Greetings from Bandung! 3 Weeks In!

Greetings from Bandung! 3 Weeks In!

Hello everyone! (I’m adding some pictures from my cell phone in low light, so I apologize for the quality)

So I’m 3 weeks into Indonesia. My Bahasa(language) Indonesia classes have been happening since the 11th. I’ve been dropping weight (because of all the travelers diarrhea). Remind me to never again eat from food prepared by men peddling meatballs door to door. I’m pretty sure I must have picked up a parasite species or two. 🙁

ITENAS! the private university that I’m studying Indonesian at! It may seem familiar to you because yes, it’s where Zelda went to college. (a joke to the gamers out there because the logo for ITENAS is the same as the logo for the Tri-force)

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the past few weeks has really been teaching me a lot… about myself.

1. I really am a loner. Back in the states I spent a lot of my time alone. Throughout high school, throughout college, during my somewhat brief working career. In the past. I never really thought this was out of the ordinary until a friend laughed in disbelief that I would eat alone at restaurants. As uncommon as it may be in the US, I’m like an entirely different species here. The Sundanese (native people group in Bandung) friends that I’ve made hang out till 11 PM everyday. After a couple hours of hanging out, I can’t wait to go home or to the cafe to do ‘work’ (by myself, of course). When I tell people here that, they look at me like I’m crazy.

Building with student club rooms. There are students here every day of the week. These rooms even have mattresses where students sometimes stay overnight! And the motorcycles? There’s a whole other parking lot full of them.

Even my Arab roommates are very social, always talking to someone, wanting to spend time together. I, in the meantime, try to sneak out of the apartment so I won’t have to tell them that, “no, I don’t want to go to the cool park today,” and “I want to go to the nearby cafe alone. To study.”

The great thing about ITENAS is that they have a tennis court! The bad thing about ITENAS is that they have absolutely no tennis PLAYERS! This court is empty 24/7. *sniff* I want to play tennis…

2. I am incredibly privileged to be a native speaker of English. Guess what language all of my language teachers speak in? English. Everyone and their grandmothers are trying to get better at English here. The teachers, the students, the cab drivers, the building custodian, my landlord.

This is the building where I have my class! Not too shabby, eh? ………………………………………….Don’t Lie. It’s pretty shabby.

My classmate, who is from Saudi Arabia, struggles in our class. His English is not good. When we come across an Indonesian word we don’t know, the teachers translate it into English. He cannot understand the English definition, so he struggles to type in the word (which is in Latin characters, not Arabic) into his phone to get an Arabic translation.

Other scholarship Recipients partying it up during orientation.

Everyone who is in this scholarship program was required to have a basic proficiency of the English language. Not the Indonesian language. So the 700 students from all over the world (of which only maybe 80 came from English 1st language countries) all take the TOEFL exam so they can come to Indonesia to learn the Indonesian language.

3. On a global scale, I have high standards for cleanliness. I have always considered myself an extremely messy person, (my family can attest to this), with a relatively high tolerance for germs. I’ll share a straw or a spoon with a friend, no problem.

University Students celebrating by sharing a meal… on the floor.

But in Indonesia, I am a clean freak. Hygiene standards here are so low I want to cry every time I eat somewhere. Even walking down the street triggers my squeamish factor. I thought that I was low maintenance, but these Indonesian people put me to shame.

A cockroach I found in the hallway outside my apartment on the 11th floor.

To illustrate this disgust that I feel, I’ll share this story. I was eating at a street side stall, (they are called warungs), with a local friend. After the meal is done, he tells me to tie and utterly destroy the plastic straw I was using. Confused, I ask him why. “Because otherwise they will reuse them.” While my mouth drops in disgust, he flings away his toothpick he was using into the darkness outside, and nods for me to do the same. Again I ask him why. He says, “Because otherwise they will reuse them.”

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