Indonesia so far :)
Wednesday, September 01, 2010
Hide the letter
Hello Fort William Rotary Club!
I have had an amazing first week here in Bandung, Indonesia. It is ramadan right now so my host family is fasting. I think because they are hungry all day, they think i'm hungry too because they are constantly feeding me :). I eat rice for just about every meal and here, they eat it with their hands. The first time I tried to eat rice with my hands I was really bad at it and made a mess but now I'm a pro.
Two days ago was my first day of school and everyone was very excited to meet me even though they didn't speak english. Now it is a two week holiday for labaran (which is their christmas).
I haven't met my host rotary club yet but I am supposed to go to a meeting once a month. It is very "panas" (hot) here and that was the first word of indonesian that I learned.
The traffic here is very all-over-the-place. It seems like there is no system but somehow no one seems to crash into eachother. The roads are very narrow and there are motorcycles everywhere!
I have tried many different types of indonesian food by now and they all have one thing in common; they are "pedas" (spicy)!! Yesterday I was eating some kindo of zuchini mixture and I thought there were green beens in it. I found out too late that they were hot pepers and it was the spiciest thing I have ever eaten! I will not make that mistake again :P.
I am taking private bahasa indonesian lessons and soon I will learn a traditional indonesian dance at school.
Thank you so much for sponsering me, I will keep you updated.
Monday, October 04, 2010
Hide the letter
Hey Fort William Rotary Club!!
So you guys haven't heard from me in about a month and I have been up to a lot. I finally met my host Rotary Club (Rotary Bandung Bandung or RBB for short).
They are very nice and very eager to get to know me. I haven't exchanged flags yet because they want to make it more ceremonial I think. There are 7 Rotary Clubs in Bandung and they were very impressed that Thunder Bay could support 3 clubs because 110,000 people is like a village to them. My Rotary Club invited me to Halal Bihalal with them (which is when the muslims get together and ask for forgiveness from each other after idul fitri). It was at a beautiful hotel and they invited guests from Texas as well. When I was about to leave, my host club's president Mary pulled me up to the front and made me do karaoke! I also met my host mom's Rotary Club and it is an all women's club.
I went to a volcano called Tangkuban Peranhu with my host family and I saw the main crater and it was "indah sekali" (very beautiful). It seems as though my family is not used to walking because we were going to see the smaller crater but they said 1km was too far to walk :P. I have also gone to a resort that has pools filled with sulphur water from a hot spring and had my first real massage for only $6. The mall here is called Paris Van Java and it is very fun to go to with friends on the weekend. We went ice skating there and I taught everyone how to skate. They were quite impressed at my abilities to skate for 5 minutes and not fall down.
School is pretty great because I can choose everyday which classes I want to go to. I have no real schedule and teachers don't mind if I just join their class. I usually go to english class to help the students, dance class, sundanese language class, or japanese language class. No math or science for me! I have become good friends with the traditional dance teacher and she takes me to a place called Saun Udjo every Thursday. It is a place where you can learn how to play traditional instruments and learn traditional dance. I am going to learn how to play angklung which is a percussion instrument made from bamboo that you shake. I have also been learning the "menari merack" (peacock dance) and it is beautiful and difficult.
The other thing that, I have to admit, I love is that I am SMA 14's first exchange student ever. So I am pretty much the local celebrity :P. Everyone here is very interested in me but very shy and intimidated too. I always have to initiate conversation but once I do they never run out of questions. The strangest question someone asked me was if I knew where Justin Beiber lived because I'm from Canada. They definitely have the Beiber fever over here. (for those of you who don't know Justin Beiber is a young pop singer usually adored by 12 year old girls in Canada).
For Thanksgiving, I am going to cook perogies, meatloaf, stuffing and pumpkin pie for my host family but I have never cooked any of these things before! I am excited to see what kind of chef I am and I think it will help keep the home sickness away during my first Thanksgiving minus my family. I have only had one homesickness moment so far and I woke up my host family when it happened and they helped me through it. Now I'm more comfortable with them and I'm so lucky that Rotary put me with this family.
