Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Feeling Great Today

Today has started off very well. I went to bed early last night, which might have something to do with it. I woke up early this morning with a feeling of contentment. I went to the kitchen to help my host mother prepare for 3:00am breakfast. I ate a bit and then went out for a power-walk. I went 4 miles... which doesn't sound like a whole lot, but for me it was a great accomplishment, especially at 3:30 in the morning.
The early morning is so peaceful. All of the stars were out and the moon lit the road. I was able to walk and think. I found myself smiling and even singing along with the music on my iPod. It took me exactly 1 hour to go four miles, but I am not too concerned that I am slow right now, the important thing is that I went out and did it. I will get better if I stick with it.
I only have to teach one class today but I am going to go visit one of the 10th grade classes because they have been asking me since the start of school to come in and teach them. They are so excited. It makes me very happy. Every time I walk by their class I hear them yell "Miss Angela, Miss! Come here!" Of course I go and they are all smiling and wanting to talk to me. So after those two classes today I think I will head home and just relax and try not to be hungry. This whole fasting thing is taking some getting used to! By 5:30pm I am ready to eat EVERYTHING!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Its a Beautiful Day

So I am feeling very motivated and upbeat today. The past few days have been pretty freakin' good. I have talked with old friends back in the states, done a lot of strolling down memory lane, and am walking around with a smile on my face. Which is a good thing for my students because the little buggers still refuse to do their homework. I just don't get it! Nothing seems to work. They are not afraid of any repercussions so they just choose not to do it. I will have to work on that! Might have to get a little mean on the homework front.
I have come up with an idea that I am very excited about. I am wanting to start an ongoing game for my classes... Survivor-English Class. The class will split into two teams, and compete against each other in puzzles, relays (to gain clues for those puzzles) just like the real Survivor TV show. At the end of the competition they will vote for the person who was the biggest asset to the team winning (and that person will get a mark. At the end of the semester the person with the most marks will win). I feel that having the kids vote someone off the team would not be a very good motivational tool. So I am going to change it a bit. I will have the competitions once a week and they will review what we have go over thus far in class, that way they students should know what is going on, and it will keep everything fresh in their minds. Lets hope this works and is not just utter chaos!  Now it is time to brainstorm and come up with puzzles and challenges.
I have completed a week of fasting. It has been wicked hard but I am sticking with it! I am determined to complete the whole month, and then I will celebrate with everyone else when it is over. I am planning on going to Surabaya for a few days and relaxing, eating good food, and getting a massage. I can't wait! We will see what happens.
Right now I am sweating my butt off. I am sitting in my teacher room and between wearing the heavy uniform and the head covering (jilbab) it is 1000 degrees! I finally got the teachers to agree to turn the fans on, but they are saying that they are cold now. LOL. I know that I should feel bad, but I don't. I just need a little bit of air!  I keep reminding myself that all of this sweating that I do is good for me! It will help with weight loss and make me healthier. But I will tell you this... there are times when it is absolute torture! Now I am going to go and ride my bike in this heat and complain about it some more. LOL.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Teaching....well sort of....

So I have started teaching. I am teaching in a Muslim High School. My students are all really nice to me, but most of the time they are afraid to talk to me or participate in class. I think it is because they are afraid of making a mistake. I try to speak Indonesian to them so they can see how much I mess up, but I don't think it is helping.
Also I think they are really bored in class. I am trying to figure out a way to make my classes more interesting. I could use any help and advice that anyone has! I am going to make journals for all of my students and have them do at least one journal activity a week and then out a fun assignment in it once a week also before I hand them back after grading... something like a fun translation assignment or word search and define assignment . I am hoping that will be something they will enjoy.

The teachers I teach with are all nice and welcoming to me. It makes me feel really good. But they do things a lot differently than I was expecting. They don't lesson plan. They don't set rules in their classes. They really don't have any fun activities and just teach right from the book, which really isnt all that great. It is very noticeable that the book was not made by a native speaker. That kind of makes me sad and frustrated but I have to work with what I have. So I will be spending the next couple of weeks going through the course book and making new assignments and activities that I feel the kids will actually enjoy. Listening activities that are fun and from movies or music that they like. Everyone of these kids is crazy for Justin Beiber and even Celine Dion.  Hey... if that is what it takes... I will totally work with it!
If you have any words of wisdom and ideas PLEASE send them my way!

