The Netherlands: the actual ending.

In the morning of the 31st of December 2015, I took a one-way flight from Amsterdam to Jakarta.

I checked in 50 kilograms worth of suitcases. I remembered the 30 kilograms I brought five years ago, which are in no way a part of the 50. I thought of the physical things in the 30 I’ve thrown away, and the things I’ve replaced them with and thus are with me in the 50. I also thought about the weightless, immaterial things I have decided to either left behind or carry with me until now.

I don’t think they are in any way measurable, but I am going to vomit them out in form of words in hope to be able to have something similar to acceptance.


After five years that felt long and short at the same time, I left the Netherlands. I graduated and got my bachelor’s degree. Some think that it took too long, some think I could’ve spent longer. Whatever – the timing’s not up to me.

If it was up to me and I could redo it all over again, I would probably choose another program that will let me finish up in 3 years. I would also probably undo all the “bad” decisions for better ones. I would also probably end up as a different person, which is a crazy thought considering that I could be in a better or worse place, which I’ll never know. What I know for sure is that things happened for a reason. As cliche as it sounds, life gets easier for this complicated brain resting inside my skull when it thinks that way. It stopped blaming itself for any shortcomings, and started to accept the failures as necessities for it to let its human grow as a person.

Have I grown? I think I have. Physically and mentally. I should’ve, really – I mean, I learnt to live with new people, new family members, and most importantly myself for the past five years. It’s nothing I would’ve learnt if I were to stay where I was – in my comfort zone, that is. I’ve talked about this before, and I’ll talk about it again: about how I created my secondary comfort zone. This was an occurring worry – that me returning to Indonesia means that I’m returning back to my old comfort zone. What I didn’t realise until recently is that when you grow up, you also grow out of your old comfort zone. It became small and dusty. You no longer feel comfortable.


I’ve graduated, moved out and in, and it’s a new year. The utmost conducive situation for me to start afresh. The only thing I haven’t done yet is the closure.

To provide context, when I knew I was leaving the Netherlands, I sort of.. escaped, and just went away without telling people.

That’s the short version. The long version is, I did tell some people. Long before, I had planned to arrange this grand departure where I would gather everyone I knew, say a long, emotional speech how I appreciate each one of them for making my life way easier for the past years, hug each one of them, maybe they’ll also throw me a surprise goodbye party and wave me off at the airport, yada yada yada. Sounds as good as a novel. Thing is, my life’s not more than that weird little book no one reads that sits at the corner of the bookshelf cause it’s boring, and it escapes from the reality.

I do think this is my way of coping with leaving. It sucks, and telling it with my own mouth to people I’m going to leave does not make it any easier, if not harder. So I did things a la Karina – I told a few people about it and filled my last days with one-on-one lunch/dinner plans instead of my imaginative dramatic gala dinner. Instead I went bowling, tried out the newest restaurants in Rotterdam as well as ate at some regulars for memory’s sake. I did say my goodbyes to some, but not to everyone.. and perhaps not to myself. Not to the old Karina I’ve left behind in order to get going with my life. My guess is that she’ll stay there as an excited 18 year-old who knows nothing about the Netherlands and the Dutch culture, with improper outfit for the always-cold weather, but optimistic (or simply indifferent?) enough to not regret the decision she had taken.

As a step to closure, I gotta say my goodbyes to her, I guess.

Here goes:

Hoi, 18 year-old Karina. Good work surviving. I can’t believe how the 12 year-old, 14-year old, and 16 year-old Karinas are going to be so proud of you when they know what you did at your age. I’m pretty sure that the 20 year-old and 22 year-old Karinas are pretty thankful too for what you did.

Now’s my turn to make them proud.

Thank you, and enjoy the Dutch weather for me.


Soon-to-be 24 year-old Karina.

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