Throwback Tuesday! Indonesia Stories Resurfaced.

Hello readers! Like most things not on your immediate to-do list, my blog posts have been continuously pushed back quite a bit. Embarrassingly nine months back and as per usual, I am writing late at night. Regardless, I am happy to share some of my unspoken memories for my future self and anyone who happens across this post. I hope you enjoy!

As per my last post’s promise, I will tell you the story of how I defiled a trash can as I am sure this topic has constantly plagued your thoughts (I’ll try not to be gross). Additionally, I will share the story of how I got my phablet.

On my first day I was betrayed by my phone. On the third, my stomach was all too happy to take its place. While I am still uncertain of the cause of the incident it was likely due to a mixture of stress, jet lag, sudden diet change, and washing and brushing my teeth with water from the sink (0/10 would recommend). The day started normally, I went down to breakfast, ate some food, went on my merry way to UI. However, once the first lecture began I knew my fate. But I was determined to suck it up and stick through the day. I managed to make it through the first couple hours of presentations, although 95% of my attention went to not decorating all of my new acquaintances with my breakfast. Once in the studio downstairs, I frequently visited the restroom. These trips of course were to no avail and mostly involved giving myself pep talks in the mirror. I’m sure my classmates thought I either had the world’s smallest bladder or the runs (I pray it was not the latter). On my fifth trip out of the room I knew.  As I rushed to the restroom I discovered to my luck there was presumable someone in the restroom since there was an additional girl waiting out front in the hall. This girl I also discovered did not speak english as I frantically tried to get out the words “someone in there?” I’m fairly certain I saw fear in her eyes as she took in the crazy hunched over, sweating, and panicked foreigner.

I frantically looked around for another door or restroom or something.  Immediately I threw myself at the nearest trashcan and proceeded to simultaneously bring shame to myself, my family, the trashcan’s family, America and traumatize the poor girl in the hall. I tried to at least give the girl an apologetic look but she was too busy acquainting herself with the pattern of the floor tiles. I then rinsed out my mouth with some water from a cooler (I learned my lesson) I returned to the classroom and awkwardly attempted to tell one of the faculty members that I just disrespected one of their trashcans. I felt particularly guilty since the trashcan was in a stack of other unlined, clean bins waiting to be stored elsewhere, meaning I had also probably offended the custodial staff. The rest of the work day thankfully went much smoother and I was ready to consume massive amounts of food once again by dinner time. Now on to my phone.

What is a phablet? Is it a device from the future?  Why is it so big? Where in the world did you get that? Or the classic, What is THAT? All of the above are questions that have started most of my new conversations the past several months (Hello is overrated anyway). If you were to meet me sans ever encountering my beautiful phablet, you may wonder why I am carrying around small blue tv screen that has a penchant for buzzing and showing the image of little corgi behinds. This small tv screen is actually my phone which I like to call my phablet, for phone-tablet. However, if you catch me in a foul mood I may call it ‘my big-ass obnoxious phone’, or if you dare to awaken me from slumber I may just introduce you to my phone by throwing it at you (a girl’s got to sleep). If you have not seen my phone you may think I am exaggerating its size, so I have attached an image below in comparison to my old iPhone 5s for your viewing pleasure.

The fancier mall across the street

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I believe you can guess which is the phablet

If you have seen me in person since I have been home from Indonesia you have likely heard an abbreviated version of the story to follow. I will admit you may have heard a version where I put myself in a less embarrassing light. However, in my blog posts I aim to only tell the truth so that people may learn from my many mistakes. Additionally, if you’re feeling quite down about mistakes you’ve made, fear not I am here to ease your worries with my own failures.

The story of my phone actually spans over two days. On day two, Taufik had agreed to take me to the mall after studio to buy a new phone. This first trip was to the Margo Mall (the name escapes me at the moment, but I’m sure that is close). This mall is much closer to the malls you see in America, although perhaps on a grander level than the average small town mall.  Here, we traveled to the top floor and started walking around some of the phone stores. At first, I was hopeful (and apparently blocking out that I am a broke college student) and believed I might be able to purchase at least an iPhone 6s to replace my 7. But in Indonesia, the newest iphone available for purchase was the iPhone 6, so you can already imagine how happy the person lucky enough to hop in the cab after me was. Eventually, I told Taufik to just help me buy the cheapest cell phone the store we were walking in had to offer and he did all of the talking and negotiating for me (bless him). Fun fact, it is very common for all phones over there (and most parts of south and southeast Asia to my understanding) have dual sim cards. I’m assuming this is so that siblings and families can share ,and therefore afford, a decent smart phone. Of course my American mind, brainwashed by popular tv dramas, thought it was probably used for more nefarious purposes or at least for business. The picture quality wasn’t that great, but it came with a lot of memory and 16gb of free data which was a MAJOR bonus when in a foreign country where reliable wifi access was rare. This phone though is not  my phablet, and has become my music player.

