Monday, July 25, 2011

Explanations, Weddings, and Clean Socks

It's 3:55 pm here in Malaysia, and man do I have something to blog about. Well, quite a few somethings.
Let's begin with the idea of blogging. Let's not think of this as a blog, but as the preparations for a Thesis. Since AFS has become the life of so gosh darn many returnees, in Education, Volunteer Work and Careers, my host father pointed out that this experience should be cataloged for future use, not as a blog or a measly school project, but as a Thesis, because apparently I'm going places.
My natural father thinks so too, he even sent me a link to Harvard's School of Witchcraft and- wait, no. It was the JFK School of government. Still at Harvard. Talk about pressure.

So, moving on to Weddings. I love weddings in the West, and in New England they are these beautiful, elaborate, picture book things that cause everyone to just forget their woes and join a nice, natural party. Sure marriage is a dying institution, seeing as how 1 in every 2 marriages ends in a divorce ("So It'll be you or your wife" ~famous comedian). And sure, also, that it fosters a commitment that would otherwise not exist and cause a psychological barrier to both parties, but the actual ceremonies are good, clean, fun. At the post-ceremony festivities I attended, the guests were to seat themselves at different tables and in one case be served via buffet, and in the other the food was on a Lazy Susan on the table that presumably kept the food warm. The food was delicious, and was the first time I tried a few different things. I'll post pictures later, I'm having a little bit of trouble uploading them right now. I took pictures of the food, the family I'm staying with here and their family, as well as flowers. Lots and lots of shots of flowers. Also the atmosphere in the room was photographed by yours truly. It's really upsetting to me that I don't have the photos here for you. Maaf (sorry in Malay)

After the second wedding (because there were two this weekend), I went with my eldest host sister and eldest host brother to a family members house where I met all the important AFS Malaysia people. It's really a family affair with these ones. I'm so great full to have such a large family involvement here, they already know what the things are that go wrong and go out of their way to address them so I don't screw up. It's like having every great friend by your side pointing out your mistakes and telling you the dire consequences they could lead to if you continue to make them. Very very helpful :)
But for real, I'm eternally greatful. I am equally greatful to my host uncle who took the time at the post-wedding gathering to explain to me the social repercussions of Islam and it's practice in Malaysia. Getting to talk to someone who knows how it is in the US and has taught classes of students here in Malaysia was really eye opening. I understood so much more about the culture I'll call home for these next 11 months. I'll make sure to go into it later, it's such a heavy subject.
Speaking of heavy subjects that require explanation, my host father kindly explained the... uhm... exhibition at school. I'm still uncomfortable, but now I can understand it a little better. It's all to do with religion's influence on the society here. Again, more detail later. I'll save these stories for when school and life here stops being so actively engaging.
Clean socks. Everybody loves clean socks. This is the philosophy on which I will base my life. Think about it- have you ever met someone who doesn't like clean socks? No. Neither have I. Even children realize they don't like walking into a bit of spilled water in the kitchen in socks. They freak out. Even cultures without the daily use of socks appreciate on those rare occasions to have access to clean socks. This is a big idea- we all crave the same clean simplicity. Even though we might wear dirty socks from time to time, nobody enjoys it for long. We have basic human desires for love, compassion, understanding, something to believe in. When something fails and you are denied one of these things, it's not just that the washer is broken. It's that there's no soap in the house. Do you understand? So let's all just forget weather we prefer Argyle or plain whites, knee-highs or ankle cut, or even if we wear socks to bed, because in the end, everyone likes them clean.
I'll get those pictures of the wedding and of me in a traditional costume and of the house soon. Until then,

Friday, July 22, 2011

Awkwardness and Apathy (rated PG-13)

Selemat Pagi (Good Morning) to my friends in Rhode Island who are following! It's 2:30 in the afternoon here ( 14:30) , so it's 2:30 am for you guys. Exactly a 12-hour time difference, I think it's kind of funny.

