What are your pronouns?

Opening note: I began writing this post well over a month ago. This isn’t on my mind quite as much anymore, but I’ve decided to finish it and post it anyway.

You: What is the biggest source of stress in your life right now, Rebecca?

Me: I don’t know….maybe PRONOUNS.

You: Why? That makes no sense. You must be crazy.

Me: YOU HAVE NO IDEA!!!!

Yes. I am crazy. We all know that, so let’s move on. Let’s talk about pronouns. Yes, those little words like you, me, he, she, zee, they, hirs, and so on. I’m no linguist, but Indonesia may be the world capital of pronouns. There are (at least) three personal pronouns and dozens of possible second person pronouns (because titles can also function as pronouns…). Deciding which pronouns to use depends on the age and status of the person you’re talking to relative to your own age and status. Third person pronouns are a breeeeeze (just the gender-neutral dia) , but that really doesn’t come close to balancing out the first-and-second-person-pronouns dilemma.

In my life here, I’ve come to realize that I have four distinct personas: Miss Selin, Miss Rebecca, Kak* Rebecca, and Rebecca. At first, I thought this was because I was having a hard time reconciling my American self with Indonesian cultural expectations. I felt like I was being dishonest as uber-respectful, quiet, and diplomatic Miss Selin and Miss Rebecca. Then, I thought it wasn’t fair for the recipients of Miss Selin/Miss Rebecca that I loosened up a bit as cool, slightly-older-role-model, Kak Rebecca. Should just-plain-Rebecca even exist, since I’m supposed to be a cultural ambassador? Is Rebecca too wild-and-free, what with her staying out past 9 PM and learning not-so-proper Indonesian vocab?

I’m still trying to figure this identity issue out, but I’ve also come to think that this is something not only foreigners face in this country. What I’m about to say might be complete BS, since I am in no way Indonesian, and I have been here for a scant two months. That being said, I’ve come to think that Indonesians my age similarly switch personas as they switch their language use. I guess it’s like code-switching. The various circles of identity seem to boil down to the pronouns used within each circle. Allow me to walk you through my world of pronouns:

  1. Miss Selin.

Miss Selin exists only for the cultural and linguistic benefit of my students. While everyone defaults to “Miss Rebecca”, I figured it would be a nice little lesson on American culture to go by “Miss Selin”, since that’s what I would be called at a typical American High School. Miss Selin inhabits a world of English language pronouns. This is a piece of cake. I, you, he, she, they: done.  When she does digress into Bahasa Indonesia, she uses the informal second-person “kamu” for her students and the standard (somewhat formal) personal pronoun “saya” for herself. Miss Selin is serious about kids paying attention in English class, but not too proud to make an enormous fool of herself every so often.

2. Miss Rebecca

Most teachers at school, with the exception of some who are around my age, call me Miss Rebecca. Miss Rebecca is probably the most restrained of my personas. Miss Rebecca always tries to come across as very respectful and well-behaved. I have a hard time feeling like myself as Miss Rebecca. I use the formal “saya” for myself, and do not use second person pronouns when talking to other teachers. Instead, I use their titles as stand-ins for pronouns: “Ibu” (lit. mother) for women and “Pak” (lit. father) for men. This is pretty common practice. Ibu and Bapak (Pak for short) are comparable to Mrs. and Mr., but their use is much more culturally mandatory. If I’m talking to an Ibu teacher, and want to ask “Have you eaten lunch yet?” (Apakah Anda sudah makan siang?), I instead say “Has mother eaten lunch yet?” (Apakah Ibu sudah makan siang?). I’ve never translated that directly to English before, and I’m cracking up right now imagining myself talking to a coworker in America and asking “has mother eaten lunch yet?”.

