Friday, 29 July 2011

Business (Called Getting A Visa)

A visa. Visas come at time during pre exchange where you should just be coasting. You have two weeks to go. You've had a pseudo-goodbye party. You've seen some of your oldest friends for the last time (It's called even though you still had like 3 weeks left they're going to the Dominican and then on a cruise so you won't be able to see each other again.) You're thinking about packing, and your host family, and presents, and how you really wish they would email you back. But then comes this visa form.
    Suddenly you find yourself having to fill out this form in the 19 (aaah) days you have left. (Ok I'll switch back to first person now.) They're not even too too complicated it's just ... I'll explain. I have to fill out these forms about why I'm going to Indonesia and for how long. I had to count the number of days (because there was no months box)! 314 approximately. But here comes the problem, I don't have the forms from Indonesia saying like 'Hey it's cool. She can come.' So I'm stuck on the very first page of my application waiting for AFS to send me some 'Authorization # from Jakarta.' I don't know what that is. I just know I don't have it. And if this isn't done soon then I won't be flying on the 17th as is planned. I think it'll go smoothly after this though. I hope. No it will. I'll probably be writing more about this just because it's probably going to be a big part of these last 19 days.
Isn't that so weird to think about?!

PS: Did I tell you, for my birthday I told my people to get me enough fortune cookies to last me until I leave. So now I have tons of fortune cookies (def more than 19) and have 1 (or more :) ) each day. Aaah I love that.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Summer News - Departure Date, Host Family

I feel summery oh so summery. I have news for you world. Can you say - a departure date, a host family, an address?
    My summer is going summery with walking places, swimming, birthdays, Shakespeare in the Park, free concerts in California Plaza. And that is just when I leave my house (well not the swimming). But now for the news.
    I leave August 17th. I arrive in New York where there will be a Gateway Orientation for me and my fellow exchange people. We all leave the next day to Indonesia with a layover in Hong Kong. I was also just told we apparently have an in-country orientation from the day we arrive to the 24th of August. Then I'll meet my family! and go home with them! and live with them for 11 months! I'm nervous. I'm excited. I am so confused. I have no idea what my life will be like. I have a feeling it'll be pretty awesome though. Hard though too.
    And my family. I officially have a family. My family is comprised of a mother, a father, and two daughters who are really close to my age. One is a bit older and the other a year younger. I can't wait to meet them or even talk to them. I still have yet to send a email to them but I know what the mom looks like (thank you facebook). I really will get on that. It's just hard thinking of what exactly to say to the people you are going to be living with for the next year of your life.
    They live in Jakarta. For real Jakarta not some town an hour away (at least I think so). I truly don't really have a preference but it's so cool. However I'm a bit confused. Whenever I told the Indonesian exchangers that I was going to be in Jakarta they went 'OOOhhhhh'. I couldn't tell if it was a good thing or bad. Good though hopefully. Then they would go on to tell me how horrible the traffic is. I'm excited though. Once I get there I'll send tons of letters to all my people so they can say they've gotten mail form Indonesia.
Also mail is always nice.

Almost forgot: 29 Days until I leave for Indonesia!!

Thursday, 14 July 2011

DC Part III: Where Everyone Breaks Into Dance and Song

    Ok now for the awesomeness of the final part. Just to recenter us right now (in my story) I am in Washington DC at a hotel that is very in love with escalators and strange angles with tons of exchange students at about 9pm. We're all dressed in our culture's finest. For the US this means red,white, and blue - but for everyone else this meant amazing gold things, with fancy head pieces, and colors colors everywhere. First I'll get all the not so great parts out of the way.
  1. There were no YES Abroad tables created so we were randomly scattered. Tenaya (to India) and I ended up sitting all alone with these random volunteers. It was fine though. She's an awesome person and we actually have a lot in common. But it was weird sitting amongst all those volunteers.
  2. The YES Abroaders United States of America cultural performance. It was a mess. Allen (the head guy) made us square dance which isn't all that American. (How often do you square dance? Yeah.) You couldn't hear the directions so we had to guess at what to do. And remember how I said we only had one practice with everyone there. Well it showed. Horrible horrible. Worst of the night and everyone knew it (you could tell by the lack of clapping or standing up).
Anyway on the rest. Germany got us all standing and jumping and squatting to their special German songs. Here listen watch:

    Then came a flurry of different spectacles. Mozambique showed us the break down dance. It was a crazy butt dance. Crazy! but amazing! Ghana explained to us their legal system. South Africa did some gumboot. India went all super fun dancing time. Then they started a fashion show. Tenaya is super lucky, all the India people are. The Saudis interestingly did the YMCA. And the Philippines. The Philippines did a whole story dance that I can't even explain but it was awe inspiring, jaw dropping, breath taking. This whole time I was thinking: these are the same people I've just been hanging out with. Why are they so awesome?

