Home Archives Travel Highlights of 2016: Where I Have Been For The Last 1 Year

Travel Highlights of 2016: Where I Have Been For The Last 1 Year

by Marina Utami
The 2016 Jejak Marina Highlights

Happy new year everyone! Geez… Who would have thought that 2017 is here already? Time moves so fast I barely even catch my breath when I looked at my travel photos on my camera. 2016 was another blasting turning point in my life again. Therefore I am writing travel highlights of 2016, to begin with. I know that I didn’t update my life journey in this blog anymore, so I thought that I should give you the 2016 summary. I am using this chance to tell you the truth of what I have really been through this year as I hope you can understand a little bit of the dark side. Everything is not what it seems to be..

Then again, I consider myself blessed of having many friends and family who always supported me in achieving my dreams. 2014 was a great year when I encountered the first time feeling the joy of Solo Travelling in South East Asia. 2015 was full of hard works and proper planning of my life. 2016 was finally the result of my hard works and dedications. The most important thing is that I have crossed over many bucket list of my life that I never thought I would have done. It was not as easy as you have seen on my beautiful pictures. I had lots of barriers and burden in my life that I have yet to overcome. Not to mentions that I prayed lots and lots of times to God that I have come to this state. I am grateful for this opportunity to become so alive.

So without further ado, I want to give you a bit highlight of my journey in 2016:

LPDP Awardee and Studying MA Advertising and Design at the University of Leeds

It was my biggest achievement to fulfil my dream since I was a kid; to reach a high level of education and live outside the country. It was such a tremendous time that I was able to gain the scholarship and live my life in Leeds, UK. I felt a bit hard in the beginning as I have to start being a student again. 1 year of studying and writing reports was a good heat up (who would have thought my writing skills now getting more advance?).

Leeds has become my third home over the past years and it was hard to leave to the city when I get back to Indonesia. It has the charm of ‘not-so-large’ city; perfect for travelling around the countryside and good place for some serious studying. I will always miss the times when I was there.

University of LeedsLeeds CanalMarina and study buddies in University of LeedsMarina with colleagues Leeds University

Thank you LPDP for the generosity and trust that I was able to graduate with good marks! I finally have the new degree title: Marina Utami, S. Des, Master of Arts. I am ready to return the kindness and give back to my beloved country. May the knowledge that I had here would be able to help bring some goodness in Indonesia.

Marina in University of LeedsLeeds University Graduation 26

Surviving Life & Relationship

The truth is I had a rough time while I was living in the UK. The battle that I thought I had already conquered were creeping up back again into my head. I had to fight my own depression and stress for being alone in every aspect of my life. I know that I have been such a fighter since I was young but you can’t keep yourself strong all the time. Patience has its own limit and it felt good to break down once in a while. Although sometimes I couldn’t control myself and afraid that I will stay in the darkness and couldn’t find a way out.

I cried, I tempted, I fell.. and I stand up again. Then again, I was lucky to have many supports from the people around me, as I finally seek some help from the real professional. Thank God I came back – not 100%, but I think I will be there.

As the famous quote said that, “Damaged people are dangerous because they know they can survive.”

Then I realised that I could not leave it all behind. It will always stay with me no matter how hard I try. The past will always be there. But if it weren’t for the people that I have met, I will never come back up again. So here’s some thankful notes and gratitude for the people who has helped me through tough times. They made me feel present. They made me feel alive.

And that’s how I learned to exist. I learned that being myself and show them who I really am is the best way to have a good relationship with people. Even though that I keep pressing down the dark side of my life, I finally able to embrace it to those people who respect me and want to have me in their life. I was so happy being touched by the other souls and I do hope that the connections I have made will also bring some changes into their life.

Marina with friendsMarina with friends in LiverpoolMarina with friends in London 21Marina with Indonesian friendsMarina with friends in Chefchaouen Morocco

Winning the International Design Competitions

I feel grateful for my supervisor who gave us these crazy assignments of entering 3 design competitions at the same time. It was such a hectic but hell.. we managed it. More and more thank you for the hard work of the team, Xense. Our work finally paid off by winning the Pencil in D&Ad Awards 2016 and getting into the top three finalists of Edcom Student Competition.

Who would have thought that we could win these competitions and able to flew to Croatia to attend the finals!

D & Ad Awards London UKXense in Zagreb CroatiaMarina in Plitvice Lake Croatia

My Beloved Housemates in Leeds

I was lucky to have Linh and Max as my housemates during my year in Leeds starting from the beginning of my study. We had some rough moments but mostly were filled with laughter and jokes. The house we lived felt like ‘Home‘ because of their existence. I could not ask for better housemates. Even when I had a hard time depressed and stressed around, they were kindly enough to patience with me.

