Saturday, October 6, 2012

Obersvations:The Good, The Weird, and the Dangerous

- people are really friendly here and are usually interested to meet me or possibly just take a picture with me to post on their instagram probably (Indonesians love social networking)
- lots of people know English- this is both a positive and a negative- its helpful but it makes it harder to learn and practice bahasa
-  respect for parents and elders is very important. When you meet someone older, or say goodbye you have to 'Salam' which is basically showing respect and/or asking permission to leave. You take their hand (with your right hand-NOT left) and bow a little and bring their hand to touch your forehead/nose or maybe your cheek if you know them very well. With people you own age you just shake hands or for girls with your friends you can do the European kiss-kiss on each cheek (you just touch cheeks though, don't really kiss their cheek)
- maids are very common for middle class families which means very few chores!
- food is always on the table. Meals seem to work on a rolling basis (at least in my home) so you can eat whenever you like! Their is always nasi (rice) and then maybe 1 main dish and 2 sides which a lot of times are their for 2 meals in a row until they are gone or put away.  If the food isn't hot, you just heat it up in the microwave. Also the food is usually in the middle of the table with a woven basket type covering over it to keep flies and ants away.
- everything is extremely cheap here compared to American prices. You can get a meal and drink here for 20,000-40,000 rupiah ($2-4)! Only at the mall or really nice restaurant its more expensive. Also my uniforms cost only about $25 USD total!! For pulsa (cell phone credit) it costs about 25,000 rp. for one week- maybe it will be more later if i text more, but i've already been using my phone a lot so its cheap.  Some things are expensive here (well US equivalent or a little more) like baskin-robins ice cream, burgers, and backpacks among other stuff
- there are food vendors literally everywhere. They line all the streets and are at every corner, so there is always food just a few feet away. I ate street food after 1 week in Indonesia, and it didn't really make me sick. My stomach got upset for like 2 days (not enough to make me puke or anything tho) and now i'm completely fine. I only had cooked things though, not anything that would have been washed in the water here which can make you sick.
- American music and TV shows are common here, so there is something familiar from home.
- Indonesians love to sing. Its perfectly normal to sing in the car, or sing loudly in the shower when you have guests over!

-If you are a bule (foreigner) everyone will stare at you, especially when you are at places where tourists usually don't go (aka school, the supermarket, etc.) 
-If you are a bule random people may ask you for a picture or for an interview- i think for English class at school (yes both of these have happened to me) although this doesn't happen all the time or anything. 
-If you are a bule Indonesians will assume that you have met lots of famous people and Hollywood actors, and will ask you have you met/seen... the Glee cast, Maroon 5, Adele, etc? 
-For money college kids will do what i call 'car caroling'. They come around in groups of 5-10 and sing and dance around your car in hopes that you will be entertained enough to give them money. 
-Teenagers also a lot of times play guitar or ukelele through the streets and come up to car windows for money. They also play on the angkots (public transportation vans) and sit in the doorway (which is open) when the angkot is moving slow or in traffic, playing and singing. 
-Lots of bathrooms don't have toilet paper, but instead have a little hose (like the spray thing in the kitchen sink you can use to clean dishes) that you use to clean yourself and in Indonesia 'wet is clean'
-Even weirder, some public bathrooms or even house bathrooms are squat toilets (which may or may not flush). If they don't flush themselves you have to pour water into the toilet with a scoop to manually flush it. If its like this it also won't have a spray hose, and you have to use the scoop instead to clean yourself which is really awkward. 
-Two more weird things about bathrooms- there usually aren't towels or blow dryers to dry your hands and showers a lot of times are the traditional mandi- a tub/basin filled with water that you scoop water out of and pour over yourself to shower. They are actually really easy to use but are kinda cold.
- Girls typically don't shave their legs here, which I'm not sure how i feel about.  I mean obviously its natural, but it still seems a bit gross to me b/c I've been taught by society that its disgusting. Girls do shave their armpits though-luckily!
-At my school (and most others) not only do you wear a uniform but you also can't wear nail polish, noticeable make-up,  or jewelery other than watches and small earings (i think a lot of students break these rules though)
-black and white Converse are the uniform shoes!!
- every single food here is fried. goreng, goreng, goreng! And they say America is unhealthy!
- you have to pay to park everywhere
- all houses and most restaurants, shops, schools, etc (besides the little shack stores and houses) are gated. 
- I haven't seen any houses with a yard bigger than a large bedroom (but i haven't been out of the city)
-maids and drivers are common and maids usually live in the home 
-some parking garages have separate women only parking areas. I asked and AFS volunteer why and she said 'b/c women are worse drivers than men'!! And im pretty sure she was being serious.
-when you go to any sort of restaurant, or cafe (even fast food) you don't have to pick up the trash from your table- the workers do it for you
- school has about 16 subjects. 4/5 per day and most of them you have just once or twice per week. 
- in school you stay with the same class all day and the teachers rotate around to different classes to teach their subject
-school starts at 6:30 and ends at 1:30 so if you aren't staying after school, you can just eat at home!
- citizens of Indonesia are required by law to be one of the five recognized religions (Muslim, Protestant, Catholic, Buddhist, or Hindu) and this information is on their ID card
-almost all lotions here are whitening lotion, because Indonesians think that having lighter skin is more attractive
- the government censors TV and movies (not very strictly though). The internet isn't censored though.

- People only where seat belts in the front seats of cars, if even. It's illegal not to wear a seat belt, but no one really gets pulled over for it
- Roads the width of one vehicle are two-way streets
- Up to four people ride on one motocycle, and women often carry newborn babies on them.
- Im almost positive there are no such things as car seats.
- Lots of people don't wear helmets (illegal) or just don't buckle them...
- Cars drive into oncoming traffic if there is room in the lane
- on some roads lanes are completely ignored all together
-i think i have seen a total of 4 stoplights while I've been here
- Most adult men and lots of women too smoke cigarettes 
- little kids come up to car windows and beg even in the rain. AFS told us that a lot of times the kids are being used and are 'trained' to beg so that if you give them money it doesn't actually go to them or help them a lot of times. so sad :( 
- the back of supply trucks are used as a common form of transportation. Tons of people sit or stand on top of the stuff in the back or even sit on a makeshift 'deck' for a car- like a little wooden platform coming off of the back bumper, or like one of those things that you attach to the back of a car to put suitcases and trunks on


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