Okki Sutanto: My Awesome Europe Odyssey

The Once in a Lifetime Chance: My Awesome Europe Odyssey

Frans Seda Foundation - Twin Scholarship 2016 - Okki Sutanto (1)Back in November 2015, when my Head of Programme offered the opportunity to spend three months doing research in Tilburg University, Netherlands, I wasn’t very interested. Some things came to mind: Would it delay my graduation? What about my work & business? What about my friends and family? Could I just leave thousands of miles away without jeopardising any of these things? What if I miss them all and couldn’t handle it? Would it be worth it?

All those questions crossed my mind, and it held me back to submit my research proposal to Mr Mikhael Dua, the Frans Seda Foundation board member who runs this Twin Scholarship Programme. Time passed by and I was completely forgotten about this scholarship. So when my Head of Programme reminded me about this in early January 2016, I was a bit surprised. I even thought the selection process already passed and the awardee already went to Netherlands! At that moment, I thought more about all the amazing academic experience & benefit. I stopped overthink it and decided to give it a shot.

Frans Seda Foundation - Twin Scholarship 2016 - Okki Sutanto
Okki together with Ayu Utami at the Frans Seda Lecture

Fast forward to 1st of May 2016, I arrived at Schiphol International Airport, Amsterdam. Gee, it felt unreal and I couldn’t believe it! Everything went so fast. From getting the news that I was chosen as an awardee in February, along with two other students from Atma Jaya University & University of Indonesia, to all the time spent preparing everything like Visa and accommodation. And there I was, still in awe of Schiphol Airport, picked up by a friend at the arrival gate. We had lunch and while we were catching up she also gave me tips on how to “survive” in Netherlands, especially getting to know the transportation system by 9292 App you can download on your phone! It amazes me how the app can help us know the route, price, and exact schedule on how to get anywhere in Netherlands. It really helped me to get to the room I rented in Statenlaan, Tilburg, during my time in Netherlands.

I didn’t have much trouble adapting, thanks to the introduction meeting arranged by Frans Seda Foundation which also invites representation from the Tilburg International Office & PPI (Perhimpunan Pelajar Indonesia). The International Office helped us about administration such as creating a student account, tips on how to set up a Dutch bank account, and else, while the PPI Tilburg board member helped us to connect to fellow Indonesian students there & also gave us a tour around the campus.

Again, time flies between doing research & consulting with my advisor, Professor Fons van de Vijver, travelling around Netherlands & several nearby EU countries, and adapting to a whole new experience of living by yourself thousands of miles away from home. I made some new friends, especially international students because my housing complex in Statenlaan was full of them. My roommates were students from many countries like China, Indonesia, Turkey, Serbia, Spain, and Cyprus! It was so amazing to talk to people from many other countries and cultures. We hung out several times and even watched the Euro Cup 2016 final match together from our room, using free streaming and a laptop connected to a television! Talk about being creative, right? haha.

Frans Seda Foundation - Twin Scholarship 2016 - Okki Sutanto (2)Three months passed, and it has been a really amazing experience for me. To live, learn, and work (doing research) in a country where academic culture is highly appreciated is really useful for me. The advice from my professor & discussion about the fundamental theory of my research, the great facility & collection from the Tilburg University Library, and the opportunity to live and travel around Europe is such a once in a lifetime opportunity for me.

I never even dreamed about it before, so it’s more than just a dream come true. For me, it’s an odyssey. Just like Odysseus long adventure to come home to Ithaca. Yes, I am home now. But no, I am not the same person anymore. I learned a lot. My perspectives about life, culture, and the world have been broadened to a whole new level. My research, both fundamentally and methodologically, has progressed & improved vastly.

Thanks, Frans Seda Foundation, for this amazing opportunity. I really hope this programme could become more and more successful as years passed so that many more talented young leaders could become a bridge-builder and inspiration for generations, as been shown by the late Frans Seda.