In the beginning, I had an intense internal conflict about what pronouns to use with teachers around my age. I was petrified that they would think I was being weirdly formal if I called them “Ibu”, but I was even more terrified of being considered impudent if I called them “Mbak” (older sister in Javanese, but generally accepted for people of any ethnic background) or “Kakak” (older sibling in Indonesian). I always used Ibu just to be safe, but was afraid that I was making our relationships unnecessarily formal. Once, when I went to lunch at the warung** next door ( which, incidentally, is run by the family of my good coworker friend, Shindi) with SMK2’s 25-year-old art teacher, I had a chance to ask her about my dilemma. She said that when we’re at school, I should always use Ibu, but I can call her “Kak” outside of school. I guess this is similar to how teachers don’t call each other by their first names (at least not in front of students) at schools in America.

I also allow the students in my English extracurriculars to call me Miss Rebecca. However, that Miss Rebecca is pretty much the same as Miss Selin. Because I spend more time with these students, and sometimes I hang out with them almost as if they were my peers, it feels overly formal for them to call me Miss Selin.

3. Kak Rebecca

Kak Rebecca doesn’t really get out much. Some of the girls who live in my kosan and all of the members of LLC (Language Learning Club) at Universitas Lampung call me Kak. Other than that, I’m usually just Miss Selin, Miss Rebecca, or Rebecca.

When I am Kak Rebecca, I am a cool, slightly older friend. While I don’t feel much of a status difference between me and a university student, they apparently do. So, I respect their need to use a title to refer to me. Miss makes me feel rather uncomfortable since under no circumstances would anyone other than a little kid or a customer service person call me “Miss” in America.

As Kak Rebecca, I get to loosen up a bit and use the informal second-person pronoun “kamu” when I talk to people. Kamu can be used for anyone younger than you. I think you might also be able to use it with friends who are older than you, but this is pending further observation. I’m still afraid to use it when I could use “Kak” or “Abang” (older brother) instead. I also can call people by their names only. Or, at least, I think I can. In any case, no one has reproached me for doing so.

4. Rebecca saja (Rebecca only)

When I am just plain Rebecca, I often feel like I am putting down a heavy suitcase full of cultural-adaptation baggage. With most of my friends from UKMBS, the UniLa international student program, and the Couchsurfing Lampung meetup group, I am just plain Rebecca. For some of them, this is because they know that titles are not a big thing in American culture. For others, it is because I am significantly younger. It feels nice to just be called Rebecca. I don’t feel like I have to fill any sort of role other than being myself.

I am also just plain Rebecca to my two Indonesian mothers: Ibu Halima and her sister-in-law, Atu (Bahasa Lampung for older sister) Christin. Their husbands also just call me Rebecca. I suppose this is because I am like a young relative  to them. It would feel pretty strange if my Indonesian “family” called me Miss. Thankfully, they don’t.

As Rebecca, I usually use the informal first person pronoun “aku” to refer to myself. “Aku” is used when speaking with close friends or with people older than you. This means that children primarily refer to themselves as aku. Sometimes I am afraid that overuse of aku in these settings may make me sound like a big baby. I suppose I’ll just have to wait until someone corrects me.

Although these circles call me Rebecca, it is in these circles that I have the hardest time finding the proper pronouns for others. For example, if I meet a 40-year-old man in a social context, do I call him Pak or Abang? This is quite the conundrum! For men, I usually go with the less formal Abang because of the context. No one has corrected me yet, but I usually avoid using the second person in these situations. Maybe I am being incredibly fresh. I hope not. In any case, I probably get the benefit of the doubt because of my bule status. Oddly enough, while I default to the less formal address for men, I’m much more likely to default to Ibu for women. Usually, women who are literal Ibus (mothers), just have this inexplicable Ibu-like air about them, so I don’t think twice about calling them Ibu. Married women also don’t really figure into the social circles that I am in.

Now for a whole REALM of slang pronouns that Rebecca is privy to but does not use. These are “gua” and “gue” for the first person and “loh” for the second person. They are extremely informal. I’ve been encouraged to use them by some friends who seem very invested in the development of my slang vocabulary. However, I don’t feel the need to use these pronouns yet. I’m afraid I’ll slip into using them when I’m in a more formal context and it will look very sloppy. I think those interested parties are actually just looking to be amused by my attempts at “Bahasa gaul” (literally, something like “cool language”, but in actuality just slang). These pronouns seem to be the norm in Indonesian text-speak and internet-speak.

