A Creative Mind.

Last week during one of my classes we were studying informal language and I asked my students to write an email introducing their family to a friend.

This is what one of them submitted…

I’ve been chuckling about it for days!

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Hummingbird.

I feel like I’ve been posting a lot about food lately but yesterday’s lunch really was incredible. Possibly the tastiest I’ve had since arriving in Jakarta 7 whole weeks ago.

Along with 2 of the other teachers, Adhit and Glory, I headed in to the city for an early lunch before classes started – celebrating payday! We went to a cute little restaurant called Hummingbird πŸ™‚

Every mouthful was amazing!

It was so nice to see somewhere new and break up the weekly routine of work, eat, sleep, repeat! I’ll definitely be going back πŸ™‚

And just like that it’s Friday again already!

Time to get up, go and buy some mango goodness and eat breakfast on the balcony – it’s times like this that I don’t miss home at all!

Happy Friday everyone!

On Living In A Country Where English Is Not The First Language.

Learning a new language is definitely one of the reasons that I wanted to move to another country, and I decided early on that I was going to throw myself in to learning Indonesian.

That being said, it’s a long time since I’ve been in a country where I didn’t understand a word and it’s sometimes difficult to find someone who speaks English, and if I’m being totally honest, it’s exhausting! The simplest things such as ordering food or doing some shopping can be like swimming through treacle, and it’s an odd feeling to need to be accompanied by a local sometimes. It seems slightly contradictory that coming out here was the most independent thing I have ever done, yet last week I had to ask one of the local girls in the office to come to the pharmacy with me!

I have a new found sense of appreciation for my students and just how difficult it is for them to speak only English for a few hours (not that their English level is comparable to my Indonesian! In fact I also have one 9 year old student who I’m pretty sure will be able to speak English better than me in a few years time!) This whole situation has made me realise just how fortunate I am to come from a Western, developed country that enabled me to speak the leading global language.

I know that it’s important to persevere, but sometimes it’s very difficult not to adopt a mind set that I’ll be okay if I just point and smile and assume that there will always be someone who can speak English, somewhere. However, those actions lend themselves to the arrogant traveller who thinks they owe the world nothing, and that is another debate we shall save for another day!

Life Lately.

And just like that the weekend is over again!

On Sunday morning I was up bright and early to go to a charity showing of ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’. A) the film was amazing and I highly recommend it πŸ™‚ B) It was such a strange feeling to be at the cinema at 9am! I went with a few other teachers from school, and a few of their local friends. Also invited a few of my students who showed up – so cute!

Afterwards I went for lunch with one of the other girls – time to start branching out and making some new fiends here!!

The rest of Sunday was spent lounging by the pool and pampering! Haha πŸ™‚

Oatmeal mask anyone?!

On Sunday night, one of Emma’s friends from the UK arrived (and brought Cathedral City cheese which we have just had for breakfast – a.ma.zing!) and so yesterday morning before school we went exploring around our local area and visited ‘Pasar Induk’ which is the largest fruit and veg wholesale market in Jakarta (and maybe the whole of Java?) and it was quite the experience!

Being Westerners we stand out here anyway, and I imagine the stall holders see the same people, day in, day out (rather like Eastenders?!) so everyone was leering at us and shouting. It’s normal for people to say hello, but this was different, and I felt a little uncomfortable, as if I was intruding. I also had the smell of chillies stuck in the nose and throat for the rest of the day!!

So many chillies!!

Another busy week this week, let’s do this πŸ™‚

Ps – Thank you so so much for all the lovely emails and whatsapp messages from home over the past few days – I miss you guys 😦 xx

A Clear Day

The Jakarta weather Gods have given us a break from the rain today and it is a beautiful, clear (and very very hot!) day. The school where I work is in a mall, and that mall has a roof with the greenest view I have seen (so far) in Indonesia, and today it is clear enough to see the mountains!

Happy Monday!

A Good Week.

