Just a quick post to let you all know that I’ve made it to Tulungagung safe and sound and I’m getting all set up in my new home. Luckily for me I have internet access at school so once I settle into a routine, it should be easier to communicate with people back home.
A quick overview of my new place: My home is beautiful and bigger than I expected. My family already provided me with a mosquito net and it is huge so it really looks like a bed canopy (and it has a flower decor). I love it. I have a huge closet (much bigger than even the closet I shared with my sisters back home) and a desk and chair and a small table, mirror, and stool. All this is a room that I think is 9 x 9 meters (at least that’s what my counterpart said. So there’s not enough room to use my new yoga mat, but it still feels spacious and beautiful. True to form, I’ve started decorating my room with maps and pictures. 🙂 It was strange to realize that (if all goes well) I will living in this room longer than I’ve lived in any room for the past 5 years! So that being said, I might as well make it look nice. Pictures coming soon…
My new family is very nice. It’s a bigger family than I expected (yay!) with lots of various relatives coming in and out of the house.
My school is huge and beautiful. There are so many students, almost 1000! There are 29 classes in all. Yesterday (Monday) I was introduced to all the students and I gave a short speech…in English, lucky for me. When the students are all together they are noisy and active (“You’re beautiful!” they kept shouting) but on their own they are malu (shy and/or embarrassed). Even so, they are not as malu as other Indonesian students I’ve met so I think they will warm up to me in no time.
After my short speech to the students I had to give another speech/introduction to the teachers, this time in bahasa Indonesia! There’s nothing like being put in front of a room of almost 100 strangers and asked to speak in a language that 3 months ago, you didn’t know a word of. All in all, I think I did pretty well and everyone was quick to compliment my language skills. Then it was off to meet two kepala desas (head of the village) where I was accompanied by 7 of my fellow teachers. Speaking of my colleagues (weird to say that), they are very excited that I’m here. They were so excited, in fact, that before I even got to Tulungagung, 8 of them met me in Blitar, the next regency over, where we had lunch and did some sightseeing at Sukarno’s (Indonesia’s first president and – many say – most highly esteemed national hero) grave. My counterparts (fellow English teachers) are great advocates for me and they are constantly checking in to make sure everything is going well at home and at school.
Well that’s just the short version, but it’s about time to start today’s adventures (apparently I’m visiting the two families who weren’t selected to be my homestay families, can you say awkward?) so more to come!