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

Thoughts from Jogja

I’m writing this from an internet cafe in Jogja, the first internet cafe that I’ve ever had the pleasure (?) of using. The first computer assigned to me wasn’t working, so I bashfully crept to the counter. “Could I get some help?” I asked tentatively, unsure if the residents behind the desk would understand. Even more timidly, “tolong?” which I believe is the Indonesia word for “help!”. Fortunately, my desperate plea was understood, and I was moved from broken computer 42 to working computer 20. And thus I am able to write to you, oh readers of the Yak Board.

The ladies of the group (minus Rita and Keshet), just got back from what we dubbed our first weekly “babes’ buffet”, a delicious (and shockingly cheap – less than $2 per person), assortment of Indonesian food. It was unanimously agreed that the meal was one of the best we’ve had in Indonesia so far, and we’re all looking forward to becoming frequent patrons.

We arrived in Jogja yesterday after a surprisingly short (only 5 hours when I was expecting 8!) bus ride from Dieng. It was hard to say goodbye to the gorgeous town that had begun to feel familiar. As I watched the tears creep down our wonderful ibu’s (group homestay mother’s) cheeks, I wondered at how quickly attachments can form. We had only been in Dieng for a week, and yet I was already incredibly fond of the ibu with her gentle way of teaching us Javanese phrases, navigating past the language barrier to give us a taste of a new dialect in our mouths.

We’ve only been in Jogja for a day (after an afternoon and morning spent in a surprisingly luxurious hotel (it cost about $20 dollars per person per night, extensive buffet included), and everything feels new and overwhelming. Tonight we meet with our homestay families who will take on the job of housing us, feeding us, and (maybe even) caring about us for the next three weeks, and I’m nervous.

Will they like me? Will I be able to communicate despite my limited Bahasa Indonesia? How do I navigate life with a whole new family? But I reflect back on Dieng, and I’m hopeful. If I felt close to the town and to our ibu there after only a week, how will I feel about this city and my family here after three weeks? Is it possible that this overwhelming place will become familiar,  a little slice of home? Will I find a favorite juice bar, a favorite restaurant, a favorite coffee shop? Will I turn the strange into the normal, the alien into the routine?

Only time will tell, but I have hope.

Mom, Dad, Elsa, Louisa, Sylvie, Emile, Opal, Xena, Winnie, you are all on my mind constantly. While I may become a part of a new family here, you will always be my home (also they told me not to pet the animals, so I’m really missing mine).