Days with PPI

I had been in here for about 2 months when the first time I met Indonesian (residents and students) in Utrecht. It was all because I did not find any perfect reason for it. As my colleague students from IMPoME (International Master Program on Mathematics Education) had just arrived then Indonesian Students Club (PerhimpunanPelajar Indonesia/PPI) conducted a welcome party to them on Saturday, February 2nd, 2014. As a new comer I was invited too through a social media, facebook.

That party was held in SGB (StichtingGenerasiBaru) building. It is a multi-function building belong to Indonesia community in Utrecht. It is used for multi purposes such as Jumat pray, Eid pray, community events, etc.  Aside 10 IMPoME students, there were one new PhD student, PPI committee, and Indonesians.

Ceremony was started by the introduction of our all. Felis as a secretary of PPI continued the party with presenting a topic how to live in Netherlands. She shared many informations such as important local grocery, Asian and halal store, etc. She also mentioned how to travel in and around Netherlands. It was a useful information.
20140201_144030[1]After having late lunch (or early dinner?) and Ashr pray, we continued with a presentation from the chairlady of PPI Utrecht, Neshya. She mentioned about PPI, the history, its activities and organizational structure.
NeshyaFollowed by about 19 persons, the recent activity organized by PPI was visiting a small village in Amsterdam called Zaanse Schans. From Utrecht, we took train to Amsterdam Central (about 30 minutes), then caught another train to the nearest train station Koog-Zaandijk (about 15 minutes), then we continued by walk about 20 minutes to our final destination.20140209_131915Zaanse Schans is one of the popular tourist destinations in the Netherlands. We can find windmills, crafts (including wooden shoes, jewelry), cheese, museum such as museum of 1st Albert Heijn’s supermarket. They even demonstrated how to make a wooden shoe. It took only about 10 minutes. At the ancient age, It takes about 3 hours. Technology involvement.

Rain and gale accompanied us while we were there. It was more than enough to make us wet. But those did not stop us for the next journey.


We were back to Amsterdam. Some of us decided to be back directly to Utrecht, while others continued to visit Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition. By taking metro, we went to the location through Metro station Zuid, Amsterdam. It was about another 15 minutes from Amsterdam central continued by walking about 5 minutes to the hall.

IMG_20140209_210715Yes, we can see the rubbles of that cruise. However, the number of replica of the cruise is more than the original artifact. I was quite disappointed. The most disappointing was we cannot take pictures inside the exhibition center.

Weariness and twilight bring us back to Utrecht and reality.

I am waiting for the next events organized by PPI. Salute!!

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Boekenfestijn (Book Festival) in Rotterdam

Weekend is a time for going around after busy days from Monday to Friday. Last week on Saturday, I and 3 friends went to a boekenfestijn in Rotterdam. It was my first time to be in Rotterdam. In addition to that boeknfestijn, I also wanted to explore a bit about Rotterdam. That festival was conducted in a big dorm called Ahoy Rotterdam from 23 – 26 January 2014. It is a regular festival in The Netherlands. However, the place can be changed. The next place will be in Maastricht from 6-8 February 2014.

2014-01-30 17.03.59We met in front of Bruna book store at Utrecht centraal station to go to Rotterdam. In a freezing morning, we took train directly to Rotterdam. It did not take a long time. It was only about 40 minutes and just stopped at 2 train stations. For return ticket it cost us E 11.80 each, if we have weekend vrij train ticket, then we don’t have to pay the fare.

From Rotterdam train station, we took tram to the book festival. We arrived at Zuidplein tram station. It was 7th tram station from Rotterdam central when we catched tram to De Akkers. Actually we can catch another tram to take us from Rotterdam central. That tram goes to Slinge. Book festival was held at Ahoyweg 10 Rotterdam. From Zuidplein tram station, we just need to walk to the venue. It was really close. By walk we only took about 5 minutes. We did not get lost since the sign and banner to go the place were very helpful.

I was a big festival for book readers and it was free entry. Even though it was boekenfestijn, they displayed not only books (including a few text books), but also some magazines, maps, stationery, puzzle, multimedia, hobby items or even handicrafts. I even found some childhood toy.


All the books are put on the long tables. Each table has their own category such as novel, art, hobby, etc. Don’t ask me about the price, because it was so cheap compared to regular price. They give discount of 60% to 90%. It was easy to find a book by E 0.5.


I brought back a novel, a biography, a puzzle, and a set of tweezer. It cost me less than E 13. My friends spent from E 12 – 30.

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Documents for living

After a few days in Utrecht, I have to take care of some documents. These documents are important to live in Utrecht. It is a legal formal to live. There are 3 documents that I have to take care.

