Train Strain


I’ve been very lucky to be studying in one of the most prestigious Universities in Indonesia. People studying here are most likely upper middle class or higher. I see kids driving new BMW, Mercedes, Audi, Range Rovers that their parents gave them. I have friends that have the luxury to travel easy everywhere. Then I see myself…. the pressure of finding where I belong in this society.

As I hop on a motorbike I ordered through my phone, I travel to the nearest train station 12km away. I took the train back to my hometown 80km with hundreds of other people.

Let’s rewind a little of how I ended up in this position. I used to live in a tiny flat of my campus area. I created a 3x4m space to feel like home, where all my life was in that room. I never felt like I fit in this city, I thought about quitting, dropping out, and throwing my life down the drain. I was on the verge of losing my mind in that tiny space. My only friend was a counselor I talk to once a week, and my weekend getaway was the grocery store.

I have a very curious mind, and dreamed about traveling everyday. So, I did… I gained new open-minded friends who I feel I connect well with. In some ways, it didn’t make my life easier. It only made me want to travel more, and ditch my study. I consulted with so many people, if I was on the right path. Everyone came with the same solution, FINISH YOUR GODDAMN DEGREE. You’ll only be wasting 3 years and tears of your life if you quit now.

My only possible solution was moving out of the place that suffocated me. I moved back to my hometown, 80km away. The only consequence was for me to drive 3 hours in Indonesia traffic, alone. But what happens when the car decides to break down? Well my only option is to travel by train, to this tiny city.

Full TrainIt’s been over 3 months since I travel by train weekly. Although the train is the most convenient ride, Indonesia’s public transportation is horrid. I squish myself inside the train, joining other hundreds of people. This situation truly trains your patience, as it is easy to be angry at everyone. It gets to the point where your body is pressed between others, until you are unable to hold your body to stand. So, you just lean on the person beside you, who most likely has a hard work stench.




I constantly blame myself on these train rides. I want to be honest as I write this, that I have been breaking down every day of the week. I close my eyes hoping the tears would stop dropping down my face in that train ride, but it only gets worse. My scoliosis screams at me while I stand with hundreds of others, unable to move. I wanted to blame everyone in that moment, but everyone was struggling with me.

Who could I blame in this situation? The person beside me? The person who just came in the train after me? I slowly dropped my ego and observed their faces. They weren’t happy either to be in this situation. If they could choose not to be there, they wouldn’t want to either. Most of their tired faces are still motivated to be squished with other people, only to go home to their loved ones.

Yes, I’ve been a spoiled brat. My life might have been better than the other hundreds in that train ride. I still have the privilege to study, travel, and work under great support from my family. Let alone, still have the freedom to explore pristine Islands. Then I think back to the society I’ve been so angry about… The city I’ve wasted 3 years of my life living in. The society of people who still complain about not having the new iPhone, the terrible taste of their food, the waiter that didn’t get their order quick enough, or why their driver couldn’t pick them up.

I am not proud, instead humiliated to be living in this high-class society. I’m forever grateful to taste the best and worst of both worlds. I beg to whoever reads this, BE GRATEFUL where you come from. There are more people suffering than just a terrible internet connection or not getting a text back from your crush.

Now, is my last semester in this University. I’m not humiliated to travel 160km in a day by train, even when it’s raining, or when I shed another tear. I came in 4 years ago believing I could become a therapist, and I will. I will graduate as a Music Therapist majoring the violin.

written in my spare time at UPH, Karawaci, Indonesia.

p.s. I will never forget the moments where I would lean onto some stranger in the train and trust each other’s back. Oh, and the time I squirmed when some stranger’s ass touched my ass in synchronous. Huge applauds to the guys that gave me their seats!

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