Anyway, I'm updating this blog today to say how things are going. Today in school I purchased some notebooks and I'm waiting on a copy of a Science Workbook, and there was a strange assembly. But first, a quick explanation of school; or, The Story So Far.
I'm in the Arts stream, which means that the focus of the set of classes I'm in is an application to art. I'm taking such classes as Basic Mathematics, Bahasa Malaysia (Malay Language), Bahasa English (English Language), P.E., Islam, Business, Basic Science, History (World, I think), and Art. I have not yet attended an Art or Islam or P.E. class, but I'm sure they'll rock just as much as the others.
In Basic Maths, which I was told would be in English, I'm keeping up with the language enough to copy and complete the work, although I struggle in the concepts as they're on Trig II, I think. For Bahasa Malaysia, I study what I know and don't really follow along with the class because they're at my level in English, but in Malay. For Bahasa English, I speak only in English and correct people's grammar. For Business, I write down what's put on the board and hope it makes sense to me later. Science is surprisingly easy- we're doing things with practical applications and there's not much math involved yet. It's funny- my science here is easier despite the vague language barrier, it's actually easier to understand my Cikgu (teacher) than my 10th grade Chemistry Teacher. I look forward to learning in the classes I haven't had yet :)

Well, today's assembly is the next subject. This is where the awkwardness comes in. 3 guesses as to what's awkward for a teenage girl in any culture. That's right- SEX!
But not just any kind, the kind that gets teenagers pregnant and leads to dead babies on the side of the road and dangerous abortions and STDs and the god you worship hating you and AIDS and war and pestilence and the world ending. Now, I would've been okay with this because I didn't understand a word of it besides those borrowed from English; like Abortion, STDs, and AIDS, but it was the pictures and the mood music that really made it uncomfortable for me. I know I'll get through it, but it was very very shocking for me to see about 100 different photographs of dead babies in different appalling conditions and nearly as many pictures and diagrams about the effects of STDs on the genitals of both genders. This I was not prepared for. This I couldn't really handle the first time around, so I put my head down and tried to put myself in a happy place. It was hard to do this because I was sitting on a hard floor for about 5 hours with one break for food and the mood music was everywhere. Even if I couldn't detect the tones of the various speakers; which I could, I could tell what was happening because of the clumsily applied sound effects. They managed to connect hugging and kissing a boyfriend to the bombs that were dropped on Giza, and there was a song in English that everyone knew but me. Every time sex was mentioned, a deep 'Jaws'- like soundtrack would come up, the climax happening a little before the speaker had reached his or her conclusion regarding the dangers of the act. The last off-putting part was how easily the students went from this disgusting, horrific, depressing, upsetting, unsettling display of the sad and grotesque; the nauseating terror that came with the videos of Mosques exploding and pictures of inflamed genitals, to their everyday lives. Everyone but me walked out with a smile on their faces, glad it was the weekend. I was stunned in silence, unable to comprehend the purpose. What I have described was beyond uncomfortable for me, but I will not speak ill of it, because it was the only sexual education the students have ever been provided.
Speaking of speaking ill of something, I would like to address the fact that I will endeavor not to complain on this blog. I will be saving my secret gripes and personal problems and challenges for my journal, which finally has a purpose in this.
Back to education, which I will be participating in soon in the position of an instructor. I will be giving small English classes to Form 1 and 2 students (about US grades 5, 6, and 7) and putting up words and phrases in French on a board to see if there in an interest in French language lessons, even though I've only taken up to French 2. I am far from fluent. But so are they. So it all works out.
The good has balanced the not-so-good thus far, and as my emotions balance I am rendered at zero, and I feel almost numb, almost apathetic in my overwhelmed confusion. I'll examine this later. Probably after a shower.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Updates, Orientations, Family, Love

Hey there, I rather like the introduction to have these themes in the title. Should I continue? Should I explain? Should I ask more questions of my limited audience?
Well, let's begin with Updates, as the title indicates. I'm here with my host family in my new home in Bangi, Malaysia. I'm very excited to be here, and I've been welcomed with open arms and big smiles. Let's go back- how did I get here? You can look up what happened before a few days ago in previous entries, but I'm starting on the 13th.
These are things I wrote at the noted times;