So the next day, after defiling school property, disrespecting janitors and traumatizing locals, I was in the mood to look for a phone for my friend Aswan back home. He’d been interested in a phone called Xiomi Mi Mix at the time and thought it may be cheaper to purchase in Indonesia since the phone was from a Chinese manufacturer. This time, Indonesian students Nadia and Intan agreed to help me look for this other phone for Aswan. Apparently the Xiomi brand is relatively cheap and therefore shunned by the fancy cell phone stores at the Margo and sold across the street at the Depok mall form Day 1. We traveled up to the top floor where the phones were sold. Instead of actual established stores, the entire floor was covered with booths/stalls selling all sorts of phones and gadgets where you would bargain for prices. Seeing as how I already stuck out like a sore thumb without even having to open my mouth, the odds were not looking to be in my favor. Pretty much my odds were looking like Katniss in the second book when she had to enter the hunger games for a second time.

Eventually, we found a booth where I asked for the Xiaomi Mi Mix. After discussing with a few other stalls to see if they had the phone I was looking for. This point is where my sleep deprived, monolingual self makes some stupid mistakes. After some jabbering, I was handed a Xiaomi phone box that said Max on the front. I had the girls ask again if this was the phone name I had written down for the teller woman and she said yes. My dumb American self was like “oh maybe it is just a translation error.” The woman then asked if I would like to see the phone, and if so she would open the box and test out that the phone worked. Little did I know , or at least had not seemed to process, once she opens the box you have to purchase the phone. Still, this wouldn’t have been the worst case scenario, the specs and everything seemed pretty good and the camera was a great quality. But you know how when you open a phone, or tablet, or petty much any new fancy piece of tech, the device is set in some internal plastic mold and there is generally some space between the device and the outside of the box. To my surprise when this woman opened the box, the phone was THE SIZE OF THE BOX. At this point I wanted t throw myself off the fourth floor balcony ledge and or over the counter at the teller. Instead, I did my best to bargain for a decent price, lord knows if I got one, I was at the mercy of the girls who were kind enough to help my hot mess self.  I ended up having to go to a third booth just to run my international credit card. In the end the Mi Max became my primary phone and a great conversation piece.

Second test photo taken – Intan (left) and Nadia (right)

Time to go for now, but I will do my best to go less than 9 months until my next installment. Ciao!

 

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Why I Think Everyone Should Travel At Least Once (Must Read)

As our time in Indonesia came to an end, one question kept floating around: what is the most important thing you’ve taken away from this trip? Seeing as how the primary reason the group of us had gathered halfway across the world was for academic purposes, I could not say the research we conducted is what would dominate my thoughts when I looked back on my memories of this experience in a few days, months, or years. It was the amazing people I encountered and thoughts and emotions from confronting head-on a culture that seemed to be so far from the one I had known my entire life. While I believe it obnoxious to say this was yet another “eye-opening” experience, it really was.

In my 21 years on this Earth I have been able to travel across both oceans: to Indonesia, Italy, Germany, Greece, Tunisia, Spain, and France to name a few. Even within America I’ve been able to travel to big cities such as Washington D.C., New York, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia. I even managed to make it to Alaska. I can by no means say I have spent an extensive time in all of these locations, enough to lay any claim to know about their culture and history. However, I am extremely thankful for all the people I have been able to meet and beautiful sights I have seen. With an open mind, while traveling you can begin to really understand things a textbook, new article, or television screen could never tell you.

