Friday, August 12, 2011

Re-Organized Priorities; Blogging, Obviously, Does Not Come First

10 August 2011 2:07 PM
I’ve had to change all my various clocks and watches back to a 12-hour clock instead of a standard that I’m used to because, as it turns out, Malaysians don’t really use the 24-hour time scheme, although I find it extremely usefull. Speaking of time, I have been in dire need to prioritizing mine.
When I first arrived, I thought I was going to have a time scheme very similar to mine at home because the host family seemed about as involved in jobs and community service, as well as family time, as my natural family. Also, school started around the same time and ended thereabouts too. I assumed (correctly) that I would be spending some time after school studying or teaching or otherwise helping. I thought that not much would change, ad I was pretty used to doing various housecleaning duties in regular and irregular intervals.
Now that I’ve had time to adjust, courtesy of my host family, I realize that there is a larger stress on some things than others and this family, in fact, works very differently than mine, despite our core values being aligned. We all value spending time together, community activities and the success of a family based on the success and happiness of the individual members. Because of Ramadan and the need to prepare for various exams with extra classes and for me to work on my teaching and my language skills, there have been some big differences.
Let’s take me through an average (Ramadan) day, here at home. These are all estimations, of course.
We get up as a family around 4:45, and there’s a few wake-up calls for the younger children. Then, we shuffle downstairs to eat the heavy breakfast the live-in maid has so dutifully prepared, and that finishes around 5:15 because the sun comes up at 5:30. I go back to my room and read a few pages of a book to get me all the way awake gently as I like it, then I make up the beds. Then I might sleep, or go downstairs and spend some early-morning time with the kids that are up. Around 6:45, I take a shower and use the bathroom very briefly, often I’m out in 10 minutes. I get dressed in the uniform that’s clean and hanging in my room so it’s not wrinkled and get my schoolbooks together. We leave the house around 7:05 or 7:10, depending on how ready we are. We walk to school; me and my eldest host sister. School runs from 7:30 to 12:30 during Ramadan. I come home or spend time after school talking to teachers and organizing things, or teaching English or French. English is on Tuesdays, French on Thursdays. I might get home at 1, 1:30, or 2. I walk home, and I arrive pretty tired. I generally take a longer shower, around 10 minutes, and get dressed in something vaguely presentable. I usually wash my school uniform, then, and hang it out to dry. I then bring in the laundry and fold it if it’s dry. From there, I usually nap for about 30 minutes and plan for lessons for another 30 minutes. I spend around 1 hour on the internet, mostly blogging and researching things like Islam, Malay, and teaching methods. I might nap again or read for a while and offer my help downstairs if I’m not exhausted. That usually brings me to breaking fast, where I help a small amount with the food preparations (i.e., clearing the table, getting the food from the kitchen to the living room, getting out the drinks, waking napping kids for dinner), and we go out to buy the food as any number of family members going to the Ramadan Bazaars. We come back and stare at the food until the call to prayer at 7:30. We chow down and after, I’ll wash or rinse or dry or put away (or any combination of the four) the dishes. Generally, there’s a resting period for the food to settle, so the family might talk if there’s nothing of upmost importance going on. I’ve found this is the best time to ask questions that I’ve been thinking about. I usually take a shower after there’s a pause in the conversation. Then the family gets ready to go out to the Mosque to pray. I’ve watched Abu at home a few times, but there’s been a female companion who can’t participate in the prayer there mostly. I catch up on come CNN and BBC news, and talk to whomever is with me. I might play a little ukulele or, if it’s Sunday, Skype with my natural parents at home. Then, the family gets home ad they usually have more food, so they’ll eat and I’ll get ready for bed, because I usually go to sleep around 10. I’m drinking a lot after breaking fast, so I’ll use the bathroom again and brush my teeth and promptly fall asleep. It’s too bad I’m so tired, because my family stays up long after I’ve crashed.
Whew, that was long. In order to get these things straight, I’ve had to re-organize my priorities (such as eating breakfast later because that aids in digestion and not relaxing immediately after I arrive home) and the lifestyle changes will probably be changed again when Ramadan is over. I’ve also had to change a lot of my habits, so far. Things like blowing my nose and asking direct questions have had to be postponed until I can figure out a way to do them discreetly. Well, I’m due downstairs to finish folding and washing- my schedule as a little thrown off today because I took a nap immediately after my shower.


  1. Sounds like a very non-contiguous schedule! When does Ramadan end? I hope that food sticks to your ribs all day! Is there any element of family game playing or music in the home?

  2. The schedule isn't very sleep-friendly, I'll tell you that. It takes FOREVER for rice to be digested, so that keeps me going until I can sleep, and most kids in class take time to nap, there. I, observing the culture, follow suit. There's not really family game-playing, although I brought Yahtzee, but there is alot of soccer-watching. Soccer for us, football for them. There's not alot of music playing, but I do have my ipod that I put in when I'm doing housework solo. :)