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Orientation Week!

Orientation week began Wednesday early morning with a curving 6 hour train ride through rows upon rows of rice fields, towns, and for a few brief minutes, our first glimpses of the ocean. On the train our group connected more through playing stressful word games, cards, and just slowly getting to know each other more and more. After our train ride we stopped for lunch before beginning the 4 hour van ride through the beautiful winding hills and mountains of Java. Many ginger candies and motion sickness pills were taken, but after a long while we finally arrived in Dieng.

In Dieng we have spent hours learning all we need to know about this semester in Indonesia, getting prepped for our very first home stay in Jogjakarta, and desperately attempting to learn Bahasa. We have explored 2 extremely old and fascinating temples, and this morning we did our first hike of the program. We walked up through fields and jungle, looking down at the breathtaking views that are the highlands of Indonesia, arriving in a small grassy field looking down on a vividly green lake, with views of another lake and a mountain in the distance. Here we did our daily morning meeting and got the chance to explore a little beyond our small area. Afterward we got lunch, returned to the program house, and finished out the remaining lessons of the day. This week has been full of small adventures and moments worth noting, and I love the way in which our group has already begun to feel like family. Here are a few notable moments on our adventure so far:

1) When we were sitting in the LA airport beginning to get to know each other and playing a game of Cards Against Humanity when a stranger with an eye patch came up to us, handed us two decks of cards, and giggled while walking very quickly away.

2) When we were flying from Hong Kong to Jakarta and I was seated next to a very sweet and excitable Indonesian woman who was very eager to take a selfie with me and try and learn as much as she could about our group. (The subsequent countless numbers of people who have taken pictures of us and asked to take selfies with us has been a little bit more disruptive, although the intentions are good)

3) Arriving in Jakarta and officially beginning this semester

4) The moment in the van ride when we passed by an alarmingly large and terrifying statue of a lemur, which Carly seemed to be the only one to notice. Subsequently the entire van was made aware of said statue and we all joked about it for the rest of the evening.

5) Waking up at 4 am on the first morning of orientation to our room literally shaking with the sounds of the call to prayer at the mosque that is attached to our program house.

6) Walking back from the temple on the first day of orientation and passing by a group of young kids who were so incredibly excited to see us, wave to us, and happily say good morning. We were also very excited to practice the little Bahasa Indonesian we knew and to say good morning back, which just made the kids even more excited.

7) A very funny moment when I attempted to thank the family that is hosting us by offering to make tea for the woman who was upstairs helping us, but butchering my Bahasa so badly that she thought I was asking for tea, to which I freaked out at and frantically made her tea anyway… but then she came back upstairs with more tea bags and sugar for us and was very confused as to why I was trying to give her a cup full of tea. Eventually she understood the confusion and took what I had made her, but for the entire rest of the evening we could not stop laughing over the incident.

8) This morning when a group of us found a swing that allowed us to swing a little bit over the edge of cliff that looked down at the lake.

These past few days have been incredibly full of new, fun, funny, and just all around memorable moments and I am incredibly excited for the many more to come.

– Eeshani