Good things that have happened to me this week include, but are of course not limited to:

Finally receiving post from Mum on Monday πŸ™‚

What’s not to like about waking up and going for a swim in this weather every morning?

Skyping Utrecht and Romin one night.

Every Monday we have a ‘Monday done-day’ dinner at the same Padang restaurant near the school to celebrate the first day of the week being finished. I have been trying different things most week to try and decide what I like, and think this week I finally perfected the combination!

Tried a new restaurant on Tuesday night which had Spag Bol and cheese. Proper, wonderful, real, almost like home cheese!

I finally semi got my behind in to hear this week and booked somewhere to stay in Bali at Christmas. Just the flights to go now – I hope the next few weeks fly by as fast as the last few have – it’s difficult to believe that I have been here for 6 weeks already!

To top it all off I treated myself to a night swim last night (Cue everyone singing REM!) – it’s so peaceful with only the fluttering bats for company πŸ™‚

I hope your week has been as happy as mine!

Love from Indo xxx

Cultural Differences.

I knew when I made the decision to move to Indonesia that I would be moving to another culture – in fact, it was a key factor in the decision and something that I was very excited about. What I wasn’t prepared for was just how many differences there would be – having not been to a non-westernised country before I had no idea what to expect.

There are a lot of positive things – I love way everyone is so family orientated (which I understand is a strange thing to say given that my family are not here!), I love the policy towards eating out and going to buy my fruit from an old man in the street everyday and of course, what’s not to like about having (mostly!) diligent and hard working students?!

However, the other day I had my first realisation of how fortunate I am to come from such a liberal society where let’s face it, anything goes. I love my Friday afternoon class, and the other day we were talking about problems that the world is facing nowadays (I had a lesson planned on global warming and climate change, only we never got that far!) when homophobia came up. We discussed what it meant to be homophobic, and how same sex marriages were legal in some westernised countries and what were the students thoughts about all this?

For the first time since arriving here I was shocked at what the students had to say – that they thought it was wrong for people to have gay relationships, and that if there were enough women in the world, then why should a man marry another man? I was aware that this was a cultural view here, but it still surprised me. There’s a risk of getting very waffle-y here, which is the last thing that I want – I’m obviously aware that even in the UK some older generations have some homophobic beliefs, which I just accept, yet if I heard those things from a young person I’d think they were an idiot because of the evolvement in society’s beliefs today. I think that’s what shocked me most about this discussion – hearing those things from 15 year olds is so unusual in our western cultures.

It makes me wonder a) how many people are living a secretly gay life – that Halloween/drag party I attended a few weeks ago was at a gay club – it is not illegal here, just not a part of the culture in a predominantly Muslim country, and b) how people are supposed to go about changing these beliefs – surely it cannot go on forever?!

I guess it’s just a reminder that I am a long way from home and that there are somethings that are simply against my fundamental beliefs. Indonesian people are so friendly an supportive of each other but not open to the idea of love just being love.

I’ve been umm-ing and ahh-ing about writing this post for a few days – obviously it is not my intention to offend anyone, but this is something that I’ve been thinking about quite a lot so why not share it with you all? Other thing that fall in to this category of things that I do not now, and will never, agree with include eating rice for breakfast, and the Asian attitude towards drink driving – being in a different country does not change the chemical reactions between alcohol and your body!!!

Mixed.

I’ve had a mixed week – it started well, and lessons have been great but I managed to pick up a sickness bug from somewhere (I guess it was inevitable) and have been feeling pretty sorry for myself for a few days. There is nothing worse than being away from home when you are sick 😦 I am pleased to report that I was well taken care of though and having been stuffed full of home remedies, am now feeling a lot better!!

On to much happier times – I don’t think I mentioned it on the blog (frankly because I was really pissed off) but I took over a new class on Saturdays last week and due to a few mix ups they had already covered my unit of the book, so I was given free reign to teach what I liked (within reason, and their level) for the next few weeks. At first I was a little daunted at the thought (not having any book to follow but still having a test to pass?! No thanks.) but decided to look at it as a challenge and designed something completely different for today, and it was great! The students designed their own countries and holiday activities, made their own passports and swapped stamps!

