Who would have thought that I would land my feet on U.S. soil? Two days ago, I finally did that. Prayers for “protection from mechanical failure and violent storms” (Chan, 2007) were delivered from Soekarno-Hatta Airport and I landed safely with colleagues, Yoes and Wara, at O’Hare Airport.
Chicago has entered the summer but it has not shown the kind of weather I expected. My colleagues and I arrived on a cloudy day and the wind seemed to be very enthusiastic about our arrival. The legend is true. Chicago is a windy city.
The three of us were very fortunate to have Beth, our Program Manager, pick us up at the airport. The queue to pass through immigration was as long as the queue of cars from Sudirman to Thamrin on Friday nights, so Beth must have had a huge amount of patience to wait for us to finally emerge one hour after our arrival time.
During our ride from O’Hare to Evanston, there was no traffic congestion and I enjoyed seeing the houses along the road. Most seemed to be built of dark red bricks and had no fence or gate—a rather different view from the typical middle to upper class homes in Jakarta. But I noticed also a small similarity with Jakarta, that is, most houses I saw had one to two cars parked in front. In between one housing area and another, we passed a car company and were surprised to see the amazingly low prices of used and new cars out for sale. If city administrators of Jakarta were to come here for their annual policy study exchange, I hope they would not be inspired to reduce the prices of cars back at home. Can you imagine how the traffic in Jakarta would be?
Evanston, in my opinion, is a small town that is quiet in the right amount. It is also easy to get around because the people are very friendly and helpful. The next great thing is Northwestern University’s (NU) campus. Although NU is known to be academically demanding, it also offers wonderful refreshing settings such as their jaw-dropping blue lake near Norris University Center. Overall, the environment of NU campus is very conducive to studying and learning.
Going back to the time way before this experience, my main motivation in applying for the Arryman Fellowship was to fulfill my dream to live in and work for an academic environment. Hence, I am grateful that I have now reached the beginning phase of living that dream.
(Sabina Satriyani Puspita/SSP)