Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Mid-Year Evaluation

According to my calculations, January 13, 2010 is the exact mid-point of my scholarship. In fact, I’m spending this weekend in Makassar at AMINEF’s Mid-Year Conference. So it seems like an appropriate time to see how I’m doing on the list of 20 goals I made for myself back in August.

1. Take lots of pictures.

2. Learn to speak Indonesian.
This is a toughie—can I communicate all my basic needs? Yes. Can I do anything beyond that? Well, not very far beyond that. It’s hard to practice; everyone I meet just wants to practice English, and it doesn’t seem like there’s going to be much use for Indonesia once I move back to the US, but yes, I could push myself a little more to study at home.

3. Eat lots of native foods, especially fruit.
Check. I like how I thought this needed to be goal. The only things I HAVE to eat here are native foods. My favorites thus far? Pindang, tempeh, nasi uduk, manggis, and, of course, rambutan.

4. Keep up with this blog at least twice a week.
Mmm… check. Except for the two weeks I was home.

5. Read all of the books I brought.
Check. I didn’t read anything during the month of orientation in an effort to conserve, but I finished all 24 in my first three months in Palembang. Don’t worry—I brought back an additional 23 pounds of them.

6. Use my new video camera.
This is one I need to work on. It turns out I forgot the cord I needed to connect the camera to my computer, so that seriously limited my video-editing and video-sharing potential. Mom also bought me this nifty little pocket camera for Christmas that hooks up directly to my laptop, no cords required. I’ll do better this time around.

7. Find an English newspaper in Palembang.
Um, there simply is not an English newspaper in Palembang. That much is obvious. I think there is a really small television station, however, which I only just discovered because I don’t have a tv to watch. I’m going try to visit.

8. Get my nails done.

9. Prepare some authentic Indonesian food from a recipe.
Debate: did the food need to be edible? I attempted nasi uduk (coconut rice), but it was soupy and lumpy and altogether pretty disgusting. I could try this again.

10. Track down the Rafflesia flower.
Grr. Planned an entire trip to Bukittinggi—not blooming, saw the bud. Visited the Bogor Botanical Gardens—no flower there anymore.

11. See an orangutan in its natural habitat.
I’ve seen one at an Indonesia zoo, but I haven’t seen one in the jungle yet. Mission unaccomplished.

12. Ride an elephant.
I also rode an elephant at the zoo, but I had to share with four other people, and I had to pay for all of them. And the poor elephant kept getting hit on the head, so it was a relatively unsatisfying experience. Mission also unaccomplished.

13. Keep in touch with people at home.
This is somewhat harder than I anticipated, since I don’t have the internet at my house and the post office is almost an hour away, but I think I’ve been doing a satisfactory job.

14. Stay up to date on US news.
Uhh. I know all about Tiger Woods—does that count? This is one I definitely need to work on. Phil Bremen suggested I get a short wave radio, so I’m going to find one of those since I don’t have tv or internet. I listen to NPR podcasts, but I can do better.

15. Meet at least one Ball State alum living in Indoneia.
No one answered the emails I sent out from the list of alumni Dr. Ruebel gave me; however, Dom Caristi found a man who lives in Jakarta who knew an alum living in Palembang. We’ve been in touch, and I think we’re going to meet up next week! And I did meet the Bucyrus, Ohio native, which I never thought would happen.

16. Travel to tons of places around Indonesia.
Check. And I will visit more in the next 4.5 months.

17. Bring back special souvenirs.
I’m really excited about this one. I loved all the presents I brought home for Christmas. I’m going to try to buy fewer things on this half so I can actually get all of my own belongings home. I’d still like to find some kind of jewelry souvenir for myself.

18. Learn more about Islam.
Check. Check. Check. And still learning.

19. Get in the Columbus Dispatch Travel section.
I took three different pictures—at the Monkey Forest Sanctuary, with the Rafflesia bud, and at Borobudur—of me holding up the paper, and now I just have to send one in.

20. Grow as a person.
Sigh. There’s no real way to evaluate this, is there? I read one Fulbrighter’s blog who said he/she “isn’t scared of anything anymore.” I am still scared of plenty of things. But I’m growing, certainly in terms of patience and tolerance. We’ll have to evaluate this more thoroughly in May.

And a couple additions—

21. See the Komodo Dragons.
Somehow this missed my list the first time. I simply MUST see them! Safely. From a distance.

22. Find somewhere to volunteer.
I have plenty of free time, and I’d like to use it better. The only problem is finding somewhere that needs me and finding a way to get there, since I don’t have my own transportation. I’ll get to work on this after I’m back from Makassar.

23. Travel somewhere on my own.
I am only including this in spirit of full disclosure. I added this to my list months ago, and I think since then I’ve decided to take it off. It sounded so empowering to imagine myself traveling around Indonesia on my own. Since then, however, I’ve learned that it probably just wouldn’t be safe, especially when I have so many other willing travelers around the country. We’ll count my trip home as one I did on my own.


  1. Awesome goals! You've achieved quite a few of them, so congrats! You should be very proud. Keep it up, and of course have fun. :-)

  2. That flower...that damn flower! You will find it in full bloom and smelling like rotting flesh!

    Your gifts were AMAZING. I look at my prayer rug and think of you right away. It's a discussion piece in my room (though, I don't have much company inside my room).

    I love you...and I'm caught up on all of your blogtastic goodness!!!

  3. agreed, kate. you should be proud. : )

  4. 7) there is ONE store that sells the Jakarta Post in the 'bang....buuuut I don't remember where it is. Either Yanti or Agustina showed me the place...i think it was Agustina. And you should ask and find it.

    11) I personally went to Kutai Nat Park near Samarinda in Kalimantan.

    12) Went to Way Kambas just a few clicks south from you to the Elephant training center to ride some elephants through the jungle. Cost a little bit (like $30 i think?). But worth it.

    21) gotta go to Komodo/Rinca for that one. You can do that off Lombok or Flores!

    22) you can def find places to volunteer. there are orphanages in pbang. hit up the Christians, they can give you stuff to do!

    And that's probs all i can help you with!