Sunday, August 16, 2009
so i'm here. it still feels so surreal to me. i still don't quite know how to handle it, but i like it. i'm gonna get some pictures soon and put them on here, so that should be fun. umm lets see...where to begin? the flight was long, that's the least i can say. we (all the kids going to malaysia and indonesia) flew from the washington dulles airport to london, which was actually kind of fun. i sat by my friends gina and lauren and we talked most of the time and it was really great. i like them both so much. then, we went through security in london again (the airport was so european, i loved it) and passed all the stores (they have a gucci in that airport :O)and waited at our gate for the flight to malyasia. malaysian airlines is probably the best airline in the world. they have surprisingly good airplane food and the flight attendants are so nice. it was hilarious, we had this one flight attendant was was totally gay and he wore like a bunch of makeup and his eyebrows were better than mine and i think he had a crush on omar because he took him upstairs to see where all the business class passengers sit and he wouldn't let any of us come. haha. so this flight was probably the worst one. 11 and 1/2 hours from london to kuala lumpur. ay! i watched x-men origins to help pass the time, and i liked it. i also had a bunch of naps. then we landed, dirty, majorly jet-lagged, and tired in kuala lumpur and said goodbye to all the malaysia people. i hope they have a great year! so then it was down to us 5, me, josh, jillian, vivian, and omar. we found our gate easily enough and that flight wasn't so bad, just 2 hours. it was so exciting to be in jakarta! the first thing we saw when we got off the plane was a giant sign that said 'WELCOME TO INDONESIA, DEATH PENALTY FOR DRUG TRAFFICKERS!' and there was a huge gun by it. it was so scary. for some reason it had me nervous that we were going to be killed, even though i know (or at least hope) that none of us are drug traffickers... we got out bags and checked them and then we saw another sign that read 'WELCOME AFS INDONESIA!' and there were like 6 volunteers holding it. i was so excited! we introduced ourselves, and then loaded into a bus with windows that were tinted purplish-blue and set off. it is so beautiful here. it really surprised me how many trees there were. they were just lining the freeway, it was so beautiful. indonesian traffic is crazy; there are cars, buses, other public transportation vehicles, motorcycles, and pedestrians all lined up and crossing every which way. and the steering wheel is on the opposite side. even if we were allowed to drive here, i don't think i would. i would probably die. we drove through north, central, and south jakarta and then arrived at out orientation camp site. it was at a really beautiful guest house. we ate some food and then some of us sat by the pool and talked for a bit, then we got to have showers (FINALLY! it felt incredible) and have a nap. right before we had nape i was in my room with jillian and vivian and i was taking off my jewelry when i heard jillian say "MOTHER. OF. CHRIST." and i looked where she was looking and saw the biggest spider i have ever seen in my life. it was at least 4 inches long. seriously, i felt paralyzed. it was so scary!! but luckily one of the volunteers was able to catch it and then i think omar stepped on it. there were a bunch of stray cats that wandered around the guest house and one of them had an eye patch to cover where an eye was missing. they all just hang out under cars and stuff and they made me so nervous because i though for sure they were gonna get crushed. we played a bunch of games, some outside, and i found out what its like to be in humid heat. i felt like i couldn't breathe! the water in the air just clings to you, making you sweat twice as much as normal. i'm already sort of starting to get used to it though. the best thing about humidity is how soft it makes your skin! so for our first orientation camp it was only 1 day because the YES students get here before the regular AFS kids, so this weekend we're going back for a 6 day orientation. i can't wait! weird as it seems, orientations are always so much fun. i really like all the kids and all the volunteers. so on friday night we drove to the bina antarbudaya office and waited for our host families to come. i wasn't nervous at all until i found out my family was coming last. and slowly, all my friends started to leave. it was slightly amusing to see how anxious they all looked just before they left. then i was drawing and talking with some of the volunteers and my family came. my heart skipped a beat. i started to freak out. i didn't know how to prepare myself for this at all, and now the time had come. the drive home was quiet and sort of awkward, no one really knew what to say. i got a tour of the house and then went to bed. since i got to my host family's house i have felt pretty homesick. i think part of it is just being in a house, i can't help but think of home and of my family. i really do miss them. you know they tell you that first comes the honeymoon stage, then the culture shock and homesickness. for me first came culture shock and homesickness. i'm still having a rough time with it, but day by day its getting better. i'm just trying to live it one day at a time, not worrying about tomorrow until it comes. its a lot to get used to but i know its going