 

5(?) A final note.

There is one pronoun I didn’t go over: “anda”. Anda is the formal second person pronoun. I never use anda, and I don’t know if I have ever heard it outside of a customer service or formal speech setting. Anda is apparently somewhat new, linguistically speaking. It is used primarily in business settings. Rather than use anda, I always just substitute titles (Kak, Bang, Ibu, Pak) as pronouns.

I also didn’t explain one common “title”: “adik”. I don’t think I’ve ever been called adik. It means “little sibling”. You can pretty much universally call small children “adik”. I think close friends who are older can call their friends “adik” too. This is another one of those unsupported statements, though.

 

 

*Kak, short for Kakak, is the Indonesian word for an older sibling of either gender. It is pronounced Ka, but with a glottal stop at the end. A glottal stops is like the sound, or sudden lack of sound, that happens when British people omit double t’s in words like “bitter”, “butter”, and “better”. Glottal stops will cause you to leave your mouth gaping after any Indonesian word that ends in a “k” preceded by a vowel.

**The next step up from street food carts.  Warungs can be permanent structures or streetside tarp tents reassembled every day. While street food carts (kaki lima: literally, “five legs”–don’t ask me why) usually only serve one food item, a warung usually has at least a few dishes to choose from. Warungs always have at least a few chairs or plastic stools and also offer their food dibungkus (literally, bundled, but it just means to go).

 

Embracing My Inner Bule

Most of the questions about my last post were: “Who is Ramon?”. This is a good question, since I put him in a picture, said he was wonderful, and said nothing else. Ramon is my Fulbright ETA sitemate. He is from Los Angeles, and he has been instrumental in my survival here in the BLT. He also helped coin the term BLT. He is very important. He teaches at SMA 7, a regular college-prep high school in a more suburban part of town. Ok. I thought I would get that out of the way before delving into my newest post.

Ramon approaches gracefully from the distance. In Kemiling, Ramon's neighborhood.

Ramon approaches gracefully from the distance. In Kemiling, Ramon’s neighborhood.

Since my last post, I have done even more conspicuously bule* (white person/foreigner/WEIRDO) things. These feats of bule-ness go above and beyond sitting at Starbucks.

Namely,

  1. cooking pancakes in my dorm room
  2. going to a water park on a weekday in the middle of the afternoon
  3. having no arranged transportation back from the waterpark
  4. getting very very sick and still going on a three hour road trip to hang out with elephants
  5. sitting on an elephant
  6. walking to school every day (WEIRDO!)
  7. singing in the classroom (very undignified)
  8. getting on the wrong bus and staying on it until I was outside of the city limits

As the title suggests, in the past few weeks I have been grappling with the difficulty of becoming a normal human here. I have concluded that the grappling was unnecessary, because I will never be a normal human here. I just need to embrace my inner bule, keep on trying to do my job, make new friends, and move on.

It has now been more than a week since I taught a class. Last week was midterm testing, and today I am still getting over a really nasty stomach bug that kept me in bed for most of the weekend. So, I’m feeling a little rusty in all regards. I hope my return to the classroom is graceful! I need to summon Miss Selin from wherever she has gone over this last week of laziness and sickness.

Some highlights since my last post:

  1. I moved into my new digs at Rumah Puspita, a Kosan Especially for Princesses (my translation of the sign at the entrance)! My room is a (very) little but very much appreciated slice of privacy in my life. My neighbors are all in their first semester of university, so I’m a good bit older than everyone here. My kosan friends are very enthusiastic about practicing their English with me. I’ve generally found over the last couple of weeks that I’ve had fewer and fewer chances to practice Bahasa Indonesia as the anglophiles of Bandar Lampung stake their claims on my free time.

    I live on the first floor. You can't see my room. hahaha.

    I live on the first floor. You can’t see my room. hahaha.

