“Essen never ends.”
This month, April 2016, reminds me on my first departure two years ago to this City, Essen. This City is honestly not as beautiful as other many cities in Germany. Compared to its neighbours which I have visited (such as Dortmund, Düsseldorf, Köln, etc), Essen isn’t obviously a tourist attraction. However, I will have many memories to this city—especially the good ones—when I need to leave it someday. Here are some reasons.
1. Many Indonesians but not abundance.
I have experienced living in a city where Indonesians were able to be counted by finger, even I just found no more than 2 people. But, when I came here—to Essen—only with my son, I didn’t expect that two Indonesian guys, Mas Reza and Mas Irawan, were willing to pick me up although we didn’t know each other. Regarding several circumstances, I couldn’t leave my son in Indonesia, while I also had to manage all stuffs in Germany in order to have permission studying here. Thanks to Bey who offered me her room, as well as Mas Zico and Mbak Mila who welcome me in their house. They all had helped me to survive during my first month in Essen. This was a priceless thing I received at that time.
Nevertheless, I meet many other Indonesians who want to help each other. I couldn’t mention their names one by one here, but I do grateful to have them as my family here. Since we have such a good transportation system in Germany, it’s easy to meet up with friends in another city nearby. We also have a gathering at least every month and I could cure my homesick in there, especially for the matter of Indonesian foods. That’s why I didn’t so much suffer from living so far away of our home town.
In addition, Indonesian women living here are very good at cooking. I learnt how to make Baso, Siomay, even Semur Lidah which I got the recipe from them. I never had such kind of desire to cook Indonesian foods, if I am not studying abroad. I could say that it’s also a force. Otherwise, my cooking skills would have never been improving.
2. It’s a big city, but not a metropolitan.
Essen is a part of a Region/Province (ein Bundesland) called Nord-Rhein Westfalen (NRW). This Region is located in the West Germany, which has many big cities and they are also famous for tourists. According to this fact, I can easily travel from Essen to another city in at least 15 minutes (e.g. Bochum) only with regional transport connection.
Despite of their beauty, I don’t like living in Düsseldorf or Köln since these cities are too big, full of people and expensive as well. I can easily feel exhausted in a crowd place, but I also can’t enjoy my life in isolated area. I need a balance between the convenience of facilities and the calmness. That’s what I found in Essen, where I could find everything I need, e.g. goods, foods, friends, etc.
3. I found a spirit of togetherness.
Essen oder nicht, einfach geht uns nach Essen zum Treffen.
This phrase in German means that”Eat or no, just meet up in Essen!”. This is derived from a famous anecdote in Indonesia, “Makan gak makan, yang penting kumpul“. It is literally said that without food, we Indonesians can still laugh together. We don’t even need beer to enjoy our life. Food makes the life more alive, though.
Essen is also a german word that means “food”.
Like a famous novel “Eat, Love and Pray” written by Elizabet Gilbert, I have also experienced living abroad in 3 different countries, Italy, Spain and Germany where I received many life lessons. Yet, in Essen I finally found the answer of my “pray” in order to unlock one of the puzzles in my life. Moreover, I found a “love” and friendship as well as the sense of “eating” here.