Getting To Indonesia: An Exercise in Patience

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Visiting the immigration office.
Visiting the immigration office with my counterpart Pa Fauzi.

I hoped the plane rides would draw on painfully like a Padres baseball game.  I hoped the jet-lag would prepare me for the undead lifestyle for when the apocalypse comes. I hoped the culture shock would leave me feeling like Wilson – deflated, bloody, wearing a smirk of indecipherable emotion.

There is something to be said for low expectations and their effect on perception.  Just read this HuffPost article about why us Gen Y “yuppies” are destined for disappointment. Despite adequate preparation in the art of lowered expectations, getting to Indonesia sub-ceded even these.

SuperTree Forest - Singapore
SuperTree Forest – Singapore

The adventure began in the beautiful San Diego Airport where my flight to San Francisco was delayed causing me to miss my flight to Hong Kong.  The dominoes fell just in time to force me to miss my flight to Singapore – where all Fulbright English Teaching Assistants (ETAs) were meant to acquire our visas.

Propaganda Posters Campaign
Propaganda Posters Campaign – Singapore National Library

Hours of waiting and miscommunications landed me in yet another city.  It took me 12 hours to get from San Diego to Los Angeles.  Literally any other mode of transportation would have gotten me there more quickly.  From LA I flew to Hong Kong and then to Singapore one day later than expected and one day after VISA processing.  Fortunately, there were a few others in my boat and we were able to get through VISA processing with relative ease.  Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for my luggage, which never made it through any processing and is still limboing somewhere between San Diego and Hong Kong.

I am placed in Yogyakarta (Jogja or Yogya), a city of roughly 2.4 million well known as a center of fine art and education.  As I learn more about my surrounding environment I will share more about my experience there, but I only stayed for three days before heading out to Bandung for orientation.

Marina Bay Sands Hotel - Singapore
Marina Bay Sands Hotel – Singapore

AMINEF, our lead organization partnered with the US Department of State, put us up in the Trans Luxury Hotel for this two week period.  It is entirely too nice, with semi-reliable internet, a beautiful welcoming committee, and gracious hosts making our every movement comfortable.

The Memory Pool - Singapore
The Memory Pool – Singapore National Library

Traveling through 6 cities in a little over a week has kept us quite busy and tired. In a few days I return to Jogja to begin teaching at SMU Muhammadiyah 1.  I could not be more excited for the experiences that await me there.  The city is bustling, thriving, and welcoming – also characteristics of my school.

Out of such an annoying trip to get here I have learned a few important lessons.  Patience truly is a virtue.  In the small amount of time I have been in this beautiful country I have noticed the frailty of the institution of western time.  I have begun to experience the difference between individualist and communal cultures, and their effect on ones actions and self-concept.