The school days are shortened for the month of August. It is Ramadan time. We are all fasting from 4:00am to 6:00pm, so everyone is low on energy and not wanting to be in school. So I will have the new lessons ready for the end of Ramadan. We are going to restart with a bang! That is the goal anyhow. Hopefully this works and doesn't blow up in my face.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Back to Blogging!

Scenery in Malang
Ok. So I know that is has been forever, and I am very sorry!!! I hope that you guys are still reading my blog. It has been crazy. Just when I got settled into things in Malang it was time to relocate and move in with a new family in a new city. It has been an adjustment but It is going well. I am now living in Madiun and have started teaching. As a result I now have pretty steady access to the internet and can therefore again begin blogging on a regular basis again! YAY!
So an quick overview of what has gone on in the past three months!  I was living in Malang with a very nice family, The Bambang family. I was there for 10 weeks until my training was completed. It was very hard and very sad to say goodbye at the end of the time. I found myself a little angry that Peace Corps allowed us to become attached to a family and then make us move away from them. But after some reflection I understand. Our training family was like a starter family. They were there to kind of buffer our crash into Indonesian Life. Once we got our feet wet it was time to start the real part of service.
Scenery in Madiun
So now I am living in Madiun with the Darto Family. Life is completely different here. It has taken some getting used to but things are starting to smooth out. Madiun is beautiful but it is much flatter than Malang was. In Malang I had Mountains and beautiful scenery, in Madiun it is a lot of fields, but each place is equally pretty in it's own right.
My new school is amazing. I never thought I would love going to work so much. The teachers are awesome and the students are energetic and very welcoming. They are all very eager to learn English and want to talk with me.  I enjoy being in the classroom but sometimes it can get frustrating with the kids don't want to participate because they are scared to talk in front of me or are shy. I will work on that and hope that it gets better.
I have to think of ideas for starting an English Club for my students. I need activities that are fun and engaging. If you have any ideas please feel free to share them. I need all of the help that I can get.
I have been emailing out a newsletter every month about my experience in Indonesia. The fourth issue is about to go out at the end of this month. If you have not been getting it and would like to, please let me know. I would be happy to share it with anyone who is interested.  I was hoping to find a way to upload a pdf to blogger but I haven't been able to figure it out. If there actually is a way, please let me know.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Grettings From Indonesia

Hello everyone! Just a quick note that I am indeed in Indonesia now. It is amazing and everyday is a new adventure. I have not had much time to post due to internet restrictions, but I will try to post a complete update next weekend with pictures!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Quality Time

Nick, Erin, & Me
The one thing that my last days has been all about is quality time. Quality time with my family and friends, be it via phone, skype, or in person. I know I have not had a lot of free time, but I am thankful for the time I have gotten to get away from the stress of my trip and just enjoy life and the people around me.
Stones & Water (Bradenton Beach)
I got to spend some time with my best friends Nick and Kristen. We all went to High School together. It was very nice to be able to get together and catch up with them. They both look fantastic and seem to be doing beautifully with their lives.  Nick has a new girlfriend. She is a real doll. I went out for St. Patty's day with them in Bradenton. It was a really nice time. We went to their downtown area and they had the main street blocked off and it was like a huge block party! Totally awesome, without being overly crazy. The next day Nick and I spent driving around and wandering the beaches together.  I have not done that since High School. I forgot how peaceful the beach was. I absolutely love the water. There is something about it that just have a calming effect over me.
Bradenton Beach
Mom and Me on the Boat
My Gorgeous Mother
I especially have enjoyed the time I have gotten to spend with my mother. I am going to miss her so much. Its funny, I thought with me living in Tennessee for so long, and her back in Florida, I was Miss Independent. This past month I have gotten to remember how nice it is to have her in my life all of the time. To have her hug me when I am feeling really down, or even just to annoy her until she lets out a load screech while she yells at me. haha.  Mom and I got to take a couple of weekend trips together. We went to orlando one Saturday for a Mother Daughter shopping trip. It was a nice time and we literally shopped until we dropped. We were absolutely sore and exhausted by the time we got home. Who would have thought that shopping could take that much out of you.  We were also able to go out of town for a whole weekend and spend time with our friend Maryanne.  Maryanne is Nick's mom. She is my second mother. I love her to death. Both she and my mother used to be friends and work together. So it was very nice for all of us to get together again. It has been a very long time. Maryanne and her husband Steve (Scuba Steve...as Nick and I used to call him!!) took us out for an afternoon on the boat. It was gorgeous. It was so wonderful to see how much my mom really enjoyed her. She has a glow and a smile I have not seen in her in a long time.  We also went to this Gelato shop. It was HEAVEN! My goodness... I swear I have never tasted anything so sinfully wonderful in my life. If I had more time I would totally go back.
Meme & Grandpa infront of Dali Museum
Inside the Dali Museum
My grandparents also took me out. We went into St. Pete Florida so I could see the new Dali museum. It was awesome inside and out. I was really bummed because we were not allowed to take any pictures  inside of the galleries, but it was still a good visit. I loved it. Dali was a crazy man, but there are so many different elements to him paintings. I love that you can look at his paintings 1000 times and still discover something you didn't notice before. It was amazing.

