Happy Halloween!

I.am.exhausted!

This week has been pretty hectic so far, full of ups and downs in the classroom. I am trying to put it all behind me and have one high to share with you…

One of my lovely teenage classes πŸ™‚

I asked this class to make a presentation last night – a sales pitch for a new product they’d invented – and they are just so supportive of each other! Their English level is not brilliant, but they try hard and are a pleasure to be around. They joke that their class motto is ‘watermelon’ – the Indonesian word for watermelon is ‘semangka’, and ‘semangat’ means good spirit/good luck – so as a punny way of saying ‘You can do it’, they yell watermelon at each other πŸ™‚

Today we have been celebrating Halloween. Afternoon classes were postponed and we had a party – costumes, scary games, a school cemetery, the works!

I did feel a little bad that some of the smaller children ran away crying, but see that as doing a good job with my costume! I was on face painting duty, and decorated many a cheek with a spider web or bat!

Haha, I even scared myself πŸ˜‰

Happy Halloween everyone! With love from Indo xxx

Intercontinental Insanity!

Wow, the time really is flying by here!

The rest of the week and my lessons went well and just like that, the weekend is already over!

I have a new class on Friday afternoons – I know what you’re thinking, all my classes are new, but a lot of them I’ve taken over from other teachers whereas this is my own class from the start – and we were playing a game called ‘1 lie and 2 truths’. It’s a classic EFL ice breaker game based on the idea that students must tell you 2 true things about themselves and 1 lie and you have to guess which are which. So there is one boy in this class who said ‘1. Blah blah blah, 2. Blah blah blah and 3. I have a girlfriend.’ It was obvious that #3 was the lie (let’s be honest – you can tell by looking at some teenagers!) but I haven’t quite worked out how to deal with that sort of thing tactfully! Don’t know why I’m sharing this, it just made me chuckle!

I also had a terrifying experience when I was walking home on Saturday night and a rat ran across the road literally millimetres from my bare feet. The open drains here are just horrific! Urgh, just the memory makes me shiver!

Anyway, on to happier things! I had a lovely day yesterday – possibly the best since I arrived!

We went to a fancy hotel in the city for an all you can eat buffet – and I have honestly never seen anything like it – I even tried lobster!

We met up with lots of other English teachers from schools within our company all over the city – it was definitely a case of meeting and introducing myself only to forget their names minutes later (that’s a common occurrence here, unfortunately because it is very unlike me!) but it was at least reassuring to meet lots of people and realise the potential to make friends.

After brunch we spent a few hours lounging around next to the pool and in the hot tub πŸ™‚ The pool was amazing because it felt like it should be on a paradise island somewhere but it was actually surrounded by skyscrapers!

Emma and I are up bright and early today and have already done an exercise DVD (haha!). Breakfast on the balcony and then off to school for a Halloween Party meeting – got another exciting week ahead!

Your Daily Dose Of Sophie

Well, I am already 2 weeks in to my Indonesian adventure! I swing between feeling like that is no time at all and like I have been here for months! Erica and I spoke last night and she thinks it seems like I have been away for ages already (she also inspired the title for this post!).

So how am I getting on? Well, my lessons yesterday were much better than my first day. I am starting to feel more confident and remember everything I learnt during the summer at TSI, although I had forgotten quite how long it takes me to plan all these things!

Sometimes I need to remind myself that this is actually why I’m here!

My ‘nightmare’ class of boys is actually quite interesting. They are at that awkward age where they have all the disruptive features of younger students, but none of the maturity of the older ones. I’m looking for a change in mindset where they could actually have the exciting sponge brains of younger students and the determination of older students. I know that all sounds very waffle-y but I guess what I’m trying to say is that given the right situation the ‘nightmare’ could soon become the best of both worlds, rather than the worst. Here’s hoping..!

Other than that I am okay – homesickness comes in waves, which are becoming less frequent and I try to combat them by keeping busy. I have had lots of lovely emails keeping me up to date with life in the shire (thank you – keep them coming!). Technology really is a wonderful thing! I find it hard to comprehend how people could have spent a prolonged period of time away from home before the days of Skype and smart phones!

None of that stops me missing this face though…

Love from Indo xxx

First Day Nerves

It is much harder than I anticipated to get back in to the swing of teaching – I think the next few weeks are going to be a steep learning curve. My timetable is only about 75% full this week but it’s still pretty intense!

I had my first 2 classes on Monday, and see the same 2 groups again today.

The first group is almost all 10-13 year old boys – there is just one girl who looks constantly terrified and won’t move from my side. They are very excitable though and proved to be quite the handful, I hope my classrooms management skills are up to it – it’s not like anything else I’ve encountered before!!

My evening class are the complete opposite – absolutely lovely. They are teenagers, and very keen to get involved and practice their English.

