Live a Lively Life! : A Letter from Miranti

 

Dear PRESTASI,

This is my second year at Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies (Yale FES). My life so far has been marvelous here. Of course, there are so many ups and downs. Life has been an actual rollercoaster. But each moment is a valuable experience for me. As a Wiseman said, experience is the most brutal of teachers, but I do learn!

Similar with other scholars, first semester is always the toughest one. There is always a breakdown for everyone. My first breakdown was last year. I actually came into the point where I asked myself “What the hell are you doing here? “ Classes were intense. Language was difficult. Food was tasteless.  Beers were everywhere. People were so different. Weather was so cold. Practically, I was out of my comfort zone. Yeah, life as a graduate student is not as pleasant as it seems. However, after finishing up my first semester, I have been more relaxed on living my graduate life here at Yale FES. I figured it out how to balance my life, between my personal time, my classes, and my social life. The key is, indeed, time management. Time management is a combination of art and science. There is no right or wrong answer. Only we can find the right rhythm and pace for our busy life. My time management works for me. I have been living a lively life ever since.

In my first semester, I helped to organize an international TGIF (Thank God I am a Forester) where all international students are cooking their authentic cuisine and wearing traditional attire. The idea is to promote the diversity to Yale FES community. I and Heri Hermawan cooked Indonesian mie goreng and beef rendang. People loved those foods so much. Indonesia is a big country, however not many people know alot about it. When I told them that we have more than 700 local living languages in Indonesia, they were surprised.

The second semester was so crazy with job-hunting for summer internship. In my program, summer internship is a mandatory. I did not expect that looking for an internship in USA for international students could be so difficult. I sent a bunch of emails looking for opportunities and rarely got reply. Most of the posted positions were for American students. I was fortunate that my academic advisor was very supportive and he used his own network to find the best internship position for me. I, then, landed myself with an excellent opportunity to work in Forest Resources Division, Washington State Department of Natural Resources in Olympia, Washington. As a government employee from Indonesia, having the opportunity to work in the state government office in this country was a luxury experience. Not only I learned about the sustainable forest management practices in the second largest timber business state in USA, but also about maintaining my professionalism and keeping up to their high standards. I knew that I did not only represent myself, but also my advisor, my school, and my country. When I finished my internship with a high recognition from my office supervisors, I realized that what mattered to me the most was not that I proved myself to them; but I proved myself to myself.

The best moment of my internship was when I spent two days in Capitol State Forest with a professional forester, Trevor.  He taught me to see the forest from a forester perspective. We walked and hiked into the beautiful naturally regenerated Douglas-fir forests. He taught me how to analyze the story of the forest: its past, its current condition, and its future projection with and without management. In the second day, he took me to a stand, he gave me three maps and compass, and he asked me to analyze the forest based on what I learned so far. He let me lead the way and tell him my analysis while walking around the stand. It was challenging but so much fun! The best part was that I did not get us lost inside the natural regenerated forest.

My third semester has passed by without I realized. Time flies! I had many amazing opportunities this semester. In this semester I have also been working on my master project, which was very stressful. I also had my second breakdown in this semester. However, this semester had been very fun as well. I got an opportunity to have dinner with Dean Crane, the dean of Yale FES, and Frances Beinecke, the Director of NRDC (one of the most influential environmental NGOs in USA). I also got a great opportunity to attend the speech from Former President Jimmy Carter when he visited Yale.

My last paragraph! For now, I am so thrilled that only one semester left in this school, which means that I am gonna be home very soon! I am longing for Ketoprak, Pempek, Nasi Kuning, Lumpia Semarang, and all of those yummy street foods! But in the same time, I realize that I am going to miss my life here. Unexpectedly, me studying in USA have been a spiritual journey for myself. I learn to understand myself better. I learn to depend to nobody but myself. I learn to overcome problems by myself. I learn to befriend with myself. I learn to be comfortable with myself.  I learn to love myself. There has never been an easy way for a person to personally grow as an individual. Through my graduate program in this country, I meet numerous people who speak different languages. They come from diverse backgrounds. They offer me various perspectives in seeing the world. That is how I grow. I am thankful to Prestasi USAID for giving me such an incredible opportunity.

- Miranti-