1:20 AM, 13 July 2011
After about 30 seconds of silent contemplation at these wee hours of the morning for me, I realize that silent contemplation isn’t what I need. Let’s call this my first entry of the blog that I’ll post this too later. Well, the first entry as an exchange student for real. This morning at about 6, Mom woke me up all gently and lovingly and told me that I needed to get up and greet some big adventure.
Going downstairs, I popped out my retainer and had some blueberry pancakes, which were very very yummy and made by Dad. Usually, I don’t take syrup on pancakes with anything on them, but the blueberries weren’t quite sweet enough. Too early in the season, I suppose. Then, after getting the bags into the car and making the boys presentable, Aunt Jeni picked up the boys and took them to her house, wishing me a last good luck. She also took some pictures, which I assume will make me look terrible because it was early and I don’t put on makeup when I fly.
Driving to the Airport was a bore. I felt like the whole thing was anticlimactic. Every little thing said would be remembered. Every review of the things I’d packed seemed so insignificant. Arriving at the airport, we parked in the little lot and shuffled inside. Getting up to the counter, there was a line forming. Fortunately, we were 3 hours early. It took about 2 of those hours to make it though the line because of intermittent power outages that stopped everything in its tracks, annoying everyone but us, because we kept making jokes about it. We checked in the bag to a fee of $25, something we had not anticipated. They changed the flight information on my boarding pass so it looked like my flight was boarding at 9:15 instead of 9:50, when it was supposed to. And I still needed to go through security. Rushing to the front of the line, Mom and Dad stopped me because they couldn’t get the passes to see me to the gate. This was goodbye for a very long time, and this was the time to say it. We hugged and kissed, then, and kept waving all through the winding security line that was mostly empty. From the other side of the tinted glass they watched me blot my face on my shirt. I waved once more, and then I was distracted just long enough by the security guard for tem to slip away. It might’ve been my perspective, because when I looked back, the tints in the window were darker. Perhaps they could see me looking hopefully for them, and then turning away. I hope so.
From the security section to the gate was a blur. I stopped tearing, never actually crying, and filled the giant water bottle. My gate was the second in the terminal, and sitting there was making me antsy. So I took out the things from my personal bag and reorganized them from the shuffle I put it through on the ride to the airport. I put in my headphones to the Gorilaz tracks that were on. First ‘Dare’, then ‘Fire Coming Out Of the Monkey’s Head’, the ballad about the invasion of a town of Happy Folk that always gave me the picture of a small Vietnamese settlement, invaded by US Soldiers. That’s probably not what it was written about, but that doesn’t matter. My flight was switched to the manual boarding because of the power outages. We climbed down two sets of stairs, and then walked out on the tarmac towards the smallest commercial jet I’ve ever seen. I offered my second carry-on to the man with the carriage of them. I stepped up the stairs to the little plane and at the top I paused, almost poetically, and looked out on the grey-blue sky, then took my last breath of Rhode Island air for 11 and ½ months.
On the plane, I had my first ‘first’ experience; having both the window and the aisle seat at the same time! There was one side with two seats and one side with a single seat, and mine was the singleton. I wedged the personal bag under the seat in front of me and proceeded to put on a sweatshirt. I spent that flight sleeping. Then, pulling into Cleveland, some mild turbulence woke me, and I prepared to leave. The luggage we checked in for the short flight was available pretty soon after we got off the plane, this time into a functioning tube-thing. Cleveland airport would’ve been nice if I didn’t have to find my gate, buy some lunch, and return to the gate in 45 minutes, which was just enough time. I ate at a place called Cheeseburger Cheeseburger. Three guesses as to what I bought. There were some pretty cool oversized guitars symbolizing the various artists in the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame, and I would’ve taken pictures, but it would’ve delayed me in my travels back to the gate. Getting on the plane to LA, I wasn’t sleepy enough to just conk out again, but I didn’t want to stay awake.
So I remained in a meditative limbo for about 4 hours. Half asleep, half awake, I denied myself the temptation to think. It can’t be healthy, keeping these feeling inside like this. Maybe writing will help- I’ve already spent about half an hour at it. Getting to LA was pretty anti-climactic; I was expecting a much better looking airport, but they were under some serious remodeling. There were some cute signs about it, though. I picked up my luggage, no problem, and called for the shuttle. It picked me up and I met a nice lady who used to work in the airports. She has two kids, both grown now, and she told me about living as a flight attendant. It sucks, apparently. It’s not a 9-to-5, and the pay isn’t good enough to compensate for the missed birthday parties and such. She gave me M&Ms for the flight to KL, which she says is the most beautiful place she’s been. That was very encouraging.
Checked into the hotel, met Polly and Floyd, out orientation people, and saw Megan again, she’s our flight chaperone. Polly is significantly old, but she’s knitting on circular needles for a flat-needle piece, so she’s experienced in something. Floyd is a nice guy, considering he’s a retired teacher and the national-level guy for the orientations. We get ours from the best, apparently. Megan is such a card, she’s so funny! We went over our schedule and everything, and went to dinner. I had Chicken on a Brick, a very nice serving of Mashed Potatoes, and some vegetables that hadn’t been cooked enough. The Grapefruit juice was great, though. We talked about the Women’s soccer cup, and reflected on our anxieties. My roommate’s Marlena, and she’s back inside now, so I think I’ll wait for the Weezer song to end, and then I’ll log it off for tonight. It’s 2:05 am at home. It’s 11:05 here. It’s 2:05 pm in Malaysia.

