Thursday, 27 October 2011

Saturday Night @America (Haha See what I did there with the @)

Busy weekend. So Saturday evening I was invited to @America to help with an exchange student presentation. @America is Ameria's cultural center in Indonesia. It's very high tech, screens everywhere, you can see their past events (such as Martha Stewart living, school visits ect.), their twitter feed. There's touch screen computers where you can take quizzes about America and English. There are constant slideshows playing, showing American architecture, famous sites, methods of transportation. Chock filled with America information.
    The name of our presentation was Within Us: Exchange Student Stories. It focused on all aspects of being an exchange student. First, a guy who had been an exchange student to the US in the last couple years talked about his experiance. He stayed in Arkansas and showed pictures of his school and family usual stuff. When they were taking questions though they asked him to sing a bit of the National Anthem. I was very impressed. I definitely don't have Indonesia Raya down.
    Then an alumnae (right? alumni is plural? I don't know) who went on to be really active in her community made a presentation of how exchange helped her become brave and achieve her goals. She was really impressive. She was interested in physics and dance and we saw pictures of her in different countries doing her favorite activites.
So you see her but then you can also see her on camera showing off her pictures behind as well as their twitter feed. @America well done.
    To finish the presentation Nathan and I came up to the stage. I was very nervous. So far the whole presentation had been in Bahasa Indonesia and while I can usually mangae, giving a whole presentation might've been a stretch. I also had no idea what was on our slideshow thanks to me missing the information meeting because of lateness. It was fine though, as most things usually are. They asked us questions in English and we could mix the two languages however much we wanted. Some questions were

  • What were your fears coming to Indonesia? If I'd get along with my host family. No problem, I love my host family.
  • What's the biggest differences between America and Indonesia? School: A lot of straight copying in Indonesia not discussion/project based. Religion: Not as private here. You can ask a person's religion or if they pray when you first meet them and in school there's religion classes. Weather: It's hot so so so very hot here. 
  • If you were to leave now what would you miss the most? Family and friends and food.
  I hope you can see why I was nervous. Very talk show-y with bright lights and mutiple camers for the crowd too and huge screens. It was kind of a big deal. And I wore Nikes. They said casual but all the girls (in the audience even) wore these fancy sandals or high heels. Nikes are casual, not those sparkly strappy high things!
Then over. We took some pictures and looked around @America a tiny bit then we went to hang out and eat.
Jalan-jalan aka hanging out with the peoples in Pacific Place in Jakarta

So @America's in Pacific Place another very fancy mall. Many foreigners come there and you can play guess where that foreigner comes from. For dinner all the exchange students went to Pizza Hut. Yeah it's fancier here, like a sit down restuarant. Very strange to hear Let's go have dinner at Pizza Hut. Is the food better though? Eeer maybe if you've never had super good pizza or pasta. It's ok.
Ankhet lesson: Good company will make most things taste better. In this case yes it did taste better.

After that 3 other exchange students (Monica, Dhania and Gana (he exchanged to california!!)) and I went to find some dessert and take pictures. The mall is huge like most fancy malls here. There's a Ritz-Carlton attached and they sell cars on the lower levels like most malls here. But that also means things are more expensive (ok like they'd be regular in America but that's expensive here).
Yes there are boats on a lake within the mall. You can also have dinner on one or maybe you'd like to be  in the sky. Yes you can eat in sky too.
We got ice cream and it cost 5 whole dollars! It was good, french creme brulee and a lot of it. But $5 can be a lot here for food. For $2 you can get a whole meal with a fancy colored mocktail! Oh look at me turning cheap over food. Hahaha.  
They said be excited. It was @America's brithday wish.

cool saturday night. And busy sunday too.

*Citation:Thank you facebook buddies for the foto-foto.

