Friday, 30 September 2011

School : First Days

    So enough of the past let's talk about now*. I've started school. I started on Monday the 12th in SMA 62 in Jakarta - the same school my h. sister Caca (Oh, her name is pronounced Chacha. I totally forgot to mention that. Kind of important) goes to. I'm in 11th grade. Caca's in 12th. I wear a uniform (no getting out of that). You can see by my pictures (to come) what I have to wear on different days. Everyone knows how to tie a tie here. I'm going to come back skilled in tie-ness. But the first day.
First day of school. Friends!
    I felt like a celebrity. I met about a million people and got stared at by like a million more. (There's only 600 people in my school but that doesn't matter.) I was getting introduced to people left and right. Their favorite first day(s) questions after what's your name? where are you from? are:

  • What's your religion? A difficult question I am finding because each answer has it's consequences.
  • Do you have a boyfriend? Then I was asked if I had an ex-boyfriend because I guess they weren't satisfied with the answer.
  • What music do you like? They looooove singing here and playing instruments. Nobody seems shy to burst out singing whenever even if they tell me they have a bad voice.
  • And the number one question is: Who do you think is handsome? Or do you think so-and-so is handsome? I am asked this everyday. It'll often be about a basketball player. How typical is that - the basketball players are really popular along with the musicians and the funny jokesters. 
More later on what I do (or will do once I've got the language down pat) Love, love.
And hello and thank you to my commenters (Sis. Nicole & Shauna). I love comments and messages and business. 

*Ok still the past but only like 2 or 3 weeks ago.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

My First (Only) Lebaran

The reason why we went to Bandung  was to celebrate the end of the fasting month (Ramadan) which was the whole of august this year. Fasting from sunup to sundown wowowow. So my day started awkwardly late. Everyone else went to the mosque very early so by the time they had returned I was still asleep. I had to get up and go take a shower, put on clothes ect. while the whole family THE WHOLE FAMILY was starting the celebration in the living room. My bad. Then I had one of my 'what to wear crises' because I didn't think my oui monsieur shirt was the most appropriate choice and neither was the all black sleeveless thing while they were wearing all white and were very much sleeved. I ended up borrowing clothes yay. Then I went out and ate yay. Can't even tell you what it was. However the party was going on.
    As I was eating each teen/child was getting an envelope of money from their parents I guess and they would count it out loud while everyone would ooooh and aaah. Then they started  every not-parent would stand in a line in front of an adult and they'd hand out money. And this was a big family too. So the adult would have a stack of rupiah and would hand out a 50.000 rp bill to each of the maybe 13 or so kids. This was all done loudly with many jokes. Sometimes other adults would steal the stack of money or get in line and beg. I expected just to watch because I thought how greedy would it be if the "rich American" went and stood in line to get money for a holiday she doesn't even celebrate. But noo they'd call my name and pull me into line and I found myself very nicely included. By the end of this every kid had maybe a million rp. I had about 600.000 O_O.
    Then the photographer arrived and had set up his background and business. Apparently each year they take pictures on lebaran of each family unit, the kids, adults, everyone together. So all the girls went and did their makeup and the guys did the rumple hair,shake, make pointy business. There be like 7 people in front of the mirror at the time. Then we took pictures for like 3-4 hours with pictures even being taken behind the photographer. I joined in for my family's, then the girls then outside for the young people's. Note the guys here don't smile either. The serious face is popular here too except for one picture where they pretended to throw a cousin in the pool.
Fam. I'm not wearing shoes but you can't tell in the for real photo.
    After this everyone started to leave and was I thinking oh it's over. But no we too got in the car and drove to another family member's house. I think this is the chance to forgive all the past offenses and make a fresh start. You visit the oldest family members house but as we stayed in their grandmas house we went to visit the rest of the family. We'd eat and sit and talk then move on. After the first house I couldn't eat anymore but I guess if you've been fasting during daylight for a month it's refreshing to eat all you want during the day. The 3rd and last house we visited was maybe my favorite part of the day. It's the house of my father's family where I had my bamboo leaf traditional meal. It was my favorite because I got to just hang with cousins my own age and the cutesy young cousins too. We practiced/ switched our English/Bahasa Indonesia skills. The most relaxing funny part of the day though the whole day was a once in a lifetime you're in Indonesia during lebaran experience wow day. I feel like after going home my fathers family came to visit us there but honestly who knows it was a full day. Fireworks too maybe. But there were fireworks like everyday. But still fireworks.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Partying in Bandung

