“I can’t believe I’m doing this again” has been the thought swirling in my mind for the last several days. It’s Monday afternoon and I’m nearing the end of my fifth day at site. I’m exhausted. I haven’t been able to get through a day yet without at least an hour, but usually a two hour, nap. I can’t imagine the poor new ETAs who are dealing with jetlag on top of exhaustion from site!
The newness of it all is overwhelming. Seeking out new places to eat, seeking out new places to buy pulsa and data (phone credit), meeting 66 new teachers and some 700 students. It’s purely exhausting. My counterpart asked me today why I haven’t asked the ibu (mother, mrs.) in charge of my house for help buying the things I need, and my answer was that in the afternoon, when I finally get home, I just pass out exhausted!
Kendari is HOT. My weather app says it is 88 degrees, but “feels like 92” with 75% humidity. It’s fairly similar to Palangkaraya, almost the exact same distance from the equator. What is not cool, pun intended, is my very minimally working AC. My room is large – and there is a partial wall separating the front and back rooms which the AC has to cover both of. This means the AC makes zero difference. I have a fan and that helps a lot but I don’t have a respite from the heat until late at night, when suddenly my AC seems to kick into gear and cools everything down. Or maybe it’s just the temperature dropping… who knows. I suppose it’s nice that my nights are cool but gah, my days are just hot.
I’m going to pause in my site description and tell you that I currently have some 15-odd children yelling, screaming, and banging outside my house. My house is next to a basketball court, the hoop is attached to my wall actually, and this is where all the neighborhood kids play every, and I mean every afternoon. It’s cute but gosh they are loud. I’m not sure I can handle this every afternoon… They have asked me to teach them English, which I’m excited to do, but it’s hard to imagine that right now when I come home from school and just want to sleep. Although I can’t exactly sleep because they are so loud…
Kendari is beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. The city is set around a bay and what is not open to the ocean is surrounded by mountains. I’m so looking forward to exploring the city and surrounding areas!
I am very, very lucky to be living in the middle of the city. Last year, I was living outside the city, a ten minute motorcycle ride from the nearest anything. This year, I’m in the heart of the city! There is a huge plaza/tower area called MTQ in the center of the city and I live a two minute walk from it! In the evenings there are tons of food stalls that open up around MTQ and in the afternoons, lots of people go walk or jog around the “track” inside the plaza. I cannot believe my good fortune in living literally across the street, especially considering how far away I lived from anything last year. There are plenty of warungs (small food stalls) nearby and even a stellar restaurant/coffee shop/hangout place called Kopi Kita, which is no more than a five minute walk from my house. They’ve got every kind of jus (juice) you could want along with every kind of sugary coffee concoction. Plus great food at very reasonable prices. At 7:30 every night (yes, I’ve been there three times in five days), they have live music. Oh, and EXCELLENT wifi. Andddd, it’s right in between Kate’s (one of my sitemates) house and my house so we can both meet there very easily! My other sitemate, Shelby lives pretty nearby us too so we are very lucky to all be living close to each other!
My house itself is a ruko (rumah toko ~ store house). Basically, the building used to be a store (selling hijabs, I think) and they have turned it into a house for me. Everyone outside of Kendari (my friends in Pky and AMINEF) find it very funny that I’m living in a ruko. When Rizqi (from AMINEF) visited Kendari in July to check the housing and talk with the school, it was still very much a store, and zero part a house. But they built a partition wall and added a bed, a wardrobe, and a vanity and now it’s working out as a house! The front is a huge storefront, complete with floor to ceiling windows and a legit store front door, which I chain up when I leave. The bathroom is nice for Indo and there is a third room in the back that theoretically acts as a kitchen… but has yet to have any means of cooking anything inside. It’s definitely working out and as soon as I get a few more things, a fridge, a rice cooker, a few extension cords, a non-leaking water dispenser, working AC, outlets not falling out of the wall, etc I’ll be happy with this as my home for the next year 🙂
The ruko is on the property of, and right in front of, a family’s house. They take care of me – taking me to the store, fixing things for me, etc. They don’t speak English so it’s an excellent opportunity to practice my Bahasa! They have taken me to dinner with them several times already – the mom has 9 siblings and they usually all have dinner together at grandma’s house! Now I’m part of the family too! 😀
And finally, my school! This year I’m teaching at a madrasah, an Islamic school. Public schools in Indonesia are called SMA #, vocational schools are SMK #, and madrasahs are MAN #. So this year, my school is called MAN 1 Kendari. It’s quite large, at least compared to SMA 5 last year. There are 66 teachers and my guess is around 600-700 students. Last year my school had maybe 30 teachers and 350 students… The school compound itself is so different from SMA 5. Whereas last year, the school was quite rural and surrounded a huge soccer field, this school is right in the city with a dozen buildings or so, some two story, most facing an inner courtyard. All the teachers and students at this school are Muslim, except me. That means that every female is wearing a headscarf, except me. AMINEF requires schools to not force ETAs to wear a headscarf, so while I’m sure the school would love to see me in one, they won’t be haha 😀 I do however, have to wear clothes that cover me from collarbone, to wrists, to ankles. Unfortunately, most of my batik from last year is not made in that style so I’m struggling a bit on that front – but I’ll get some things made soon and have plenty of things to wear soon enough.
My students are adorable and oh so sweet. It looks like I’ll be teaching 13 classes this year, for a total of 25 teaching hours. This is more than last year (9 classes, 18 hours) so I’m fairly confident I’m going to continue being exhausted and have to take naps every day… I’ll teach mostly tenth grade with two eleventh grade classes as well, I think. I have four different coteachers (compared to 2 last year), which means a lot of different lesson planning… Basically, lots of adjusting to do this year! However, MAN 1 seems like a VERY organized school, with classes starting and ending when they are supposed to, teachers going to their classes, etc. I am a big fan of this 😀 See this post for what happened last year…
Many times this week I’ve thought, “I can’t believe I’m doing this again”. This is hard. Even though it’s my second time it’s hard. Living in an area with very few other foreigners means I often feel like a monkey in a cage where everyone wants to take pictures with me. After a year of this, I’m sooooo done with the “Mister, foto?” or the sneaky pictures when they don’t even ask you. Adjusting to a new school is hard… I’m unfamiliar with the customs and routine of things. I don’t know where to get food, I don’t know how long I’m expected to stay at school… It’s the same as any new job but add the burden of another culture, another language, another religion, and this oppressive heat and it’s a whole new battle. The living conditions aren’t bad, but I sometimes still wonder why I’m doing this again when I could be living much more comfortably somewhere else, near to my family and friends, and in a place where I speak the language and can get around…
But I know that once I get to know these faces, it will all be so worth it.
This first week is hard, and I need to remember that SMA 5 was hard that first week too. But I came to love it and I miss it so much. Remembering my students and life there, helps and hurts as I adjust here… I’m grateful for Tisia, my best friend and counterpart last year, who helped me with so, so much those first weeks there and who I became so close to so fast. Things are different here and while I know that I will eventually know my new counterpart and coteachers well, it will take time. I’ll eventually know the names of my students, as I did at SMA 5, and we will eventually get to hang out and explore together. I’ll eventually know my neighbors like I did Ibu Vera and Ibu Riana and their kids, Hardy, Monique, and Rian. I’ll eventually know where I can find a great breakfast, like I did with Mama Ina every day. I’ll eventually adjust to life here, just like I did at SMAN 5.
But for now, it’s enough to say that adjustment is tough, Kendari is hot, and the community here is wonderful <3