Hey peeps! I can happily report that I have safely made it to Indonesia.
Now that we’ve got THAT over with, let’s talk about it!
So, I left on this whole journey on August 19, so it has been 9 days, but 6 days since I actually arrived in Indonesia.
I know what you’re going to say: It’s been more than a week since you left and less than a week since you arrived. So why on earth is this post called WEEK 1?
I’ll tell you why. I’m too lazy to come up with a better name. Comment below if you can think of a better one. 🙂
So, I left mah hometown and beloved family and friends and went to…L.A. I know. I had to go to a pre departure orientation, however. So basically we had a day and a half of advice, warnings, and assurances. It was simply lovely.
We left the good US of A on August 20th. We flew 11 hours to Tokyo, had a two hour layover there (where I got some Japanese coins for my collection!) and then had another 7 hour flight to Jakarta. So 18 hours of flying. Yay.
We were greeted by the AFS Indonesia staff here (Bina Antarbudaya, actually). They had us write down our first impressions. Everyone wrote “I’M SO SUPER EXCITED” or something like that. What did I write? Hot. Haha. It was nighttime, but it was still hot. Sure, it’s hot in UT, but NOT HUMID, and it definitely is here.
For the next four to five days, I and 36 other international students got lessons on Indonesian culture, Bahasa Indonesia (Nama saya Ruth. Nama kamu?), and played a lot of games. SO MANY KUDOS to the Bina Antarbudaya staff. I am super impressed with how fun they made a mandatory orientation.
On our last orientation night, we had a welcoming party. Each country represented by students had a dance performance (or singing. Whatever they wanted to do). Being Americans and not being able to dance (and also supremely lazy), we decided to do the Cha Cha Slide (to the left. Take it back now, y’all). Luckily for us, everyone really liked it and thought it was fun. Go figure.
The host families that lived nearby attended. We know what that means.
Hah! You thought I was serious! No, it just means that my host family came! They are super nice, and they even made a welcoming sign for me! They chatted with other students throughout the evening and I was reminded time and time again how lucky I am to have the host family that I have.
I couldn’t agree more.
The next day, the YES Abroad students visited the embassy. They briefed us on safety, politics, healthcare, and keeping connected with the embassy. Then we went and got food. They were really nice to pay for our lunch, and we got killer fruit shakes out of it (and I am racking my brain to remember what fruit mine was. It started with an s in Bahasa, but it wasn’t salak).
When we got back, my host mom was waiting for me. We drove an hour south of Jakarta to Bogor, my new city. I came home and slept.
I love sleeping.
The next day, I drove by my new school and visited my great aunt and grandma. They both are really sweet. We visited a hotel (where I will have my welcoming party/my host mom’s belated birthday party) and picked up my cousin. We had lunch at a restaurant in a giant mansion’s backyard (Aurora Mansion for the particular). Then we went to the mall.
That’s it for going places on day #1 in Bogor.
Day #2 in Bogor, aka yesterday, was just as packed as the day before. We met with my hosting coordinator and then went to my school. I’m not sure what happened, to be honest, since most of the teacher-coordinator-mother exchange was in Bahasa. The teachers were all very friendly, and all the students who saw me very curious.
After, we got my lovely purple-and-green school uniform (I promise I’ll get a picture). Then we went to a Padang (in Sumatra) restaurant. We ate our food with our hands. What you do is you put the topping on the customary rice and squish it together. That way, it stays together.
So what did I eat? I am SO EXCITED TO TELL YOU GUYS. There were the normal ikan goreng (fried fish), ayam goreng (fried chicken), etc. And then there was a nondescript chicken-looking thing in yellow sauce. When I asked what it was, I discovered that it was calamari.
And when I asked what another meat in the same yellow sauce was, I was informed that it was sapi otak. Translated, that’s cow brain.
After thinking about it, I decided to try both the dishes. My coordinator and host mom were surprised, but complied.
So what does sapi otak taste like?
Meat. Not any special flavor. But the texture–it’s malleable and soft.
What does calamari taste like?
Meat. I think that I tasted the sauce more than the actual meat. It was really tough.
Would I eat them again? I believe that I would. Would you eat them?
After my restaurant adventure, we dropped off my coordinator and went to the equivalent of a Islamic elementary boarding school. My host mom has been instrumental in helping them getting the word out about it, and she wanted to show them her new American daughter.
They were very curious, but extremely timid. They were also very kind and sweet. When my host mom asked if they wanted pictures with me, they were delighted. Consequently, I have this picture:
Even though they all were fasting (for patience, they told me) they fed us pisang goreng, or fried banana. I really like pisang goreng.
Later that night, we went up to Puncak, or the top of a nearby volcano/mountain. We ate dinner overlooking all of Bogor. It was dark, so I couldn’t see that much, but it still was beautiful. Then the fog rolled in, so we left and went to the mosque at the top of the mountain. We didn’t go inside, since we didn’t have any way to cover our heads, so we just walked around the outside.
And today has been a chill day because my host mom (henceforth known as Bunda) had to go to work. And that’s ok.
I start school on Monday. I have a welcoming party (as previously mentioned) on Sunday night.
So yeah, I’m pretty good. Amazing, in fact. I’ve never lived in an Asian country before. Indonesia is so different from any place that I’ve lived. The culture is different, the customs are different, but the people are the same wherever I go. So unimaginably kind, sweet, and good.
I will have posts like this with weekly updates. So keep your eyes out for that. And then I also will have additional posts about miscellaneous things.
SO. Assalamualaikum. I hope your week was as good as mine was.