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.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Just A Little Sentimental...

“Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family: Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.”

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Woke Up Feeling Creative

I have been off from work for Four days now! I feel like I have been on vacation.  I woke up feeling like I just needed to make something. Yesterday, I went to knitting group in the morning and started making this awesome hat. I will have to post pictures of it when I am done. Hopefully I will get close to done today!
Dragon Roll, Fried Rice, Salad w/Ginger
Then I went out to lunch for sushi and fried rice! I went to this place called Kobe. It was amazing! I got a Dragon Roll. It was so good. I wanted to try something new for me. I was not disappointed! It is just your typical California Roll, but then it is topped with sliced avocado and eel. I was very skeptical at first (eel kind of freaks me out), but decided to take the plunge and order it! It Was amazing.

Fabric Covered Moleskin Journal
After lunch I decided that I wanted to spruce up my moleskin journals that I had just gotten for my travels. I figured bringing a few thin journals would be better than lugging a huge one to Indonesia with me. So I got some fabric and headed home.  I pulled out the sewing machine my sister had given me a while ago... I have never used it.... It took me an obscene amount of time to figure out how to wind the bobbin and thread the machine, but in the end I got it working! I am still not too sure how I figured it out.  I put all of my fabric that I got together and am very happy with the end result!  I am going to decorate the rest of them that I have as well. I am not too sure if I will do all fabric coverings or if I will try something else.

The last stop on my Creative Road was revamping my blog. I was tired of having a blog that will ultimately be about my travels in the Peace Corps, and the theme had nothing to do with travel or anything related. So I spent like 4 hours redoing it. I got very frustrated. In the end I am not unhappy with the result. I like the color. I like that I figured out how to add more pages (Notice the 'About Me' and 'Snapshot Project' Tabs at the top). I had to change the name of the blog as well.... It just wasn't working for me. I am sure I will continue to tweak the blog, but for now it works.
Now I am going to enjoy my last hours of being off by eating food, watching the episodes of Vampire Dairies and Being Human that I missed, all while knitting my hat.  Could I ask for a better day???

Sunday, January 16, 2011


So I came home from Nashville, visiting my sister, and there was my coveted package on the front door step. Peace Corps Invitation Kit!!!!
I have been invited to teach High School English in INDONESIA. Orientation is April 4th and Pre-Service Training will be April 7th. I am totally excited and can't wait to go. It feels like I have passed a huge milestone. I never thought that I would actually be going! 
My nerves are going crazy now though, because this is actually a reality. I sent my acceptance email this morning. So there is no turning back now.

My mother is a little scared for me, but she says that is just what moms do! haha. She has been online all day looking up things about Indonesia and trying to figure out all of the things that I can bring back for her.
I should be getting an email soon that will give me more information about my departure and getting my passport. So there will be more detail postings to share very soon!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Snow Day

Last night I went to bed... No snow. I woke up at 3:00am to get ready for work... Like 7 inches of snow. So being the bight star that I am (notice the sarcastic tone) I decided to still get in my little car and drive to work. Yeah, that was soooo not a good idea. After my car stopped moving I finally had to concede that I was not going to be going anywhere.  So today is a Snow Day, and my first one ever actually. YAY!  Now all I have to do is figure out what I am going to do with my spare time. Might be a good day to finish knitting projects and watch old movies.

Now my major concern with the snow.... Will UPS still be delivering today??? I am expecting my Welcome Packet from the Peace Corps today that has all the information that I want so desperately... Like where I will actually be going and what I will be doing. I figure those are all good things to know.  So now we wait and see if the Fearless UPS drivers of Chattanooga, TN will brave the snow and deliver my package. Here is that damn patience thing coming back to haunt me yet again!

 Any bets on the outcome?

Thursday, January 6, 2011


Ok... So eerily as soon as I posted my last entry about the e-mail I received I got a phone call from Heather (My placement Officer).  She was super nice and gave me the words that I wanted to hear "I would to talk to you about a position I am considering you for." So we talked and then she said "I would like to officially invite you to the Peace Corps to Depart in Early April for Asia"  HECK YEAH!!!!
So All I know right now is that it is Asia, Early April, and I will be living with a host family for the entire 2 years that I am there. How awesome is that!  I will get the details of the program and country that I will be serving in within the next week. She is sending out my packet tomorrow via UPS. I can't wait to get it! I have no idea where is Asia I will be going, but I know it is going to be awesome!
I have told my whole family and everyone is super excited. Though in shock because even though they said there were no guarantees, we were still really planning on an Eastern European destination.  This is going to the adventure of a lifetime and I cannot wait. I am so excited, but I am getting scared at the same time. There was still a part of me that had doubts that I would even get an invitation. 
So In a few days I will know to which country I will be going... I can't wait!

Wild Card...

So after waiting for an e-mail from my Placement Officer I finally got one! However, It was a little disappointing...yet exciting at the same time!  All of the Education programs for the January-March time frame that I was nominated for have been filled. SOOOO.... that kinda of stinks because now I have to wait longer!(And we all know how well I have done with the waiting thus far). She goes on to say to be patient as it is a Core Expectation of the Peace Core (Patience) and to be flexible..... OK. Now the exciting part of the e-mail....

"In looking for an alternate program for you, I will be focusing on upcoming programs in  Eastern Europe, Caucuses, Central Asia, Asia, and Africa departing April June 2011.  If you have a strong preference for one of these regions, feel free to note it, *with the understanding that ultimate Placement determinations are based first and foremost on Peace Corps’ programming, and applicant preferences are never guaranteed."

 So I have absolutely No earthly clue as to where I might be sent! There are more regions in the mix now and each one holds their own appeal! So here is to more waiting.... and the Wild Card factor! Lets see where it leads!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Rocky start to 2011

Happy New Year!!!!

Well, it started off that way. I ended up spending the weekend with my sister and her family. My nieces always are a blast and keep me busy. I went to head home, back to Chattanooga and my car started acting funny.... It is a stick shift and my car would not go above 60mph and it was revving something terrible. Then the smell of burning clutch filled the inside of my car. It was Not good! So I had to get my sister to come and pick me up off the side of the interstate..... And I think I may have hit a poor skunk or at least scared the crap out of him when I pulled off the road because the skunk smell was outrageous! So I called into work and will be spending tomorrow trying to get my car fixed. Thank goodness Firestone is open on Sunday!

since this happened I Had to get someone to cover my shift at work tomorrow. So since Kristina is doing that for me I will need to cover a day for her on her to make it up to her. That means that I will not be able to get my wisdom teeth out on Thursday as planned. I will call on Monday and reschedule for next week hopefully. It shouldn't be that big of a deal since I just need to have them removed before my departure.

In the meantime I am trying not to freak out and take a few deep breaths. It will all be ok, and the New Year will get back on track to being fantastic!