Eat, Sleep, Shop??

Shopping bag clad for a moped ride in the rain

So it hit. I had my first day of being homesick. I knew it was bound to happen at some point, and sure enough the flood came- but as always it resided. I feel a bit frustrated not being able to get everywhere independently-seeing as I am still relying on taxis. However Indonesia is great-I like the food (however I would give my left pinky toe for some proper cheese and wine) , I like the people, and I like the school-I just find myself feeling a bit trapped at times. My situation is nice in its own way because it eliminates unnecessary voyages out.  I really am trying to just keep it simple. I go to school everyday, work, come home, and relax. If I venture out in a taxi then it is a trip with a purpose.  And of course, on the weekends I explore the surrounding areas. I have made the decision to not get a cell phone while I am here. Some people think this is foolish seeing as how cheap they are, but it isn’t a money thing. I just really don’t want a cell phone. If someone wants to get in touch with me badly enough, then they will find a way. I see it as  another way to further simplify my life.

This weekend my roommate and I went to Malang- a city 2 hours away from Surabaya with a cooler climate and fresh air. We couch surfed and stayed with an English teacher who was awkwardly Polish-(No offense to my Polish friends).  His roommate was Indonesian and knew all of the spots not typically on the tourist path which was a plus. He was even nice enough to pick us up and take us to his house. My roommate and I got on the back of his moped in the pouring rain. It was the funniest thing ever- I put a plastic bag over my head, and then Angela and I got underneath his tarp and sped off . So now I can’t say I have never ridden on a moped with 3 people in the pouring rain, under a tarp, with a supermarket bag tied on my head.

On the second day, we biked to Batu and it was absolutley lovely. It is up in the hills and possesses some of the prettiest terrain I have ever seen. It was actually quite cold- a nice change from smuggy and polluted Surabaya. I didn’t realize how bad Surabaya smelled until I got back yesterday. I frequently get eye infections because the pollution is so bad here.  On my walk to the grocery store tonight I avoided the drainage ditches because there are so many nasty rats- And not like the cute ones in Pixar films that make you feel warm and fuzzy inside. However, Surabaya is a practical place to live and the money for teachers is significantly better here.  Bali is only 45 minutes away…and the weekends and holidays make it worth it.

Some of my students make me smile, some of them confuse the hell out of me, and some of them quite frankly make me want to put a bullet in my head. But thank God the variety insures that the latter will not happen-haha. All they do here is eat, sleep, and shop at the mall. Those are the only “ings” I get. The most active activity I heard a student say he was doing on the weekend was fishing. Its almost taboo here to go out and be active. You think I am exaggerating, and I did too when I first moved here and the other teachers told me the same thing. But its the truth. These kids lead the most boring lives. I wish I could just find a park and make them run around for a bit, or play a game of kickball…oh thats right…Surabaya does not possess a park, unless you count that concrete slab where the teenagers hang out.

Another thing. The kids I teach have never worked a day in their lives! And I have students all the way to 25 years old. Tonight in one of my classes we were learning vocabulary pertaining to jobs. I asked the class (which ranges from 13-25 years old) if any of them had ever had a job. They literally all laughed at me like I was kidding. Honestly, I think the upper class kids here are worse than the ones in America. However, I do not have enough to back this statement  up so I can’t say for certain.

Another thing that befuddles me..none of these kids seem to know that a world exists outside of Indonesia. One of the questions I ask my new students is “If you were given a plane ticket and could visit any place in the world where would you go?”. I kid you not, I get “Jakarta”, “Bali”, maybe once in a blue moon I will get “Singapore”. I’m like, come on man- you can go anywhere in the world and you choose a city 5 hours away from you? And these kids are not poor children who have no education..They come from affluent families who are paying for private English lessons. One kid even told me tonight “I never want to go anywhere. I love Indonesia”. I replied, “not even to travel? To go see something different, experience a new culture?”…”No, Miss Jenna”. I guess I will just never understand that type of mentality.

On another note, Ramadan is still in effect, and I do admire the students who are fasting. The young ones get antsy, but they still remain polite and attentive in class. Very impressive. The older students are extremly restrained and even have enough self control to wait until after class to break their fast-Kudos.

Overpopulation is a big concern here in Java. It has already reached around 134 million, and that is only over 132,000 square miles. One of the Indonesian guys living at the house  we were staying at this weekend told me he wanted 11 children. I told him that that was ridiculous. It is irresponsible for people to have that many children with the overpopulation epidemic we have in the world, let alone Java.  People here need to realize that 2 is enough!  However, they seem to keep on popping them out faster than popcorn at a movie cinema.The same guy followed up by saying one of his goals is to marry a rich American women……haha-good luck with that buddy. Especially finding an American woman willing to have 11 children.


  1. Andrea O. says:

    hahaha well there are always all of those TLC family reality shows like “25 Kids and Growing.” Gosh…who watches reality shows? They’re so mindless!

    Gotta get back to my Real Housewives of DC 🙂

    I know you don’t have a cell phone right now, but feel free to email me anytime you want to talk!

  2. Summer Weber says:

    Thanks for being so descriptive! Loved the moped in the rain story!

  3. Excellent blog, Maria! Moved abroad 13 years ago, and have been livnig the expat life in a few countries and just returned to Toronto, Canada this year. I also started blogging 2 months ago as my travel therapy as well! So glad to have found your blog! I’m a follower! =D

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