One thing that has struck me that I never experienced at TSI (people warned me about it but I tactically forgot!) is that all the students speak the same language and therefore it is very easy for them to slip in to Bahasa and talk about god knows what (probably me!) without my being able to understand..!

I hope today goes slightly more smoothly but I get the feeling the next few weeks will be exhausting!

Weekend Antics

I’ve had another slightly manic but great weekend.

Saturday was filled with lesson planning and Skype dates, and in the evening one of our neighbours had invited us (me and my housemate, Emma) over. I can’t remember if I mentioned it before or not, but he had originally invited us last weekend, but we got caught up at school and didn’t make it. Anyway, when we arrived on Saturday (thinking that we were just popping round for a cup of tea) his whole family were there waiting to meet us and said they wanted to give us ‘an authentic Indonesian experience’, so we all piled in to their car (6 of them and the 2 of us – it was cosy!) and went out for dinner.

In hindsight I am slightly ashamed to admit this but I was feeling a little paranoid for the whole 45minutes journey there – I mean this goes against everything I know about travel safety, getting in a car with strangers heading off to a restaurant in a city I know absolutely nothing about, but fortunately I survived to tell the tale πŸ™‚

We had a beef noodle dish for dinner, although I had stuffed my face with donuts a few hours before so it was sort of wasted on me 😦 after the meal they took us on a tour of Jakarta so I could see all the sights. It’s such a pretty city at night.

Very cool skyscrapers and lights.

It was very sweet of them, and they are obviously very proud of their city.

Yesterday was interesting too. We caught the bus in to the centre of the city to see some of the sights (by day this time!) and try to get my bearings a little.

This tower is in a place called Monas and symbolises Indonesia’s independence.

In the afternoon we visited a mall on search of some batik, but the clothes are definitely not designed to fit somebody like me. The Indonesians have an annoying ‘one size fits all’ policy, but that one size is designed for 5’2 size 8 women!

Got my first classes this afternoon – wish me luck!

First Impressions

It’s so difficult to believe that I have been here for a whole week already. It has been quite the experience and has actually flown by despite a bit of homesickness.

One of the most common questions people ask me here is what my first impressions are, and what do I like and dislike about Jakarta? So here goes…

I like the people – both at school and the locals. Everyone is so welcoming of us and always wants to stop and chat to practice their English. We walk about 5mins to get to the main road to catch the ankot (a little bus) to school, and it takes us about half am hour to get home every night because all the neighbours want to chat!

Our little village πŸ™‚

I dislike the traffic. Seriously, I have never seen anything like it! Crossing the road is a life threatening experience every single day. I am, however, constantly amazed by what people deem appropriate to carry on the back of a scooter – health and safety is not a big priority here.

I like waking up every day and knowing that I am going to learn something new and see something I’ve never experienced before. I’m sure this feeling will lessen over time as things start to become more ‘normal’ to me but for now it’s very exciting!

I dislike getting eaten alive every night even if I remember my mosquito spray. There are some interesting creepy crawlies around! But on the flip side I have also seen bats and lizards and even a few hedgehogs!

I like the food. I have had a few things that were too spicy to eat, but generally people are quite accommodating and don’t pile the spicy salsa up too high. The fruit is also amazing – I normally go out in the mornings and pick up some melon or papaya for breakfast – which I eat on my balcony! πŸ™‚

I have no idea how they keep this healthy, but it seems to work!

I dislike the time difference when trying to contact home. It seems bizarre to me to get a ‘good morning’ message at 2pm!

I can’t mention them all, but overall there are a lot more likes than dislikes, so here’s hoping it stays this way!

Ps, I’ve had a few issues but I think my phone situation is finally sorted out, so please add my new number (+62 813 8217 5944) to your phonebooks and use it for FaceTime, whatsapp and viber πŸ™‚

Eid Ul-adha

Yesterday was a big national holiday in Indonesia and we all had the day off school.

I’m not totally sure, but I think the story goes that there was a prophet, Abraham, and he was asked to show his dedication to God by sacrificing his son. Just as he was about to kill his son, God said that he had proved his dedication and provided him with a goat to sacrifice instead (or something along those lines) so yesterday cows and goats were slaughtered for sacrifice all over Indonesia (and the meat given to the poor/made in to curries as shared with family).

I was a little apprehensive about seeing the slaughter but (as with the funeral experience) I’m aware that I may never get these opportunities again, so we were up early and off to see some sacrificing.

(Some of the photos are pretty gory – beware!)

Poor animals 😦

I am very glad that I saw all of this – it is a great glance in to a completely different culture and religion – but I don’t think I need to see it again for a while!

The rest of the day was very relaxed – I spent the afternoon lounging next to the pool and eating pancakes!

Back to school today – there is so much information to take in – but first, breakfast on the balcony πŸ™‚

Whirlwind.

Wow, what an interesting few days – my feet literally haven’t touched the ground since I got here!