  2. I learned to make Lampung donuts (with potato and coconut milk and LOTS of MARGARINE) with another teacher from my school who is an incredible cook. She has offered to teach me the ins and outs of Indonesian cuisine. The donuts were REALLY good. This coming week’s lesson: pempek (chewy fried things that are usually made out donutsof fish, but she says we will learn to make them out of papaya!).
  3. I taught a few lessons on simple present tense and giving complements using the song “I like it” by DeBarge. While it only resulted in an effective lesson in 2 out of 4 classes, it resulted in class-wide falsetto crooning and giggling every time.
  4. I went to Lembah Hijau (Green Valley) a water park/haunted house/conference resort/zoo/aquarium/basically anything awesome in the hills near Ramon’s neighborhood. This place was off-the-charts AMAZING! Its cleanliness was ASTONISHING! Trash is one of those things I could probably write a whole post about. But I’ll save that for never. Because that would be a negative nancy post.
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Downtown Bandar Lampung. I took this from a very rusty metal pedestrian bridge.

blt

I lifted this from Mbah Google (grandma google, as the president of my school’s English club says). These are BLT angkots, which are undoubtedly the most pimped-out in all of Indonesia.

On the way to meet up with Ramon, I took the angkot (public transit bus) solo for the first time. Of course, I didn’t do it right. I ended up somewhere outside of the city limits before I realized I was on the wrong bus. Knowing how to take the angkot is a feat of great knowledge and understanding. There are no schedules and no maps; the buses come in a handful of colors which denote the route that they take. However, there are some variations  within the color-coded routes. In these cases, the only way to know where you will end up is by asking the driver. I didn’t know this when I got on the green angkot to Kemiling.

I was on the green angkot for a very long time. This particular angkot didn’t even have a sound system (usually a huge, long-ago-blown-out subwoofer at the back of the bus), so it felt even longer. We even stopped for an old woman’s entire grocery shopping outing. Eventually, I started to notice that I was no longer in a city. At that point, I asked all the ladies on the bus when we would get to Kemiling. And they were like “You poor, confused creature, we passed Kemiling a very long time ago”. I called Ramon, and learned about that very important step in choosing an angkot: asking the driver which Kemiling route he is following. So, I got off of the angkot in the middle of nowhere, crossed the road, and waited for one coming back towards town. I was quite the spectacle, standing alone by a busy road in the far outskirts of the city.

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WATERBOOM

When I finally made it to Ramon’s neighborhood, we took motorcycle taxis (terrifying!!!) to Lembah Hijau. It lives up to its name. It is very green, and it is a valley. We paid just under 10 USD each for admission to the park, a haunted house, an aquarium, a very nice zoo, and admission to WATERBOOM. It was an ideal day of jalan jalaning. It was also a Thursday, so there was no one there. We were the only people in the entire water park area.IMG_20151008_154102399

very dangerous. very scary. very haunted.

very dangerous. very scary. very haunted.

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Text-wrapping/photo-formatting is essentially impossible on WordPress.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. I went to Way Kambas National Park, a very cool hangout spot for Sumatran elephants. I’m very happy I went, but it probably was not a great idea to embark on a 3 hour road trip on bumpy Indonesian roads after having spent the  previous night vomiting. I thought the worst was over. I had no idea.

In the closest town to the entrance, we picked up Atu Christin’s (my “aunt”‘s) friend, who works in animal husbandry. He got us into the employees-only section of the park for free, so we got to see elephants in their natural habitat instead of just at the sad tourist performances. We did get a performance, though. Of the 300 elephants living in the park, about 50 are trained. Each trained elephant has its own handler. One of the handlers really wanted us to take pictures sitting on his elephant’s leg. So we did.elephantIMG_20151010_110128388

On the way home, I vomited a lot. Then, I spent the next two days in bed. I wrote most of this post after two days of not eating anything, so forgive me if it is all over the place.

*While I am embracing the bule aspects of my personality, I am not embracing the word bule, which I find profoundly annoying. It is annoying not only because approximately 4 out of every 10 car/motorcycle passengers shout it at me as I walk down the street, but also because I think it plays into the politics of whiteness that is all the rage here in Indonesia.