A) what a great way to spend a Saturday morning, and B) how adorable are this lot?!!

I also had my first Indonesian lesson this week. I’ve been picking up odd bits and pieces from everyday life, and have an online podcast lesson that I have been workings way through, but we are offered free lessons at school and I decided it was time to just go for it. After an hour I honestly felt like my head was about to explode – I have a renewed appreciation for my students! We are trying to introduce an all-round ‘English only’ rule at school and they all find it extremely difficult to adhere to. I always knew it would be challenging, but there is no way I would have understood everything during the hour if we hadn’t spoken any English at all! I must try to remember to be more understanding..!

Happy Weekend!

Happy Eyes.

It’s dark outside and the porch is illuminated by candle light. Everyone has that slightly exhausted and content feeling that only eating slightly too much can cause – just like Christmas. It rained earlier and the mosquito coils are burning. This, combined with the candles form a hazy summer evening smell all around us. My senses are peaked by the gentle strum of a guitar and hums to what are fast becoming my favourite tunes, due to evenings like this. The night descends in to hours of guitar cords and classic REM and RHCP and salt shakers.

I have happy eyes.

A Day In The Life

9.00am – Alarm goes off.

9.20am – Go and buy some fruit πŸ™‚

9.30-10.30am – Eat breakfast on the balcony. I normally write my diary, or do my ‘Learning Indonesian’ podcast during this time.

10.40am – Get ready for school. I’m not struggling with the dress code as much as I expected, it’s not as strict as I thought it’d be πŸ™‚ We have ‘dress down’ Fridays and Saturdays at school, and on Wednesdays all the teachers wear something Batik!

11.00am – Leave for school.

11.30am – Settle down at my desk, try to get some planning done. It’s difficult when there’s so much socialising to be done and fun to be had!

The afternoon is different everyday – sometimes we have training sessions, sometimes I observe other lessons, sometimes it’s just time to plan and catch up on all my admin.

3.30pm – Start to get that nervous pit feeling in my stomach and read over my notes for the final 5 times – lessons start soon!

4.00pm – The first class of the day begins. Time to settle down and remember that this is actually why I am here!

5.00pm – Break time! 15 crazy minutes to ask questions and solve problems that were somehow forgotten earlier in the day!

5.15pm – It’s that time again – time to chase students back to class – why do they always think they can take a break for as long as they like?!

6.00pm – Class is over. Time for a final game, before quickly trying to remind myself what I have planned for my 2nd lesson of the day. Sitting at my desk making my notes for tonight seems like hours ago! Grab some quick food and a chat before it’s time to do it all over again.

6.30pm – 2nd class of the day. My evening groups are all lovely and I always feel a bit more relaxed about the evening session πŸ™‚

8.30pm – Finished for the day! Woohoo!

8.45pm – Dinner time! This is my favourite time of the day (obviously!) Good food, great company, and nice to be able to dissect our days. Someone always has a funny story to tell, you can always find a kind word of encouragement or someone to listen to you rant.

9.45pm – Say our goodbyes, and time for Emma and Ito head home.

10.00pm – Evening activities vary from Skyping, gossiping, TV (We’re currently working our way through ‘Teachers’ and ‘Breaking Bad’), gossiping, diary writing, trip planning, marking homework or an early night – often a mixture of a few of these πŸ™‚

11.30pm – Bed time! I need my beauty sleep before it’s time to do this all over again!

One Month.

It’s hard to believe that I have been here for 4 whole weeks already – essentially 1/12th of the way through my Indonesian adventure!