to be so worth it, if i can just make it through the rough parts, i know things can only start to go up. i have school 6 days a week. its crazy! i was so nervous on my first day! i got all my books and my principal told me basically i can do whatever i want here, as long as i focus on learning bahasa, which i'm trying with all my might to learn. he said if i want to i can go to class from 6:30 to 11, then go learn traditional dance from 11 til 2. he also told me that i can move from class to class to make more friends. the first day, there was a big assembly and the principal talked to the whole school out on the basketball court. my host parents were with me and he introduced us to the school. he gave me a microphone and had me say "nama saya flan, saya dari utah" and it was pretty embarrassing. i went and sat by my classmates and they all introduced themselves to me but i still couldn't remember any of their names. then we watched a school karaoke contest. all the kids were such good singers! it was a lot of fun. then my friends took me upstairs to our classroom. i am in 11th grade here, a year older than i should be, in the language track. school here has different tracks that you pick to study that determine your future. the main 2 are science and social, and within them are the smaller tracks. language is in the social track, i believe. i am also going to be studying mandarin and japanese this year! that's gonna be a mouthful for a while...but so cool in the end. you take your shoes off in class here, and either wear your socks or slippers. my friend sendwi let me copy her math work, and then after class was over my host mom came and picked me up. after school i unpacked and then decided to have a little nap. my host sister woke me up 5 hours later for dinner. and that was saturday. that night i met my host dad's family. they were all so nice! i eat so much here, it wouldn't surprise me if i've already gained like 5 pounds. on sunday, we went to meet my host mom's family. we went to her mom's house and when she came downstairs, she pinched my cheek and told me i was beautiful. :) i've never gotten my cheek pinched before, it was pretty funny. and they have this tradition in their family that at the beginning of ramadan they go pray at her father's grave so we went and did that. the cemeteries here are so different! there is is a dirt path that goes through the whole thing and a tiny little stone wall that blocks off the graves from the path. each grave is a rectangular mound of grass with a headstone at one end of it. on some of the graves a tree or other small plant was growing. an islam leader came and lead prayers and then we went back to the grandma's house to eat. we watched tv and played cards and ate and talked. it was a lot of fun. they let me use the computer so i got to check my email really fast and write to my mom. then we left, went home and had a short nap and then went to a big mall. its so asian, i love it :) first we went to just an electronics store so they could look at tv's, and then we moved on to this huge mall that had i think about 5 floors. they were all circular and escalators go through the center of the circles on each floor. it was really cool. there was a bakery there that smelled incredible. we looked in a couple stores and then ate. i got this frozen yoghurt that was so good! i've never had frozen yoghurt like this before, it was really tart and yoghurt-y and it had mangoes and kiwi on top. then we went to go see GI Joe. movie theater seats here are way nice, these ones were big coushiony red ones that looked more like airplane seats than movie theater seats. the movie started and it seemed pretty good but jet lag won over me and i fell asleep. i woke up right at the end, when there was like 45 minutes left, so i saw the major fight. it was a good movie, but i dunno, not so much my type. it was just so LOUD the whole time, like they tried (and failed) to make it gripping, non-stop action. it was fun though. when we got home, my family called and it was really great to talk to them. i miss them so much. today was independence day. at school, there was a flag ceremony and they sang the national anthem and the principal talked. after that, my friends took me upstairs to our class again and we close the door and blocked it with a chair and turned the fans on so we could cool down. they taught me some more simple phrases and then we went up to the third floor of the school and saw a bunch of kids come running on to the basketball court carrying flags. there were some firemen standing up on the third floor and after about 15 minutes, they turned on fire hoses and began to stray all the kids on the court. within seconds, everyone was drenched. it was so hilarious! then me and my friends walked around the school and met almost all of the teachers and bought some water in the cafeteria and saw a really cute tiny orange kitten that i wanted to hold so bad! after a little while, diandra and some of her friends came from their school across the street and got me and we met my host mom in her car and went home. we watched this korean movie that was so weird. it was called my mighty princess, and it was very entertaining but wow, very asian too. lots of karate. and that's pretty much it for now. tomorrow i'm going to the police with my liaison and then i think doing some other errands with her. that should be interesting. i'll put pictures up soon!