The highlight moment of our friendship is when we took the liberty of travelling around Scotland with a car and spent one week together (all the time.. Geez right?)

Marina with housemates in ScotlandScotland 16

Crossing My Bucket list – Solo Travelling around Europe and Morocco

I had a chance of travelling for a bit in Europe and Morocco after my study where I learned many great histories and cultures that I wouldn’t have known before if I didn’t travel there. The best thing that I did was that I have crossed lots of my bucket list; flew with the hot air balloon in Cappadocia, visited the great Roman Empire in Rome, visited the Vatican City, crossed over two continents with ferry, slept in the Sahara Dessert, tasted the real pizza in Italy, checked out the Loch Ness, and so many cool stuff that I have encountered during my journey. It was such memorable experiences ever!

Marina ride on camel in Sahara DessertMarina in Colloseum RomeMarina in Maritime Museum LiverpoolMarina in Venice ItalyFlying Hot Air Balloons Cappadocia Goreme

Becoming the Real Host of Couchsurfing

I remember that I said to Linh back then when we tried to find the house together in Leeds, “I want to become a Couchsurfing host and accept travellers in our home“. And yes we did. We have accepted around 30 couch surfers from different countries. I was saved because Linh, Max, Candice and Edo who were always been such a help and didn’t mind having some strangers sleeping on the sofa (Thanks again guys!). I have yet success to influence some of my friends to use Couchsurfing and feel the experience too. We had plenty of good times of talking and hanging out with the couch surfers and hoping that we can have a good everlasting friendship in the future. Couchsurfing has always been a reminder of people’s kindness. 🙂

Marina with housemates and couchsurferMarina and housemates in LeedsMarina and housemates in Leeds

Rendezvous with the Old Good Friends and Family Again

The happiest moment in 2016 that I got the chance to meet my old friends and family again in their city. Who would have thought that I could come and visit them in Europe? Never in my life, I would imagine to come and see them grew and touched their daily life. It was amazing encounters and I am blessed to have met them again.

Marina in Arthurs Seat Edinburgh UK 22Marina and Hendry in Volendam NetherlandsMarina and friends in Venice Italy

How Much I Love Indonesia

Overall, I finally understand the true meaning of the word ‘Homesick’. I have never been this far away from home (almost 15 months for God sake!). Living in the UK, finally, make me able to appreciate the good side of living in Indonesia. I realised that regardless of what Indonesia lack, all those crazy politics, the cheesy songs and soap opera, stupid jokes and meaningless viral stuff, I feel that Indonesia has more to offer of being such alive.

This seems funny, but I miss the mess, I miss the sun, I miss the heat of people, and I miss the yummy good food! Even though that UK standard living life was over the moon and the fact that it is one of the develop countries, Indonesia has the charms of the people and cultures that will never fade away. I realise that there is no place like home. And I am ready to embrace 2017 with more Indonesian excursions to be featured here on my blog!

Marina in Nusa Lembongan_BaliMarina and friends White Crater West Java


Weh Island, Sabang, Aceh, Indonesia.

Ricefields in Ubud Bali

So here I am looking for the 2016 with plenty of good memories; laughs, cries, pain, happiness, success, and full of new experiences. I always knew that travel has changed the way I build my life. I have become a healthier personality after having those long journey. Remember… all those pretty pictures above will not be there if it weren’t for the hard work, patience, love, friendship and the prayers to God.

And for 2017 ahead.. I know that my bucket list has plenty to cross over, but all I want to do for the new year resolution is simply: Be more happy with life.

What’s yours?

© 2017 Writing & Images copyright of Marina Utami.


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Rachmat Badrun January 5, 2017 - 2:02 pm

Happy New Year,,.. I truly wish you a blissfull life in 2017.. thank you so much for sharing beatifull stories of your journey with us.. keep inspiring,keep humble and always stay healthy to wander wherever the world takes you.. SALUTE !!! 🙂 — Marko !!

Marina Utami January 5, 2017 - 5:06 pm

Thank you Rachmat for the wishes Rachmat!! Happy new year to you too! May your 2017 filled with more travel as well😊🙏🏼

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mydaypack June 2, 2017 - 2:49 am

nice highlight marina… so where are u now ??

Marina Utami June 2, 2017 - 7:22 am

Currently in Indonesia!


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