I find most interesting.
The tulips at Binnenhof in Den Haag, one of my favourite cities in The Netherlands
Culture shock is of course a part of daily life when someone starts to live abroad. This is a part of learning process to adapt to the culture of the foreign country where we live in. Before I came to the Netherlands, I read some articles and also watched videos about the Dutch culture from the internet. Those helped me to learn about the Dutch culture, so I could adapt better when I came to The Netherlands.
The things that I like about the Dutch people is that they are open and tolerant to people from different nations, religions, culture, etc. They also speak very good English, which makes life much easier. My English skills have also developed well since I started to live in The Netherlands. Besides, I also learned Dutch from the internet and the Dutch course at the university. There are many similarities between the Dutch and English, and also between the Dutch and the Indonesian language, which also sparks my interest in learning Dutch.
Another thing that is very common in The Netherlands is the bicycle. It is an important and the most widely used vehicle in The Netherlands. It is environmentally friendly and also healthy. The bicycle paths in The Netherlands are very well maintained, which makes biking very comfortable.
My bicycle in front of the University of Twente big letter sign
Public transportations in The Netherlands are also very convenient. We can use the public transport chip card, which is called OV-chipkaart, to go almost anywhere in The Netherlands by train, bus, metro or tram. I love to travel across The Netherlands by train during weekend to explore the beautiful places in this country.
The only thing that is not very friendly for me in The Netherlands is the unpredictable weather. Rains are common in all seasons, especially autumn and winter, where the winds are often strong and even storm can occur. The daily temperature and weather can also change significantly. Even the weather can be quite cold in the summer.
But there are more things that makes me love to live in this small but beautiful country. The shared historical background and culture between The Netherlands and Indonesia also gives me the feeling that I am not very far from home.
There are many Indonesian restaurant in The Netherlands which have traditional Indonesian dishes such as rendang (spicy beef), sate ayam (chicken skewer), bami (noodles), nasi goreng (fried rice) and many other dishes. I can also find the ingredients to make some Indonesian dishes by myself in the supermarkets. There are many Indonesian students as well in The Netherlands, and we also socialize with each other and we also have the Indonesian Student Association at each city/region in The Netherlands.
Grilling sate maranggi (beef skewer) with fellow Indonesian students
These things also helped me to cope during this pandemic period, where social interactions and international travels are limited. Some international conferences and summer schools are also cancelled, and some others became virtual/online. I also have to cancel my plan to go back to Indonesia because of the current situation. But thanks to the advances in the communication technology, I can still connect to my families and friends in The Netherlands and Indonesia via chat and video call.
Finally, I sincerely hope that all of us will always be given health and comfort during these strange and difficult times. The journey as a PhD candidate is still long and uncertain. However, I am grateful for everything that I learned and gained during this journey, and I hope everything will be better in the end.

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