Terima Kasih selama ini pengalaman
(Thank you for this experience)
Updates from Indonesia
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Hide the letter
Hey Fort William Rotary Club!
Wow, i've been busy! Everything here is going great, I think I made it over the first wave of homesickness because now I barely go on my computor and I'm happier now. A lot of earthquakes and things like that have been happening in Indonesia but Bandung hasn't been affected so I'm safe. Right now we have three Rotary exchange students at my house from Jogjakarta because there was a volcano that errupted. Sarah from Alaska, Mariana from Brazil and Max from Germany. It's nice to have girlfriends now because before there was only Adrien and Diego.
Last week I went with the exchange students, my Rotary club and the Rotaract on a bus to Jakarta to be contestants on a game show called Ranking 1. It was very exciting and I made it to round 3 and the questions were in Indonesian. Then we saw a live taping of an indonesian talk show called Bukan Empat Mata (which means not four eyes and i don't know why it's called that). The week before that I was very sick and had to go to the doctor twice but my host family took very good care of me. Today my host mom invited all the exchange students to go to the hot springs and the volcano near them and we will spend the night there. My host mom is so generous and kind I really love living here. The girls from Jogja do not have good host families which makes me appreciate what I have. I have gained a bit of weight and my host family always makes fun of me for always eating but the food here is delicious and I figure I can just work it off once I'm done my exchange.
The other day, there was a teacher in my school who had a sister that was getting married. So she asked my school's dance club and traditional band to perform at her wedding. I was invited to dance the peacock dance with them and it was an amazing experience. We all got ready at the school and the teachers did our hair and makeup and we wore traditional costumes. I even had to wear a black hair piece and they coloured my eyebrows black. My host sister didn't recognise me when they were done! The wedding was very different from a Canadian wedding. The clothes were tradtional indonesian and all the guests basically come to congratulate the new family, eat and leave. It was in the middle of a street with a tent over top and flowers everywhere. I went with my host mom to an event that happens before a wedding because her niece was getting married. It happnes in the bride's home and she has to ask forgiveness from her parents because she will soon move out of the house. Everyone is crying because they're sad she's leaving and happy that she has a new life. I cried a little too once my sister explained what was happening. Then the parents pour water over their daughter's head and bless her. After that there is a bowl of money and treats that the bride throws to all her guests. I only got 1000 rupiah and a chocolate because i was taking pictures but that was ok. Many people got hit in the head with the coins which was pretty funny to watch. My Indonesian is getting very good and I'm finding that I have less trouble communicating now.
That's all I can think of for now if you guys have any questions about my Rotary club or my experiences so far I'd be happy to talk about it!
RE: Updates from Indonesia
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Hide the letter
At my Rotary meetings, my club president always yells bagimana semua? (how are you all?) and they all shout back something in indonesian and i still can't figure out what but i know it means great in english :P. Then they have a song about Rotary that they sing and they sing their national anthem. There is no instrument to accompany us but it's ok because everyone sings and they take turns leading on the microphone. One thing that i've noticed is that indonesians love to sing all the time and anywhere. I am still unsure about all the fundraisers because i can't fully understand when they talk to me but i know we support a music camp for autistic children.
O i love the christmas parade! i'm sad that i will miss it but i would still rather be here of course :P. That's great that you can get so much support in Thunder Bay i know Fort Willam is the best Rotary club <3
Also I just thought I would fill you in, today was a muslim holiday called Idul Adaha and it's where the rich people in the community donate goats or cows to the mosque to be slaughtered and given to the poor for free. I went to a village called Karawang with a Rotarian from my club and the other exchange students to witness the event. For me it was quite shocking because it was the first time i've ever seen an animal be killed but i wanted to experience all parts of the culture and it didn't seem to bother the locals. I only watched one cow be slaughtered but they had 2 cows and three goats. They pray for each one before they kill it and afterwards they don't waste any parts. It was definately interesting and a big cultural difference.
Update from Indonesia
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Hide the letter
Hey Fort William Rotary Club!
Sorry that my update is a little late, I really lost track of time. I never know what day it is and I'm always surprised when another week goes by.
