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Students in a long tail boat in Indonesia. Photo by Aaron Slosberg, Indonesia Semester.

A Note to Friends and Family

Hey all!

I’m currently in the town of Labuan Bajo – a beautiful town on the west coast of Flores. After three days here, one spent on a boat for 12 hours sailing to Komodo Island, we are getting ready for a 10 hour van ride to the center of the island, where it may get a little chilly for a small change! Sometime tonight, it’s 5 am now, we will arrive in the town of Bajawa. We have a two night retreat, in a guest house run by nuns, before going into a two-week-long homestay.

The trip so far has been pretty amazing. It’s had a bunch of ups and downs but is everything I was looking for.

It started In the town of Ketambe on the island of Sumatra for orientation ending with a three day jungle trek full of orangutans. Following the trek we took an eight our car drive and flight to Yogyakarta that ended up taking a day when it should have taken an hour (cancelations and delays), but that’s part of the fun.

In Jogja (Yogyakarta’s nickname) we were immediately thrown into homestays, which was an amazing experience and a challenge. The culture there was so different from our own, yet when I was chilling at the house I noticed almost no difference between the people at home and the people here. Living in America, it was hard for me to actually visualize people living in a far-off country like Indonesia, but believe it or not they do. I had some young parents and two younger brothers. My father and I played a bunch of guitar together – he had a strange, cool love for Bon Jovi, but he was really an amazing guy. So hardworking yet still managed to always be positive, and never managed to stop making jokes.

For three weeks I went to language classes in the morning (I’m almost fluent in Bahasa Indonesia), typically had a guest speaker before lunch paired with a local visitor, usually a sweet traditional snack, and a Gamelan lesson after lunch, I was learning how to play the kedong. At night I would return home to helping put the 200 or so meatballs (bakso) my host mom makes every night onto skewers (sate) for my host father (“bapak” in Indonesian) to bring to an amazing neighborhood called Tugu, full of little street restaurants called anckringons. I spent the weekends with my families doing what they do, which includes a lot of interactions with the neighbors and their friends.

After three weeks, culminating with a great farewell party where my Gamelan teacher sang a song about me and my partner Jessie in ancient Javanese as two dancers moved slowly and spiritually in front of us with incense in their hands, we said goodbye. I was surprised when my host mother couldn’t stop crying – she spent most of our time together laughing at me. Joking around is a much bigger part of the culture here.

It is now time for breakfast and I have no idea when the next time I have wifi is but I’ll keep in touch!

Ari

P.s. Love you mom! lol can you forward this to Susan