The benefits of travel can spread into both your professional and personal life. Often subconsciously, you’ll gradually begin to understand others’ point of views and perceptions. This is extremely important in problem solving. You can study different theories for countless days and nights, but with so many sides to every situation, I can guarantee you’ll begin to see a unique side of an argument or think of an innovative idea you couldn’t have before. An experience isn’t some slot of information you neatly file away into your mind’s bookshelf of facts, it is something that becomes ingrained in your way of thought and may even play a part in shaping the person you become. More importantly (in my opinion of course), multi-cultural experiences can also benefit your relationships. As we all know, some people can just drive you crazy, and you may or may not just want to pummel them. With the most recent election in America, there has only been an increasing divide between people, quick to dismiss an entire relationship altogether for their political party. On the other hand, in the recent protests we have seen grand acts of unity, with women’s marches on every continent. I am not saying anyone is wrong or right and understand there are plenty of other examples, but I wanted to iterate that if people from thousands of miles away not only share the same beliefs, but are willing to fight for complete strangers, there may be a chance you might be able to relate to that really frustrating coworker of yours.

This post went a bit more philosophical than usual, but I really do believe it is important that everyone experience some kind of travel at least once in their life. It doesn’t have to be abroad, but I believe experiencing another culture to be absolutely imperative. This can be by yourself or with one or several companions, however, I am bit biased to the individual option as I believe that will give you the greatest opportunity for self-growth and reflection. Sure, there are bound to be some ups and downs (trust me, I know), but also believe me when I say you won’t regret it. If you’re anything like me, it’ll just leave you counting down the days until your next adventure.

So go save for that trip to Europe you’ve always wanted, go camping in the mountains, heck, even just drive to the next state over just to see what life is like beyond your own backyard. Just go somewhere.

Plane Ride Thoughts & The Long Awaited Photos

Unfortunately, I am incapable of sleeping well on a plane, despite my recent habit of napping instead of actually sleeping these last few days. Fortunately, that leaves plenty of time to attempt a coherent blogging experience. I will continue with my descent into Kota Tua, but as Indonesia was my first visit to a developing country, I would like to first list the things I found the strangest/most interesting about Indonesian culture:

Fun facts about Indonesia

  • Tissues are an all-purpose material. They are used as napkins, paper towels, toilet paper, and facial tissues
  • Toilets are quite strange (as you know)
  • Lines on the street are largely ignored
    • I would not recommend driving
  • They snack all the time – huge fan
  • The people are not fans of walking everywhere (understandable, I also dislike melting)
  • There aren’t many crosswalks, so if you want to cross the street you place your palm out to your side so that the cars will stop
    • I like to exclaim “The Almighty Palm Raise!” while performing this activity
    • Works for the most part, but there are some people who do not care (learned this the hard way)
  • They wave your bags with metal detectors upon entering malls and tie your bags in supermarkets as a shoplifting precaution
    • This doesn’t really apply to foreigners or it could also be the face of eternal confusion I wore over the first few days
  • They love taking pictures of Caucasian people
    • Some Indonesians are too poor to be able to travel, so they enjoy taking photos with foreigners (this includes most non-asians). Quite frequently I may add
    • No matter what you do, if you are light-skinned, you WILL stand out
  • They don’t use knives; you will customarily be served a spoon & fork
  • Everyone wears jackets and jeans despite it being 10 million degrees outside
    1. The deodorant market must be wildly successful
  • The people are some of the most hospitable beings I’ve ever met
  • Primary religion is Islam so I’d reconsider wearing those spaghetti straps ladies
  • Their ginger beer and guava juice are amazing
  • Breakfast is normally meats and rice and veggies versus eggs and cereal
  • They are big fans of spicy food

*disclaimer: I am no Indonesian expert and speak based on my experience in the Java region.

Kota Tua and the night my phone ran away

Monday we were introduced to our groups and the topics we would be addressing in our joint studio workshop the next week and a half. However, before any research was to be done, we took a tour in the historic – and poorer – section  of Jakarta and I will be honest, a lot of our tour was not pretty, but it is important to keep an open mind and put aside your Western way of thinking. I will also note that my outfit while cute and still fairly light and airy, did not save me from the real-world sauna session I was to soon experience. I don’t believe even Tarzan’s loin cloth would have provided him any relief from the heat – were he a) real and b) had a craving for Indonesian food.

