Wednesday, September 14, 2011

So the last three weeks of my life...

Time has flown by! Today marks exactly three weeks with my host family!

  Now that it's been (oh my gosh!!!!) three weeks, I am settled, have started school, and have felt out an appropriate time to use the internet.

  Puasa (fasting) was quite the experience! I'd fasted in the states to prepare for my adventure, but stopped while traveling to Indonesia. While still at orientation in Teman Mini, I started fasting again--and it was difficult! Jet lag, adjusting to the hot climate, and learning constantly took the spark right out of me! The first day I tried to resume fasting I had to drink water at lunch because I felt quite faint. The next day I was able to fast completely, and for the rest of Ramadan I continued to fast. At Teman mini we learned the basics of Indonesian culture and language; we studied appropriate greetings, telling time, numbers, very basic communication, and culture of daily life in Indonesia. In Indonesia, greetings are very different. When greeting anyone older than you, and when leaving, you have to cium tangan--this literally translates to "kiss hand." In my experience, only little kids, sometimes, actually kiss an elder's hand; generally, this consists of touching an elder's hang to one's forehead or nose. I prefer forehead because lately I've had flu ("sniffles") and I don't want to spread my germs. This greeting, however, is not appropriate for very religious people of a different gender than such case, the two people kind of "ninja chop" eachother...haha, maybe that's not the best way to describe it but that's how it looks to me. This same greeting is also appropriate when greeting someone around your same age, or sometimes they "shake hands" but they don't actually shake hands, they just touch hands as if they are going to shake, or they loosely shake hands...very loosely.
  I'll talk more about greetings later...
So anyways, Lebaran was very festive! It was quite beautiful. We woke up early in the morning and went to mosque--altough there were so many people at mosjid that we were only outside the mosque praying. I wore baju muslim and jibab; me and my sisters has matching dresses in different colors. We prayed, I didn't solat, though because I don't know how, and then we went home and took a lot of pictures! Once picture time was over, we went to rumah nenek (my maternal grandmother's house--she speaks Chinese, f,y,i.!) and all the family came over and we had brunch. We asked each family member to "minta maaf" (forgive) and visited the grave of my maternal grandfather and spread flower petals and prayed. People came by the house the rest of the day, asking forgiveness from nenek and other family members.The whole experience was deeply touching and I had a very meaningful day.

Now to describe my family! I have three sisters and a mom and dad. My older sister lives in Jakarta and goes to Trisakti University (maybe you know its relation with the Reformasi period in Indoensia), and this past weekend my sister who's my same age--a few months younger actually--moved into the same apartment-type (you rent a room and there's a common bathroom and kitchen for like 30 people on one floor) as my older sister and this is her first week at Trisakti. My younger sister is fifteen and she goes to a different school than I do--she goes to the top school in Karawang, I go to a bigger, less expensive school--and she is my only sibling that lives at home...
except one of my cousins also lives in our house and goes to school here. The rest of his family lives in Tegal...I have no idea why his situation is like that, my Indonesian is good enough to ask but not good enough to understand a response. Oh and then at the house is an old woman who is related to me...I think she is my dad's aunt...? Lol, I'm not sure. But my family is really nice--both of my parents are loving, hardworking, goofballs; my mom is quite the cool lady! She has raised three bright young ladies and she owns her own catering business--which I might add makes delicious food!! She works very hard and is usually in the catering building that is next door and connected to our house. My dad is an engineer and I'm told he travels a Bali! For work! What fun! Speaking of Bali, soon--Idk when--my family is going to take me there!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'M SUPER EXCITED! Yay!
Oh, and my family has alot of fish! We have an aquarium in our front living room/mom's office and a pond/fountain in the family room area, it's pretty sweet. To get to one of the bathrooms, and to get to the door that connects to the catering business, you have to walk over this carved wooden plank bridge, and sometimes the fish will jump and splash you! They are huge fish, I'lll be chilling out on the carpet in the family room, several feet away, and the fish will jump and splash me! It's sweet! But, yea, my family is awesome! They like to speak Javanese, though, which I can barely understand (Indonesian is the official language of Indonesia, but my family speaks javanese and the students at my school speak Sundanese--so actually I get to learn three languages while I'm here...wahoo!!).

School: This is my first full week at school. Last week, school began again after Lebaran break on Wednesday. It was shocking for me to find that absolutely nothing was taught that day! My sister Dea, she is about my age, drove me to school and walked me in to meet my teachers. Then we walked over to the huge field where the whole school was gathered; she left and I was asked to introduce myself on a microphone to around 1,500 students. Eeek! I introduced myself in Indonesia but I was so nervous! Afterwards I went and stood with my class, none of whom I'd met yet, and then all the girls from each class lined up and we greeted the teachers with cium tangan. Then we went to our classroom--here the students stay in one classroom and the teachers move around--and just hung out for the rest of the day! We didn't even have a teacher in the classroom! As evident, school is very different here, but I'm starting to adjust...I don't know enough Indonesian for my teachers to consider me a test-taking student, though, so school is purely language acquisition and friend-making time. 

I've learned so much these past few weeks and traveled quite a bit! It's quite hilarious, but when keluarga saya (my family) traveled back to where we're from (mudik), I didn't even have the name of the city right. We went to Tegal, not Temang, or whatever I said...I don't even know if there's a place called Temang... hahahhahaha :)

F.Y.I. That last "Report" was actually an email I sent to my mom, that she posted for me. So it sounds jumbled because 1) I was jumbled and 2) It wasn't meant to be a blog post!
 But my mom was nice enough to post the update, because I didn't have much time for blogging.

I have so much more to say and I regret not keeping up with my blog more. I will continue to try and catch up though, I've picked Wednesday as my blogging day, and will try to blog at least every two weeks. This week I will try to blog more to catch up, though.
I'm a little bit homesick, but that doesn't mean I'm not having a blast! Every day is an adventure!