Some other Fellows stationed in Indonesia have written about typical days on their blogs, which I think is a great idea. It’s a good reminder that, in addition to the bigger adventures of trips, sightseeing, and culture shock, day-to-day living and working in a foreign country is itself an adventure. So here’s what Wednesday looked like from my point of view:
5:30 am. I wake up because it’s light out and my neighbor’s rooster has started crowing, which it will now continue to do for about the next 12 hours of daylight. It’s a rooster. It doesn’t lay eggs. No one plays with it or treats it like a beloved pet. It sits in a cage all day long and just makes NOISE. I mostly ignore it, but some days I want to strangle it and put us both out of our misery. I roll over and continue to doze on and off.
7:00 am. My alarm goes off. I get cleaned up, dress, have breakfast, and check my email and facebook. I apply insect repellent (don’t want to be getting dengue fever from any mosquitoes!). I debate packing my bag to go to the gym this afternoon, but decide that since I’ve gone the last two days I will try to go for an evening walk outside instead. This is a gamble because it might rain this evening (it’s still the tail end of the rainy season, which means it often rains in the afternoons/evenings). I also decide to leave my hair down this morning, knowing full well I will probably throw it up in a pony tail before the morning is over. The heat always trumps any attempt I make at having a hairstyle.
8:00 am. The school driver arrives at my house to take me to campus.
8:20 am. I arrive at campus. I ask the driver to take me home at 2:30. I unlock my office and turn on the a/c. Since I have some time before class starts, I go in the main teachers’ office and print a few documents I will need for some later lessons.
8:40 – 10:20 am. I teach Advanced Speaking. This week the students are giving group poster presentations. Each group chose a place of interest/importance in Semarang and prepared a “company profile” about it. Today they are presenting that information to the rest of the class to practice public speaking.
10:20 am. My next class is supposed to start. Classes at my university are scheduled back to back, with no passing time between classes. This works well in Indonesia because most people don’t start their classes on time anyway, so there ends up being some “break time” between scheduled class times. Indonesians have a very relaxed view of time, which is one of the biggest differences I have had to adjust to while living here. In terms of classes, however, I have trained my students to be punctual and we can generally start class on or very close to the scheduled start time. I really try to maximize their time in an English environment by utilizing my full 100 minutes of class each week.
10:30 am. My Advanced Writing class actually starts. Several of the students were held up by their previous class teacher, so they get to my class a little later than normal. Today we work on developing body paragraphs in essays: topic sentences, supporting sentences, closing sentences. Good stuff.
12 noon. I end my writing class on time. Walking outside the air conditioned classroom, I immediately pull my hair into a pony tail. I go to the teachers’ lounge across the street and get my lunch (leftovers) out of the fridge. I chat with some coworkers. Some of the teachers tease me about eating with my left hand. That’s a taboo in Indonesia because the left hand is used for toilet business. Before I came to Indonesia, I thought that was silly. Now that I know Indonesians prefer using their left hand (and some water) to toilet paper, and now that I’ve seen how seldom public bathrooms have soap to wash with afterward, I also think left hands are gross. But I’m left-handed, so I eat with my left hand. However, I always use soap. And if that’s not available, hand sanitizer.
12:30 pm. I go back to the main teachers’ office to print more lesson materials. Then I go to the building next door to photocopy writing exercises. I return to my office and sort through writing handouts to form a course packet that I will give my class for the second half of the semester. My classes do not have required textbooks, so I sort of make my own by piecing together handouts and worksheets that I find in various books and online. I also update my gradebook.
2:15 pm. I’ve put together a decent writing course packet but need to take a break from it. I pack everything I’ll need for working at home this afternoon. Since I still have time before the driver comes, I cross the street to a photocopy kiosk. I want them to re-copy my Indonesian notes from last year and bind them into a small paperback so they’re easier to pack. I quickly realize I do not have enough vocabulary to negotiate this transaction in Indonesian. I do my best to explain, and the poor guy at the counter is really trying to help me, but I’m not confident that he understands what I want and I don’t understand what he is suggesting. I’ll have to return later with someone to help me translate.
2:30 pm. I wait outside the English office for the driver.
2:45 pm. The driver arrives and takes me home.
3:05 pm. I return home to find the a/c off, which means I lost electricity at some point during the day. I turn the a/c and my fan on, then take a cat nap on my couch. I can hear an afternoon call to prayer in the distance, which I find soothing. That is, until it is drowned out by drilling next door. The house next to me has been under construction since before I moved here, which means there’s a lot of racket pretty much every single day.
3:30 pm. Not very refreshed from my cat nap, I try caffeine instead. I use one of my precious remaining chai tea bags to make myself an iced chai latte. I check my email and catch up on some blogs I follow.
4:45 pm. I practice guitar. A coworker lent me one of his. I really need to work on my chord changes.
5:30 pm. It’s not raining, so I go for a walk around my housing complex.
6:30 pm. I return from my walk, shower, and fix dinner.
7:00 pm. I finish up my writing course packet and plan some lessons for Advanced Speaking. I also explore free wiki options because I want to create a course website for future class projects. Okay, there’s also some non-work activities in there too like checking facebook, email, my NCAA brackets, etc 🙂 Also, it has started raining.
9:45 pm. I get ready for bed and then read for a little bit.
10:20 pm. Lights out, good night!