Frequently people will, when speaking about learning the Indonesian language, claim it is a very simple and easy language. While Indonesian lacks anything similar to the abstruse grammatical rules so frequently found throughout English, it is still just as difficult a language to master as any other.
Indonesians are quite the inquisitive people. Upon first meeting someone they are prone to inquire about all sorts of things most Americans would find odd, or even impolite, to ask an acquaintance. Age, marital status, religion, and when you have had your most recent shower or meal are all things Indonesians do not hesitate to ask. These are not questions many Americans would readily find appropriate to pose, even to someone with whom they regularly associate.
“It seems like Ramadan starts earlier and earlier every year.” Well, if it seems that way then it is only because it is true. The Islamic calendar is based on lunar cycles, and one lunar year is about eleven days shorter than its cousin, the solar year. So generally Ramadan occurs eleven days earlier than it did the previous year.
Pre service training, or PST, is essentially boot camp for Peace Corps volunteers. Traditionally PST is three months, twelve weeks, in length. Peace Corps Indonesia normally has a ten-week long PST; unfortunately for my cohort (ID10, my “class” of fellow volunteers) our departure from the States was postponed for ten days due to a delay in obtaining visas— a fun and telling welcome to the Peace Corps for sure.
The Javanese word for please is monggo. In Sundanese people say mangga. In both Indonesian and Javanese mangga means mango. So to say mango in Sundanese people say buah manggah, which literally means mango fruit. Explaining this somewhat trivial difference in language was always one of the first things people in Kediri would do when I told them I would be moving to West Java.
This past Wednesday, the first of June, my Peace Corps class concluded pre-service training and was sworn in as official Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs). The start of our two years of service officially began. We received our Peace Corps pins, and most of us said goodbye to Kediri, our first home in Indonesia.
Rumah Indonesia saya means my Indonesian home. The family I have been living with for PST has been spectacular. I have been very lucky in that my family and I have gotten along with no problems. Of course, this might be because Indonesians are very hospitable and accommodating, but I’d like to think it’s because we’re just a perfect match for each other. I’ve never been made to feel, or treated, like I was anywhere other than home. That’s not to say my time with my homestay family has always been smooth sailing. All the hospitality and accommodation in the world doesn’t actually make a place home. It takes a little bit more than being comfortable to feel at home somewhere.