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!!!