Wow, reflecting time. That was so very long ago...


2:41 AM 14 July 2011
So late, but so early. I really needed a break from talking and listening because it’s sleepy-time on my clock. Please excuse the poor grammar and use of unsophisticated language in this entry. We’re all talking about how we’re going to use this experience, and one girl has a lot of options. These YES Abroad-ers are the greatest people! They’re not like most teenagers- they’ve got these big ideas and aspirations and plans for the amazing futures they’ll have. Makes me think about my options and just how many doors this program has opened for me. The opportunity that is YES is just incredible, and everyone’s just seem such an improvement in their lives because of this program. I, for one, know that I’ll get into college- something that was never assured to me before because of the cost. I knew that I could get some sort of scholarship and I’m really good at playing government beurocracy to my benefit and I fill out forms like a boss, so all the federal plans applicable will be put into play. Whatever I can get, I’ll take- which is one of the attitudes they were looking for at the IPSE. By the way, IPSE stands for In-Person Selection Event, and it took place in Denver, Colorado. IPSE is initialism, not an anagram. You should not be able to pronounce it, just say the letters I, P, S, and E in quick succession. It’s not ippsea.
Anyway, I’m here at the airport listening to some Rush to clear my head (A Farewell to Kings), and watching my groups’ bags. They’ve gone on an adventure to find food in this barren little airport that’s technically part of the LAX system, but is about 5 minutes away by highway. We were shuttled here, away from the hotel about 4 hours before our actual flight. It’s about half an hour before we need to be at the gate to be there an hour before they board which is half an hour to an hour before we actually take off. I’m practically counting minutes.
The butterflies in my stomach have died from the acid, and their remnants are twitching in the sludge that is my digestion. You can tell I’m tired when I begin to write things like that. Mwahahahahahahaa.
Checking my bags in on this flight was pretty fun to be honest, and really gave me some insight to the random people you meet when you wear an AFS nametag. Our check-in lady, Meggie, was an AFS-er for 2002-2003 from Hong Kong to Holland. They all spoke Dutch, and she only knew English! The nice security man who checks your papers before you go through actual security saw that we were a group and talked about the awesomeness of the experience of studying abroad. We all smiled and nodded, and he was pretty happy for someone who deals with travelers.
On a darker, deeper note, I’d like to rant about emotionally dealing with this stuff. Everyone I’ve talked to seems to be handling this like an automaton. We’re just going through these motions, sometimes tearing up when something about our families is mentioned, and hoping to whatever god we can that we’ll deal with this later. This sadness and an enveloping nervousness that we can’t deal with right now I feel will tear us apart later.
Plane now, write later. Bye!