  1. IND documents for getting Dutch ID card
  2. Gemeente for getting BSN
  3. Rontgen for TB
  4. Health insurance

For getting Dutch ID card, I had to provide LoA from my supervisor mentioning that I would stay in Dutch for a certain time. I also had to bring my passport and a financial guarantee letter with me. Passport is needed to prove our legal identity and financial guarantee letter is need to make sure that we will be financially ok  during our stay in The Netherlands. Of course, they do not want us to be burden for Dutch government when we were homeless.

It is all needed to get ID Dutch number. As my university had been taking care of it before hand, when I arrived at that office, I just waited for about one hour, then I get my Dutch ID card. So simple and really quick. The officer said to me

“I have nothing to say, but just enjoy your time in The Netherlands.”

What a friendly officer…… IND in Utrecht is located at Bergstraat 58, 3511 RS with service time from Monday to Friday; 09.00-16.00.

Dutch ID card
Example of Dutch ID card (taken from here)

 After getting Dutch ID card, then I had to register my identity at Gemeente. It is a social security number provided by the gemeente. In Indonesia, Gemeente is like a local government (kantor Kabupaten/Kecamatan). I had to brought Dutch ID card, passport, a copy of passport from my landlord where I live in Utrecht, a letter from my landlord mentioning where I live at, a recent photo card and a legalized birth certificate by a certified person. I was also asked to show the original birth certificate. However, as I don’t know it, then the officer said “passport is ok”. Furthermore he said, if I come back from Indonesia, then I have to show the original birth certificate to gemeente.

It did not take a long time as well. I just had to take care of it about 1 hour. Ultimately i got BSN (Burger Security Number). BSN is need to open bank account at most bank, but ING Bank, in The Netherlands. Please check my previous post to look further.

The next step I have to make regarding living in Utrecht was making a TB photo rontgen. It is their regulation and it is obligatory. Again.. I did not have to wait long… just about 30 minutes. It may be because there was not a queue. On December 2013, I had to pay E 42,-. They said, if there is no problem on my lung imaging, then they tell me nothing, but if there is… then they would notice me.

Normal Lung Imaging

Lung x-ray image (cited from here)

We also have to have a health insurance. It is obligatory for every single person who lives temporarily and permanently in Dutch. I applied this insurance through web. I took AON as my insurance provider. The only reason was that company was suggested by our university. Simple… 🙂

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Going to Monschau, Germany

It was a very long journey.

From Utrecht Centraal Station, The Netherlands to Sittart train station : about 2 hours
Catching another train from Sittart train station to Herleen train station : about 30 minutes.
Another train from Herleen train station to Aachen Hbf train station, Germany : about 30 minutes

Sound familiar with Aachen city? …. please dig out your mind about a movie… or former Indonesia president… Yes… that city is where BJ Habibie lives.

Aachen is not our final destination. We had to take bus from Aachen to Monschau. It was about 90 minutes. I found an interesting fact when i was on the bus. Even it was convenience, but it was really full. Reminds me to the bus when i was in Jakarta. Very crowded…
Monschau actually is a village. Well known with the castle and beautiful scenery. Some people said Monschau is a typically Germany village. Castles at the top of the hill, river flows….. are very beautiful.

After about 2 hours rounding the village… a long journey was worth.

20140118_150458 20140118_152825 20140118_162946 20140118_170213 20140118_170304Please going there with friends. Train and bus fares are cheaper when you are there with at least 5 friends.

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Toilet tragedy


I have no idea, why should I go to toilet at my campus many times, for pissing about 3-4 times a day and for disposing my waste for once in two days. Winter season may be? I feel cold and my metabolism rate increases for maintaining my homeostasis? I don’t know…

Until now, I still have problem with the toilet. It is not dirty. Indeed, mostly it is clean. There are 2 problems.
1. They only have toilet paper to clean your butt. For me… I don’t feel I have been clean enough.
2. The lamp. In my office, toilet is consisted of a 1-4 small rooms and 1 bigger hall for washing and drying hands after disposing waste. Lamps in the toilet are operated based on a movement censor and time limit. If someone come into the toilet hall, then the light balls will turn on, and the light will last for about 5-10 minutes. Now you can imagine, what will happen you need more than that time? It has happened to me for more than two times. What I got to do is just keep praying in my heart that someone will come into the toilet hall, so the light will be on. If my pray is rejected, then I will be there in the dark and doing everything like a blind man….

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1st day going to campus

Actually, this post related to my previous one.

My 1st day going to campus was my 3rd day in Utrecht. So i did not have enough time and opportunity to explore Utrecht more, including transportation.

I had had appointment with my supervisor at that day. We would meet at David de Wied (DdW) Building, Universiteitsweg 99, at 11.30 am. As i did not want to give a bad first impression, i went to campus earlier following my friend. She would guide me how to be there.  Catching the bus from my home to Utrecht Central was not difficult, but from UC to my campus I had no experience.

