By Saarah Jappie (Semester 21/Aug 2005)
University of New South Wales

As weird as it is, we’ve been away from home for over two months now. On the one hand I can believe it because this journey I’m on here has taken me to so many places and put me in so many situations it feels like I’ve been here for ages, but on the other hand it all seems to have gone rather quickly. Sydney seems ridiculously far away, which it is I guess.

I’m almost on mid-semester break here, just one more inculs exam to go. Uni is going okay and I’ve finally gotten used to the randomness of it all. Lecturers don’t turn up, classes are cut short and they spring exams on you when you least expect it, just how the others warned it would be. I found it quite frustrating at first but am kind of immune to it now. I really appreciate the orderliness of uni back home now.

It’s almost the end of Ramadan and I’ve had an awesome time experiencing this holy month here. I can’t begin to explain how awesome it is to be in an Islamic environment where everyone is fasting and in the spirit of things and practices that I would have to explain to people over and over again back home are commonplace and carried out by everyone, even your friends. I’ve found fasting to be easier here for the simple fact that everyone else is doing it and therefore life caters to it, unlike at home where everything is as fast-paced as usual.

I’m also beginning my lifetime goal of becoming an Indonesian celebrity. I was interviewed on the radio about my experiences growing up as a Muslim in Australia. I kind of wish I hadn’t done this interview as I had some really curly questions thrown at me that I wasn’t prepared for, and because my spoken Indonesian isn’t fluent, I couldn’t explain or defend myself or Australians in general. It appears people think we’re morally corrupt and drink, have free sex and wear in appropriate clothes as a general rule. I found that really frustrating, but what was more frustrating was that I couldn’t really do much to defend myself. Argh! I’m working on it though.

I’ve also been on TV. Reality TV to be exact! There’s this Hypnotist’ show with Romy Rafael (sleazy Indo star) and the situation was I went to dinner with Indonesian friends, one of whom was hypnotised’ and I didn’t know. In the middle of the establishment he stood up and starts imitating a goat every time my other friend said ahem’. I was SO confused and freaked out and generally uncomfortable (read: squirming) and THEN these TV cameras come from nowhere and.well, so there you go. Hopefully next I’ll get a small role in a cheap sinetron. Hahaha.

I went to Solo last weekend to visit family friends and will spend Lebaran there too. I leave on Tuesday and will be back by Sunday or Monday. I plan on going somewhere else the following week, maybe Dieng or somewhere else nice. As for the inhabitants, I’ve met so many people that are just gems. I’ve also met a lot of weirdos.

I’ve been learning a LOT about myself as well, like how I deal with foreign situations and how I handle not being comfortable and being with people I don’t necessarily get along with. I’ve been getting to know myself a lot more and have found that I don’t necessarily LIKE myself sometimes. I annoy myself at times. And I’m seeing traits in myself that I see in my parents and my sisters… it’s so weird! The weirdest thing of ALL is that I find that when I’m in a situation where I’m unsure of what to do, however big or small the dilemma, I often find myself thinking ‘what would mum say?’ or ‘what would mum do?’. Now that’s odd.