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Photo by Celia Mitchell (2015/16 Semester Photo Contest Entry), Indonesia Semester.


Today I learned the Indonesian word for daydreaming, ngalamun, and thought it was the perfect word to describe my experience in Indonesia so far. From the moment I stepped off the plane in Jakarta at midnight on September 1st, I’ve felt like I’m living in a dream, floating through days full of new smells and sights as though in a different body, a body that isn’t mine. Sometimes it’s a bit overwhelming being surrounded by people who don’t speak the same language and trying to immerse myself in a culture I previously knew nothing about, but at the same time each new word I learn and every new food I try is a small reward that gives me a great sense of pride.

Here in Indonesia it’s all about the simple things. It’s about sitting in a room with the windows open and the shrieking sound of children laughing coming from the preschool next door. It’s about the roar of motorbikes rumbling by on the road (and there are a lot of motorbikes) and the distant sound of the daily call to prayer, a sound I also wake up to pretty much every morning. I’ve drank more steaming cups of jasmine tea than I can count, eaten more kurupuk (a fried rice snack that is seriously addictive) than I want to count, and have had to abandon everything I know to re-learn how to survive in this new and thrilling country. Someday the magic might wear off. The homesickness might become a bit more unbearable. But for now I’m still in the middle of ngalamun, stuck in this beautiful limbo between exploring this intriguing new territory and just trying to get my feet on the ground. Hey, nobody said this was going to be easy.