Again, that's so weird how I said these things. I should keep a journal more often. Here's the latest entry from this morning. I'd like you to notice how most of these seem unfinished.

18 July 2011
I haven’t written in a while, and I’ve only got a limited time now. It’s 6:30 in the morning, and I woke up to a bright light in my younger sister’s room. I’m on the trundle bed, and the maid, Bibi (I think is how it’s spelled) has turned on the light and turned off the Air Conditioning. My sarong has been impossibly tangled in my legs, but when I get up it rights itself. I drank so much water, I feel that my bladder now consumes my gut. I reflected on how I got here, and when this became okay at all. Let’s start with the plane from LA to Hong Kong.
I thought checking in my first carry-on would be a good idea, but I neglected to remember this is where my medication, Malay flashcards, lotion, and other things were. To bad, I realized about 3 hours into the 15 hour flight. I still had my laptop, but I just didn’t feel like writing or playing. I felt like sleeping. I found the music channel on the airplane video screen, and knocked out after the second song in Adele’s new album. I woke up about 3 hours later to food, which was rice, undercooked vegetables, chicken parts in sauce, water, bread and a yoghurt cup. The rice was what I ate because the bread was heavy and old smelling. I fell back asleep immediately following the collection of garbage. I spent the rest of the flight sleeping, watching Despicable Me, a poor choice on my part because it was about families sticking together, and eating another tin package of airplane food. This time, rice, chicken parts and mushrooms, and some sort of onion, although I’m not positive. The bread then tasted fresher and healthier, and the yoghurt cup less foreboding. I ate most of it. I noticed soon after the meal that my legs had swollen tremendously despite my walking around every 2 hours and being so waterlogged that I had to remember to get up. This is kind of gross, so skip it unless you can handle it. I was travelling on my period, so I was crampy, cranky, and kind of icky smelling to be perfectly frank. I would like to take this time to apologize to those who thought they had to read that.
We arrived in Hong Kong after breaking the smog/cloud cover that hovers over the city and airport. I forgot my water bottle on the plane, but that was okay because I could buy a new one. I bought a 770mL bottle and I looked for more pants because I’d spilled apple juice on my crotch during the flight. I wasn’t worried about the stain; it was the stickiness that I didn’t like. Sorry, that was also pretty gross. I got change for the water bottle and a postcard in HK$; their currency is so cute! I also took pictures of the mini-museum in the airport.
I rushed back to the gate because we had just started boarding, and joined my group. We boarded without hassle and I was seated behind two of my group and next to a woman who was studying Pacific Native Studies in Canada and was coming home for her brother’s wedding. She was a devout Christian, though of what denomination I didn’t feel I ad the right to ask. She prayed before takeoff, after takeoff, before eating, before landing and after landing. I was in the middle again, and seized my opportunity for a stroll when the man in the aisle seat got up to complain about something. He was ancient; without a doubt the oldest man I have ever seen. We flew over some plantations which looked like meticulously planned forests, and over a few towns that reminded me of flying over Rhode Island, right before you reach the clouds. We got off the plane and filed to immigration where our chaperone mercilessly stared down two families and a single man who tried to cut the line. Nobody cuts the line. J
We got through immigration and met our bags. I forgot to take my smaller, checked in bag at the carousel because we were rushed off so fast. Everything was happening at once and I began to feel dizzy, which is a poor excuse for leaving my bags. Because it took so long to go through immigration, we had very little time to find our AFS representative. We found Ishmael (I think that’s how it’s spelled) and he took us to the van. We were about 15 minutes in when I realized the missing bag. I let Izzy know at the hotel, and he responded with a very American, “Are you shitting me?”.