Example: I’m at a public event, and a gaggle of mothers arranges their children around me and begins to take pictures. They say “Oooo so beautiful! We want your nose! You look like Barbie in the mall!” (Yes this is real. I really hear these things. Often.)

What is happening!?!?! Global whitewashing of beauty!  Everyone I see on TV and billboards is uniformly pale, slender, and narrow-nosed. Whitening creams are everywhere, and my students are perpetually pointing to each other in class and saying, “Miss, this is black man, Haha!”. I usually just ignore all of the comments, but I wish that this nation of incredibly beautiful people wouldn’t look to frumpy, sweaty Rebecca as a beauty icon just because of my pointy nose and “white” (read: perpetually reddish and sweaty) skin. I don’t think there’s anything I can respectfully do, as an outsider, to combat this. Do any of my readers have suggestions? All I can think of is just pointing out similarly twisted beauty standards in America.

Chapter 2: Attempting to Harness the Raw Power of Selfie-Thirsty Adolescents

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I am at Starbucks right now. I have no shame. When I first heard there was a Starbucks in the BLT, I turned up my nose at the thought of ever setting foot in the megacorporate, neoimperial establishment. In spite of that, here I am ,sipping on my Grande Es Latte, happy as a clam. After a week of family visits, nenek (grandma) posses, crying toddlers, constant supervision, and seafood breakfasts, I was struck by intense pangs of homesickness for WiFi, Espresso Drinks, Pristine Corporate Cleanliness, and Alone Time Without Scrutiny.

My return from Orientation last Sunday night marked the beginning of my ***real life*** tenure as an ETA in Bandar Lampung. In the 5 days before orientation, I spent my time being enthusiastically fed by crowds of teachers at school, awkwardly crutching around the SMK 2 campus while trying to ignore the calls of my nakal (naughty) students, and being carted around town by my counterpart, Ibu Halima. Over the past week, things have settled down a lot. Thanks to the incredible instructors from Wisma Bahasa at Orientation, my Indonesian is now passably conversational in the most basic of situations. I’ve explored a tiny bit more, gotten comfortable with my students, nakal and sopan (polite) alike, and entrenched myself with the “arts society” at Universitas Lampung, or UniLa. I am excited to get closer to some of the wonderful characters I’ve met there. I can almost say that I’ve developed a routine, but I still have a lot to figure out here in the BLT.

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My first Saturday in the BLT: Ibu Halima and Fam took me to the beach, where I jumped three feet on crutches to get into this boat!

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This week’s extended family posse at Lampung Faire.

THE POSSE

Indonesia is really big on the posse. The posse is basically how life works here. You walk to school with your posse, you do your homework with your posse, you jog with your posse, you live with your family posse. That’s just the way it is. So, when I want to, say, walk two blocks to UKMBS (the University arts club) by myself, the response is, overwhelmingly, “By yourself, Miss??? Miss, are you sure?”. Although I do dream of one day having my own friend posse, right now I’m just trying to get people to understand that, in my culture, it is perfectly healthy to want to walk a few blocks by myself. Even without a friend posse, I still have partaken in some posse activities.

My counterpart and her husband have been out of town since Thursday, so two neneks, a brother-in-law, a cousin, and an uncle came to stay and keep the two kids company. Also, various other cousins, nieces, nephews, and other relatives come to visit on the daily. It’s been great for my Indonesian, since no one around me at home speaks English. It has also been a lot of fun. The neneks stood by with much consternation as I cooked up a batch of “Mie Rebecca” (Rebecca Noodles) a few days ago. They wereELFIE! Appar concerned about the lack of rice, and the presence of too many varieties of vegetable in one dish.

SELFIE! Apparently it is imperative that I find new, more original, selfie poses. Oops.

SELFIE! Apparently it is imperative that I find new, more original, selfie poses. Oops.

Lampung Faire!

Lampung Faire!