And my Indonesians. These were the people that were so incredibly nice to me at the Embassy. They taught me to say I love you; Aku cinta kamu. They write on my wall about how we should hang out when I'm there. They were the last and the largest group (101) to perform and they did an amazing job. Somebody told me they were scared the stage wouldn't hold up, they saw it sagging beneath them. I have major Indonesian love now.

After this we went back to our hotel where YES Abroad had a short meeting to wrap up our time together. This was our last time together for a year; Thailand was leaving early the next morning and India later that day. We really are an amazing group. I have super love for all these people too.
    The next day I woke up to send my roommate Elizabeth off to Thailand. The rest of this day was just spent hanging out around the pool with Angelina, Cee, and Sarah (more cool people). It was the most relaxing moment of the weekend. Then off to our planes, heading home or to India. I wish the best for everyone in DC; the YES people, the Germans (CB), and all my YES Abroaders. And I can't forget to thank all the volunteers and staff who made everything so wonderful. Never has being an exchange student been so cool :)
    Now I can finally write about current news. And I do have some. (If you're interested in watching more videos here's the link to a youtube channel. It's the same user as above: Kimchi Dragon. Sadly you can see the US's performance there too.)
Til later A.

DC Part II: Where we go to Important Places

Maybe I'll actually finish this today.

On Thursday we went to the offical important places. In the morning we went to visit representatives of our state's senators. So all the Californians (including exchange students who had stayed there) met with Diane Feinstein's financial something. Her helper, assistant; I don't know her title but she was nice. She listened to all the lessons they talked about and stuff.
Next place we went was the Indonesian Embassy. Which meant lots of Bahasa Indonesia speaking going on and Indonesian food! Woot woot! The ambassadors were there (is that what they're called?) and gave a nice speech (I didn't understand but there was good vibes from everyone else). Everyone was so nice talking to me about Jakarta and traffic and Indonesian school and the language, everything basically.
Then on to the US State Department for us to ask questions. They are the ones who fund the program so I guess they wanted to talk. People asked questions. Other people on stage answered, not much to say here. Then all the YES Abroaders went to hang out all the YES Abroaders whose hosting organization is not AFS but Amideast or American Councils.
It was great to see everyone again. Group 6 was reunited, as we're split evenly between AFS and Amideast & American Councils. I wish all my YES people good luck as we head to our different countries. Thailand, India, and Malaysia (tomorrow I believe) have already left. Check out their blogs.
Group 6 (again)

Then AFS YES Abroaders had to leave. It was time for a cultural performance from all the countries in the program.  This was one of the more amazing performances I've ever been too. In my life. Ok you know what, it's so awesome it deserves it's own post. (Truly I just want to split up this mass - same thing though.) To be continued ... again (but for the last time really). 

Sunday, 3 July 2011

DC Pre-Departure Orientation

I have returned from an amazing, crazy fun, pretty inspiring - enlightening week in Washington DC for a YES Abroad PreDeparture Orientation. For the 500 people that weren't YES Abroaders, this week served as their Exit Orientation (or whatever you call it). This includes regular YES people (aka Saudis, Egyptians, Malaysians, Indians, Turks, South Africans, Ghanians, Indonesians ect.) and Congress Bundestag people (aka Germans). They were on there way home and us YES people were just getting started.
So what did we actually do? Well Tuesday was just an arrival day (also my birthday, but you know who's watching that?). I heard some people got there as early as 4am others as late as 7pm. I got there around 3pm, had a nice laydown, hung around with some YES Abroaders. Then came dinner with all the people from you're country, and by this I mean all the people who are going to Indonesia. So this was me, Katy, Andrew, Amy, Natalie and Nathan (and our group leader Josh). We're a pretty cool group, you know.
Then the workshops started. They included such topics as
  • Different ways to Journal to express those complicated exchange feelings. Some ideas were a regular diary/journal, vlog/blogs, picture a day, calender where you jot down what you did that day, sticky notes, and a postcard calender thing where after your exchange you ask people for all the postcards you sent them then you photocopy it into a poster. Then they gave us special YES journals. Prezzie time.
  • How to talk about religion in a truthful hopefully unawkward way
  • Cultural expert time aka Talk with cool people from Indonesia time!!!
  • Not good not bad just different
  • An interesting and funny talk with Imam Arafat. He's a cool guy. Look him up.
So that was the gist of the seminars. Some were boring, some repeats of Denver information. Our group (what do I call us, Indonesia group?) did a skit about classmates asking if Americans were promiscuous and drunken partiers like in Jersey Shore and then the host mom finds her 'skimpy' swimsuit. It was pretty awesome. Katy played the exchange student. Good thing. Did I tell you this day was also my birthday :) Or wait hold on I think it was the day after my birthday. Whatever now I'm 16 yeeaaa.

Indonesia people woot woot! Party in Indonesia. Andrew, Katy, Natalie, Amy, me <3, Nathan. (Did you like how I linked that up for you?)

Anyway the rest to come later. This is already like a week and a half late.
Also I'm the youngest person to Indonesia. Do I look it?