I had no idea that'd I'd be going on a trip so soon after I got here. Spent what? two nights in my room and then left for Bandung on a 10 day family visit. Cool but surprising. In Bandung we stayed at my mother's family's house. At the house lived her mother, her sister. and two nephews. I roomed with Nanda. The house was incredible because it had the greatest view ever. During the day you could look out over the whole city with the mountains framing it and at night wow all the lights would come on and the fireworks would start and I'd want to stay outside forever. But I couldn't so instead I'd sit right across from the glass door and watch. Also bandung is considerably cooler than jakarta temperature wise.
  We went to Bandung to celebrate the end of Ramadan and idul fitri but I'll talk about that later. I had a lot of first experiences there. The day we arrived I went to my first Indonesian mall. Very much like an American mall but the shops are tinnier and there's aisle like walking space in between. I got a notebook for all my new Bahasa words.
The third day (I think) I went to a traditional Market. We were there to buy glasses for caca and my mother ended up buying that and a mirror and new sheets. The glasses place seemed so random in the street. But you give them your number, choose your frame from the case and then voila! new glasses.
    Another day I ate a traditional meal with my father's family that is also from Bandung. Going down the entire legnth of a room were bamboo leaves. Brown rice was atop along with the rest of the food. Food was just sprinkled everywhere. You'd sit on the floor and eat with your hands and it was very cool looking. I tried pete there too. It's this huge bean that has a really strong smell. And guess what. It also has a strong taste. Like at first it doesn't taste like anything but the end is bittery and sharp and will live in your mouth (and memory) for-ever. Not my favorite. Actually probably my least favorite food. I have to tell you about food. Really I do.
Pete. Not a normal vegetable. Looks are deceiving.
Movie watching time. Piracy is big in Indonesia which I'm low-key liking (Sorry film people). I got to see Xmen and sadly sat through the Japanese version of Paranormal activity 3. They come out pretty quickly here and are really good quality too.
Trip to the bakery. This was my first experience with Jakarta-like heat and crowds. This was actually one of my last days there and it was crazy hot. I was actually wearing my pajamas because the day had just started out as a quick walk to a cousins house for breakfast. As I had already eaten I decided to go with the cousin to the bakery instead. It was soo packed. The line was out the door and you couldn't move without touching someone. We were probably in the store like an hour and a half with the hour being the time we stood in line. This how I learned the lesson that maybe when going out in the very hot crowded city you should maybe eat something more than French fries and an apple.

The best parts were probably the time I spent chilling with my family. Them making fun of my Bahasa Indonesia (ngantuk and banget are really hard to say), Me teaching them random english (digging in your noise always gets a laugh, and drag queen. That was another new experience. Another time Another time.) And Lebaran well of course that gets its own post. Love
View from blacony. Me with my host mom. Ooo

*Really late. A month late. Don't blame me. Blame laziness.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Last day of LOCamp