I’ve also been invited to jalan jalan (lit.: walk walk, but it can mean any sort of recreational activity outside the house) with the fam on a handful of occasions.  I’ve concluded that approximately 90% of outings in Indonesia are undertaken solely for their memfoto (picture-taking) potential. When you go somewhere, you don’t think about things to do so much as places to take good pictures. We took pictures at every suitable location at Lampung Faire (a celebration of the culture of Lampung Province and an opportunity for hordes of vendors to push their goods on the people of Bandar Lampung), and also at a “nature tourism site”.

SCHOOL

I was pretty nervous about my first forays into teaching, but somehow I managed to pull off a mildly successful first week. I think the first step was accepting the fact that my students treat me like a rock star, and using this to my advantage. With a bit of last minute planning and a lot of spur-of-the-moment adaptations, I made it through my ten weekly classes without being torn to a million pieces by my students.

Attempt #1, while supervising the classroom alone.

Attempt #1, while supervising the classroom alone.

Raw, unharnessed, selfie power.

Raw, unharnessed, selfie power.

I’m still terrified of the overwhelming task that lies before me: memorizing some 350 student names, along with those of all of the teachers at SMK 2. In a (perhaps misguided?) attempt to make this daunting task more manageable, I decided to take pictures of students holding up name cards. The first time I did this was in a class that I presided over alone, since Ibu Halima was away in Jakarta. Because my VISA does not allow me to teach alone, I just played hangman with the class, tried to play their favorite Sam Smith songs on my cell phone speakers, and made my best effort to curb the mayhem. When I asked to take selfies with only two students at a time, the class went insane. I suppose I’ll have to try again next time. Later, in classes I taught along with a co-teacher, my efforts were much more fruitful.

Me

I’m slowly figuring everything out, getting better at expressing myself in Indonesian (even though I’m pretty sure my grammar has gotten worse…), and starting to feel more at home here in the BLT. My housing situation is still in the works. I’m not entirely sure when I’ll be moving to the kosan, but I’m looking forward to finally unpacking my suitcases and having a bit more freedom. It should be within the coming week. I’m also very excited to spend the upcoming holiday (Idul Adha, celebrating those who have completed the Haj) with Ibu Halima’s whole extended family. Right now I’m in the teachers’ room at school (didn’t have enough time to finish this at Starbucks!) To be honest, I’m getting tired of writing this while surrounded by other teachers trying to chat with me for the 1000th time about which foods can be found in both America and Indonesia. So, I think this will be all for now.

UPDATE on WiFi: I now figured out that there is Wifi in the teachers’ room, so I’ll definitely be updating more regularly, albeit more distractedly.

Teachers' Room!

Teachers’ Room!

The wonderful Ramon at the artsy club at Universitas Lampung!

The wonderful Ramon at the artsy club at Universitas Lampung!

Fiberglassfoot goes on a voyage.

Three weeks ago, only recently revived from a medicated stupor, I left Philadelphia for Bandar Lampung with an enormous backpack, about twice my body weight in poorly selected personal effects, and a very sad and heavy foot made out of fiberglass. I was, quite understandably, pretty bummed out. I still am, a little bit. I never imagined my maiden voyage in foreign living would begin with a month of hopping around (and, occasionally…dancing) on one leg.

So, uh, yeah, not the best time to break an ankle in a bike accident, but I wouldn’t let an enormous, swollen, bruised right leg keep me from my HOPES and DREAMS. I will admit that it has made the past few weeks a bit frustrating at times.

I guess this is where I start to chronicle the events of the last couple of weeks. The whole blog thing is very new to me. I hope it’s funny enough. Let me know if you get bored. I’ll try to keep it focused, but, as all of you know, I am quite possibly the most distractable storyteller in the world.

After spending one night in Jakarta, I was shipped out for my first week in Bandar Lampung, along with my fantastic sitemate, Ramon. After the 20 minute flight (shuffle in on crutches, sit down, take selfie with very touchy feely older Ibu, get fed, disembark), I was greeted by my counterpart, Ibu Halima.

Counterpart=the person at my school responsible for my well-being and safety.

