A Letter from Olan


"Every good and perfect gift is from above…” - James

I am super excited to write my first letter in English. Please read this letter and imagine how I am telling this story; using both Sudanese and Bataknese dialects :). Okay, let’s start!

After finishing orientation in Washington DC for five days and enjoying the capitol city scenes, especially Uncle Obama yard in front of his office and house, I flew crossing the nation on a long trip to Los Angeles which is the second-largest city in the US. Upon my arrival, I felt the air was so hot and dry, something similar to Bekasi, a city that is close to the sun :). Los Angeles is built on a stretch of arid and rocky valley of San Gabriel. This city would become a place where I continue my study in Healthcare Management in California State University, Los Angeles. Of course, there were so many worries before I came to US, such us the language, culture, academic obligations, etc. However, they were almost disappeared, when I saw a supermarket just in front of my hotel and found so many Indonesian products. It made me feel homey. Sounds silly, but I felt that as if I really landed in Bekasi indeed.

First time arrived on the campus, I felt very anxious because I came with very minimal English language ability. Yet gradually I could adapt although my English language skills were not improved very fast.

The schools in west coast are different from the other campuses in the USA. Instead of semester system, they implement quarter system. We must complete the course in 10 weeks by taking 2-3 courses. It feels very fast therefore it requires its own strategy to be able to follow the quarter pattern. If I miss a class for a week, the impact would be enormous, that I would not understand the next class. The challenges from academic obligations are sometime very stressful, but getting full support from other PRESTASI scholars and especially from a beautiful wife is always enough to face the challenges ;).

In campus, there are so many opportunities offered for students to develop themselves. One of them is the leadership training. It is a nine-months-long activity where the students learned about leadership through involvement in community services, voluntary activities and class discussions. For the final project, my team created a short video which explains the concepts of leadership and their implementations. Students who successfully completed the training received an award, including me :). These experiences were very impressive and taught me that if we persevere, then we can also show that we are not inferior to the natives.

The city of Los Angeles is very heterogeneous as well as on campus. The students are very heterogeneous; they come from different countries, races and cultures. Therefore, this makes me feel less foreign. Another thing that makes me feel very comfortable in this city is its hospitality. It is not difficult to get a smile or a greeting from people around you especially when I walk in my neighborhood. Perhaps because of the diversity that has existed since long time, so the society is so used to see people from different background. I thought American is so individualistic but I never found that stereotype thing when I stay here.

I am in the third quarter now. Next summer quarter I will take one regular class and one class for independent research. I will do a research experiment type in hospital where I work in Indonesia. I hope with this research I’ll be able to apply the knowledge that I obtained here to my hospital and improve the service quality there and the result may impact other hospitals in Indonesia. My supervisors in the hospital and my advisors in campus support me to implement the knowledge that I gain here. This is my first attempt to achieve my mission, bringing knowledge to my nation, is starting through this research.

It is not only campus academic activities that we can enjoy in Los Angeles area. Seeking beautiful beaches around Los Angeles is one alternative from many choices, from Long beach, Huntington Beach where Arnold Schwarzenegger has fitness center, Santa Monica beach where “Baywatch” television shows took place, up to Malibu Beach where you can play with many seagulls or just see and enjoy the wind and the sunshine. For Hollywood actors/actress lovers, Hollywood sign, universal studio and walk of fame can be visited freely. All these places can be reached by taking a bus or Metro. These places help me a lot to refresh mentally, due to overwhelmed campus activities.  Another place that can be visited and become a part of our plan for the next trip is visiting the city near to Los Angeles, such as San Francisco, Las Vegas and San Diego. Even though Los Angeles is one of the biggest city in the US, as a student, we can still save money while visiting many beautiful places as well.

So many interesting things I want to tell, including things that we often see only on the television, everything I can see and enjoy for free. For basketball and football fans, we can enjoy the atmosphere of the Staples Center where LA Lakers plays, or we can meet Beckham in Los Angeles Galaxy Stadium. Actually, more things that I want to write, but due to the limited space I cannot tell it all. Finally, I believe, all these good things that I could enjoy come from God above. There is a purpose that needs to be fulfilled when I come here, which is preparing me to involve more in developing my nation Indonesia in the future.

Let’s be the salt and the light for our country Indonesia.

California State University – Los Angeles