The next day was our wrap up and party day. We had our last session 'safe and enjoyable year' aka rules. Then we got on a bus to travel to the Kekun cafe where our welcoming party was being held. Very cool place. It had hip music inside, hip because it was all american and you know a place is hip when it plays foreign music. Also it was like Nas and Erykah baduh, so yea pretty hip. We ate and then had hours of practice on the stage and the surrounding areas. Practice for what? Our talent show of course. But that part comes later.
    One of the guys from the ambassador's house came to talk to us, a Frank J Whitaker, cultural attache.  He talked with us about what embassies do and a brief history of Indonesia and how he got his job and that we should contact him if there's ever a problem.  Interesting stuff. A bit later we broke fast with another really good dinner and I had my first Indonesian coke and fanta. I didn't drink the whole thing of either.  They were both incredibly sweet because of the real sugar. I don't think I'll be drinking a lot of soda here.
    Then I got a special treat. Because my family lives in Jakarta they were able attend the party. So my sisters and one of their friends showed up. We talked for a little while. I said exactly one sentence in Indonesian 'sorry I don't speak indonesian'. Then it was time for the festivities to begin. It started with little games. The guest had to guess who's piece of  face was shown on the screen (sammy the german's) who like to salsa (Andrew fellow American yes abroader). Then for us we had count how much money was on the screen and say it in Bahasa (yay Simon german wellworts one). To finish of this part was a slideshow of our days in the LOCamp. It was little weird and sad because we'd only spent a couple of days there but it was so fun. Time for the performances though.
    The theme of the whole day was and the journey begins so we wearing white and the performances began with a little play where an exchanger from each country was on a plane saying what they would miss from their country. That was the segue way into that countries talent. So the Americans were up first. And what would we miss but all the styles of dance America has and has had. We started with a square dance (thanks Allen I guess the knowledge did come in handy). Next swing, then 60s to the Austin powers theme song. Standing alive was our 70s, then Michael Jackson thriller of course. For the 90s we split up and the boys did something to bye bye bye while us girls did a cutesy thing to oops I did it again by Britney speares. The other gender was the paparazzi when it was their turn. To finish it all off we did the Cupid shuffle off the stage. I don't know how it looked really but we had fun which was probably the most important part. Japan did like a play with magic and outfits and a samurai fight. Wellworts did an imagination type ballet dance to that very famous song. Regular Germany did a play with the superhero ger man saving an old lady with brut worst and money and loving the environment. Belgium acted out how a town got it's name. It involved a king and cutting off like thumbs or something. To finish off the night the kakak kakak did a dance too. It was to an Indonesian pop song by cherry belle look it up. It was awesome. I don't know when they had to time to practice because it involved everyone. Indonesians are good dancers.
    Another fun night. The fun good nights here definitely outnumber the blah ones. we even saw some of the exchange students who had just been in America. I love meeting up with all exchange students between here and home. Picture time of course!!

    Back at home nobody wanted to sleep because we were leaving the next day. Some left at like 5 in the morning others at 7 then the Jakarta and surrounding areas would leave at 11 by bus. So we just hung out on the deck. And ate pizza hut. How funny is that. It wasn't bad but I don't know how good it was either. It probably tasted good because it was a fun night and it was such a first moment. The first time having American food in Indonesia. And that was the last night of LOCamp.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

First Days: Special Moments in LOCamp

Now for the best moments of my first days here and in chronological order too. So on my fourth day in Indonesia and the third day of actually doing orientation activites the American exchange students got a special treat. We got to go to the American embassy's ambassador's house for dinner. So we put on vaguely fancy clothes (by this time all my clothes were wrinkled or too cough cough short for fanciness so that's why it's vaguely fancy) and took a drive to the very swauve centre of Jakarta. We got there in good time except parking was a drag because the president drove by! Weird but cool the president was so close. There were no cameras allowed in the ambassadors house, but of course it was beautiful. And this was not just a tiny dinner; this was a party with lots of people (I don't remember why) including a few leftover Indonesian exchange students who were going to America the next day. So I spent my time with them.  After of course talking to a few official people in charge of student type things. Very nice and interesting. Good job embassy!
US YES Abroaders with the ambassador! Ooer
    So back to the exchange students I was talking too. They were supposed to have left days ago but something was holding them up. None of them had families yet so they didn't even know where in the us they would be. Of course they wanted california (what can I say that's how we do). The night was really interesting. We broke the fast of course because it was Ramadan and they had a live prayer/singer there which I'd never seen. The food was really good. Wow it was so long ago I don't even remember what it was but it was good. And after a few pictures (with the ambassador and the exchange students) we left. I wish those fellow exchange students good luck. Maybe we'll meet again at the end of our year. The whole night was a bit surreal. It was in such a metropolitan area of Jakarta that all the lights were on and we would pass parks with trees larger than anything and there were fountains going and I wanted to take pictures of everything. Then Kak Heidy was like Ankhet you live here and I swooned a bit because it was true. I'm the only exchange student in Jakarta Jakarta. I live in this awesome city and sure not every place looks like that but it's still all mine I guess.
      After that we were all dead tired and fell asleep in the traffic home. But guess what it was mini Olympic time and everyone had waited for us. At first we were going to refuse and go to sleep but after some peer pressure we agreed to participate. And I'm so glad. It was so fun. We were separated into teams named after food and we were competing in different games.
    My team was made of Belgian Simon (there are two), Kak Stoky, Kak ___, and Mana (Japan). We were nasi goreng and our cheer (part of the competition) went nasi goring pasti manag nasi goreng something something yang lion krepang krepang with dance moves. It meant  "We are the best, the others are skinny, so they'll lose." You know team stuff. So there were competitions for each of us. Simon won the hold a spoon with a marble in it in your mouth and then hop quickly back race. Mana came in third in the transport beans with chopsticks across the field. (This race was particularly funny because every team made their Japanese student compete.) I had to blindfolded hit a bag full of water with only Bahasa Indonesia directions. I did pretty good but my bag never fully broke. Kak Stoky nearly won the eat krepik with only your mouth competition and Kak ___ was the same with the put a nail into a bottle with only your butt and some squatting skills. Then we crowned all the winners. They made medals out of fruit so everywhere you saw people breaking open the bags and trying new fruits. Then we had 2 huge games of tug of war Indonesian kakak-kakak vs exchange students. First the girls went then the boys and each time the exchange students won. They made the boys go over again because they won so quickly (most of the guys here are remarkably tall, seriously tall). Then prizes for us and fireworks time. Yea they pulled out sparklers and even a big shooty thing. Crazy. Crazy. And pictures too of course. How awesome a day was this. 