I haven't been to a Rotary meeting with my club in quite some time but I see the members often. Recently I met our District Governor and a dinner and I had to introduce myself in Indonesian to him and the visiting Rotarians.
One day I had to talk about Canada to future outbound students in Indonesian. Here, outbounds have to take really challenging tests before they are chosen to go on an exchange. They are tested on math, geography, english, science and world history. They also have to do an interview in Indonesian and English. If they get a high score, they get their first country choice. If they get a really bad score, they can't go on the exchange! I am so happy that I just had to fill out an application and have an interview because I don't know if I could have passed all those tests. During the day I spoke with parents to reduce their worries about sending their kids to different countries.
I went with Rotaract to Yogyakarta to help at a refugee camp. There was a volcano call Merapi that released a lot of volcanic ash and I think around 600 people died and many more were left homeless. The exchange students stayed at a Rotarian's house and we bought snacks for the children of the camp. We took an hour long bus ride to the camp and we played with the kids all day. They were so high spirited and were very excited to have their pictures taken. Then the troop of actors that came with us dressed up as the Power Rangers and we helped give out the snacks. It was a very rewarding experience that I will never forget.
The other day I went on my first adventure without an local accompanying me. Diego (Brazil), Adrien (Belgium) and I walked from my house to some caves that we heard about. We only got lost two times and once we got to the location there was a guide available to take us into the caves. The first cave was built during WWII by the Japanese. They forced Indonesian citizens to do the labour and many people died there. Almost every person I talked to said they've seen a ghost there so I was pretty scared but very interested at the same time. The next cave was also used during WWII by the Dutch. It was bigger and less maze-like but still pretty scary. There was no lights in either cave, you have to purchase a flashlight outside if you want to see at all. Then we walked to a waterfall which was about an hour away. It was beautiful and even had an old, narrow, woodden bridge complete with rotten boards. We walked on it but the guide was afraid to let us cross all the way. Then on our walk back, we saw wild monkeys! This was a first time for me so I was pretty excited. They came very close and one charged at me but the guide scared it away. We walked for around 4 hours non-stop and didn't return until dark.
Last weekend I went to Jakarta with my host family and we went to an amusement park called Dufan. It was really fun and super hot. Miraculously I didn't get a sun burn. At the end of the day I got to see the ocean and put my feet in it. This was only my second time in my life to step in the ocean!
Christmas is almost here now and I don't have any plans yet. I want to cook for my host family and I invited the other exhcange students. Today I'm going Christmas shopping and I'm just going to buy something little for everyone. It's a little challenging because most people don't celebrate Christmas here, including my host family. It feels like it's not December and not Christmas because there are no decorations or carols on the radio and (obviously) NO SNOW!
I'm still having an amazing time and I really got lucky with all my host families. They're so kind and I really feel at home. Thanks so much for everything!
Selamat Natal! Merry Christmas!
Friday, January 21, 2011
Hide the letter
Hello Fort William Rotary Club!
I hope everyone had a fabulous Christmas and New Years. I have been up to a lot since my last e-mail, I'll try to fill you in chronologically. Christmas was really fun here. We went swimming at a hotel during the day with some friends and the other exchange students. The boy from Belgium and I could not believe we were swimming outside in December. Then I cooked Christmas dinner for 17 people! I made Italian chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy. A little surprisingly the dinner was delicious. I wasn't expecting any gifts for Christmas this year because all my host families are Muslim and most of my friends are as well. But after dinner I received a few gifts and I was very touched. Everyone loved the gifts I gave them as well.
The championship game for the Asian world cup of soccer was between Malaysia and Indonesia and they are rivals in everything. So my friends and I went to a restaurant to watch and it was very exciting. The restaurant was completely full and everyone was wearing soccer jerseys. The cheering was constant and loud and no one was sitting down. Indonesia lost but oh well.
New Years was just ok because I was sick. I went with my 3rd host family to Jakarta and we spent the night at their friend's house. The fireworks were amazing because every house was lighting them, including us, so the sky was flashing from 10 until 1am. The house had a pool so at 12am some of my friends got thrown in, apparently it's a tradition.