Anyhow, after a train ride into the city we arrived in an open square where after noticing a few boys staring at my unfortunately rather pale skin, experienced my first photo request. Assuming they wanted Iliana and I to take a photo of them, I became quite baffled when the boy didn’t hand us the phone and instead kept incessantly waving his hand. Thankfully, one of the Indonesian students pulled my incompetent self to the side and explained things to me while Iliana happily posed for her glamour shot. The group of us already looked quite suspicious as we were a relatively large group consisting of Indonesians, Chinese, Americans, and British citizens, and a Colombian (our dear Iliana). We were essentially a beacon of nonconformity. Likely due to the abnormal amount of light skin in our group – I like to imagine some of us with lighter skin were sparkling in the sun like the vampires from Twilight – we were approached by the local tourist/government agency thing who ran tours of the Jakarta History Museum who invited us inside to give a brief presentation. The presentation was of course accompanied by cute snack boxes and then two of the guides joined our tour group, giving us easier access to certain areas of historical/public significance. We encountered many other guards along our journey, and if my tired mind recalls correctly, they were there to protect certain public buildings from street vandalizers/hoodlums/whippersnappers or whatever term fits your fancy.

Two main things stood out on this tour: 1) the stark contrast in buildings and b) the trash. When looking at a panorama or simply walking throughout the city you could see skyscrapers, old Dutch colonial buildings, and “informal” buildings of the slums all in one glance. Don’t worry, the center of the city is quite nice, but this area was an important, if not more significant, face of the city. The most notable part of the tour was the trash. With a little imagination, one could see how the old part of the city was once dominated by a beautiful canal system, with streets bustling with goods coming in from the Harbor and far lands beyond. Sadly, today the water is full of garbage, multiple mounds of debris forming walls to block the continuous flow of the river. There is so much trash in the water, there are even people who live on the trash. This would cause any person lucky enough to be born in a more developed part of the world take another look at their own lives and how many things we take for granted. Along our tour, we also visited some Kampungs along the water’s edge. The community we visited was fairly separated from the main streets of the city and lined a slightly cleaner body of water (likely due to the community’s efforts) on a fairly wide street filled with people of all ages. There was a very basic ferry system allowing for transport across the river by a simple raft and rope connecting the two sides. I found the skill of the residents quite impressive. There had recently been a project where the community worked with UI to improve their streets by moving back their homes 5 feet (themselves) and paint some of their homes to create a more pleasant environment. Some people with my background may find the neighborhoods to have a poor quality of life, but I found these areas quite pleasant. The people obviously cared about one another and the lives they had quite literally built for themselves.

After much walking, we ended the night in a nice restaurant on the street near the plaza. You can also get a tattoo on the street side if you prefer to live your life on the edge. Then came a long train ride home where many of us were trying to cope with the jet lag coma threatening to take over. You may be wondering if my phone had abandoned me yet, as pick pocketing is not that uncommon in the area we visited. However, my phone stil loved me at this point, or at least tolerated my presence. Unfortunately, this still means I do not have any pictures of my own from this day, but I did manage to snag a few from other phones and cameras:

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Back to the plane: The woman next to me is gradually nudging my arm off the rest so I will attempt to make the rest of this brief. Iliana and I went to the mall once again, since our suitcases were still being held hostage by the airline. It was upon our return home in a taxi that my phone left me for another. I had gotten out of the cab and had walked maybe ten steps when I realized I did not have my phone. I twirled myself around only to watch as the taxi drove off, too far to have a dramatic movie moment in which I would sprint and thrust myself onto the trunk of the taxi man’s car. After my dramatic experience with the front desk who likely only understood half of what I was even saying, I also realized in horror I had been lucky enough to get a taxi driver who did not give us a receipt and as a result I had no way of knowing who had my phone. So if you ride on a taxi make sure to note the taxi number, the name of the driver, and for goodness sake always ask for a receipt.

To avoid ailing myself with a permanent form of carpal tunnel, I will cut off here. In the next installment of my wonderful Indonesia trip that was so far kicking me firmly in the ass, I will bargain for a new phone and defile an innocent trash can. Until next time, Ciao!

Indonesian Tales & How Not To Be A Petrified American (Part 2)

Hello again, or more simply Hallo! In this next segment, I will enter into the topic of language. Jakarta is not a huge international tourist destination and as a result, not many people speak English. This makes for some very frustrating experiences, luckily for you, they will probably seem quite amusing.

