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AFS Weekend

Monday, October 15, 2012

So I should probably make a post about my first few weeks here, but that would be pretty boring for me to write. Instead I'll summarize it by saying it mostly was made up of riding around Surabaya going to the police station and immigration, visiting my new school and getting my new uniform, visiting Malang (a town a couple hours away from Surabaya), having a welcome party for me (which I will write a separate post about), and starting my school year here. Things are going very well, including my language acquisition. I can now say more than 'saya suka' ('I like it')! Also my Indonesian class is amazing and I like school a lot; for one I can bring my laptop and take random pictures in class...

Anyway this weekend Bina Antarbudaya Surabaya (the equivalent of our AFS chapter) took Avery and I up to a traditional village named Nganjuk a few hours away so we could experience that side of Indonesian life and get in a few post-arrival orientations too.

The drive up was long and tiring, probably because we set out at around 8 and got there at midnight-ish. But I realized that I like long car rides in Indonesia better than America because on the Indonesian equivalent of the Interstate, there's never really a break in the long line of houses and shops lining the road. So there's always something interesting to look at while you're in the car. It's much better than getting into a trance staring out at the endless desert like I usually do while on trips in America... although I do love and miss the scrubby Idaho landscape.

During this orientation we stayed with a volunteer's family, whose kindness was incredible and very Indonesian. Basically they never stopped offering food - I was told that "when you go to an Indonesian's house, you'll leave with a full belly." It's so true, and so great. We couldn't have asked for kinder hosts.

The first day, we had a short language session and then went off to visit a local vocational school. There, village kids learn about agriculture, auto repair, cooking, and I'm assuming much more. We walked around the school, were stared at (slowly getting used to this), visited the school's livestock, learned how to use a mortar and pestle, and had a short English-speaking panel in front of a class. It was interesting to see another kind of Indonesian school since I go to one that more resembles a traditional high school.

Anak ayam - baby chickens!

Domba-domba :) - sheep

Ibu domba dan anaknya - A mamma sheep and her baby

When we got back Avery and I promptly passed out, then we walked out of our room expecting to have another session. Instead we all just watched MasterChef Indonesia and a show called Asing Star - or, Foreign Star. Asing Star was hilarious because the entire premise is bringing on bule (foreigners, mostly white people) to sing songs in Indonesian. None of them were very good singers but purely by being bule they were TV material. Crazy, right?

After we had our fill of Indonesian TV we all got ready and went out for dinner and to see a kind of carneval happening that night. Dinner was sate gambing - basically mini goat kebabs - and gule-gule, yellow soup flavored with coconut... not my favorite dish but still good to try. The carneval was low-key when compared to American carnevals: the rides were mostly just little mechanical cars, the kind that go up and down a little and are for little kids. But it was loud, in a good way, and the night was warm and the village lit up at night was a lovely sight for an exchange student like me to see. (Excuse the rhyming)

When we got back: another session. So much laughter with AFS, and I got a few important questions answered which is always good. And then sleep, lots of it!

The last (also second) day we spent in Nganjuk started with a trip to the traditional Indonesian market. Can't remember what it's called but basically lots of stalls selling everything from bras printed with Angry Birds to rice spoons all crowded into one building. We tried two new foods - they're not very pretty but they were both delicious.

Bubur ayam - chicken porridge. With sambal and kechap of course!

No idea what this was called or even really what was in it aside from sticky rice and things made out of jelly. 
One of the most memorable experiences I had in Nganjuk was just walking around the village with Ines, Sinta and Avery, seeing how the people there lived and of course spending quality time with their livestock. One woman shared her house with her two cows and chickens (one of which almost attacked me because I touched its baby, oops). The people there have a completely different lifestyle from that in Surabaya: the pace of life in the village is slow and people might not seem to have much, but they still smiled and welcomed us into their homes and backyards without hesitation.

Halfway through the drive home we also stopped at a town called Trowulan to see a couple of ancient temples, ruins left over from when Indonesia was the center of Majapahit, a huge and insanely wealthy kingdom. We saw the Bajang Ratu gate first, and then Candi Tikus which was a queen's private swimming pool. At Bajang Ratu there was a photoshoot going on and Avery had the fabulous idea of getting a picture with the male model...

Bajang Ratu

Candi Tikus

The sign says 'don't climb'. Oops. Silly bule!

And then finally we drove the rest of the way home and got dropped off at our houses. A very very awesome weekend filled with bonding time and getting to know more about the people who are taking care of us this year in Bina Antarbudaya. Seeing the village just a few hours away from my home smack in the middle of bustling Surabaya made me even more excited (if that's possible) to see the rest of Indonesia.

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I'm Sara, the freckled bule, one out of eight of the coolest people in the world. I spent a year in Indonesia as a KL/YES Abroad student but now I live in Boise, Idaho. Welcome to my bloggity blog.


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