I was not shitting him, unfortunately. I saw a few people who directed me to another few people, eventually finding someone who would take my information and help me. He tried to claim my bag at the airport after I told him that probably wouldn’t work, and apologized profusely. I told him it was okay, that I would get it later. Bangi was a short 45 minute drive from KL airport, and an even shorter half hour by train. We had a few orientations at the hotel, but not as many as the Europeans, who had already been there for 2 days. We saw the outdoor markets- two of them, and a Hindi temple. The temple was amazing, the architecture and sculpture blew my mind. The idols were done in such a fashion; they looked like the gods they represented. We saw a ceremony, but were hustled out of there because it began to rain and we had to walk and take public transportation back. One of the trains was Air Conditioned, but the other was very warm. I have yet to mention- it’s very warm in Malaysia. I mean, New England Summer warm. So, very close to hot. This is fine for everyone under 150 lbs, but anyone larger than me has not stopped sweating.
After our last orientation and meal, we went to a ballroom to rehearse a song we had learned about a lamb that was lost in the rice field, where the narrator didn’t know where their love was. Their love was the one wearing the red shirt. Chan mali chan, chan mali chan, chan mali chan ketipung paying. This means, come back, come back, come back under my umbrella. I know, I don’t understand it either. It’s a folksong, like Jimmy Crack Corn or something. Then came the handing over ceremony, what we were al waiting for. Hotels make me cold, so I was wearing a clashing sweatshirt and making a fool of myself. We presented the song to our new families and we were each called to come to the tiny stage to be handed over by the famous MC. He kept advertising his jobs and telling us how old he was, which was silly. He spoke many languages and was an ASF returnee, but the messages he gave us and what we had learned before didn’t match up. There were many confused students, then. We were tired, hungry and in need of more than a quick shower, which added to our distress. I was handed over first in my batch because my host father “Papa” is the chapter leader. I watched the other Germans, Belgians, Spanish, Venezuelans, Portuguese, Italians, French and Norwegians be handed over, and I clapped extra loud for my American friends, that team I had come to know and love so well.
My family collected me and gave me a sarong to wear over my skirt, further clashing with the sweatshirt I shivered under. We met a few important people in the AFS organization and I talked to my siblings. I did Salam (greetings) with the women I met, all of whom were asking where in America I was from. I tell them East Coast first, then Rhode Island, which many people think is part of New York. Whatever. My host father had already been told of my baggage situation and told me we could get that now, and a great burden was lifted from my shoulders. We drove to the airport while my host mother, “Mommy”, told me many many things about how the house runs. I’m surprised how much of it I remember.  I shared a little about my family when she prompted me, but I was interrupted too much to speak for long, which was fine by me. The parents noticed my sleepiness, and chalked it up to Jet lag, and not the fact that I just had to become nocturnal for this trip. Again, whatever. We jumped through the hoops at the Airport to claim the bag, and I was sent through a series of doors to find the office.  I claimed my bag, and I noticed a Zipper was missing, which sent me through a loop. I told the man in charge and he said that the airport apologizes. His English was broken, but he told me to put my name on the line that said the state of the bag was satisfactory. Today was full of accepting less than I had intended. I met my host mother again and we drove with the whole family minus the baby to the house. Malaysian driving is terrifying, and riding without a seatbelt makes me uncomfortable to the nth degree. We got home after picking up some spicy “Italian” food that was hot and oily, and I unpacked into the few containers I was given for storage. I found my mother’s letter in my suitcase and just seeing the envelope made me cry, so I gave my family the presents and took a shower before my tears got in the way of us getting to know one another. I knew I would break down, and writing this in the confidence of an empty room I’m crying again. I miss my family dearly. I’ve got to stop now because my battery is running low and I need to start my day. It’s 7:30 AM here, but it’s 7:30 PM in my heart.