I couldn't have asked for better quality time with the people I love.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Stressed to the Max...

So I have been completely stressed out over everything happening right now. I really thought that by coming home to spend time with my family I would be relaxed and collected.  That is so not the case. I am stressing out over my lack of studying thus far. I really need to get the Indonesian Language under way. So far all I can say is  Selamat Datang (Welcome) Selamat Malam (Good Night) and a few other things.  That is not enough to even attempt at survival in Indonesia. I really have to get moving.

I have to get clothes too for my trip. I have no slacks or button down shirts... having worked in a nonconventional setting for so long has left me with no business casual clothing. So I will need to get that taken care of. Shopping in general just stresses me out.  I also need shoes. I can't wear flip flops to work. lol. So I will remedy that. I am hoping that I will get all of that taken care of next week.

I really just need to learn how to relax and go with the flow of things!
Vibram Five Fingers Bikilas

This weekend my mother and I are going to get a pedicure and get me the pair of Vibram Five Fingers that I have been wanting.  Unfortunately those have been another point of stress since I have gotten home. I wanted a pair really bad. I have heard nothing but good things about them and what wearing them can do for your overall posture, lower back pains, and knee pains. I figured it was worth a go.  My family apparently is not as open to the idea of my having "weird looking" feet.  I keep hearing comments like "yuck" and "eeewww".  But as I have pointed out to them.... those are not valid reasons for me not to get them.  I told them if they can show me any evidence that these shoes would not be good for everything I want them for then I would reconsider getting them.  No one has yet to find a negative side effect of wearing these shoes... besides the fact that they are "ugly" by their standards. I know they are strange looking but I am really looking forward to giving them a shot and seeing for myself how they work out. I have friends and family who own them and say that I wont regret it. There is a website that has stories and reviews on the different styles of Five Fingers. I have done a lot of research on barefoot running and trekking and have found it very helpful. www.birthdayshoes.com. If you are curious at all I suggest checking it out. What can it hurt?

So I think that as with any major decision or change that someone makes, there is always the lingering question, "Am I making the right decision?" or something along those lines.  I have been feeling this way and worrying myself to sickness about what people are going to think about my joining the peace corps and leaving my family for 27 months.  I am worried about leaving my mother giving her fight with cancer. I am worried about not seeing my sister and nieces for so long.  I talked to my mother about my fears and she honestly gave me some of the best words of encouragement I have ever gotten. She told me that life doesn't stop. It wont stop for her illness and it wont stop because I am afraid to move on. I have been stagnant ever since I graduated and have not found any direction. She says that she feels like I have chosen the right direction for me. My family will be here when I get back and no matter what they all support me in my decision and are proud of me for having the courage to do this.  So needless to say, I cried and hugged my mom. I am so excited to go! I really wouldn't want to refuse my assignment, but I would for my mother if she needed me.  She told me to stay motivated to go where I felt I needed to go.  So In light of my mother and my sister's awesome Pintrest motivational board, I have grabbed my favorite motivational posters.... To remind me to keep my eye on the ball when times get tough.