I think I may have already encountered one of the most bizarre experiences of my year here – on Saturday morning I went to an Indonesian funeral!!

When my housemate Emma and I woke up on Friday morning they were setting up outside in our street for what appeared to be some sort of celebration or ceremony. We didn’t really think much of it and headed off to school hoping that it may still be going on when we got home that night..which it was! When we got home there was a lot of commotion and noise coming from our complex, and one of the security guards explained that it was a celebration of death – I assumed he meant something similar to Remembrance Sunday in the UK, and he asked if we would like him to show us what was going on so of course we said yes!

We walked down our street and there were lots of flowers, as well as people outside drinking and smoking and singing. At this point we still had no idea that it was a funeral! We stopped to talk to a few local families and finally got in to the house where there was a coffin with a dead body! I was totally taken aback and shocked, and really struggling to get by because everyone was crying and I felt really bad because I couldn’t speak any Indonesian! It was very sad but we were invited back to see the actual funeral ceremony the next morning and decided that we may never get this opportunity again so we has to go for it!

Funeral flowers, Indo style.

So we got up bright and early on Saturday, put on our ulos (a beautiful handmade scarf – type of traditional dress) that a very generous neighbour had given us, and headed out to pay our respects.

The ceremony was beautiful, but I felt very awkward throughout, especially when Emma had to leave to go to school – this wasn’t what I had in mind for my first solo experience in Indonesia!

I spent the rest of Saturday relaxing, and then we headed out to Jakarta in the evening. We went to an amazing club on the roof called ‘Lucy’s in the sky’ surrounded by skyscrapers!

On Sunday there was a spelling bee at school, which I was invited to come and watch. It was pretty American, but the winners of this round get to go to a national competition next month. I was so impressed with their spelling – I didn’t event know what some of the words meant! (Dragoon?!?)

Spelling bee winners, and the other school staff.

We spent the rest of the day chilling next to the pool, in preparation for my big first day at school today! Wish me luck! πŸ™‚

A Jakarta Experience

Aaahh I don’t know where to start! It is my first full day here and feeling rather overwhelmed – it is a million miles away from my life at home in more ways than one!

Like I said, I was met at the airport yesterday by a lovely girl from the school called Windi.

(So cool having someone meet you like that at the airport!)

It was about a 2hour drive to the school in South-East JKT. There was lots to see, but I was mostly taken aback by all the different traffic sights and what people deemed appropriate to carry on the back of their scooters!

I met a few people at the school and when lessons had finished went for some Padang food with my housemate, Emma, and some of her friends. It was spicy but very nice πŸ™‚ and so cheap!

We finally got back to the house at about 10pm, and did a bit of unpacking – unfortunately I didn’t really get the early night I needed! The house is a town house in a nice complex about 10minutes away from the school – I was extremely pleased to be reunited with some aircon!

I slept okay and this morning Emma took me for a walk around the local neighbourhood to try and get my bearings a little, and I had a yummy fresh mango juice πŸ™‚ The locals in our area seem very friendly, they are very excited to see Western people around and shout hello whenever they see us. One family even invited us in to their home to meet everyone!

We’re at school now – the bus ride was…interesting! Their ‘buses’ are definitely not designed for western giants! And I am about to have a cultural inductions about the Do’s and donts in Indonesia! Hopefully somebody will also have some tips about how to remember all the new names!

Plymouth to Jakarta

Hi everyone!

Just a little update to let you know that I have arrived safe and sound in Jakarta. After a brutal 25hours of car, plane, taxi and even a little train travel squeezed in the middle there, I am currently sat in an empty classroom at my new school for the next 12 months catching up with the online world.

The journey was as I’d expected, long and full of anticipation – mostly for the moment where I would be met at the airport by somebody holding my name on a sign! Obviously I took a picture, and it will of course be featured here (along with more recordings of my journey) once I am back at my own computer.

I am waiting for my new housemate, Emma, and her friends to finish work so that I can go and experience this Indonesian cuisine that everyone’s been talking about! I am shattered, but I think a bit of jetlag may well work in my favour this evening!

Tomorrow I will be at school getting my bearings and meeting more people (as well as hopefully being re-intriduced to the people I’ve met today because I don’t think I could name them if my life depended on it!) before having the opportunity to explore Jakarta at the weekend.

Bring it on!

Bon Voyage Sophie

Well, turns out that it’s extremely difficult to know exactly what to say in a blog’s 1st post (not as hard as choosing a blog name mind!) but I just wanted to say a big thank youΒ to everybody for your well wishes and coming to my party yesterday (not to mention all the cards and gifts, I have been so spoilt!!) It was so lovely to see everyone before I leave.

The photo booth was alsoΒ a hit – some of the memories are hilarious!

Bon VoyageCollage1

Now just to tackle this packing nightmare – 2 days and counting, Indo here I come!