Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIII, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Hari-Hari Saya Di Bali: My Days in Bali

Salamat pagi! Saya sekarang di Jawa! Saya tiba di Jawa di senin dengan teman-teman saya dan guru-guru saya. Saya rindu Ibu dan rumah saya di Bali, tapi saya suka keluarga saya di Jawa juga. Saya punya Ibu, Bapak, dan satu adik laki-laki. Di rumah saya di Jawa, saya mononton televisi, makan malam, dan tindur. Sekarang saya di Gadjah Mada University (UGM), dan saya belajar Bahasa Indonesia.

(Good morning! I am now in Java! I arrived in Java on Monday with my friends and teachers. I miss my host-mother and house in Bali, but I also like my family in Java.  I have a host mother, host father, and a younger brother. In my house in Java, I watch television, eat dinner, and sleep. Right now I am at the Gadjah Mada University (UGM), and I am studying Bahasa Indonesia)

Note: I’m sorry this post is so long! I haven’t had a chance to blog that often, so I thought a more comprehensive and longer post was in order.

As you may be able to tell, I’m coming along with my Bahasa Indonesia! After about a month in Bali, I still have a ways to go but I am able to have a conversation and understand quite a bit. I apologize for not blogging sooner/more often – I have been very busy exploring Bali, learning how to speak BI, settling in at my homestay in Bedulu and exploring nearby Ubud. Schedules seem to be very flexible here in Indonesia, and we have had a lot of lecturers cancel which means we get to hear Bu Ari (our academic director) fill in and teach us all about various topics in Indonesia, from religion to politics.

We have been able to visit a mask maker and saw him demonstrate wood carving. We watched him hold the mask between his feet as he whittled away at the wood with incredibly sharp tools. I have the option of learning how to make a mask as the art component of this program, but as I was watching the mask maker demonstrate the carving techniques, I can easily picture myself cutting my feet with the tools. Ouch. The mask maker creates masks both for fun and for spiritual/religious purposes, but because feet are considered the most unholy part of the body in Bali, religious masks must be purified with holy water before they can be used. My favorite part of the mask visit was when we were able to go into his gallery and try on a ton of masks. It wasn’t the most comfortable experience, but I loved seeing everyone with crazy new faces.

Another highlight was when we visited a wayang, which are Balinese shadow puppets. The shadow puppet maker is also a dalam, which means puppeteer, but also serves as a teacher and Hindu lay-leader. The dalam was a super cute old Balinese man who didn’t speak any English and demonstrated his various puppeteer voices. He had one of the best cackles I’ve ever heard, and luckily it occurred quite often during his presentation.

The mask maker with examples of various steps in the process.
The Dalam (shadow puppeteer), and my academic director, Bu Ari, holding the Wayang (shadow puppets)

In Bali I live with a sweet older woman who is my Ibu (host-mother). She has a son who lives in Denpasar (~45 minute car ride away) with his three young children and wife. The son speaks some English, but my Ibu can only say about ten words, so I have a lot of opportunities to practice my Bahasa Indonesia. I eat breakfast (usually little Balinese cakes, toast, fruit and tea, but sometimes nasi goreng [fried rice]) and dinner (usually tempeh, tofu, chicken sausage, sautéed greens, rice, fruit, veggies, but sometimes nasi goreng or chicken satay).

In Bali meals are eaten in solitude, so my Ibu serves me my breakfast and dinner in my room, and I eat in the company of my two favorite meal companions, solitaire and tetris. My homestay is a bit quiet since it is just me and my Ibu, but I’ve grown to like having a place that I can go home to where I know it’ll be less hectic than normal daily Bali life. I also have a shower head with warm water and a western toilet, which is a nice added bonus.

With my Balinese host family (photo by SIT Bali)
Before I met my host family, I had to give a little speech in Bahasa Indonesia to introduce myself (photo by SIT Bali)
The view from my room
My room in Bali
My room in Bali – there is a shrine at the top left of the picture
A breakfast from my Ibu: fried rice, fried egg, rice cakes (in the banana leaf), bananas, tea

My daily schedule totally varies each day, but here is a rough idea of what a day in the life looks like:

6:20-6:40: Wake up! So far I haven’t had to wake up with an alarm because I have at least ten natural alarm clocks in the form of chickens, roosters and dogs. Although roosters aren’t the ideal alarm clock, I’ve grown to enjoy waking up to them because it helps me feel like I’m living somewhere way different than home.