Saturday, 10 September 2011

First Days: Taman Mini LOCamp

My first days in Indonesia were spent in a language orientation camp headed by Indonesian AFS with the rest of the 20 exchangees. The loc was held in taman mini which is vaguely amusement parkish vaguely hotelish vaguely I probably should have figured out what exactly it was because I was there for nearly a week. We stayed in like a cabin one for boys one for girls. The place was actually pretty beautiful with all the trees and flora and a huge pond (lake i don't know) with a bridge and koi! in it. It was hot but most of the time we were in rooms doing sessions with air conditioning so it wasn't bad. And at night I would be freezing because the ac would be on so high. I didn't take a picture of the bathrooms but it was cabin style except for the added squat toilet.

   So what'd we do there? Orientation stuff of course! This includes:
  • Bahasa Indonesia lessons 
    • Just numbers, and ask how much things are, days of the week, what you'd learn in kindergarten. You know the useful stuff.         
  •  Daily life lessons 
    • How to bathe and use the bathrooms. Note: I'm so good at squatting. What Indonesians call squatting anime ppl (not me) call looking like Elle or at least that's what Steph told me when I took to siting like that a year ago.              
    • How we might have maids and what our own responsibilities might be            
    • How curfew might be earlier for us and we might have less autonomy (as long as you live in the house you're still a child in Indonesia)            
  •  Communication style in Indonesia 
    • Indirect always smiling, no privacy between family members not even for things like journals or diaries          
  •  Recreation and games 
    • In the mornings before doing anything we would go out and exercise. There was some stretching and some leaping over ropes and some untangling a group of people tied to a knot. My favourite was the one where we had to basically run through a human foosball setup like thing and guess what I actually got through. (For some reason in Indonesia I'm not my usual winning self I can't count how many times I've lost at games and people know I very very rarely lose games) Then we played Indonesian traditional games too; a mandala like game, a game like jacks, and a spinning top game. Yay exercise I'm actully missing it now.   
   Everyone at the orientation was nice from the heads of the orientation to the actualy exchangers. There were 5 from Japan, 3 from Belgium, 2 from Germany, and 5 from the wellworts program. The wellworts program seems really interesting. They also come from Germany but instead of being here to go to school they've come to volunteer in schools or other places. Cool, Germany. There were a lot of people watching us maybe 20 and they were all previous exchangers to different places. We called them kakak which means older brother/sister in Indonesian because that's what the are. They were cool 20 somethings.  And this was how I spent my first four days in Indonesia. Of course there were some special moments that I have to mention in another blog post. Special moments called visit to the American embassy, the mini Olympics, and the farewell party (aka talent show O_O)for the loc. So be prepared. I'll post them soon because I want to be caught up on all my time here. Much love.

 Note* I wrote this days ago but had to wait until I got wifi to post. I wanted to add pictures but its really complicated so pictures will have to arrive separately later. Love again though.