For instance, we recently just ordered water bottles from room service and just prayed we would actually get water. Most interactions consist of Iliana and I repeating the same two words over and over until the person on the phone just says “okay” or “yes” and hangs up. Sometimes it works, other times not so much. Our door just rang and low and behold we did not get water bottles, but we did get water in a glass so that is something I guess. So as we rolled into the department store, you could already see the staff become very nervous. At first, I was very worried they don’t enjoy you taking your time to browse and perhaps that is a rude custom, but I was later told people of light skin are very rare, so we are seen as intimidating or almost celebrities. Of course, I thought everyone was either terrified or angry with me the entire experience. At the very least they were quite flustered. Initially, the staff would approach me (very politely I may add) and ask if I needed help with something, but they all slowly became aware my spoiled American self can only speak English. The whole thing seemed to turn into a dance. They wanted the nice rich foreigner to come buy all of their things, yet at the same time they did not want to try to awkwardly speak with me in what seemed a continuous game of charades where all the players are drunk. Eventually, the employees had a strained smile on their face when approaching me as if we were in the Hunger Games and they had just volunteered themselves as tribute. In addition, I had very little sleep since leaving America and the huge bags under my eyes and unbrushed hair gave me the appearance of the Grudge.

Oh! I almost forgot to mention the note method they use. Since the country is so impoverished, shoplifting can be a real issue so in many places, they have measures to make sure that does not happen. In the case of Matahari (the department store we were in), they write a note saying what item of clothing you want and the size and then bring the clothing item to the cash register so when you come to check out you can just give them the note. Unfortunately, this was not easily understood. Instead, I was trying to purchase a pair of underwear and after helping me find my giant American size the woman wrote me a note but held my underwear hostage. I just wanted a simple pair of underwear but I would not understand why this woman would not give it back to me like it was some precious cargo. Eventually, someone had to walk with me to the cash register while I eyed my undergarments, afraid they were going to smuggle them away and I’d have to go all out Tarzan and find out how to use a hotel towel as a loin cloth.

After what seemed like several hours (okay, it actually was several hours), Iliana and I managed to leave with clothes in hand.

Day Two – Kota Tua

I awoke early around 6 am after another fitful napping session to go down to “breakfast.” Indonesians don’t really have breakfast food. What I found on the banquet table was variations of rice, potatoes, fried noodles, and some miscellaneous foods I could not identify. I believed I could endure a simple venture such as breakfast without the guidance of Iliana, but I was yet again very wrong. Already feeling drastically out of place, and a natural introvert, I didn’t really want to try to interact with the staff. Like any brave soldier, I hunched my shoulders, aimed my head towards the floor, and grabbed any and all food I could recognize. Thankfully the Indonesians seem to be a fan of watermelon and honeydew which I graciously piled onto my plate. I have also discovered Guava juice in my time here and I can only describe as a sweet pink nectar from the gods. America, you need to catch up. One other prevalent drink item they have here is bubble tea which I have enjoyed every single day as a tie to home. Ironically, it is derived from east Asia, but it reminds me of my many ventures to Lollicup in Gainesville.

Anyhoo, all of the students and professors from Florida and the University of Cardiff gathered together in the hotel lobby and made our way to the University of Indonesia or locally known as UI (pronounced “oo – ee” as in the word boo and bee).

Anddddd it is time for me to head to sleep now (sorry!), a long day of walking ahead of me tomorrow, but I promise the next post will have MANY pictures. For now, I will add a few from today’s earlier visit to the city center with the very generous Taufik who is probably more sleep-deprived than Iliana and I and whom iI believe may actually be a vampire. Ciao!

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The vampire himself, Taufik

 

Indonesian Tales & How Not To Be A Petrified American Abroad (Part 1)

Good Morning World!

I apologize for the delayed response, but welcome back to the roller coaster that is my life! There has been SO MUCH happening, yet very little sleep or time to even write about it. I had initially intended to write last night as promised, but I’m afraid once I laid down in bed I immediately fell asleep clothes and all with my laptop open beside me. I will be leaving to go to the city center of Jakarta in a little over an hour so I will do my best to write as much as I can now. These blog posts will likely have to be written in many parts not only because of how much has happened, but also due to how wildly different this culture is in comparison to the Western world and I feel the need to share as much as I can for those who do not have the opportunity to travel as I have so graciously been given. So fear not, I will have plenty to write about, so much I will likely be playing catch up in America. I will warn you, although many of my initial experiences and descriptions may seem negative and horrific, I am actually having a wonderful time, it just may take a few posts to get there.