Monday, 24 October 2011


6.30 - 5.00 Same outfit.
  • Eko: Yea I don't know. And I'm sort of embarrassed because I fell asleep in this class and apparently she said "Kamu ngantuk?" aka "Are you sleepy?" and I just smiled and went back to sleep. I was sitting in the very front too. She told Caca and apparently other teachers were listening too. So embarrased.
  • Sociology: Similar to Geo I understand a bit so I copy down everything. One day I'll be able to understand it all.
  • French: Yeah I can understand the bits about the family that they were actually saying in French but then they switched to talking about superlatives in Bahasa Indonesia. I was lost.
  • Bahasa Indonesia again: I like when it's this time because I've been sitting in the same class for 4 hours now and to get to the Bahasa Indonesia class I have to walk upstairs. Exercise, you are too good to me!
Then ex- school or extracuriculars.
  • Traditional Dance - It's love. I swear. It's maybe 15 other girls and me; either in 11th or 10th grade learning Tari Saman and Tari Riau at the same time. Tari means dance by the way. So it's a 'same' dance and a dance from Riau. Tari Saman is very rhythmic, clapping and slapping all while sitting on your knees. It hurts so much. I've been wearing a beaded anklet that Caca gave me when I went to Bandung that I can't take off now. It was hard getting it on and now I just have to deal with it till it breaks. It adds to the pain. Aaah but then I get to stand back up for some Tari Riau. It's easy except we dance with a sarung that is folded and unfolded all throught the dance. It goes from arm ornamentation to on our shoulder to us wearing it to us laying it down and dancing around it to a blanket to a thing to shoo away bugs. I pretty much feel on equal footing with everyone. A lot already know Tari Saman but it's easy to learn quickly. And Tari Riau. They're calling me pro. Soooo yea I guess I'm doing PRETTY well. Haha but I think the reason it's so easy for me is I did (do/will return to doing?) Dance Troupe at my school. And we had to learn way faster to faster songs. I was always way slow but here I'm jago (pro). Love love love.
General foto-foto of my school. Fellow student has been captured as well
I'll put real pictures when I do something in dance worthy of stopping the dance and taking a picture of.
Surrounding my school. Very red rooftop-y vibe
I get picked up by our driver at 5.00 and I meet my other host sister Nanda in the car who's on the way home from her school. GO Wednesday! And I used to think you sucked too :)

Wednesday, 19 October 2011


6.30 -1.30 Early day!
On Tuesday I rock my very long grey skirt again with the white shirt. It's simple, it's hot, it's SMAN 62 Jakarta.
  • Geo: Weirdly I understand this class. It's a lot less mappy than you would think. The teacher likes to joke and talk to me a lot even though he speaks no English.
  • Bahasa Indonesia: Err yea no idea. They give book reports. I don't. The teacher likes to talk to me though. She has red eyebrows.
  • History: Again no idea. Actually they finally got the powerpoints going and we're studying how Islamic culture and religion came to Indonesia and its effects. 
  • Music: We get to sing traditional songs. Rame rame, Manuk Dadali, Ayo Mama. I can participate! Apparently there's a concert coming up so I have to learn the songs. Very cool Indonesians = very musical. We'll have the teacher playing guitar and students switching off playing the drum box. Singing just everywhere. I love it!
My music class. There's my class with my teacher who is very short  but plays guitar well.  Notice my fellow classmate  making the picture her own.
Lyrics to one of our songs. Sing along!

Done :) Home with driver again but alone this time. Everybody else has a random extra class.

Sunday, 16 October 2011


In honor of my week holiday (the rest of the school had mid-semester tests) I will explain my beautiful and complicated school schedule to you all now. Day by day - just like how I live it.
Monday Aka 'crap the weekend is over day'. No no, more like the 'You'll be having fun in class for the next 5 days but you'll be dead tired day'.
On Monday I wear my white shirt with a grey skirt, belt and tie. There's also a hat (too small. Darn Indonesians with their small normal shaped heads) but we only wear it during morning ceremony.

Yup me with my tie-ness. Oh and at school!  
Uniform note: As you can see the skirt is very long and the shirt very buttoned AND I have to wear an undershirt. It is hot. Hot like you were put  into a tiny sopping wet cardboard box with little holes through which hot air blows every so often. So I am pretty uncomfortable in my many clothes. At my desk sometimes  I just need to be loose. That's when my shirt becomes mysteriously unbuttoned. Sadly it never lasts long. It's like I'm committing a crime or something and someone always comes up and secretly whispers to me 'Ankhet button your shirt'. It's one little button! But I'll try to keep my clothes on.

