November/December 2016 Update

Sorry!!!! It’s been awhile since I’ve updated this thing. I am only starting to settle into Surabaya life again and have been slammed with work left and right. After you read this post, you’ll get a glimpse of how nuts it’s been here. Here’s a recap of what happened in November and December:

  1. Taught for a majority of November
  2. Flew to India for my cousin’s wedding
  3. Flew back to Indonesia early December
  4. Went on a field trip with my students
  5. Hosted a very special visitor!

Check out the following for details!


November went by as a normal month of teaching along with a few other things.
The Indonesia Fulbright squad did a social media campaign to get people out to vote.

U.S. Presidential Election- this was difficult to digest and flat out shocking. You can check out my post about post-election feels if you want more details about this.

Heroes Day- On November 10th, the students from my school dressed in batik and proudly stood for their country during a formal flag ceremony, patriotic songs and many speeches to celebrate Pahlawan Hari. Also known as Heroes Day, Pahlawan Hari is a day to commemorate the Indonesians that fought in battle of Surabaya in 1945 against British, Dutch and Japanese invaders. This battle became a symbol of Indonesian resistance and the students even performed a reenactment of battle with special effects like fake blood, firework explosions, loud gunfire and more! After the show, the students cooked and sold Indonesian foods and fried delicacies at a food market on school grounds. They also had various school spirit and Indonesian pride related activities and contests throughout the day. I was asked to be a judge for one of the events and it was great to see the students display their creativity!

Radio Station Concert- We met a cool Uber driver who invited us to a concert at a radio station where we jammed out to bands like Heavy Monster where we met some local bands, comedians and more!

Hunted for Waterfalls and befriended lettuce farmers- Kelly and I took a day trip to Malang and picked up our fellow ETAs, Caroline and Shreya. We adventure through the Javanese countryside, got lost while searching for a waterfall, befriended some nice lettuce farmers, hopped on 2 motorbikes with 3 people each, climbed up a questionable ladder, got stuck in the mud and trekked through monsoon rain and went into a locals house to eat jackfruit. I was also covered in mud by the end of this. There was more craziness but I’ll leave it there. Overall, we had a blast! 

Check out Kelly’s blog post for more details!

I departed Surabaya on November 23rd

6 Hours in Singapore- During my layover in Singapore, I meet a college friend’s parents for lunch along with one his childhood friends I met on my last trip to Singapore. After lunch, Luke’s parents departed and Norman drove me around Singapore for a quick glance at the sights before dropping me off at the airport to catch my next flight to India.

My Cousin’s Big Fat Indian Wedding- After pulling an allnighter, I arrived a  jam packed house in Ahmedabad at 4:30am. As the house buzzed with noise from relatives visiting from around the world, I tried to sleep for a few hours before the errand filled day began in preparation for the Sangeet that evening.The next few days were filled with family, fun, and food. The events went by in a blur but it was exciting to welcome my cousin’s new wife to the family. She’s a sweetie!

Pilgrimage to Jaganath Puri, Orissa- The wedding ended around 4pm on a Saturday and a few hours later we hopped on a plane to Delhi. The flight times were short but the layovers were killer. We had a 9 hour layover in Delhi until our flight in the morning to Orissa. It was brutal. Luckily, we had good company. My uncle and a few of his friends had joined us. We eventually arrived on Sunday morning and drove a few hours to a town called Puri. After settling in and cleaning up, we had a special thar (foods offered to the Gods in the Jaganath Puri temple). This food was interesting because it was all cooked in giant clay pot and wooden fire. Layers of flavor were well pronounced despite use of limited spices, no onions or garlic. 

We spent the day exploring the beach area on foot and had to wait for the temple to open. Of course, we came on the same day that they closed the temple for special hours for maintenance. We eventually made it to the temple. 

We had to take our shoes off in the car and then go through security before walking up dozens of steps. It was amazing how how old this temple was. The main temple is surrounded by dozens of smaller temples dedicated to various Hindu deities. The main temple deities are Jagganath (Krishna), Balabhadra (Krishna’s brother), Subhdra (Krishna’s sister) and the Sudarshan Chakra. These deities look very different than other Hindu murtis of these same gods that I have seen around India. I’m not sure what about their wide-eyes and almost doll-like features made me feel instantly attached but I couldn’t help but feel a connection with these murtis as I pushed forward by the crowd. 


Of course, because this a pilgrimage site for many Hindus, it was insanely packed and it was hard to even stand in the main temple area. Luckily, I am abnormally for tall for an ethnically Indian girl and could see the murtis over most people!

Highlight of this pilgrimage for me was holding my grandmother’s hand while walking through the ancient temple complex. She’s the one who wanted to come here and seeing her happy after living apart for 4 months meant the world.

The next day, we went to the Sun Temple, ate a traditional Odia cuisine for lunch and saw a local dance show. 


India, etc. – The rest of the India trip went by quick – bam bam bam, between shopping, seeing family and eating an unfathomably large amount of food! I loved hanging out with my goofy family the most.

Unfortunately, my stomach failed me. My eyes are significantly bigger than my stomach and I couldn’t consume as much food as I would have liked. OH HOW I MISSED ALL THE INDIAN SPICES! Sadly, I didn’t take too many pictures of food because I was too busy inhaling it. We also travelled around quite a bit. We even went to another wedding and saw some family from from Mumbai.

My parents, brother, grandma and cousin flew with me to Mumbai with me on December 6th. There we parted ways. I flew to Singapore and they flew to back to New Jersey. I was pretty sad to leave my family. It’s mind blowing that that we could travel so far from each other in less than 24 hours.

I departed from India on December 7th.
Bu Lely’s Wedding- I got back to Surabaya just in time for Miss Lely’s wedding. She’s science teacher from my school who is super duper sweet!!!!! A bunch of teachers and I hopping into the school’s 18 passenger van and drove a few hours to Gresik for the wedding. It was fun! She also had the most epic party favors such as huge package of noodles, crackers, bottle of oil, a personalized potato peeler, cake and a few other things that are escaping my memory at the moment. She’s awesome!

Sick in Surabaya- I got back to Surabaya on December 7th and the next day, I got sick. I couldn’t hold food down for over a week. I had to go to the hospital but it’s alllll goodddd. Totally fine now.

Kelly’s Birthday- Kelly’s birthday arrived at the cusp of weirdness. I was still sick and both of us had our asses kicked by Indonesia. Again.  I’ll leave it at that. The pictures say it all. But hey, bright side–we got some Indian food!!! 

English Fun Camp in Trawas-  On December 15th-18th, my 10th grade students went on a field trip to University of Surabaya Training Center in Trawas, East Java which is situated in the rolling hills of Javanese countryside. The air is clean, crisp and cool and the environment is green and lush. After a 4 A.M. wake up call, the students had full action packed days of learning and fun. They participated in activities related to English lead by English teachers from SMA Khadijah, professors and students from Universitas Surabaya and me. The students also enjoyed outdoor teambuilding activities like canoeing, games and swimming. On the way back to Surabaya, the students and teachers stopped at Taman Safari to see fascinating animals from around the world. Overall, I was grateful for this bonding experience with my students and fellow teachers outside of the school setting.

A Visitor from Home- I had a super special visit from one of my favorite people! He flew into Surabaya on the 20th and on the 21st we departed for a 10 day jalan-jalan around Indonesia. I’ll expand more on that in my next post because it’s just too much to write in this one.


Stay tuned and thanks for reading! Check out my instagram for more pictures:)


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