On my second module in the MA Media Culture program, my classmates and I went to the famous ZKM. We were required to write a paper on one of those artworks available at the ZKM. ZKM is the largest museum in Karlsruhe, Germany, which is famous for their artworks collection & virtual experience these works offered. Because we must select one of the artworks and write the name and title of the artist correctly but there would be too many works to be memorized, for this trip I decided to bring a camera. I could write notes on my notepad but it won't be as effective as capturing all the artworks and title with a camera. I was pleased with myself for thinking ahead. Until I went and found almost all of my classmates were also having their camera along. I was quite surprised by this. By the fact of how alike our thinking could be. How smart my young inexperience classmates were. One of the most difficult thing I must learn to accept during my program is this: that in this class I am no longer the smart one who do not need to swallow before I could chew. That I must chew so hard before able to swallow, was a new thing for me. Before, in my previous study in an art school in Jakarta, I always could swallow easily without chew. But that is the thing about Nederland. In this land of Europe, I have witnessed how graduate students from Indonesia's top universities struggle to keep their grades from falling. One or two would succeed and continue their PhD., but most of us would need going head to toe for only passing exams. When I asked my close friend why he wanted to pursue his PhD here, he answered, "We are taught to do the right thing here." I one hundred percent agree with him.
The right thing here means when grades are totally given based from our depth of knowledge on a subject, when recommendation letter is written with such brutal honesty, and as exemplified by my experience above, the university admission is strictly arranged we find 99 % of our classmates are in the similar learning capabilities and intelligence as ours. To do the right thing here is by being objective, honest and able of being rational and admits truth above anything else. Despite ideology differences and etc-etc factors.
Don't get me wrong, it doesn't mean I think we Indonesians are stupid. On contrary look at the cute innovation the street vendors made for living. Look at the wittiness and sharp jokes our social media users status update. Yet when it comes for dogmatic virtues, ideologies, things that have been told to us since our childhood years, that have formed our identity, of who we are...we could be so damn stubborn.
Never once we ever dare to question things, to contradict our ideologies, our values. We are use to accepting praise in pleasant manner while holding grudge to they who speaks the contrary. Introspection and admittance are not our Indonesian manner.
Being critical to us Indonesians, means to give nasty comment to those people in our governments, to the people in the House of Representative. Well, I myself too, is not agree with how much money we must spend for those greedy politicians in the Senayan area. Our corrupted political system, however, is the product of our characteristic as a nation, the baby of our unstable social system. Most of us, were actually no different than the people we often criticize.
If maturity is about choice, than as grown-ups, we should be able to face the unbearable truth of ourselves before pointing finger to others. Despite the fact that those 'others' have better fate (read: income) than us.