Then on Jan. 3, I changed host families. I was really nervous at first because I had never met my new family, not even on facebook. I was a little sad too when I was packing up my things at my first house. It was just a sign that my exchange is 1/3 over. Luckily my new house is only 5 minutes away from my first one. I love my new family so everything worked out. I have a younger sister who likes to copy everything I do, a brother the same age as me, a mom and a dad. My room is the best part of the switch I think. I have a huge bed, huge windows with a view of Bandung and my own bathroom! Before I had to share one bathroom with 4 people and sometimes it could get challenging. Also, Indonesians don't eat bread very often so when I arrived and saw that my 2nd host family had a toaster I was thrilled. It was the first time in almost 5 months that I had eaten toast!
I went on a 3 day trip with the two exchange students (Diego and Adrien) and my 3rd host family to Pangadaran beach. It was probably my favourite 3 days of my exchange so far. We joined a travel group so we were with around 20 other people and we took a bus all together. First we stopped at a place called Green Canyon and took a boat ride down a river. At the end of the ride there was a natural tunnel with rapids and we got out on some rocks to take pictures. The guide asked if anyone wanted to try swimming so of course my host sister, Diego, Adrien and I said yes even though we didn't have our bathing suits. We swam up the river with the guide and he showed us a place where you can jump off a rock into the river. We convinced him to let us try and we did! It was so much fun and it was a great surprise experience. That night we stayed in traditional style houses beside the river. They were basically bamboo huts with mats on the floor and bamboo screens for walls. Before going to bed we walked to the ocean to see the sun set and went swimming. It was only the second time in my life that I've swam in the ocean so I was extremely happy. The water was really warm and the waves were just the right size. The next day we went canoeing and swimming in the river and did water skiing. Then we took a boat to a private lagoon and went swimming there. Later that day we took the bus to our next hotel and it was right across from the beach. We tried tubing in the harbor and ate seafood for dinner. We got to see sunset on the beach and go swimming again. The waves were huge and we weren't supposed to go swimming because the danger flags were up but we did anyways. The next day took a boat on the ocean to an island. This island was the most beautiful place I've ever been in my life. White sand, lots of seashells, tropical forest, bright blue ocean and big cliffs. I tried snorkeling for the first time and I saw lots of fish and coral. Then Adrien and I went exploring in the forest and we saw Japanese bunkers from WWII. We went inside one and found out that's where the beach guys keep their snorkeling gear :P. We all got temporary tattoos before we left too. By the end of the three days I was so red from the sun it was ridiculous. It was funny because if Indonesians go in the sun, their skin just gets darker so some people in the group didn't know that people with light skin get sunburns.
I went to a Rotary meeting the other day and finally got you guys a banner! It was with Rotary Club Bandung Kota Kembang (different from my host club). I got pictures of the exchange too and I'll send them to you as soon as I can get my computer working. (For some reason at my new house my computer decided it wanted to go on strike or something.)
My family from Canada is coming to visit on Jan. 27 so I am super super excited and they are too. I have lots planned for them.
My Indonesian is coming along nicely and I think I'm fluent but it's hard to say. I had my first dream in Indonesian a little while ago so that's supposed to be "the sign" that you're fluent. I feel pretty confident in conversation now and sometimes I don't even have to think about the translation first!
I am loving every minute of this exchange so thanks again for sponsoring me! Can't wait to see you all in July.
Indonesian exchange update
Monday, March 07, 2011
Hide the letter
Hey Fort William Rotary Club!
Sorry it has taken me so long to send you another email. Hope you are all doing well and the winter hasn't been too bad. It's so strange to think that I have been in Indonesia now for over 6 months. It feels like my normal life now unless I stop to remind myself where I am.
