Saturday, August 28, 2010

Real World Academia Begins!

I arrived in Yoga late Wednesday evening in a mini-van sized taxi with my NINE pieces of luggage. I had two giant suitcases, a small suitcase, a duffel bag full of diving and swimming stuff, a small wheeled carry-on bag, my laptop bag, a bag with my mattress pad from Gorontalo, the large framed Wayang Kulit shadow puppet figure on goat skin and, finally, my purse. My counterpart, Ipung, and Mas Marwan, who works at the guest house, miraculously whisked all of this up a narrow spiral staircase to my new bedroom. I cringed as I watched them carry the enormous suitcases up the stairs. Then I met John, a Luce Fellow from California studying religion and Arabic, who is also living in the house for the semester and had just arrived the day before. He told me he had packed everything he needed for the semester in two CARRY-ON sized backpacks. I was awed and vowed (once again) that I really must learn to pack lighter.

Also living in the house is Anastasia, a Boren Fellow originally from New Hampshire. She has been here for two months already but had lived in both Yogya and Bandung before. She is such a blessing. I've been relying on her to for basic information such as where the spare toilet paper is kept in the house and where to go eat. She also full of interesting information about Yogya and Bahasa Indonesia. Case in point, while walking to the university yesterday she told me and John how the Indonesian word for freckles literally means 'fly shit'. And how the word for speed bump means 'sleeping policeman'. She's going to be here for 8 months studying the language. What a cool fellowship! Afterwards I think she is required to work for the State Department for a year. 

It's really great to have two other Americans living in the house. There's a third person here now too, Anya from Germany, but she'll be leaving next week. I haven't seen much of my counterpart since dinner the first night and a short meeting in my office yesterday about the upcoming semester. So it is FANTASTIC to have Anastasia, John and Anya to hang out on the front porch with, search for food with and to just have people around that I can relate to. In all my adult life since graduating college, I have never lived in a house or apartment with roommates. Well, I did live with a German family for 18 months in Switzerland but that was more of a host family situation than roommates. So, it's a novel experience to have people my own age around to do things with and explore the city with. 

Yesterday, Anastasia took John and me to Jl Malioboro where we walked down the most touristy street in Yogya filled with batik vendors and trinket sellers. Our destination was a particular store that offers a wide selection of good quality batik at fixed prices. This was convenient because my Indonesian is certainly not capable of sophisticated bargaining. Plus, what I wanted was a patchwork batik blanket exactly like the one Anastasia had gotten at that very store earlier this summer. So, we had a very successful mission. We wrapped up the day with a delicious dinner at Via Via, a Belgian owned restaurant known for its outstanding Indonesian and Western food. Plus, it's supposedly the one place in town where you can actually order a glass of wine ;-)

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