It was about 8 am at CS Centerzijde Utrecht. When i tried to contact her, voilaaaa……. my hp was blocked. A day before i changed my Indonesia SIM card to T-mobile one. To open it.. i had to put in my pin number. The problem was i left it at home. So… i we could not contact each other. Damn!!!

Luckily, i met Indonesian student in there. She would go to campus as well and mentioned which bus i had to catch. Actually i had known her a day before so i felt relieved. Then, my friend found me… Thanks God…. 🙂

But the problem was not finished yet. As many students wanted to go to campus, when the bus arrived, everyone jumped into the bus through middle, back and front doors . It is allowed to get in from middle and back door when there is crowd. For me, i had to get into the bus from the front door since i had to pay the fare to the driver, while my friends did not pay because they had had ov-chipkaart. They just need to tap that card onto the machine located by side of doors. When i tried to get in…. The door was closed because it was full… and my friend was in the bus already…. OMG… then the bus went… i felt lost…

After a long heart beat… i remembered that last night i got email from my friend, then I looked at my tablet pc. Even though i did not have internet connection, i still can check my previous email from my friend. She mentioned how to go from Heidelberglaan bus stop (my last bus stop) to the building where i would meet my supervisor.  Thanks God… she gave all in detail…

Jumping into the bus did not relief me at all.. Adrenaline rush was still there… My eyes kept looking at every bus stops. But i said… taking the bus in here is really convenience… so finally i arrived at Heidelberglaan bus stop. As my friend gave me the direction to the building very detail…. just by asking a man in front of the DdW building, i was there…

That pic above describe the map where i went from my last bus stop to the building. Actually it is not really far. Try to look at the “B”, in fact not even a building is erected there. I assume it was an old version of google map.

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Transportation in Utrecht

20131215_154141Bus station CS Centrumzijde Utrecht

Buses and trains in the Netherlands are very convenience. Even sometimes those are high populated, but still… those are convenience. We just can get into and jump out from bus at bus stops. So do not expect we can stop everywhere we want even the bus pass through our home, we still have to stop the bus at the bus stop near by. Please just forget our habit in Indonesia to catch the bus everywhere.

At the bus stop, we can find bus schedule for the whole week. Usually, the schedule for weekday is the same, but for Saturday and Sunday/holidays are different. Actually it is all written in Dutch, but please believe in me, even i just understand less than 1% Dutch language, i can figure out the meaning of it. Many times, Dutch language is almost similar to English. For example Zondag, maandag, dinsdag, woensdag, donderdag, vrijdag, and zaterdag. I believe we can guess what are the meaning of those words.We also can check the schedule of our bus from the web. We can even know, how much we have to pay, how long will we need to our destination, and what kind transportation mode we should take during our traveling (walk, buses, trains, trams).

They also have information board like a billboard at the bus stop. The board gives us the information how many minutes we have to wait our bus for that day and which bus will go through that bus stop. Most of times the bus will come within 0-3 minutes compared to the schedule on information board. So we do not have to wait for along time at bus stop especially during this freezing winter.

20131126_080325What about the price? For buses, they categorize our travel based on area. When we go to 1-2 area(s), then we have to pay E 2.6, whereas for 3-4 areas, we have to pay about less than E 5.2. Just tell the driver where are we heading to, then he/she will tell us how much we have to pay. And we will get the ticket for that… Easy, right? 🙂

2013-12-29 14.19.11 Want to get cheaper price for bus and train? They give us simplicity. If we travel regularly using bus to our, say, college, then we can register as regular costumers. It coasts us cheaper for sure. For example,

i travel from my home (Klopvaart bus station) to campus (Heidelberglaan bus station) needing 2 buses. Those cost me about E 2.35. For return travel that would be E 4.70. Say, in a month i travel 4 weeks x 5 days (in a week) then i should pay about E 96. But since i am regular costumer using ov-chipkaart, then for those route i have to pay E 77.2. Saving money, right? And i still can use that card for travel during weekend for free as long as in my covered areas.

2013-12-29 14.16.45

In the bus, there is a sound that will remind us what is the next bus stop. So we won’t miss our destination. The sound is in Dutch, but do not worry, most of buses are completed with a rolling board. It shows us, what is the next bus stop and what estimated time we will arrive. The buses are equipped by heater during winter, and alarm to stop the bus. We do not have to say “right driver, right….” terjemahan bebas dari kanan pa sopir, kanan….. (in the Netherlands the buses go from the right side).

20131215_134226When we travel during the weekend, bus fare is cheaper. For weekend, we have to pay E 2.6, but for the weekend we just pay E 2.1. And weekend starts at Friday 6.00 pm.2013-12-29 14.17.55

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