Saturday, February 6, 2010


to say that things have changed a lot since the last time i wrote is an understatement. change happening on a foreign exchange is something that cannot be stopped from happening. the biggest change that's happened to me is that i moved host families. my first family was really nice but we never really clicked, never felt the chemistry that really is needed in a relationship. so here i am. i'm still in jakarta, though now in the south instead of the east. my new family is amazing. everyone is really nice and i like them all so much. they're really pushing me too, we never speak in english. i've been with them for almost a month and i feel like i have improved so much! the other day i answered the home phone and all went well :) i understand a lot more and speaking is getting so much better. the more i remove myself from english and try to make my thoughts in indonesian the easier everything gets. i still haven't dreamed in indonesian, but i hope i will soon. also, my new school is this huge islamic high school in jakarta. its really religious and to me seems strict, but what do i know? anyway, for uniform all girls have to wear jilbab, the headscarf, so your hair is always covered. it is one of the weirdest things i have ever experienced. i'm getting used to it now, but at first it was just uncomfortable and hot. i'm really excited about my school though. getting to see up front what an islamic school is like and trying to follow lessons and just watching the way they do it is so cool and adds such a new range of color to this year. we take a religion class, a class special for reading the qur'an, and arabic. these three are the hardest for me but some of the most interesting.

the other day a bule came to the school. he's been living in indonesia for a while, though he speaks no indonesian, and he comes to my school to give english lessons. the teachers came and got me before he came and one took me out to the road in front of the school and we bought gado-gado padang. padang food has a special reputation for its spiciness. the gado-gado was so good. and the best part about it was that we bought it from a lady who had all the food set up in the back of a van. while i was sitting there eating i just thought about how some things that just don't fly in america are totally normal here and its really amazing. i would never buy food that was made in the back of a van in america. no way. but here, why not? it made me really happy and weirdly excited. just another one of those times when i thank whatever it is that let me get sent to indonesia.

so things are great. im so happy to be here. the time since christmas has flown past, i can hardly believe it. already the halfway mark of this year has been passed. time's just never going to feel normal to me. this sounds lame but lately i've been reading a lot of blogs by exchange students. its really inspiring to me to read about their life and their challenges and seeing how they got through it and made the best of everything they could. it also makes me die of jealousy. i have always wanted to travel, and my list of places i must go to just keeps on growing. i want to do study abroad in college, and at first i had it narrowed down to just a couple countries but now i have no idea. i want to go everywhere. i want to see and experience everything. can this be accomplished in one lifetime? i don't want it to be like touristy, when you're removed from the real life of the country. this year so far has taught me that the only way to really learn about a place is to let go and dive in and remove yourself from your own world with an open mind to see the new.

indonesia is a magical place. everywhere i look i see things that take my breath away, in good ways and bad. the scenery. mosques. the explosion of life in the city. and then there's the child beggars. sick dogs and stray cats. the traffic clogged for miles polluting this beautiful city. i used to see it so separated and think that it was the people's fault. their city is polluted because its too big and there's too many people driving cars. the beggars might be for real or they could be fake, taking everything they earn back to some higher power. its not like that anymore. the flaws are what really makes it and what gives it character. and i love it all. i wouldn't trade any of it for anything in the world.

life is so good right now. i am so happy to just be alive! to be in indonesia. to speak indonesian. it comes naturally now. sometimes i do have to plan out stuff to say but for the most part it just flows. i couldn't write you an essay or anything, but i can read and speak with little difficulty. knowing the language has made things feel even better. no longer being in the dark, understanding for once what all the noise around me actually is. its still hard sometimes and i get unbelievably frustrated with myself for not saying all that i want or for not talking at all sometimes. its getting better though.

sorry this is kind of short. i will post again soon though and try to get pictures. i wanted to this time but the camera's being slow and i don't feel like dealing with it right now.


sarah louise said...

Flan! How awesome that the jilbab, van-food, and Bahasa Indonesia language are all becoming second-nature for you.

Glad you are enjoying your new host family and answering their phone to boot. As Bubbles of the Powerpuffs would say, "You're hard-core now!!"

Justin and I have had a lot of fun browsing your Facebook pics. :)

Priscila said...

Dear blogger,

Our IX10 competition is doing great, with some really cool blogs eager to get number 1 spot! We’re very glad you have accepted this challenge and joined us.

This e-mail is just to remind you there is still time to get your blog up in the list. The voting goes until February 14th at midnight CET (GMT +1), so get down to business and keep voting!

Wishing you all good luck,

On behalf of and Lexiophiles team

A FRIEND said...

how do i vote?

Anonymous said...

flan makin lama makin keren!

McCaye said...

Flan, I like the way you describe making yourself available to a different culture. It's great to feel your mind open up and take in a new reality on its own terms! GO FLAN!!! love you, M.

Anonymous said...

how could you change your family? i joined AFS program as well(not yet go), but i didn't hear you can change your host family unless you have trouble with them

anyway, what islamic school you go to? Alpus? mine is Al-Izhar :D

Priscila said...

Dear Blogger,

The results are now in for the Top 100 International Exchange and Experience Blogs 2010 and we have some great news – you and your blog made the Top 100 list!

Congratulations from the team at and Lexiophiles! We had more votes for this competition than we have ever had before – over 19,000 – so you should be really proud of yourself for pleasing so many readers!

We have published the entire list of blogs and how they ranked after the voting on our site ( There you can also find a nice map showing where the top 100 bloggers are located around the world. It’s possible to add the map to your website by coping and pasting the code available next to it.

We have also created an “IX 10 Top 100” button for you to put onto your blog. Please e-mail me and I’ll send you the button code.

We enjoyed this competition a lot and really hope did too. Keep your eyes on and Lexiophiles for the next one!

Kind regards,

On behalf of the and Lexiophiles team

Anonymous said...

awww fern...reading this entry made me miss you like a mad woman misses a stray cat. you have grown so much and i'm so glad you could have this experience to make you into an even more beautiful person than you already are. i am just dying to see your face though...i can hardly bear it anymore!!

but yes i can't believe what a strong person you are becoming and so culturally edified in a way.

i love you,

PS i totally know what you are saying about the study abroad i am in college and i have no idea either. at first i thought i had it narrowed down to like china or austria. but now i'm like "what about ghana? south africa? spain? france? italy? greece? ireland? iceland?" and so many others. i hope we can travel together again someday as sisters with appreciation for the rich variety in the ways people live their lives. hdl <3

Anonymous said...

That is so cool Flan! You'll have these memories and experiences with you for the rest of your life. I totally agree with you here (although i've never done it sadly),"the only way to really learn about a place is to let go and dive in and remove yourself from your own world with an open mind to see the new."
Love and miss you!!!
Franny :)

evision said...

Titis Andari said...

Flan, aku baru baca blog kamu, this entry made me cry :) I'm so happy for what you got to experience. I wish we had talked more. Senangnya bisa berbagi kota Jakarta ini sama kamu, muaahhh!