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First Impressions

Homestay in Jogya

Today we began our homestay, and we thought it would be a fun activity to share with you our first impressions and first experiences with our families:

Harrison: I started my homestay with a horse driven carriage through the the bustling streets of Jogya. Motorcycles and cars zipping in and out and somehow the horse was unfazed. It took about thirty minutes to arrive at my home for the upcoming weeks. My house is across from a rice field, the street outside is busy it seems 24/7, children run and play in the streets outside stopping and pointing when they see the white man watching them. My room is small and has a bed with Starbucks sheets, this I assume is something they did deliberately to help me feel more at home.  Last night I was sitting on the floor watching my homestay brother who is 8ish do his homework when I felt something on my lower back. I reached around and grabbed it only  to realize it was a four inch long bug. It scurried out of my hand and was gone quicker than it came.  My homestay sister got home late from ballet. Later when we were talking I learned that she leaves for school at 6 AM and doesn’t get home until 9 pm as well as she has mid semester exams.  She’s the only one in the house who speaks English so I’m excited to get to converse with someone when it isn’t me butchering Bahasa. Im excited to see what the next few weeks have in store!

Eeshani: My host family is very sweet and extremely eager to help me at all times which can be overwhelming at times, but is very well intentioned. The family also has very limited English but still tries very hard to do everything they can to accommodate me. My family consists of 2 twin 10 year old boys named Al and El. They are super cute and sweet and funny and I am very excited to get to know and play around with them more. There is also a 15 year old girl whose name is Leia, and another sister who I am unsure of the age and name of (oops). My host parents are very kind and get excited every time I attempt to speak Bahasa with them. Last night I was very tired when I arrived there and didn’t interact too much with the family aside from dinner. I am still very unconfident with my Bahasa, but I am looking forward to learning more and connecting a little bit more with my family.

Savanna: I was greeted by my homestay family with big smiles and warm hugs. As soon as I arrived they offered me tea, showed me around their home, and introduced me to their kids. Their daughters are Pipit (sixteen) and Rosa (nine), and their son Dika is seven. Their cousin Lia, who is also sixteen, spends a lot of time in their home too. My homestay parents are named Tanti and Joko, and Joko’s mom lives with us as well. Everyone just calls her Simbah, which is grandma in Javanese. The entire family is very kind and helpful, but it’s definitely a challenge to communicate with each other. Thankfully everyone is very patient, and hopefully Bahasa will start to come a bit more naturally over the next few weeks.

Chris: My host family is smaller than most of my groupmates’, but it’s members certainly don’t lack for spunk! My mother is a professor of art and graphic design at one of the many universities in Jogjakarta. My father owns a recording studio that broadcasts popular music over the radio. My mother in particular has an excellent grasp of English, and she has been a valuable teacher for someone like me, who is just beginning to grasp the rudiments of Bahasa Indonesian. I am amazed by how patient she is with my near-constant language and grammar mistakes, exacerbated by my glaring lack of important vocabulary. In just my first few days in Jogja, I’ve learned a lesson I don’t think I’ll ever forget: it takes many more words than you’d think to navigate daily life. Despite my struggles with the language, living with them has been a real treat, in large part because of their five-year-old daughter, Riyu. She has embraced the stupid, clueless American with open arms, something I could never have imagined myself doing at that age. I’ve had a really good time thus far, and I can’t wait to see what the next two weeks will bring!

Shane: Arriving to a house where I did not know my Ibu, Batak, and 3 littles brothers along with a language barrier was scary, but I was greeted with smiles and excitement to welcome me into their family. I realized I was going to have to find different ways to communicate with my family. As I watched my brothers run in circles chasing each other, I soon found ways to play along and laugh with them. My littlest brother even brought toys in my room so we could play together. I went to bed excited for the weeks to come and the chance to get to know my homestay family.

Troy: The first day at the homestay was an absolute trip. Upon my arrival to my new home, I found that my little brother, Arka, had already told the whole neighborhood about me. 6 children challenged me to a penalty shoot out and asked me to attack the oldest one. I was given a tour by my sister, Ken. Before dinner I showed them my photo album and talked about my family. They also had a very strong interest in my one magic trick. I did it 16 times. After dinner, Arka and I went through his animal picture books and talked about our favorite animals. Overall, my new family made me feel very welcome, and I loved all the amazing conversations we have already had!

Alex: My new mother and sister picked me up from the program house with wide smiles and open arms. Over a delicious outdoor dinner, I learned all about Nina’s impressive career in law and Tical’s passion for horseback riding. In the car ride home, we belted out Celine Dion and Shania Twain (finding connections in unexpected places :)). Ibu Nina graciously welcomed me into her home, immediately making me feel comfortable and cared for. The next morning, we enjoyed breakfast while she translated the television anchor’s news report. This led to a fascinating discussion on Indonesian politics, religion, gender, and ethnic dynamics. I’m really looking forward to the remainder of the Jogja homestay and to more fully becoming part of Ibu Nina and Tical’s family!

Chase: Really fun and a good learning environment as my family speaks little English.

Carly: My first night with my homestay was awkward, exciting, and fun. Meeting my sisters and baby brother was awesome, and the rest of the family is super sweet as well. The food is yummy and seconds, thirds, and fourths are frequently piled onto my plate. As the nights go on, I meet more extended family members, feel more comfortable not knowing what’s being said, and helping around the house. I’m looking forward to the next few weeks with them!

Avery: Nobody can pronounce my first name so my host mom just calls me “Herman” (Air-Mon), which means “familiar” in Javanese. Also everyone stares at me.

Pia: my first feeling when meeting my host family was a mix of excitement and nerves, i was ready to get out and see the city from a different perspective and I definitely have. Everyone here is so giving and aware of being kind, they ‘ judge and they love anyone willing to try. I haven’t yet found comfort in being able to speak to my family but the comfort of feeling welcomed is present, that’s a great place to start.