Okay, that was the updates about the orientations, the family and I'd like to finish with this;

I love my natural and my host family both very very much. Everyone here is so kind, so helpful. Everyone at home is so loving, so supportive. Love is what keeps me going, and it's what keeps this whole idea of international and inter-cultural exchange going. It's what fuels people to try, try, and keep trying, regardless of the many many mistakes they make. It's what reduces a  mature 15 year-old to a toddler when she misses her home, and it's what will build her back up when she realizes how supported she is.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Conference Calls, Questions, and Vocabulary

Today the Packing Gods smile upon me as I take the initiative to pre-pack; a practice run that'll help me decide what I can and cannot bring. I've been encouraged to take many many things, but I think I'll fall right in the middle of the 44 lb weight limit. My carry-on can only be 22 pounds, and my "Personal Bag" is supposed to be personal, so... I dunno.

Let's look at the packing list, shall we?

My Check-In
In Black Fold Up:
Pajamas #1: Jammy pants, tshirt, panties, slippers
Pajamas #2: Jammy shorts, tshirt, panties, socks
Swimsuit/Big Purple Wrap

Canvas All-Stars
Workout Sneakers

In SpaceBags:
Other nice outfits; Dresses, Slips
3 Shirts, 2 Pants

Gifts: Wrapped
International Electric Adapter
CDs and DVDs
2 Balls Yarn, Crochet Hooks, 5 Pairs Knitting Needles

My Carry-On
Toiletry Bag
Outfit #1: Jeans, Button-down, Undies
Outfit #2: Skirt, Little Jacket, Slip, Undies
Ender's Shadow, Tao of Pooh
Jewelry, Makeup
All AFS/YES Papers

My Personal Bag
Passport/Boarding pass/Directions bag
Taco W/ Electronics and Chargers
Water Bottle
Hand Lotion

That's It! Well, I'm probably gonna toss a stuffed animal in there...

Also, today is the day of my country-specific conference call! I've got so many questions that have been answered already, I don't know if I have any more!

Really Excited Anyway!!!

Tukar- Change
Tubuh- Body
Tuala- Towel
Tilam- Mattress

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

DC Orientation and Host Family Communication

At the Orientation in Washington, DC, so many things happened in a very very short amount of time, giving each of the students an abbreviated amount of quiet to really work through the emotions everyone was feeling. Fortunately, bestowed upon us were these magical portals into our consciousness called journals. Since I adore writing and have already planned to keep this blog, I thought I was set. It took until the "How to use a Journal" seminar was half over before I realized how many undocumented feelings and events went on. I'm sorry, blog followers, but there are some emotions that WILL NOT MAKE IT TO THIS BLOG. My deepest and most sincere apologies, but I really can't just write "I was annoyed at this person today" because then that person will feel blogged about. Even though this is about my  experience and reflecting on it, people will get hurt if that happens.

Other seminars included an Introduction is Islam featuring the wise Imam Arafat, a lesson on how to be a great Ambassador for your country, your community, your family and yourself, and many many others. I learned so much from being with the Malaysian students who were in attendance for their final orientation before going home. They were all so happy, so friendly, so helpful, so caring, I just couldn't handle it! They told me things about the school and home life and the culture differences that they could compare because they were here in the US for a year, and it was extremely helpful.

In Malaysia, there are two different tracks in school. There's the Arts/Language/History/Culture track that's taught in Malay, and there's the Maths/Science/Biology/Chemistry track that's generally taught in English. Because I'm so excited to learn Malay and my interests lean towards Arts, History, and Culture, I'm figuring on taking that track of classes. I understand that this will be challenging, but I am confident in myself and my host family's help. I'm really very very excited to go!

Talking to my host family makes me so happy- they seem like the nicest people and they have a lot of experience in hosting. I've had some experience hosting, so I know what's said and what's not, and how indirect communication can really affect relationships. I hope they are okay with me writing blogs- that's something we'll have to talk about when I get there.

Speaking of when I get there, the clock is ticking down! I've got 7 days before I leave for LA for the orientation, 10 days before I leave the country, and something like 12 days before I see my host family! I'm coming home!

Here's something I thought was cool: 5 Malay Words from the first Quizlet List:
Waktu: Time/When
Ubi: Potato
Ubat: Medicine
Tunjuk: To point out
Turun: To descend

That's right- I'm going backward alphabetically.
Good luck to my friends in India and Thailand!