6.30 am - 3.00 pm
Morning Ceremony: The whole school goes and stands in 2 lines per class according to their class and grade. One student will stand at a mike and read words and give commands. At different times teachers will come and give announcements. First we have to make our lines evenly spaced with pivoting and adjusting. There's an Arabic prayer. At times we change positions from hands behind their back to hands by side to salute. There's a very elaborate flag raising ceremony. From the side walk in 2 girls flanking a boy carrying the Indonesian flag. They march and unfold the flag ver precisely. The choir standing to the side starts singing right as the flag is being raised. It's very patriatic, everyone standing and saluting as the flag raises to the Indonesian national anthem - Indonesia Raya. Sadly after a while it all starts to swirl in my mind as I fidget with my hat and think of how hot it is and random people start disappearing from the line and other people join and want to meet me and hear me talk in Indonesian. But theres's singing and sometimes a speech or two given by students. I gave one once about how awesome it was to be here and how I'm excited to hang with them. - More formally though but it was in English so it wouldn't have mattered anyway.

  • Computer - We get on the computer and write emails to the teacher, or make new connections or something. I just click on the same things as the boy beside me and try and translate the powerpoints.
  • Sport - This is a sight. Everyone is in this green uniform pants not shorts and we go into the courtyard. We line up then our teacher comes. He's this skinny man with a whistele and pants pretty high on waist who likes to talk a lot. I don't think I've understood a single word he's said beside stand up and move forward and I can speak a working amount now too. Nobody listens though so I guess I'm not missing anything. First we stretch then we'll do something weird. It'll change but it's always unusual. One time we got with partners and bent over to lift them up. Then we had to race with them on our backs (it's always a race here). After theat the class just dissolves. the boys might play soccer some might study, others basketball or badminton (very fun. Why do I not play?) or even go back upastaris and eat. Girls here are good at not doing sport. Some days for no reason (to me) all the girls will end up sitting on the side while the boys play soccer. =  Sport
  • Counseling/Psychology (?) - They played Telephone once I think.
  • Politics - No idea
  • Math - It's statistics. I would (and want to) try and work it out but it's all smybols and words. Pity, I was looking forward to good ol' numbers.
Done. I ride home with the driver and Caca.

More friends (and a girl I don't know). During break

Friday, 14 October 2011

Being Inept in Jakarta

So when was this - some saturday after I started school. Nathan (American you remember) and I decided to go hang out with two former Indonesian exchange students to America, Arya and Nadia. We went to Plaza Indonesia, a very cool mall. Seriously the malls here are pretty much better than most indoor malls I go to in America. The people are dressed better. There are better brands. The bathrooms are places you wouldn't mind spending more than 5-10 minutes in (and in Indonesia that's like the highest compliment I could give. That's saying something.)
    So we met at Starbucks. Then because this was my first time being there we decide to ride TransJakarta which I guess could be compared to  a subway-ish but it's really just a bus with a raised platform that has it's own lane sometimes. But it's reminisce of a subway I guess. We ride that for like 10 minutes. I'm a pro obviously. I grab onto the little handle thing and sway with it's stops. I don't get trampled by the crowds of people who are actually going somewhere. I was made to take that thing. Then we get off and actually go to dinner.
    The thing about meeting with other exchange students is it's always really fun to compare the two places you've lived and you get what it's like to be living in a whole new environment with a new family. You can share stories about what's not cool in your school or your house. You can say what you miss and then it doesn't go anywhere because they're not suppose to fix the problem like your contact person is.
Us (Nadia, Nathan, me) in front of the fountain next to the restaurant. It does this cool light,water show to Boroadway music every hour. 
    We ate dinner at Swiss Maret which is buffet-ish. You get a card and go around to whatever food stations you want and swipe. There was salad, pizza, meaty things, a very large selection. I had a salad (So good. They do not do raw vegetables and lettuce here. It's always fried or in some sauce. I miss just regular plain salad.) bread (also bread in my house is just  a slice of white with the crusts cut off. There's not like types or well somewhere maybe not in my house) and a crepe. So then we go up to pay and guess who lost their swipey card with all their food information on it. Yea I did. I was convinced I had put it on my tray and the lady had taken it away. There was some explaining. I felt so bad. What is it with me and Jakarta and doing these awkward things. I never lose things at home, (or lose games, or confuse die with remember). I don't function normally here. Haha eventually they just asked me what I had eaten and added it up manually. No biggie.
    H.Papa came to pick me up and drive me home. I had to explain why we were so late. I seriously can't do anything but laugh at how inept I am in Jakarta. So I look even weirder. Which is better than having nervous breakdowns all over the place. But guess what happened when I emptied out all my stuff out of my bag. I found the stupid swipey card. Apparently if you lose a card you have to pay 100 US$ (which I did not have). I got off easily. Maybe because I'm American I don't know. But I have hidden the card. I don't even know what to do with it. If I ever go again (which I kind of doubt) I'll bring it and drop it like on the floor or something.

