Monday, May 20, 2013

Bucket List: Indonesia Edition

I suppose you could say that I have big plans for my year abroad. Here are a few things I hope to accomplish. If you have anything else I should add, let me know!
  1. Become fluent in Bahasa Indonesia, AKA Indonesian. I have a feeling that this may be a little tricky saying as how Indo has more than 2,000 dialects. But hey, a girl can try!
  2. Take a visit to Bali. I find Bali fascinating, mostly because it's the one island in Indonesia that isn't predominantly Muslim. It's Hindu! I would love to see and experience another religion in addition to Islam. I've also heard that the religious ceremonies of the island are very cool!
  3. Wear a hijab. I have a feeling I may be doing that a lot.
  4. Volunteer! I think this will be important because it will help keep me grounded, remind me that things aren't as bad as they seem. 
  5. Learn to bargain! I like to think I'm already pretty persuasive and loud so hopefully that will help me out.
  6. Become a badminton champ. Badminton is super popular in Indo. Luckily for me, I was the sophomore gym class champion!
  7. Clothes, clothes, clothes. I want to get lots of them.
  8. Swim in the ocean. I need to get back in touch with my mermaid roots.
  9. Make my host family some sort of American meal, mac and cheese and chocolate chip cookies?
  10. Keep up with my blog. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Local Pre-Departure Orientation

Today I had a local Pre-Departure Orientation. This local PDO was for all AFS kids in the area who would be going abroad next year. I'm going to be totally honest, it was boring. Upon my arrival, I immediately scoped out Eleanor, (Thailand,) who is from Helena. We were roommates at the IPSE so it was so great to see her again! I actually saw some familiar faces from my school who I had no idea were going to be going abroad. Anyway. The PDO consisted of talking about culture shock, expectations of the program, and safety. Everything we discussed were things I had already known from constant YES blog stalking. Within two hours, the PDO was over. 

After being home for a few hours, I've had some serious reflection time. It's amazing how shocked people are to find out that I will be spending a year in Indonesia. An AFS volunteer asked me where I was going. When I told him, he then started telling me how naive Indonesians are about different religions and how difficult living in a Muslim country would be. This really caught me off guard. I mean, I'm perfectly aware that going to Indonesia will be difficult, but, I certainly wasn't expecting an AFS volunteer to look down upon the country and its people. At the start of the PDO, everyone had to stand up, introduce themselves, and say where they were going. There were plenty of kids going to Argentina, Italy, France, Spain, and other European countries. Their introductions were met with smiles, nodding heads, and approving facial expressions. But when I got up and boldly said, "I'm Mallory and I'll be spending a year in Indonesia," Well, I got a response of awkward stares, puzzling facial expressions, and I even heard someone say, "Where's Indonesia?" I guess I shouldn't have been surprised. But, I was once again reminded of just how important YES Abroad is. No one knows about Indonesia. No one knows about Islam. Hey, I don't know much about them either. But, I'm hoping to gain some insight and become more globally aware one day at a time. 

Happily reunited with my other Montana girl, Eleanor!

Monday, May 6, 2013


The more I try to tell people about leaving for a year, the more bizarre questions I get. People ask me things like, "Why would you want to leave for your SENIOR year?" "Will you even know anyone there?" "Who cares about Muslims?" Why. Why. Why. Well, to be honest, I struggled answering these questions myself. Last night I found myself on a long drive with one of my best friends. We chased the sunset as it fell behind the mountains, all while singing some Billy Joel and Bon Iver. As we made our way all over town, I couldn't help but think about how much I would miss little moments like this next year. I'll miss my family, my friends, my senior football season, my cheer team, being able to understand what people are saying, Naked Noodle, Nutella, Uswirl, and so many other things, I don't think I can list them all. So, with all of these things I'm leaving behind, why would I want to go abroad?

For the longest time, ever since I was probably twelve, I've had this urge. It's something I've never been able to explain or really put into words. I would find myself looking up at the clouds and thinking how jealous I was that they could float around all day and go all over the globe watching people. I wanted to be able to do that same thing. I wanted to wander, to explore. YES is giving me that opportunity. I've become very aware of the people that live in the constant safety net of their lifestyle and everything they know to be familiar. I don't want to be one of those people. I don't want to become stagnant. Over the past two years, I've lost two very good friends of mine. Through that experience, I've learned just how short life is. You just don't know how quickly it can be taken away from you, so I'm trying to love every minute and make it as rich as possible. I'm going so I can understand the feeling of being outside my comfort zone. I'm going to be a role model to not only my younger siblings, but also to my peers who have wanted to make a difference but aren't sure how. Let's be honest, I'm going for the food. I'm going so I can learn a new language. I'm going because we live in a country where you can go anywhere you want, and we should take advantage of that!

So. If you still are confused as to why I decided to hop across the globe and leave behind everything that I know, well I'm afraid you just might not "get it."