Lately I ask for myself, what do I get after studying for four years and seven months at the English Department of the Cultural Sciences Faculty of Gadjah Mada University?
Dont ask me about my grammar. For about three years, my former mentors at The Jakarta Post never stopped giving critics because of my poor grammar. Even until you read this piece of crap, you will find just another more mistakes in terms of grammar.
And in the case of vocabulary, I’d prefer to call it as my bank of words, is very limited. I am bored with my chosen words let alone you, as the readers of my stories. I used to collect new words, find their meanings in dictionaries, but such good habit lasted for days only. I was too lazy to memorize them all. I did not even bother myself in spending more time in reading them.
So, mastering in language is definitely not my achievement. What about literature then? Telling you the truth, I only began liking literature at the fourth semester. It was like a rare thunder struck me in a sunny beautiful afternoon that I started to absorb why did world’s best authors put their ideas into hundreds of pages of papers.
I know not much about literature. I read only few books or dramas when I was at the university. My classmates digested literary works much better than I did.I was amazed to know some of them already read heavy books by the late Pramoedya Ananta Toer. Seriously, I did not know about him until my fellows mentioned his name.
I did not read Shakespeare. I did not get his flowery words. I was more interested at realistic works because their languages are easy to follow. Thats why, I love reading Tennessee Williams or John Steinbeck. Well, I started falling in love with the latter’s works only some years after I graduated from the university. I chosed to read Hemingway. And it was because one of my lecturers told us to read it. See… reading and absorbing literary works were a matter of obligation since I was a student of it. It can be said that I did not do any compulsary reading wholeheartedly. I once tried to read Wolf’s Mansfield Park. I gave up reading such full-of-characters book not even until at the first chapter!
Definitely, I do not want to tell everyone that being fluent in speaking English language as a big achievement after I graduate from the department. Such thing can be sharpened through intensive English courses.
I would like to pay tribute to Pak Dayat, my most favorite lecturer. He was my saviour during my lost period in searching what I was doing at the department. Really wish he would help me with my graduating paper but I was too stupid to be his student. Do not remember exactly when all of the magic happened but I started to enjoy literary works thanks so much for his unusual way of teaching poems.
Perhaps I did not really understand what Potrait of the Lady was. However, the way Pak Dayat talked about it and discussed TS Elliot brought so much joy for me. I admire other lecturers, Pak Nadar and Pak Djawa, but to me, Pak Dayat is more than just smart. I never believe there is one person who can draw priceless lessons from the shitty poem. But he does. I do not know how to appreciate how hard song writers compose songs until he brings a tape recorder and plays Bohemian Rapsody in one of our classes. Who say literature is only a creepy thing worthless to study???
So, having fun with literature is the first thing I get from studying at the department. Do not know yet what this will bring me up to, but I am happy for being a literature lover.
Studying literature is no longer a burden for me then. I start to take it seriously. Also, history and definitely culture. I begin to learn those subjects as parts of human inventions. I am confident with everything I have and dream of as long as I believe it will provide me with freedom. For some, this may sound nonsense. But dont you know that this what is missing from our education system; appreciating students for being who they truly are and be joyful for what they are doing. I feel so sad when I am put at the social class because of my poor math scores. I hate knowing that my high school only considers those at the scientific class to fall under smart pupils category. Its like no good future are at store for social students! How unfair the belief is!
Being at the department gradually brings back my confidence. I am no longer afraid to choose the path which I believe will free my soul. Thus, I choose journalism. I leave it eventually because it no longer becomes my way of freedom. A rotten system and an American idiot ruin everything. Well, thanks to them somehow, I now view journalism as incomparable with capitalism. Its an industry anyway. Whats indeed true is sometimes beaten with whats exclusive. Gosh! Who come up with the exclusiveness concept! Loathe it a lot!
What I get from journalism is nothing compared to my fellows who already get scholarship and go abroad. They have bright careers with their respective offices but not with me. But hey! Despite all of the failures, I still say that I win. I am able to free myself. I am not really defeated. If being a journalist is no longer a sweet dream, I just wonder how marvelous my next dream is. I have yet to discover what the best dream is but one day I will. I think its no far from reading and writing because they are my passions of life.
So, it takes more than 1,000 words just to say that never stop dreaming as the most valuable thing I learn from studying at the department. If I fall I bounce. Thats the power of dream. Thats all what I need most while I am alive. Keep on dreaming everyone… but ensure they more than just mere dreams.