Ibu=literally, mother, but actually more like Mrs. It’s what you call any woman who is older or more important than you in Indonesia.

Ibu Halima was essentially my mother for the following week: taking me to school, feeding me, introducing me to people, helping me go grocery shopping, carrying stuff for me. Considering my legless state, I don’t know if I could have even survived that first week without her. I’m staying with her and her two hilarious kids (ages 5 and 3) until my kosan (boarding house) room is ready. Two weeks ago, cement dust was raining from the bathroom ceiling, but it will be brand new and shiny in a few days, apparently.

So, the three-legged bule (BOO-LAY-foreigner) arrived in the big BLT (Bandar Lampung Town, a term Ramon and I coined). After eating McDonald’s for dinner, I promptly passed out at around 8. Ibu Halima would not believe that I could tolerate Indonesian food, much less prefer it to McDonald’s. I convinced her otherwise in the following few days by eating makanan pedas sekali(SPICY food) and failing to have a fatally upset stomach.

I woke up dark and early to the sound of approximately 923749 calls to prayer, one of which was about 20 meters from my window. It was 4:30am. Ibu Halima was already awake and cooking. By 6:45 I was well-fed and showered (eee-yaaaaah sudah makan. Sudah mandi. Sudaaaaah.) and ready for my first day at school. I met the headmaster and about 10 other officials, introduced myself to a rowdy classroom, and spent the rest of the day hanging out in the teachers’ lounge and the principal’s office. Everyone was very tickled by the fact that I already spoke some bahasa Indonesia, but I still had to drop out of approximately 99% of conversations because I had no idea what was going on.

I have no idea how much of a spectacle I would have been without crutches, but, let me tell ya, I was comparable to a moose or unicorn as I crutched around the SMKN 2 campus. Everywhere I go, I’m greeted with “hey, miss”, ” how are you miss”, and “miss you are so beautiful”, by the predominantly male students. Some brave souls come up to me and press their heads to my hands. Apparently this is a very respectful greeting, but they usually don’t do it for their other teachers. My wonderful Bu tells me they’re just doing it because I’m the exotic newcomer. All of this was pretty overwhelming, but I’m hoping it will die down a bit/I’ll get better at not being shell-shocked as I get to know the students personally.

The teachers’ room was my daily hang spot. It’s always full of food and lively conversation. Everyone’s favorite thing is teaching me 3 or 4 regional languages in addition to the national language, bahasa Indonesia. This is an especially cruel endeavor of theirs because I can hardly speak Bahasa, let alone try to learn Javanese, Batak, Lampungese, and Sundanese.

Later in the week, I gave a speech in bahasa indonesia for my entire school at my own welcome ceremony. observed English classes, met the regional director of education (I think it’s like an extra fancy superintendent?), and went to a “gamelan Lampung” (more details to come!) rehearsal. On my last day in Bandar Lampung before heading off to Bandung for orientation, my wonderful Ibu and her family took me to the beach.

Then, I went to Bandung for two weeks! Free WiFi, endless pastries, fancy fruit juices at all hours, beer at the restaurants, karaoke (involving crutch damcing), banyak (lots of) american bules, and hours upon hours of learning about the coming year. If I hadn’t waited a gazillion years to write this post, I probably would have written more about orientation. It was fun, the hotel was luxurious, I learned a bunch more Bahasa, and I may have a bit more of a clue about teaching now. All good stuff! Also, I got my cast off during orientation, so now I’m hobbling around in a walking cast. It’s a whole new life!

Right now, I’m back in the BLT, about to go to sleep waaay past my 9:00 bedtime. I’m happy to have left paradise Sheraton world and returned to my real life. I am so excited to go back to SMKN 2 with two legs, meet some of my new students, and start teaching ASAP. I’m ready to do some exploring, too.

Ok- until next time, all.

P.S. next time there will be jauh lebih banyak pictures. I have no WiFi, so I wrote this whole thing on my phone. I promise I will talk about all the important and exciting things like eating and bathing next time. Spoiler alert: I do both of those things an alarming number of times every day. Find out more next time.