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


I just sat down at an internet cafe, after mindlessly waltzing in, grabbing the little CD with the number of a kiosk on it, plopping myself down, starting the computer, clicking all the right, hard-to-find buttons, clicking out of the anti-virus popup that comes up every time, all without thinking about it.

Before this, I took out money from an ATM, something that made my heart beat quickly before, as I quickly tried to remember my pin and convert rupiah to dollars before it kicked me out. This time though, I just strolled on in and strolled on out, and this machine wasn’t even in English. The ease with which I now navigate the once drastically unfamiliar makes me laugh a little when I think about it.

A question I kept asking in the beginning of the course (of my instructors, my peers, of books), was how to make growth happen. I, and I think a lot of other people on this trip, came with aspirations of personal growth. I never really thought about how exactly one orchestrates growth or how I could grow even if I really really wanted to. My only idea was to put myself out of my comfort zone.

So there I was, at the beginning of this course, so far out of my comfort zone I wanted to cry and go home (you can reference my first yak which admittedly even glorified the regret I felt). How on earth do I grow from this pile of stress that I was swimming in? The idea of waiting for myself to become comfortable seemed laughable; I never thought I would feel the same way I felt at home, never thought I could get used to this wildly new environment. Even though I had done previous Dragons courses, this one felt different. I was here for three months, I was in deep.

So, I started thinking about how it is that I really grow. The wisdom I gathered on the topic really changed my view on it. I started reflecting through discomfort, pinpointing exactly what made me feel certain things. It made me able to make fun of myself for how silly some of the issues were and quickly move beyond them, and also examine things in myself that I hadn’t realized. Why does not knowing the language make me uncomfortable? I would write a reason and cross it out, over and over.

I’m just feeling comfortable in Yogya, and we are leaving tomorrow. Which is exactly how I want it to be I think. I came here to be out of my comfort zone, and I remarkably have gotten used to this city. Used to the street food quick fire conversations, used to the sour smell of motorcycle exhaust, and used to the collage of fading street signs in every color elbowing each other out of the way to fight for space. I am ready for all of your newness, Flores. I’ll have my eyes wide open.