When I started telling people about this new job and how I was moving half way across the world for a year (or more) the conversations always went in pretty much the same way – ‘ah you’re so brave, I wish I could do something like that’, ‘it’ll change your life’ and of course ‘don’t smuggle drugs’!!
Friends that had spent some time away from home before were slightly more helpful, full of advice about classroom games and tips for dealing with homesickness, but there are a lot of things that nobody ever mentioned…
* The simplest of tasks can seem like a swim through treacle when you don’t speak the lingo.
* Related to the previous point, it’s not always easy to gauge who speaks English – and stereotypes are not helpful. Quite often I meet a young person who has no idea what I’m talking about, yet when I was doing my Christmas shopping I visited a material shop and spent an hour chatting to a 60year old Indian woman who spoke perfect English!
* Long distance friendships take some work too. I’m sure had I been seeing someone at the time everyone would have been warning me about how difficult long distance relationships are – but they are equally as tough with best friends, potentially even more so. With a significant other, it is a given that you will make time to speak to each other, but friends are much more accommodating of ties on time and alternative plans – before you know it, it’s been a month and although nobody is at fault you haven’t even spoken. People weren’t lying when they told me that this experience would show me who my real friends are.
* Just how important technology will become on a day-to-day basis – skype, whatsapp, google maps, a translator – you name it, I need it….
* And how potentially soul destroying it can be when said technology doesn’t work.
* Just because that Dairy Milk or Diet Coke that you bought has the same branding does not mean that it’s going to taste the same, or indeed taste good enough to cure the breakdown you’re now having because your technology isn’t working…..
I remember my first few hours, days, weeks here as if they were yesterday. Day-to-day life was a huge struggle and the simplest tasks seemed like swimming through treacle – who knew it could be so hard to get a normal cup of tea?! Coming back after the Christmas break, however, felt very much like coming home and getting back to ‘normal’.
I think that’s why I haven’t been writing much day-to-day stuff lately, because it didn’t seem exciting and interesting anymore, but I know that in years to come this will be the stuff I miss, so here’s to a renewed appreciation 🙂
The latest ‘game’ that Jakarta has thrown at us would be the localised floods. There are a few factors here – a) the school that I work in is in a mall and has no windows, so once I arrive at lunchtime I have no idea what’s the weather is doing. B) the rain is so heavy and the drainage so poor that what appears to be a shower is sometimes easily enough to close roads and displace people from their homes. As a result of all this every day out or trip to school involves the risk of not being able to get home at the end…it’s an novel way to keep things interesting!
Talking of funny weather, did anybody else see the news story about the UKIP representative that blamed the flooding on the fact that gay marriages had been legalised?! What a numpty.
I may have said this before but the rain can actually be enjoyable here – it provides an excuse to do absolutely nothing. I have spent a lot of hours sitting around drinking tea, having a sing song and watching Breaking Bad lately, which has been fantastic (if anybody feels this would be an appropriate time to spoil the ending of BB for me – think again!! It is honestly becoming a part time job trying to avoid spoiling the ending for myself!)
So in the spirit of getting back to the day-to-day musings for which this blog was intended, I cannot believe it is only Wednesday! Only halfway through the week, really?! It’s been dragging to say the least – I have a young (but manic – 16 x 8year olds) class at the moment that I am trying to teach to tell the time, and these classes are so challenging that they somewhat punctuate the week.
There is also the lure of another national holiday next week – I highly recommend to everyone moving to a country that celebrates the holidays of numerous different religions!
We were up bright and early to go and visit a children’s cancer care centre. Towards the end of last year the school where I work had a big fundraising drive, ending in our boss getting waxed for charity! Anyway, we raised the equivalent of about £2500, which needless will go a very long way here. This morning was the big presentation – we spent a few hours visiting the children – colouring, singing songs and telling stories.
I was completely heartbroken all morning – some of these beautiful children are very sick, but they were so happy and excited to spend time with us.
Overall it was a very humbling experience.
This afternoon I had a final lesson with one of my favourite classes – we ate cake, took pictures and sang karaoke!
These faces were just what I needed to cheer up this girl on a gloomy Friday!
Today marks 3 months since I arrived in Jakarta – It’s hard to believe that it’s been that long since my Bon Voyage party and emotional ride to the airport. I remember getting off the plane and trying to find my luggage as if it were yesterday – I don’t think I’ll be forgetting that feeling of terror for a while!
The time really has flown by though – I’ve taken real comfort in knowing how pleased I was to see friends and workmates again after the Christmas break. I really felt like I was coming home.
I remember being so thrilled to have survived my first week, fortnight, month here that I never could have imagined getting to 3 months – a quarter of a year!! – here. The thought of a year is still pretty daunting but it’s all about taking things a day at a time.
I feel like I’ve finally settled down in my job and day to day life. Of course there are still frustrations – some days I think that this is the most backwards country in the world and wonder why they haven’t worked out how to do the simplest of things more effectively, but I guess that’s what happens when you come from a very developed first world country. Most days, however, I love all the little quirks, and hope I continue to so do.
It was a long old haul back from Thailand – I had had a wonderful holiday and was devastated to say goodbye to Beth after a fantastic few weeks together, and I was not happy to be heading straight back to work on Thursday!
I had obviously made the most of my holiday, but that still didn’t make the morning alarm any more bearable!
1) I am suffering from back to school blues a little, struggling to motivate myself and put together inspiring lessons, but I’m hoping that after a restful weekend that will all change 🙂
2) It’s comforting to know how excited I was to see my friends again and settle back in to my routine here – it gives me some confidence that I’m doing the right thing.
3) My New Years resolutions are to practice my Indonesian language more, or more specifically to put what I am learning in to practice more often, and take even more photos.
4) I’m still not at all happy about having to teach for 6 hours on a Saturday 😦
5) I hope all my friends and family in Devon are staying safe – I’ve seen the floods and wet weather on the news – don’t float away!
I remember posting on my Facebook sometime in January that 2013 was going to be a big year for me. People left comments asking for me to spill the beans – what did I have planned? The answer was honestly that I had no plans, I just had a feeling, but I never could have guessed just how big.
I used to get asked quite a lot in my old job ‘Miss, what’s the best age?’ And I always used to answer 21. I was in my final year at university and having the time of my life. However, I’ve thought on many occasions over the past 6 months that if someone were to ask me the same question in a few years time I would probably say now. I feel quite a sense of achievement at being able to realise that now – the best times of your life shouldn’t always be in hindsight.
There’s no denying just how big 2013 has been for me. My TEFL course was a big life step in a certain direction, I’ve been feeling new things and finally took the biggest step of my life in moving half way around the world and hundreds of miles away from my friend and family. I’m not always totally convinced that it’s the right decision, and it’s definitely not been easy, but I am fortunate to be here having the time of my life.
I hope this coming year will be equally as exciting, though I have no idea what it holds just yet. Here’s to more travels, more friends and more living the dream.
(Seriously, why are fireworks so difficult to photograph?!)