Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Some Thoughts on September

It’s September 30th. The last day of, my first full calendar month, in the crazy, beautiful Indonesia. I find that my biggest struggle right now isn’t homesickness. It isn’t trying to use squat toilets, nor is it learning Bahasa at an acceptable rate. No, my biggest struggle isn’t any of those things that I was expecting coming into this year. My biggest struggle now is trying to transform these experiences that I’m having, and being able to put them into words for the folks back home. People are constantly asking me how my exchange is going. And for a girl that is constantly surrounded by everything being new to the five senses, that’s a million dollar question. 

How do I possibly describe the joy that I feel when I walk home from school each day, with the local’s faces lighting up the second they see me? How do I describe my newfound love for tempe goreng to people that aren’t aware what fermented soy is? How do I explain the tight bonds I have formed with people who I don’t even share a language with? How do I share the reoccurring hum that casts over the city as the Call to Prayer plays? How do I radiate the kindness of Indonesians all the way across the globe? How do I make people that live in the “best country in the world,” understand that I’m already nervous about having to return to the States in *checks countdown on phone* 284 days? 

They say exchange is difficult. But really, exchange is simple. The hardest part of exchange I’ve come to realize, is trying to balance the two completely different worlds that we as exchange students now live in. And although the struggle is very, very real, I’m infinitely grateful to have been given this opportunity. 

 And in honor of completing September, here is a list of my top three moments from this month.

3. Number three on my list of this month’s highlights is getting to be on an English Radio Broadcast! My fellow YES Abroader, Bre, had been participating on an on-air English broadcast for a few weeks, and she asked me to join her! The English broadcast serves as a way for Bandung’s youth to practice their English, while also learning about various topics. The radio station chooses a weekly topic,  and we give a broadcast all about it! The teens are then able to call in to the show, or send an SMS, giving them a free opportunity to get experience with native English speakers. This week’s topic? Superheroes. It was very fun! 

Bre and I at the radio station

2. Number two on my list is cooking dinner for my host family! Now, for those of you who don’t know, I love to eat. However, when it comes to cooking, I’m not a top chef by any means. So when my host mom suggested that I cook a meal for them, you could say that I was a bit nervous. We made our way to the grocery store where I found the ingredients for making mashed potatoes, grilled chicken, and fresh salad with homemade dressing. Once I got home, I enlisted my host brother and sister to help prepare the foods. In reality, I shouldn’t have been stressing at all. My host siblings and I bonded as our arms turned to jello from mashing potatoes. We giggled together as I forgot to unpeel a garlic clove before I chopped it. And we applauded as though we had won the lottery when the meal was finally on the table. Dinner tasted great, but the memories that were created with my host family were even greater. 
Teaching my sister how to mash potatoes!
The finished product! Enak sekali! (Very delicious)

The potato spring courtesy of Baya
1. And number one my list of highlights for this month.... drum roll please... Car Free Day! Car Free Day, or CFD as the locals like to call it, happens every Sunday in Bandung. One street is shut down providing locals a place to dance, sing karaoke, eat lots of food, protest, or whatever else they feel like doing! This past Sunday, I got to go with some other YES Alumni, and it was a blast! I tried my hand at some aerobic dance. Now, I say dance but, picture 500 or so talented Indonesian dancers. Now throw a bule gila (crazy, white foreigner) into the mix and you have that picture. The embarrassment doesn’t stop there. One of my friends, Baya, took me to his college campus where there were some students playing volleyball. So of course I had to join in because who doesn’t love a casual match? However, the game I was thrown into was played by all males who had quite a bit of passion for the sport. While I consider myself to be fairly athletic when compared to other Indonesian teenage girls, I was quickly put back into my place when playing with the guys. After a quick match, myself and some other YES Alumni left to seek out food. My favorite thing of the day was the potato spring. It's basically a never-ending spiral of potato chip goodness. I had mine smothered in cheese. It was heavenly. Overall, what really made CFD so special and so great, was the people I got to spend it with. The friendships that have quickly been created here in Indonesia, are the kind that can't be explained in a blogpost. There aren't enough adjectives, between English and Bahasa Indonesia combined, that could possibly sum up my love for the people here. So, until I can figure that out, da da!