We made it to Jakarta! After 21 hours of flight time, about 9 hours of layover time, and a trip through many different time zones, we finally made it to Jakarta.
I met up with 5 other ETAs (Sean [my sitemate in Pontianak], Dalton, Kelsey, Tall Sam, and Andrew) in San Francisco, and we all enjoyed a beer together in the airport as a sendoff of sorts. The flight from San Francisco to Hong Kong served as the longest leg of the trip, taking 13 hours, I think. We left at 1:00 AM Pacific time and arrived in Hong Kong at 6:00 AM local time, and I have not bothered to figure out exactly how long the flight actually was because I am too tired for math. I couldn’t quite get comfortable enough on the flight to sleep (though I did have an exit row where I could comfortably stretch out my legs) until I figured out how exactly to situate my neck pillow. I got about 5 hours of sleep on this flight, chatted quite a bit with Dalton, Kelsey, and Andrew, and started reading Theodore Roosevelt’s autobiography (so far: highly recommended).
We arrived in Hong Kong with a ton of energy, and we rendezvoused with a smattering of our group that had arrived either earlier that day or the previous night. This was the first time we’d seen each other since the in-country orientation in DC, and everyone was thrilled to reconvene and catch up. Andrew packed a frisbee in his carry on, so to stretch our legs a little we trotted around the terminal tossing the frisbee. The terminal had two moving sidewalks that cut the terminal in half with large gates on either side of these sidewalks, so naturally we spread out as far as we could across from one another and launched the frisbee over pedestrians on the moving sidewalks. And everyone loved it. We had many passerbys attempt to intercept the frisbee or film us with their phones, and I thought we might achieve some modicum of Hong Kong renown until an exceedingly polite security guard came and told us to stop.
The flight from Hong Kong to Jakarta was only 5 hours, but I was a little antsy to get on to Indonesia, so, consequently, those 5 hours crawled by. Luckily, I was seated in a grouping of four seats with Shalina, Stevenson, and Kendra (I’ll probably explain more about the people in my group at some point, but try and keep up in good faith for now!), and the four of us chatted throughout the entirety of this final leg. This chat (and really every interaction I’ve had thus far) simply reinforced the quality–both from an intellectual and a character standpoint–of our cohort. We joked, we talked about art, we talked about planes, we talked about our anxieties, we talked about our goals. I know that goals are more attainable/pressing/whatever when you write them down or share them with someone, so I’m going to knock out both of those criteria right here with you people. My goals for this upcoming year and my Fulbright experience, as stated on the plane, are as follows:
1. Develop my Bahasa Indonesian (the language at which I’m currently exceptionally unskilled) to a comfortably conversational level
2. Improve my ability to be professional, hard-working, and serious
3. Prove to myself, the Fulbright Program, the Institute of International Education (IEE), and the American Indonesian Exchange Foundation (AMINEF) that they made the right decision by selecting me for this position over the other candidates they considered and did not choose
4. Come away from this experience with something more concrete, meaningful, and impactful to say than, “Wow, I had fun”
I’m sure none of those goals are particularly groundbreaking, but it was nice to share outloud on the plane some of the things I’ve been thinking but have been unable to transform from abstract feelings into fully-formed ideas.
Tomorrow afternoon I fly from Jakarta to Pontianak, my home for the next 9 months. I’ll be there for one week, meeting folks from my school, introducing myself to my neighbors, and attempting to get the lay of the land. After that week, we have two weeks of orientation in Bandung (located on Java) where we will have intensive language classes and be taught some instructional methods for the classroom as well. And after those two weeks, it’s on for real.
I’m so excited to be here, I’m mildly jetlagged, and I’m eager to explore Jakarta briefly tonight.
Oh, and the title of the post, “Selamat datang di Jakarta,” means, “Welcome to Jakarta.” This is one of the first Indonesian phrases I’ve used outloud. Even though I said it to myself out of excitement upon arrival, it still is very cool to be minimally using some Indonesian!
You guys will be hearing from me soon, and I should have pictures up this week of my city, my school, and my house (fingers crossed for that last one–I have no idea what to expect).
I miss y’all already, but I couldn’t be more excited to be here.
P.S. I accidentally left my awesome neck pillow on the plane once we landed in Jakarta. I was too excited to remember everything I had with me, so this is my first official casualty of the trip. And, I’m sure, there are many more to come.