The thought of living in a developed country certainly triggered great excitement as a person who spent most of his life in Bandung, West Java. Canberra welcomed me at the end of the winter with cool weather and occasional showers. As I enjoyed student life happily, summer came with it, bringing with it the Australian bushfire season 2019-20. Suddenly, the happy delight became a bit of a worrying experience.
Previously, August 2019, with the sponsorship of the National Endowment Fund for Education (LPDP), was one of the happiest moments of my life, getting news of my admission to Australian National University (ANU) for my doctoral program. I had never spent more than a few weeks outside Indonesia for business or pleasure. Clearly, good research was to brace myself for the future. Google was the obvious choice to analyze details about Canberra, Australia’s capital, which hosts the ANU.
I found Canberra in the first few months to be a very comfortable place to live in, particularly for students. Although the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) is quite small relative to Sydney, it has everything you want: an international melting pot culture, proper modes of public transport, health facilities, entertainment and tourist spots.
I had a very enjoyable first few months in Canberra, with some occasional trips to Sydney (one was going to catch a U2 concert). And I thought it was nice to Australia, definitely better than Indonesia.
Summer came, and I was alerted by several colleagues about the hot weather. I thought, “Yeah, I’ve lived my whole life in a tropical country, I’m sure I’m able to handle a few more degrees of sun, right?”How wrong I was.
It was going to reach 40-43 degrees Celsius in days. It was so hot that I thought air conditioning could be one of human history’s greatest inventions. Most people believed that global warming raised the average summer temperature. Okay, it became a must to bathe twice a day like in Indonesia, with sunblock and sunglasses. Suddenly, I started missing the Bandung.
The bushfires came with summer, which is quite frequent and normal for Aussies, as the country’s plant life has largely been associated with fire hazards since the earliest humans came here. Mainly dry trees and branches of eucalyptus caught fire with occasional natural causes such as lightning strikes, although the trigger could be due to human activity.