At the end of January, my mom, dad and sister came and visited me for 10 days in Indonesia. I planned their whole trip with a little help from my host mom and I was basically their tour guide. When they first arrived, their luggage was lost somewhere between Hong Kong and Toronto and they were all wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants. You can imagine the heat they must have felt coming from freezing Thunder Bay to 30 degrees in Jakarta. They pushed through it though and went three days without their luggage. We found some clothes for them at a corner store. We went to one of the islands of Pulau Seribu (thousand islands) for one night. There we swam with dolphins, saw huge monitor lizards, the ruins of a castle and swam in the ocean. My dad loved it so much he was trying to convince my mom to retire there. Then we went to a place called Taman Safari and it's like a zoo where you can drive your car through the exhibits. I have mentioned before that foreigners or "bule" are not very common in Indonesia, at least in the area I am in. So when we were driving through the Safari, the Indonesians in the other cars would look at the animals and take pictures, then they would see us and be just as excited and take pictures of us as well! My family was in complete shock at the attention but finally understood that I wasn't exaggerating in my emails. At the Safari, there was also a place to take your picture with a baby orangutan, baby lion, and a full grown leopard so of course my sister and I took pictures with them all. It was an amazing experience. Then we finally got to Bandung and met all my host families and I showed my family my favourite places to eat. We went to the Dutch and Japanese caves, the volcano, the hot springs, and I brought my sister to my high school. I also had the opportunity to dance for the governor at an event promoting Indonesian culture. My family got to watch me perform the peacock dance and to listen to traditional music. Then we went to Yogyakarta and met the other inbounds there. We went to Prambanan Temple which is a Hindu temple from the 9th century and to Borobudur Temple which is Buddhist from the 9th century as well. They were beautiful, enormous and so detailed. Every brick had a picture carved into it. On the way to Borobudur, we passed an area that was affected by the Merapi eruption and it was devastating to see. Homes were broken apart by mud and boulders and there were some parts where the homes weren't even visible anymore. Then we went to Taman Sari which is the old bath house where the king used to watch women bathe and take his pick. We had a hilarious guide who liked to give us details about what the king used to do there. Lastly, my family and I went to Jakarta for one last night before they went back to Canada. After they left, it felt like they were never here and I went back to my "normal" life. I'm so lucky that they were able to come and see what my life here has been like.
For those 10 days, we went non-stop with little sleep so once I got home, I think I slept for almost a day! I went back to school and started learning a new traditional dance. My dance teacher is set on me learning at least 4 dances so that I can teach people in Canada. There was a Muslim fashion show/ model competition that my host grandma's Rotary Club organized to raise money for our district conference in June. My host mom is a designer so she showed some of her collection and my host sister entered in the model competition and got 2nd runner up out of 50 girls! She's only 14 and there were 24 year olds there as well so I was really proud of her. I also got to perform the peacock dance again for the opening ceremonies.
I went to a town called Semarang with almost all the other inbounds so of course we had a great time. Plus, it was my birthday and they didn't forget. We arrived late at night the day before my birthday so at 12am, my host mom and the inbounds surprised me with a cake and some presents and decided to spray me with soap to celebrate the occasion. Luckily there was a pool so I was already in my bathing suit. It was a very memorable birthday. We were all in Semarang because a girl from Rotex invited us to her brother's wedding. We watched the ceremonies before the wedding and mostly sat around and talked together. On the wedding day, we wore traditional clothes and had our hair an makeup done. It was a fun experience but for the girls, it was a little frustrating too. The clothes were very tight and hot, and the make up was a little extreme. We had bright bright pink lipstick with pink and purple eyeshadow up to our eyebrows. Plus fake hair on the top of our head that was green, red, black, white and brown. I don't know why the woman doing our hair had green hair pieces but oh well. We were very sad when we had to go back to our cities because we don't get to meet up very often. Hopefully now that Rotary sees we aren't trouble makers we will be allowed to visit each other more often.
