At all the exchange orientations I’ve gone to, the people in charge always warned me about the holidays. They said that this time period had a high probability of homesickness, sadness, etc. As a result, my whole exchange, I’ve been looking forward to the holidays with a sort of dread.
I determined early on that I probably would not be celebrating Christmas, seeing as this Indonesia is a predominantly Muslim country.
One thing that I did not anticipate in the slightest was how I wouldn’t want to celebrate Christmas. I normally am quite a festive person. I generally am in a Christmas mood for all of December. But here, when I tried to listen to Christmas music to get myself in said mood, I got tired of it and listened to my normal music instead.
On Christmas Eve , my host family and I hopped in the car and started driving to Cilacap, which is a little town in Central Java. There is always traffic here, but around the holidays it is ten times as bad. So we drove all through the night.
At 7 AM, we stopped somewhere and ate breakfast. My family wished me a merry Christmas. At 12, we arrived in Cilacap and checked into our hotel.
After, we visited my host family’s former maid. This was, as my host mom put it, to “see the real Indonesia”.
Her house was right across a little path and a stream away from fields and fields of rice paddies. Rice paddies are always super scenic from the road, but seeing them up close was infinitely cooler.
We took photos and watched the workers scare away them bird thieves. This is a very carefully acquired skill, and the birds will only fly away if you do the scaring away exactly right. There are two ways:
~There are sticks with plastic bags placed periodically through the fields. Grab one such stick and wave it over your head manically. To top off your fearsome scaring skills, top it off by channeling your inner German and yodeling at the top of your lungs.
~You can hit a hollow stick. If you choose this method, know that yodeling is absolutely not acceptable, nor is any sound emanating from your mouth. Let them bird appreciate the raw, clacking sound of the hollow stick.
After our rice field photo shoot, we visited another person, and then headed back to the hotel.
The next day, we left at 7 am and drove to Bandung, which is just a couple hours away from Bogor. We met my host cousins there and went to visit the Asia Africa Conference building. The area around the Asia Africa Conference was jam packed. It took us a while to park and to walk anywhere, so we ended up at the Masjid Raya Bandung.
There, hundreds and hundreds of people sat, talked, and played with toys.
After chilling for a while, we headed home.
Although that was it for the traveling portion of my Christmas holiday, the holiday didn’t end.
Yesterday, I went to church and was working on this blog post. At 5, my host aunt and cousins came over and brought me Christmas gifts. My host family did as well. It was so unexpected and sweet and completely made Christmas a lot better.
My family at home sent me a Christmas package as well, which was also a big highlight to the holidays.
So, having made it through the hardest part of the holiday season, I think I can say that the holidays were dramatized in a sense. My Christmas was a lot happier than I thought it would be, even though I didn’t celebrate it like normal.
I am so grateful for both my families for making me feel loved!
(You sit back. “Ew. That was so…sweet. Just dripping with glucose. My goodness.” Shrug. “I suppose that’s because Ruth is just that sweet.”) AWWW YOU GUYS
Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!