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Woahhh We’re Half-Way There

Whoahhhhh, livin’ on a prayer!

I must admit, Bon Jovi has been a pretty prominent part of my Bridge Year experience thus far. In early October, after I first met my homestay family in the program house, I nervously followed them home, sweating buckets while carrying my oversized hiking backpack.  I commented on the beautiful streets of Kotagede in my extremely basic Bahasa Indonesia, and anxiously made small talk with my father.  When we turned the last corner at the end of our street, my father pointed to the bright yellow and green 30 meters away, itu rumah kita (that’s our house)!  At the time, that simple sentence flew right over my head.  My mind was spinning with questions; this was the house I was going to spend the next 7 months in? How do I get to the program house from here? Is it close to Alex’s house? How the hell am I going to communicate with my family? What if they hate me?!? But I kept it all inside and just kept smiling.

As we got closer, to the house, I could hear a couple loud conversations, I glanced, unsure, at my father, but he ushered me in with a smile.  I entered and a group of 7 extended family members greeted me with inviting, handshakes, smiles, and cheers.  Despite the warm reception, I still felt tense and pressured to make a good first impression.  My father introduced me to my brothers, Syafiq and Fathur.  I shook their hands and greeted them with a smile, but on the inside, I was terrified they would not like me and see me as an outsider.  As we finished our introductions, I tried to make small talk, desperately trying to find a connection where we could relate to each other.  I asked them about their hobbies, interests and finally, music taste.  I asked them what American musicians they knew, and without missing a beat, they both said Bon Jovi.  The only Bon Jovi song I know is, you guessed it, Livin’ on a Prayer, and when I told them that, they started belting out the chorus

woahhhhh we’re halfway there, wooaaahhhh livin’ on a prayer, take my hand, we’ll make it I swear, woahhhhh livin’ on a prayer!

I joined in on the highest verse, and we ended up hysterically laughing at our combined lack of singing skills.  That moment, and that song broke the ice between me and my family. Since then, I’ve sung Livin’ on a Prayer six times during karaoke (I go to karaoke a lot), and countless times at home with my brothers.  The first day jitters of meeting my homestay family melted and today, 4 months later, they are one of the best parts of my experience in Indonesia.

We are now officially, half-way there and the halfway mark has brought up a lot of emotions and sparked a lot of questions.  What goals should I set for myself now? How do I make the most of the rest of the year? What projects should I start at my NGO? How do I want to see myself grow over the next 4 months?

Honestly, I’m a little scared about the second half of the year. The first half felt both extremely long and short at the same time.  I’m scared it’s going to fly by, I’m scared I won’t meet my goals, but mostly, I’m scared I’ll have too many regrets when it’s over.  But throughout the past couple weeks, and mid-course, I tried to turn these fears into goals for the next half.

  1. Be more confident
  2. Explore my identity, values, and morals
  3. Learn from Indonesia (Through cooking, batik, language, and photography)
  4. Participate in reciprocal learning at my NGO
  5. Invest in developing my relationships in/with Indonesia
  6. Be present with my time here, and fill my time with things that make me happy

Using these goals as a sort of guide for the rest of my experience, I am really looking forward to experiencing all that the 2nd half has to offer.

I have so much gratitude for everything that has happened in the first half of the year.  Our travels in orientation month, all (8) of the instructors we’ve had, the group, my homestay family, my personal relationships, and most importantly, the timely and high-quality medical attention I’ve received.  I am truly grateful for all my fantastic memories from the first half, and I honestly am so excited for the 2nd.  There are just as many memories to be made, people to meet, foods to try, work to do, and karaoke sessions to sing Bon Jovi in.  I was scared and intimidated by the inevitable approach of the next 4 months, but with these goals by my side, I now feel an overwhelming amount of gratitude, and optimism for the rest of the year.