I'm really sorry it took so long for me to write to you and the club about my adventures here in Indonesia but theres been a lot going on lately.

Anyway i'll start from the start:

Hi Sunrisers,
I want to wish everyone a Happy New Year and give you all an update of my life in Indonesia :)
I've been here for about 4 months now and i've already experienced so much but I can't wait to find out what the rest of my exchange will hold. The feeling of being on an exchange is a very hard one to explain, for me as soon as I started school I felt like I had always been here, like I belonged here but at the same time the time goes by so quickly and now I'm realizing my exchange might almost be half over.

I arrived in Indonesia on saturday september 17th and was expecting to feel extremely homesick and scared but i didn't experience any of that right away. I started school right away, i literally arrived on saturday and found out on sunday night that i would attend school the following day. Here going to school means getting up at about 5:30 and leaving for school at 6:45, then school starts at 7:30. Because my first day of school was a monday i straight away experienced flag ceremony- i'm still not sure what it means exactly but every monday morning we go outside (and i should add its really hot outside!) and we do this ceremony which consists of their national anthem, a couple of other indonesian songs, a prayer, some announcements and of course the flag raising. Some of the things that first shocked me about my school at first was that there are only about 75 students total! And that includes elementary, SMP (middle school) and SMA (high school). This also meant that my class only has about 12 students and i became really close friends with all of them almost instantly, since Indonesian people are very curious and there are probably only a handful of 'bule' (western) people in the entire city (population: around 850,000), i was asked a lot of questions and still am everyday, not that i'm complaining but one of the most shocking for me was on my first day of school my physics teacher asked me 'do you have a boyfriend?', I later found out that this is a pretty common question over here but for me its strange for a teacher to ask that. What struck me right away is how friendly and unembarrassed people are here, they aren't afraid to embarrass themselves and always strike up conversations with strangers
My most memorable moments here so far have been with my school. I went on a camping trip back in November- i think (I always lose track of time here because it seems to be flying by!) which was such a great experience! Mostly because camping in Canada is so different. In Canada we take sleeping bags, pillows, blowup mattresses for camping, not just for warmth but also just for comfort; not here, here you take what they call a tikar, its basically just a mat and people just take a jacket to use as a pillow; no real pillow, no blanket and definitely no blowup mattress. Let me tell you it was not the most comfortable night of my life but all in all it was a great experience. Another amazing memory from that camping trip was the 'night adventure'. At about 7pm we went on this kind of scavenger hunt but it felt more like 12pm since it was pitch black! I also found out that night about how scared Indonesians are of ghosts, even the boys seemed terrified. The rules were everyone had to stick together, walk in a line and we weren't allowed to laugh or shine our flashlight into the trees.
My favorite memory so far is definitely the 5 day trip I took with my class to a village, what an adventure that was! There was no indoor plumbing so the toilet was just a hole in the ground, we got our water from a well, and showered using a bucket of freezing cold water, it was boiling hot- no AC of course, and it rained everyday. These were some of the things that were hard to get used too but there were some great things about being in the village too. I became closer with a lot of people from school since there were 5 other students and 2 teachers also living in the same house, I got to see rice fields and even learnt how to plant the rice with the locals, I got to go to a mosque and see them pray, I helped the children from the village with their english, and I got to learn how to make bricks, like actually make them from scratch. That was an amazing five days to say the least.

After the village trip was Christmas break and the day I came home my host sisters also came home, one from Jakarta and the other two from Bandung, to celebrate with us, not that there was much to celebrate because as expected Christmas isn't celebrated the same way as in North America, I just went to church with my host sisters on Christmas Eve (my current host parents are Buddhist so only my host sisters actually celebrate) and Christmas day was spent not doing much, just car shopping and going home to relax (no presents like in Canada). The next few days I didn't do much, I just hung out with my host sisters waiting for december 30th when we would all hop on a plane to Jakarta and then Bali the next day.
Bali was everything I had expected, paradise! And I definitely want to go back because unfortunately I didn't get to see to much of Bali since we spent most of our time riding around in a bus but all in all it was a great vacation and I'm now trying to convince my mom to let me go on the Bali, Lombok and Komodo Island Rotary trip in March/April!

I returned to my home here in Lampung last Tuesday and had been pretty upset ever since because my host dad (who is a Rotarian) told me that he planned to move me to another school because my school is an international school so most people can speak English. He felt it was not benefitting my learning Bahasa Indonesia but I disagreed, I might not be learning super fast but I felt I was getting better and even got a great mark on my report card for Bahasa Indonesia and as much as I tried to show him my progress in learning Bahasa, I even told my classmates and teachers about my host dads plans so they wouldn't speak English to me anymore but as much as I tried it didn't seem like my host dad would change his mind. This morning I was so relieved to get a call from one of the Rotarians who assured me that I would not switch schools, he said he would make sure I stay until the end of the school year because he agreed that it wasn't the right thing to do (I've visited about 10 other schools, mostly high schools, in Lampung back in November when I was helping my class mates ask around for tents to borrow for our school camping trip, anyway the point is every school I went to I was looked like a celebrity! As nice as that sounds its not!!!!)
Anyway I'm so glad that is all over now but I'm really glad that it happened too because I'm now more determined than ever to learn and improve my Bahasa :)
Some of the many things I have to look forward to in the near future are:

Januari-Maret: SDB Fair!!!!!!!! This is the i think 5th Birthday of Sekolah Darma Bangsa and although I'm not sure of the exact Birth date of my school I know its sometime in between january and march and we celebrate for three months for some reason hahaha. Anway the first event of SDB Fair actually begins next week on the 15th, its called 'Fun Health Day' were my school will offer free health check ups, do Basketball games and a 'Fun Bike', Fun Bike is a competition that offers amazing prizes like Blackberrys (which are super popular and cheap here), a tablet computer and even a TV! We actually get these prizes through sponsors like XL (a popular mobile network) and Radar Lampung (one of the local newspapers). Actually now that I'm on this topic I should mention something, SDB Fair, Homestay (the trip to the village) and all of the activities are actually not organized by the teachers like at most schools, instead at SDB we have a student counsel (which I happen to be a part of) and one of my best friends Vania is actually the president. Anyway how it works is the teachers give budgets for things like SDB Fair and the camping trip and the student counsel works out all the details and gets sponsors. Its pretty cool!

In Feburari we have more competitions for SDB Fair, like an English Olympiad, Singing Idol and a Futsal (soccer) competition- soccer is probably the most popular sport here.
Then to end SDB Fair in March we have a play. Its a traditional Indonesian Legend that I'm told is similar to Beauty and the Beast, its called 'Lutung Kasarung'.This play is of course written in Bahasa but my friend and I will translate it into English and I'm so excited for this because I also have a part in this play but I'm not exactly sure what it is.
Maret (March): JavaJazz, I'm hoping to go to this jazz concert in Jakarta with some classmates and their parents :) and I hope to go on the Bali Rotary trip at the end of Maret :D
Mei (May): My Seventeenth Birthday!!!- In Indonesia its not Sweet Sixteen, its Sweet Seventeen!!!

Thank you so much for this amazing opportunity!!! I'm truly having the time of my life here and have already met so many amazing people here :)
I'll try to give you all an update again soon!

Well its dinner time here and I'm starving so i should head downstairs.
Selamat malam!

P.S. I'm sorry I didn't intend for my 'update' to be so long, its looking more like a book hahaha