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There’s no more challenging in life than learning about myself.

About one year leading up to my departure to Sydney, my heart is torn into two: being excited and anxious at the same time. I was born as a serious person and easily get worried. When I am a journalist, my anxiety is mostly around news seeking, interviews, everything that is related to my profession. But as I stop being a reporter, even small stuff can be such a worrisome. As I have more spare time, I can recheck my bag only to ensure that I have put essential documents or necessary working tools into it. Carefully placing TV and netbook inside a cupboard before I leave my room can take some minutes. I have never thought of these small things when I am a journalist. Is my anxiety worsening?

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I once read the statements of the former chairman of Indonesia’s sport committee, Wismoyo Aris Munandar, that once an athlete is able to beat him/herself, he/she will find it easier to topple opponents. Lately, I learn that you don’t have to be an athlete to experience such kind of thing.

Am I still the same Eny Wulandari who loves adventures? Do I still like meeting strangers? Can I survive in Sydney? Will I be patient in going through visa application?

Sometimes I miss those tiring yet awesome days being in a field. I love those days when I just get into the field, meet strangers, disturb sourcepeople at nights. Sometimes, I recall the moments when I spend hours at weekends writing stories that I like or dislike. A 3-year period of setting aside tiredness and health to chase adventures. The days when what come into my mind is fulfilling my curiosity.

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Definitely, there’s nothing wrong with my current state: working in an air-conditioned room from 9/10 a.m to 5 p.m, translating or writing stories. As the days pass by, you realize you grow old. You love your profession but you put your health above all else. That’s what I try to do. I simply love my body and I’d like to keep it in a balance.

Still, there are times when I have to leave this comfortable zone for a while. I need to ‘roar’. I must go to a completely new, strange place only to ensure that my wildest, craziest trait remains exist. I want to put my adventure to a higher level.

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If I can make a comparison, 2013 is like a very tough game for an underdog football team. Its rival attacks the club in so many ways but at the very end of the game, the squad has a golden chance to score a goal then triumph. This may sound too much but I believe I undergo similar situation.

I may say the first six months of 2013 is like a hell. I am even in the brink of job dismissal at the end of January. If that does happen, my dream of meeting Ale is over because I would fail to get a recommendation letter from HRD manager. At this moment, I almost give up.

When you face a storm, sometimes all you have to do is waiting till the storm is over. After my boss decides that he won’t fire me and my office mates, he gives me tons of translating and editing jobs. I even take up to three freelance translation projects almost at the same time. I spend weekends staring at the netbook, getting so confuded in editing the materials. Sometimes I want to hit my head on a rock for being too risky in accepting those freelance jobs because I feel so restless. But I need money to ensure I won’t be dying in Sydney so I complete the jobs.

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This question then comes up: “Eny, are you out of your mind?” This crazy trip may cost up to Rp20 million!!!”. Before the trip, the most expensive item I purchase is the netbook whose price is about Rp4.5 million. And the netbook is so worth it because I use it for working and everything. It is like half of my life. I am very careful about my own money. Until now, I still can manage to control myself when it comes to shopping. Differentiating which one is necessary or not is easy for me. Then, I am going to spend dozens of millions of rupiah for giving myself the unforgettable early birthday gift before I turn 30 by visiting Sydney and I call this as the MOST NECESSARY item I must purchase!!! This is not so me…

Money is a big thing but convincing everyone that a solo trip is completely natural experience is way more challenging. In a country where being in a group is overated, my decision of going on my own invites mixed reactions. Even my father initially is a bit shocked to have known that I will travel alone. I feel unrelieved after I hang up the phone. I need to send a sms to ensure that he does permit me. Obtaining my parents’ license is all I need to resume my plan despite the fact some friends of mine are unsure with my decision. To be honest, I’m not afraid at all. I stick with my principle that going on my own is much better than being part of a group whose members don’t share the same views. This is going to be a very strange, personal trip thus I have to do this on my own.

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I gradually execute my plan in June. I start it all with passport then credit card. It’s true that I go through these processes patiently but the anxiety is never really gone. At this stage, I often get worried about essential documents that I have to attach along with the applications. After this step is completed, my anxiety moves to A-League ticket. Will it reach my address from Australia? For almost one month I spend days wondering about this. When the ticket does come at my desk, my anxiety grows even bigger. I finally feel that applying for a visa is indeed frightening.

After I obtain visa, do you think my anxiety is over? The answer is not. My problem then shifts into, again, small stuff. I spend hours reading about public transportation in Sydney, accommodation, Indonesian food, and everything. I read too much. I ask myself: “What if I get lost?” “How can I buy bus or train ticket?” “Where can I find rice?”. Too many questions that bring myself unnecessary burden.

All my anxiety proves me wrong once I arrive in the city. Completely false. It’s easy to find kiosks that sell bus tickets in the city. Although Kingsford is very far from the city centre, I can still reach the place and eat various Indonesian food there. The Sydneysiders are surprisingly very friendly.

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Everytime I recall the memories for about seven days in the city, I have one word to describe about myself: CRAZY. Yes, it’s crazy that I do survive during the 10-hour flight with lack of water. It’s so insane that I can sleep well in a room with six strangers from around the world. I can’t believe I still enjoy getting lost in the city for many hours with just one cake and mineral water as the breakfast. As I have my period during the trip, it’s unbelievable that I smile all the way, even when I get lost, which happens every day. Getting lost has never been this awesome as old buildings, beautiful flower kiosks, fresh air in the city entertain my eyes.

It’s too unbelievable that my tiredness and hungry doesn’t reduce any drop of happiness that I feel once I meet Ale. The rainy, cold Friday morning doesn’t prevent me from running here and there just to get closer to him during the training session. And it’s awesome that I am able to slow myself down to enjoy some afternoons stretching my legs at Royal Botanic Garden, closing my eyes while thinking how blessed I am. Finally, I experience what I have watched in movies. I can lie down on the grass, read a book, look at the blue sky, in the heart of the city. It’s almost impossible to have this wonderful thing in Jakarta. And those old buildings… exactly as what I read or see in movies. How I wish I can visit them every day here. I am so absorbed, highly admire the rich history each building may have. I am speechless to describe the building’s magnificence, elegance, grandness. I don’t mind getting lost in those buildings. Not at all.

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I have never been this proud with myself. For two years, I think my adventurous side is vanished. During such time, I think I have been too cowardice to dare myself. I am so wrong. I am thankful with myself as I can easily adjust to the conditions in the city. I can control my temperament once I get lost while feeling so tired. I easily get angry in Jakarta anyway… My legs can even walk although they are so damn exhausted. I am not ashamed to ask people for direction or bus route. And it’s easy for me to ask the help from passers-by for taking my pictures. Despite all problems, I feel joyful and smile a lot.

I feel so grateful and relieved. Finishing the trip, meeting Ale without uploading many pictures in Facebook is a real victory. It feels like the huge rock that I have been carrying in the past one year has been lifted. And best of all is… I am so glad that my fear is not proven; that my adventurous side is still strong. It burns so bright once I put it into a fire. I know myself much better right now. I become a new, stronger Eny Wulandari. And that’s the best of 2013…

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