(I really hope nobody from that restaurant ever reads this.)

Friday, 7 October 2011

YES Abroad Program Applications - Now

Guess what??

Applications for the Kennedy -Lugar YES Abroad program 2012-2013 are out. It's a scholarship program sponsered by the US State Department to live and study in 1 of 11 country choices that have large Muslim populations including:

  • Bosnia & Herzegovina - It's new and sounds pretty awesome. I've never heard of any exchange program there.
  • Turkey
  • Ghana
  • Mali
  • Oman
  • Thailand
  • Malaysia
  • India
  • Morocco
  • Egypt
  • and the favorite country of yours truly - INDONESIA!!
All the scholarships are year long except for Mali which is a semester. As long as you're a US high school student between 15-18 you can apply. 
If you want to have a great time and live it up in an awesome country then def apply. I applied this time a year ago and now I'm actually here in Indonesia living life. Crazy.  I kind of still freak out about it. Like wow I'm 16 and I live here with a great family and it's just like being at home in America except I'm in Indonesia and I only understand 50% of everything and everyone comes from a totally different culture than me. Trippy. 
But even weirder are the moments when I forget and am just living it.

So that's my plug. Check out other exchange blogs for info on what it's like in other countries. And here is the official website. Linked it up for you. How generous, right?

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Bike Riding in Taman Mini

Remember Taman Mini? The place where I had my orientation. Well, my house is actually super close. So close that we can walk there for exercise. On Sunday (9/18) my, Nu (maid who's about my age I think), and I walked to Taman Mini. Believe it or not this was the first time I had ever walked down my street. I've only ever been driven. We (us and the rest of the family that met us there by car) rented bikes and went for a little bike adventure.
    Taman Mini is more of a cultural center than whatever I said to describe it before. It's a mini replica of Indonesia. So there are traditional houses from the different cultures from the different provinces in Indonesia. Within the houses you can take traditional dance lessons ... and probably do a lot more. So Caca, h.Papa, and Rizky (family friend/schoolmate/ Caca's bf) rode ahead while Nu, h.Mama, and I would ride along and then every so often stop to take pictures.
    I almost enjoyed the exercise more than the photo taking. I needed it too. Sadly I can't remember where exactly each house comes from - which is kind of the important part. I'll go again for sure though so until then I guess.
Me and h.Mama. Not in a house but a garden

Little me. But my legs look nice and brown right?

One of my favorites. Maybe I think.
I was feeling the nice wind and going along on my rented bike. People would pass and point and stare. I even heard one motorcycle couple say 'rambut lucu' which is funny/cute hair. Weirdly I don't mind because, is it really that different in America? People stare at me in America too. Only usually for my hair and not my skin/height/not Indonesian-ness though.But yeah it's a bit different, little kids don't laugh and point and I can understand what people are saying about me but it's still being stared at, no matter the place. I almost enjoy it now. When I come back to America you'll have to deal with my enlarged ego.
Doors to a Riau room/house.

Staircase within the Riau section

Super long boat within the Riau section of the park. Like 100 people (give or take) are made to fit in there.

Anyway the trip came to an abrupt end when we got a call from h.Papa saying Caca had fallen and wanted to go home now. So we rode back to the car where she was all scraped up and bleeding. Insteadof going immediately home we rode to a section where there was an outdoor market. (Taman Mini is huuge) We ate some bread soup combo - the soup was in a bowl and a peice of bread was baked onto the top of the bowl. Then home. Then we actually ended up going to the mall. But yes this was Bike Riding in Taman Mini.