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

Combined Lives

Below are some sentences we have written comparing our lives at home to what we now regard as normal in Indonesia.

In America, I hug my mom to say goodbye.
In Indonesia, I place my Ibu’s (mom in Indonesian) hands on my head before leaving.

In America, I read my phone.
In Indonesia, I read a book.

In America, I pick fruit out at the grocery store.
In Indonesia, I pick mangoes off the tree outside of my house.

In America, I take 20 minute long, hot showers.
In Indonesia, I take teeth chattering cold bucket baths.

In America, I am an only child.
In Indonesia, I constantly have my 3 younger siblings crawling on me.

In America, I Uber from place to place.
In Indonesia, I take a becak (Indonesian rickshaw) from place to place.

In America, skyscrapers tower over me.
In Indonesia, volcanoes tower over me.

In America, I spend 20 minutes in the shower preventing knots.
In Indonesia, I spend 30 minutes in the shower taking out dreadlocks.

In America, I sit.
In Indonesia, I squat.

In America, the sounds I hear are always the same: cars, my dogs, and the ocean.
In Indonesia, the sounds change everyday: chickens, food vendors, roosters, kids playing, and so much more.

In America, my house consists of my mom, dad, and me.
In Indonesia, my house consists of my host mom, dad, brother, sister, grandma, relatives, friends, and me.

In America, I wear a shirt multiple days in a row by choice.
In Indonesia, I wear a shirt multiple days in a row by necessity.

In America, I throw my food scraps in the trash.
In Indonesia, I throw my food scraps in the pig’s pen.

In America, I sometimes wash my dishes.
In Indonesia, I always wash my dishes.

In America, I sleep until 10 AM.
In Indonesia, I wake up at 6 AM to help my family prepare for the day.

In America, I squirm when I see a bug.
In Indonesia, I have learned to coexist.

In America, I drink 1 cup of coffee a day.
In Indonesia, I drink 4 cups of coffee a day.

In America, I snack on potato chips.
In Indonesia, I snack on fried chocolate bananas.

In America, I have 2 dogs.
In Indonesia, I have 25 birds, 13 chickens, 10 fish, and who knows how many cats and dogs.

In America, I swim in pools.
In Indonesia, I swim in hot springs, streams, and waterfalls.

In America, I wake up to the sound of my alarm.
In Indonesia, I wake up to the sound of a rooster.

In America, I have toilet paper.
In Indonesia, I don’t…