Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Indonesia Summer

As this post goes live, I will be on or boarding a plane headed for Jakarta, by way of Tokyo. I'll be in Indonesia for nine weeks (though given the days lost to travel, 8.5 is probably more accurate) implementing a project that I've been working on for the past two quarters with a team of students.

I am nervous and excited, both. I still can't quite believe that this is actually happening, because this is the kind of opportunity that I would have been too scared to take if my roommate hadn't talked some sense into me. It's happening. It's finally happening.

What am I afraid of? I am afraid that our system's components will break and that I'll arrive empty-handed. I'm afraid that I won't be smart enough to figure out the problems that will inevitably arise in the field. I'm afraid that I will make a fool of myself. I am afraid that my coworkers won't like me. I am afraid that I'll get malaria or rabies and die. I am afraid that I will find myself unequal to the challenges that confront me. I am afraid that my fear will hold me back from experiencing this summer as fully as it deserves to be experienced.

What am I looking forward to? I am looking forward to meeting the amazing people who work at our partner NGO. I am looking forward to trying new foods (even if they are spicy). I am looking forward to getting the chance to work in a professional environment. I am looking forward to seeing parts of West Java that are beyond the big cities. I am looking forward to having time to read. I am looking forward to having time to write. I am looking forward to learning about the challenges of rural development through green technology, about the technical aspects of microgrids and distgen, and about contemporary and traditional Javanese and Sundanese culture.

I am looking forward to relearning how to be alone with myself, because during the school year people are always close at hand, and that's lovely, but I need to check in with myself and see again who I am when I'm on my own. For all that I talked about how much I've changed, a lot of who I am at any given moment is environment. On Sunday evening I lost my temper at my parents over a very minor issue, and I never would have done that at school because at Stanford there are environmental factors hindering my ability to be the petulant child that I still occasionally am.

I am looking forward to eating Indomie noodles.

My university is less than half an hour away from my house. I've never really lived away from home for an extended period of time, and I am looking forwards to it.

I am looking forward to having a regular, responsible sleep schedule. Since I'll have a day job I will need to wake up early, and since I'm cautious I won't be staying out late, and will probably be too tired of staring at screens to waste too much time on my computer in the evening.

I am looking forward to practicing my Bahasa Indonesia. I only know the most basic stuff, but I think I know enough not to be completely useless, and I'll have to learn on the fly, through immersion. While I don't expect to be fluent by the end of the summer, I would like to think that I'll be able to carry on an informal conversation.

Do I know what to expect? No. I've never done this before. When I think about the near future I think of myself in sophomore year, since that's something I can readily imagine. This? I have no roadmap for this.

Let us see how I fare.

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