You asked about Rotary Meetings here and how they conduct them. Well, we usually meet at a hotel around 6pm on Tuesdays. They have less members than you guys so we all fit into one small room. They have a bell that they ring to start the meeting as well but it's a little one. Then we sing the national anthem and a song about Rotary with no accompaniment. Our president talks for a little bit about what they have done recently and what the agenda is for the meeting. Then depending on what they need to talk about, the members will make announcements or discuss their plans. Then there is a speaker and it varies from someone like an economist, to a leader of a music camp for autistic children. During the meeting the hotel staff serve you a plate of fruit and cake, we don't have supper together. After the speaker the members ask questions and the meeting becomes less formal. They talk to the president and each other without having to raise their hands or anything. Then if there isn't anything else to say, they ring the bell and the meeting is over. They have a donation box for polio and a donation box for district conference that they send around each meeting also. To be honest, I haven't been to very many Rotary meetings so far but once I live with my 3rd host family, my host mom is actually a member of my host club so I can go with her every week to the meetings.
(I will come home June 30 so the first Wednesday after that I can do a presentation about Indonesia and my stay if you want.)
Thanks for your time, I hope this email isn't too long!
Sampai Ketemu (until we meet)
Three months to go
Monday, April 11, 2011
Hide the letter
Hey Fort William Rotary Club!
I hope my email finds you all well and enjoying warmer weather. I can't believe I've been away for 7 months already. It feels like I left home yesterday.
This past month has been pretty fun. The inbounds from Jakarta came to Bandung which includes a girl from the USA (who I actually met at a Rotary conference before I came here), a girl from Argentina, a girl from Russia and a boy from Brazil. They were here for 10 days and we showed them around Bandung and spent every minute together. We even went with our Rotaract to an orphanage to play with the kids and donate snacks and toys. That was a really rewarding experience. Something that I found rather strange though was that a lot of them had cell phones and all of them wanted my phone number. :P We went to the hot springs near from Bandung and got to ride the atvs, swim and eat for free because we helped the resort make a promotional video. One night we went to a Rotary meeting to introduced ourselves and became a little bit restless. After the meeting we had lots of energy so all the girls did our hair really crazy and we put strange things like keys in our hair and then went to a cafe. It was so funny and I will never forget it.
Once they left I had to make my presentation about Canada and myself to my Rotary Club in bahasa Indonesia. So did Adrien and Diego, we all presented at the same meeting. It went really well and I talked for about 15 minutes all in Indonesian! I was quite proud of myself but sad at the same time because I remember when I first came here, my Rotary club told me I had to make this presentation near the end of my exchange. So now that I've done it, I'm reminded how fast the end is coming up.
I had the coolest experience when I went to Sukabumi with my friends from Rotaract. It's a small town 4 hours away from Bandung. We took the lower class bus there which was interesting and very squishy. We got there at 9pm, ate and then went straight to a village 1 hour away from Sukabumi. There we met with some guides and went to one of their village houses. His grandmother was there and she made us tea. We rested for a bit and then at 3am, we got ready to enter the Buniayu Caves. We were all too excited to be tired. We had to wear one piece suits, harnesses, helmets and rubber boots. We walked through the jungle until we came to the cave. I didn't realize how intense this adventure was going to be until I saw my friend get lowered down a hole into the cave by a rope. When I got lowered down, I think that was the coolest thing I have ever done in my life so far. It was about 30m down and the top of the hole is very skinny and then it opens up into a huge cavern with running water and stalactics. I sang the Indiana Jones theme song as I was lowered :P. We were in the cave for 6 hours straight with only light from our flashlights. We had to climb down a waterfall with the ladder the guides brought and crawl through a narrow muddy tunnel. There was one part where the mud was so deep, we had to take off our shoes to be able to walk. Then of course to get out, we had to climb up a waterfall which was one of the most challenging things I've ever done I think. After 6 hours of climbing and no sleep before hand, climbing up that waterfall was so extreme. Once we finally got out we went to a beautiful waterfall and washed off all the mud. Amazing experience, but I'm not sure if I would do it again.
Just a couple days ago, the Rotary International President elect came to Indonesia and we had a dinner for him and his wife. I got to perform the peacock dance for them and I was so nervous. The Rotarians here were so excited to meet him and take pictures with him. They talked about their efforts to help victims of natural disasters in Indonesia.
I didn't receive a reply from my last email so hopefully it got to you, if it didn't, just let me know and I can send it again if you want :)
Thanks for reading, take care