I suppose I will start the story off chronologically and try not to wander off topic too much…

Arrival at Jakarta Airport

The first thing I experienced after taking my first steps outside into Jakarta was how obscenely hot it was. I felt like I was melting and feared I would be nothing but a shriveled up, raisin-looking version of myself upon return to America. The group (myself, Iliana, Dr. Silver, and Dr. Jerry Murphy) decided to take a bathroom break. Yet NO ONE warned me about the restroom. 1) not all of the stalls are toilets, instead, they look like urinals but in the ground. On campus they also have these types of restrooms although they have a bucket of water and a big spoon thing in which you pour into said hole to naturally flush it. As if this wasn’t horrifying enough, toilet paper is also not a thing. Thankfully they had some at the airport since a more international crowd is likely to use it, but nowhere else will you find toilet paper (excluding the hotel). You may be lucky enough to find a restroom with a toilet on campus, but its a 50/50 chance and I do not enjoy those chances one bit. Now you may be wondering, what do they use in if they have no toilet paper? Fear not, they have a delightful hose with a spray nozzle in which you can “cleanse” yourself. Needless to say I was petrified by my first two experiences in a public restroom and have now become a tissue hoarder. I will advise you – as no one had the decency to do for me before – if you are to visit Indonesia and do not wish to become one with a more primitive version of yourself,  BRING YOUR OWN TOILET PAPER. 

On our way to the airport, I noticed quite a few motorcycles. I cannot tell you how many there are in the Jakarta region, but there has to quite literally be millions. There are scooters everywhere and they all weave in and out of traffic. There are even Uber motorcyclists if you can imagine that. Add on the fact that everyone drives on the opposite side of the road and the lines on the road only appear to be mere suggestions of order, behind the wheel is definitely not some place I would like to be. Unfortunately, due to my lost phone (I will get to that later) I do not have any photos of my initial experience with the crazy amount of motorcycles, but I will attempt to find some from my fellow travelers. For now, I have attached an image of traffic in the late afternoon along the major road on which our hotel sits.

Depok Town Center Shopping Extravaganza

Depok Mall.jpg

I briefly mentioned in the last post our luggae did not arrive with us in Jakarta, so Jerry, Iliana, and I went to the strange looking building above that is a mall. Thankfully, this is at least the more affordable mall compared to the massive Margo City across the street (don’t worry that will come later as well). I will start off first by saying across the street under the Margo City mall, there is a supermarket, much like a Walmart, that has everything you could possibly need at a very cheap price. For instance, 3 pair of socks cost about 10,000 rupiah which is roughly $0.75. There are also about 2 floors above the main floor in which are tons of stalls and open areas that kind of function as stores where there is a lot of cheap clothes. We of course, did not choose such an option. Trusting Iliana, who had lived here for 2.5 months over the summer, we entered a department store to purchase clothes for the first couple days we wouldn’t have clothes. ThI was also in need of sandals or some kind of waterproof shoes for walking. Since my 9.5 size feet are apparently the size of Bigfoot’s, I could not find a single shoe in any of the stalls which fit me but by some miracle, I found a pair of sandals that fit without having to buy a man’s shoe.

Looks like it is already time to go :/ I will pick up next with the story of I made the store people very nervous and lost my precious iPhone (cries). Hopefully, I won’t get back too late today and I’ll give you some more exciting and perhaps over dramatic experiences as well as some philosophical thoughts on my belief that everyone should travel if I get in the mood. Talk to you later, time to see what else Indonesia will throw my way!

Silver Travels (Sh**t Happens in Indonesia)

 

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Riding in my first angkot

I may be smiling in the opening image, but boy Indonesia has taught me far too many lessons in a very short period of time. A lot has happened, but I will try to keep it brief.

 

My journey began on Friday, the day before my flight took off. I woke up with a sore throat, sinus headache, an email from my professor notifying us of a last minute change in our flight itinerary and how our flight was to take a complete detour through Amsterdam instead of Tokyo, and feeling of oncoming doom. Of course, when I checked my flight, my first flight had been canceled and the website kept notifying me they could not find me another flight out. After two hours on hold, 20 email messages, and a healthy amount of panicking, I managed to rebook myself and my fellow student Iliana through the Jacksonville airport.I then spent the rest of the day packing and buying a massive amount of cold medicine to drug myself with in hopes that I could cure myself with a drug-induced coma during my very long flights ahead. By midnight I had managed to finally get a reach of Iliana to pick her up in the morning and my blessing of a friend Aswan agreed to drive me all the way to Jacksonville the following morning. I had everything printed, packed, and prepped, believing I was ready for whatever came my way.