I am starting to settle down a little – I think as the year goes on I will need to remind myself that I am here to work, not travel, as life is pretty hectic and I sometimes get frustrated by not having enough free time so visit new places and relax, but I hope that as I start to get more used to planning lessons and work out exactly what I am doing then I will be able to buy myself a little more time. I am finally starting Indonesian lessons this week too, so although that will mean giving up some of my valuable free time, hopefully it will begin to make my day-to-day life slightly easier (and less exhausting!)

A few thoughts to share today:

* I had my first lesson observation the other day and am still waiting for the feedback. Although deep downΒ I know that it went okay, it is still frustrating and nerve wracking having to wait all weekend to hear it!

* I had a new class this morning – my very own group of 7-10 year olds. I was extremely nervous about teaching this age group – they have so much energy! But I was so pleasantly surprised! The students are very bright, and very sweet, and I am actually a little gutted that I will only get one meeting with them every week!

* I have been getting up and going swimming in the mornings before school this week. It means a pretty early start, but it’s a nice way to enjoy (what is often) the best part of the day now rainy season is getting underway.

And some more photos – I have had a few fund days out playing with my DSLR camera this week – I am so glad I decided to get one before coming out here! I see new and exciting things all the time that I want to record and remember (including, but not limited to, the ‘Big Sizes Here’ sign I saw in a shop earlier today – that sort of thing is very useful!)

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And some more fun at the zoo the other day πŸ™‚

Finally,Β some ‘house keeping’ notes:

* I have no idea why the photos are not always uploading properly – we all know I am no computer expert, but I am trying a few different ways so hopefully you will be able to see them properly soon πŸ™‚

* I have spent a few hours this afternoon replying to all your emails and Facebook messages – I wouldn’t say thatΒ  I am homesick as such, but I do miss knowing what is going on in day-to-day life in the UK, so all messages are greatly appreciated!

Have a wonderful weekend πŸ™‚ xxx

Muslim New Year

Good morning from Jakarta!

As I mentioned last time, yesterday was a national holiday here in celebration of the Muslim new year.

We had the day off school and although I had plans for a relaxing afternoon by the pool, we ended up heading south to visit Ragunan zoo!

It was a really fun day out, and totally worth the early morning!

More often than not, you get drinks in a bag rather than a cup here!

My favourite part of the day was the elephants – not only are you able to get really close to the animals here, but when the elephants rode past we were able to pet them!!! So cool! πŸ™‚

In the evening we drank wine and ate cheese (a big treat seeing as both are near impossible to find here) and watched The Jungle Book – a perfect end to a perfect day.

Another Day, Another Experience

I feel like every Monday I sit down to write my post and want to start by saying ‘wow, what a crazy weekend!’ but it’s true! This weekend was no exception..

Saturday was long and I ended up teaching for 6 hours. I was shattered by the time school finished and we got home (after a cheeky donut stop), but had plans to go out with some of the other teachers.

After a quick nap I was ready to hit the town πŸ™‚ We went to a bar first and got out manly fix in before heading to a gay club! The bar was fun – full of beer, rock music and football!

Then the night got wierd…! I should start by saying that I have never been to a gay club before so had no idea what to expect, but one of the Indonesian teachers is friends with the DJ who VIP-Ed us up, so off we went.

There were drag acts and male models and a lot a lot of men!

The night proceeded to get more bizarre when we were invited to dance on the main stage with the acts! (One of the ‘perks’ of being a Westerner in this society!)

On Sunday, Emma and I visited an ex-Dutch colony in the northern part of the city. It was an interesting day out, the whole area was based around a big town square, it was very European city-esque.

The whole attitude of the area was very laid back and I felt like I was on holiday!!

Back to the grind today – thankfully it is a national holiday tomorrow to celebrate the Islamic new year. On our way home from school we saw lots of people dressed in traditional religious outfits on the way to the Mosque, where they will pray for forgiveness for any sins in the past year at midnight. Oh how the New Year scene is different from the UK!

NYE parade

Selamat Tahun Baru (Happy New Year!) from Indo! Xxx