I received my site placement last week. In about three months I’ll be settling in to my new home in Palangkaraya! Where in the world is that, you ask? Yeah, me too.
Because Indonesia is 12 hours ahead (of US central time), most emails from AMINEF (the organization in charge of our grants) arrive in the middle of the night and are a fun surprise to wake up to in the mornings. There had been some rumblings between the other Fulbrighters that we would receive our placements soon but I was still shocked when I refreshed my email and saw an email from AMINEF with the subject heading, Palangkaraya. (And yes, I have a horrible habit of checking my email first thing in the morning… before I’m even out of bed. That will change soon, as I don’t believe I will have much internet access in my new home!)
I quickly scanned the email, flew out of bed to find my laptop, and searched Palangkaraya. While I’ve been to Indonesia before, Palangkaraya didn’t ring a bell and I couldn’t have guessed where it was. Well, it’s smack in the middle of Borneo (also known as Kalimantan in Indonesia), the third largest island in the world (Madagascar is fourth for reference). Borneo is divided among three countries, Malaysia, Brunei, and Indonesia. Almost 3/4 of the island is Indonesian and is divided into five Indonesian provinces. My city, Palangkaraya, is the capitol of one of these five provinces, Central Kalimantan. From what I can tell (from trusty ol’ Wikipedia), Kalimantan is a jungle island and I’m going to be smack in the middle of it (kinda, actual more on the southern end of the island, just north of Banjarmasin).
It’s a bit different than what I’d expected, considering I had applied to a country of 17,000 islands. My placement is about as far away from water (besides a river) as you can possibly get in Indonesia, which I find fairly amusing.
Having been to Madagascar and traveling through a lot of that island/jungle/rainforest country, I can picture what my new home will be like… I think. Honestly, I have no idea but google maps and random youtube videos that I’ve found have been great and I can piece together those, with my prior experience in Indonesia and Madagascar. I should probably stop doing this as I’m probably widely off with my expectations (both high and low!) but I can’t help myself trying to imagine what this journey will look like.
I was also given my school placement – but as neat as it is to know, it doesn’t really mean anything to me at the moment. None of it really does but I’m sure after our pre-departure orientation in DC next week, I’ll know a lot more! At least I’m hoping so…
With ten weeks to go, I figured its probably time I start learning Indonesian. Realizing that I will be living in a fairly remote city, I don’t expect many people to speak English, so if there’s little else I can do to prepare in the meantime, I can at least start learning some Indonesian so I’m a little more comfortable when I arrive. Thus, I’ve brought out the flashcards and purchased two Indonesian language books and I’ll see how much I can teach myself!
Lastly, and this one is for my grandparents… Wash U sends a daily (weekly in the summer) news bulletin out to the whole campus community. And yours truly got a shoutout this week – here’s the article.
Selamat jalan, teman saya! (Goodbye, my friends!)
(Thanks google images for the pictures… I’ll have my own soon enough!)