Of course, nothing ever goes as planned. In more elegant terms: shit happens (the theme and running joke of this trip so far). Very long story short, all of our flights were delayed, our checked baggage did not make it to  Indonesia with us, and mother nature decided to bless me with her presence during my 14.5-hour flight. And of course, since Jakarta is not a major tourist destination, no one here speaks English very well at all so trying to find out where our luggage was, was one big bundle of joy. From Friday morning to when I stepped foot in Indonesia I had been getting ready and traveling for 62 hours and slept about 10. One would assume I was exhausted, but my body was angry and confused as to why it was not snuggled in my bed as my grandma self normally is at 11 pm, but instead thousands of miles away surrounded by people who either a) have dysfunctional sweat glands or b) don’t understand the concept of heat.

I am still super sleep deprived and my eyelids are already threatening to betray me, but I will give you a brief glimpse into my next post (hopefully tomorrow or Friday) in which I will explain the events which occurred in the following 60 hours:

The Shit (I did):

  • terrified some department store employees
  • had pictures taken with random strangers
  • lost my phone
  • haggled with an airline
  • used a hole as a toilet
  • almost melted
  • bought a new phone
  • realized all the ways I could’ve spent way less money
  • lost all the photos I took in the first few days
  • rode in a very tiny van with strangers

Strange I’ve learned about Indonesia:

  • toilets and toilet paper are a luxury
  • there are motorbikes EVERYWHERE
  • the clothes here are tiny
  • tissues are the new napkin
  • white people are celebrities
  • the people here are tiny
  • no one flipping speaks English
  • the cars here are tiny
  • my whiteness is intimidating
  • I am a giant
  • Indonesians are some of the politest people on the planet
  • They may also be aliens who don’t feel heat
  • And the power of the almighty Palm Raise

I will also mention the lessons myself and my fellow companions have learned so far so you shall never be as dumb as us.

Hopefully, at least one of those beautiful options has caught your attention. Catch you next time!

Home Reflections (and un-posted photos)

Ciao!

Or I suppose “hello” since I am back in the home of the free. It has been about 2 weeks since I have returned home from Europe and while I miss the food the most I think I have lost at least 8 pounds since I came home. I do miss parts of Italy, but since I’ve only been home for a week i am still enjoying being home and seeing my friends and getting the chance to eat at my favorite restaurant IHOP (I know, I’m classy).

I wanted to go through some of my old photos – and maybe just some funny ones just for kicks – that I don’t think I ever got a chance to post and make a few comments about each one of them so I know I’ve covered all my bases. If I have already posted some of them…whoops:

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I’m pretty sure I’ve already posted these two but I just wanted to reiterate how adorable these Easter bunnies were at the mall in Dresden, Germany ^-^ They should haver these in every mall, no every home. Talk about stress relievers.

IMG_8097 from the coffee shop in Frankfurt Oder near Jonas’s apartment. I took this photo because I always find myself conflicted between “i’ll sleep when I’m dead” or “I’m going to sleep forever.” There isn’t much of an in between.

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These are some photos of when I went to the Boboli Gardens (Giardino di Boboli) in Florence with Olivia and her brother Giovanni. I seem to have lost the picture, but upon walking in through the main gates of the Pitti Palace there is a main stairwell and if you walk all the way to the top of there is a small garden looking out onto the Tuscan country side and if you ever get the chance to go here, even if you only go inside for five minutes, walking to the top is a must. There are other little museums – such as the costume museum and antique chinaware museum – and a few more hills to explore but we didn’t really get the chance to visit any of those since we were so busy enjoying GRASS. After traveling through so many cities, grass was a rare citing and we laid on it for at least a solid hour just chatting which I think was its own unique way of enjoying the garden that I’m quite satisfied with.

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I wish I had taken more photos of these, but they are all over major European cities. There are especially a lot in Firenze. I cannot remember the name of the artist, but basically he decorates a lot of signs like these in many many creative and humorous ways. As you can tell with this stop sign.

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This is an image of one of the few family dinners the four of use had – Shannon, Maria, Elisa, and I – where each of us made a course to contribute to dinner and I have to say they were always quite yummy and filling for a dinner made by us mediocre chefs. And yes that giant white bowl is filled with pasta.

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and here is a funny photo of a potato ^-^

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Here are some photos of the Bargello National Museum. I just never really found the time or motivation to go to the many museums in Florence, but when Jonas came down he did not have the desire either so I know I’m not the only one. I enjoy museums for their strange statues and their poses pretty much.

I think thats about it for now, until next time(?).

Ciao!!!!