6:40-7:30: Mandi (bathe), get dressed, eat breakfast, berjalan ke program center (walk to program center). My rumah (house) is about a five minute walk (including two street crossings) away from the program center. I took a hyperlapse (timelapse sort of video) of my walk, which I was unfortunately not able to post yet.

7:30-10:45: Internet time, Bahasa Indonesia class. There is internet at the program center so many of us usually come a little early to take advantage of it. Bahasa Indonesia class starts around 8 (Bali stretch time means it sometimes starts around 8:15). First we all congregate together and learn in a big group, but then split off into smaller groups (kelas kecil = small class) to practice what we’ve learned. I’m proud to say that I’ve learned quite a lot in less than a month – I can easily have a conversation and can even understand some speeches from lecturers!

11-12:30ish: Usually we have a thematic seminar lecture (something relating to arts, religion and social change). Recently we’ve had a lot of seminars about religion, but we’ve also had many seminars about arts in Bali (which is a major part of the culture, from wood carving to shadow puppet making).

12:30-1:30 THE BEST LUNCH EVER. I love the food at the program center. Perhaps it’s because there’s usually a large variety of dishes, from satay to salad to chicken to veggie stir fry to fruit, but also probably because it simply tastes very good (enak sekali = very delicious). It’s safe to say I gain about five pounds every lunch, but it’s worth it.

Program Center lunch! Top left- salad, then beans, tempeh (fermented soybean things, which sounds gross but is delicious), rice, fruit, noodles.

The rest of the day: this varies tremendously, because like I said before, the schedule is very flexible. Sometimes we don’t have a lecture before lunch and instead host a lecturer or travel to one another time during the day. Other days, we have the afternoon off and hang out at the program center or travel to Ubud to explore. One of my favorite afternoons was spent in Ubud relaxing in a restaurant with comfy couches, yummy food and wifi. That’s one thing Indonesia doesn’t really lack – wifi. Although our homestays don’t have wifi, we’re usually able to find it other places. That being said, it often is super slow. Guess that’s the trade off!

In the evenings I usually go home to my homestay and have dinner. Sometimes I stay there, studying a little and then going to sleep, but other days I go back to the program center to hang out. Our program center is located within someone’s compound, and there are about six little girls ranging in age from about 4 to 10 that live there. They are the sweetest and only recently warmed up to us, so lately I’ve enjoyed filling in the gap of no children at my homestay by hanging out with them, singing songs and dancing. The other night they sang songs for a couple of hours (many of which I knew from class), and then we danced to Waka Waka and Gangam Style.

For the past week I’ve been in Java (which will warrant it’s own blog post), but being here has helped me put my time in Bali into perspective. I get a lot more stares from locals in Java than I do in Bali, probably because Bali is way more touristy and locals are used to seeing non-Balinese people walking around. The shock from locals that I find in Java usually happens when I open my mouth and start speaking their language, which they usually enjoy. I’ve found that people in Bali as well as Java have been so friendly, always forgiving my mistakes when I try to speak Bahasa Indonesia, or just saying hello if I pass them on the street. I’m back to the cold bucket shower here in Java, which is not as much as a shock as it was the first time during orientation, but I definitely prefer the hot water shower. Bali is a lot more green than Java, which has helped me realize that my impression of Bali as a tropical paradise (largely influenced by the western tourist impression of the island) is not what the country of Indonesia is like as a whole.

Overall, my time here has been incredibly enriching, largely due to how integrated I am in normal life. Lately I’ve been talking a lot with my host family, and realize that I go many hours without speaking English, which is a totally weird feeling that I’ve never felt before. I haven’t been spending as much time in a classroom, but I feel like I am still learning a lot just from observing and participating in the Balinese and Javanese daily life, like performing rituals, speaking the language and using public transportation.

Again, thanks for reading my posts and I apologize for the lengthiness of this one. If any of you have requests for specific posts, please let me know!

The beautiful Program Center
Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset
One of the many statues in the Program Center.
Bali, as seen from the car window
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