Last week marked the end of my third month in Indonesia, so without further ado, here’s what I got up to during that time.
This month, I started teaching a beginner English class full of ten preteen boys. I think it’s safe to say that every lesson with them is full of hilarity, from attempted poop jokes in their broken English when they think I’m not listening, to very sweet arguments over who likes me.
“Miss, Henry says he likes Miss!”
“No, Miss, not me–Audie says he dreams about Miss!”
“No no no, Miss, Niko thinks Miss is very beautiful and smart!”
Sometimes these boys have a hard time remembering not to use their native language in class, so I even managed to get them to write a song called “No Bahasa.” Now when one of the boys lapses into Bahasa, the other boys sing the song in a silly voice, and the conversation moves back to English.
Another wonderful moment was in my class of 6- and 7-year-olds. In the middle of a lesson, one of my students announced, “Miss, I have to go fart!” and ran to the door, which she opened and stuck her butt out for a second before closing the door and running back to her seat. None of the other students seemed to be fazed, so I just carried on with our activity. A few days later, the same thing happened, but this time, she was halfway to the door when a loud fart resounded through the classroom. “Oops, I didn’t make it!” Everybody giggled, and then we moved right on with the lesson. I barely managed to keep a straight face–those are the moments that no amount of training can prepare you for when it comes to teaching!
And in the same class, I had the students work on a storytelling project, where they drew a picture and then presented a story about their picture to the class. My favorite story was that of Mr. Bear Spy, who died tragically from being bashed in the head with a giant ruler while he was working on an undercover assignment, cleverly disguised as a rabbit. He was also haunted by a ghost with an identity crisis, who thinks he’s a tomato.
While this seems pretty dark coming from a 6-year-old, it’s easier to understand when you realize just how obsessed with horror movies Indonesia is. Most people here believe in ghosts, and even my younger students have seen the scariest movies that I refuse to ever watch. (Insidious or The Conjuring, anybody?!) Most kids think it’s the funniest thing that I won’t even watch the trailer for a scary movie.
I’m still spending mornings at my usual in-school, and I’m still enjoying my time there. The classes feel like they pass so quickly, and the students are bright and enthusiastic, and I love teaching there! The other teachers at the school are friendly, and it’s nice to have a chance to talk to some of them. Even though I love my classes at EF, the classes at this school are a really nice change of pace, and I definitely think spending so much time there has given me new insights about Indonesia.
Of course, there are plenty of funny moments at this school. Sometimes the students at my in-school send me off with pictures and notes, which I always find very sweet. The last note that I got from a second-grader had an apology, but I’m not sure what she was apologizing for. Should I be worried?!
I mentioned in my last post that the rainy season has begun here in West Java. This has brought with it many changes: slightly cooler weather, daily thunderstorms, and a lot more bugs. Josh and I have found all sorts of critters hiding away in our room lately–spiders, cockroaches, caterpillars, and worst of all, mosquitoes. We’ve been sleeping with a bug net over our bed to minimize the itchy welts that we wake up with.
This month has flown by incredibly quickly, due in large part to having so many good classes. Even my two-hour classes zoom right by, and at the end of each day, I’m always amazed at how well my classes have gone. It’s such a good feeling knowing that I can easily figure out the best way to make students engage with the topic at hand, and I just wish I were as confident in other areas of my life as I am in the classroom! (If only I could transfer that confidence to shopping at the local vendors here–I’m still paying the “tourist tax” at times because I’m too shy to haggle for anything yet!)
Other than the aforementioned pests, I’ve really been enjoying the rainy season. It’s excellent weather for curling up with a good book and a hot drink, and I find it so relaxing to listen to the storms outside when I’m safely indoors. Plus, the temperatures have cooled down–to low 80s–which makes it possible to slide open our window and let in a tropical breeze through the window screen. I especially like sleeping with the window open, drifting off to the sound of crickets and soft rain, and then waking up to the sounds of the neighborhood coming to life.
At one point this month, I was asked to proofread a pamphlet of Indonesian phrases that had been translated into English. Among a few other mistakes, I found an entire phrase that I couldn’t make sense of: “How pity you are.” Apparently, people often say a phrase like this in Indonesian when they see someone who is experiencing some bad luck or unfortunate circumstances. I couldn’t think of any equivalent English phrases for this sentiment (other than maybe “You poor thing”), so I recommended that the phrase be taken out of the pamphlet entirely.
On an equally baffling note, I’ve also found a lovely shirt with the phrase “Classy: Blow Off Melancholy.” As far as I know, these words have no real meaning, but I liked the idea of “blowing off melancholy,” so for under $2, I became the proud owner of a t-shirt that makes no sense whatsoever.