CLS Week 4: Finding the Fun in Language Learning

The first two weeks of classes were a little bit on the sulit (difficult) side for me, but this past week as been so much more enjoyable.  Classes are still a lot of work, and the schedule is a bit harrowing, but since I began feeling better and felt more able to settle into this new routine, I have felt my spirits lift, and this week has floated by with the same happy buoyancy.

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Yes, this actually happened.  

Classes have continued to be both challenging and interesting.  We spent a fair amount of time this week on various tata bahasa (grammar) that by this point I sort of know how to use instinctively, because they are necessary in both formal and informal, but never fully understood.  It was fun to have a fuller list of them than just what I knew from my own limited vocabulary, and one of my lovely teachers is going to help me develop an even fuller list of one which piqued my interest because I have a working theory that something quite phonologically interesting is going on with that daftar kata-kata (list of words).  (I can’t tell you how thankful I am that they are so tolerant of my endless questions that are very clearly not motivated by pure language learning, but rather my fascination with all the fun linguistic things that happen in Bahasa Indonesia.)

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Trying my hand at batik.

This week not only did I continue with my menari (dance) elective class, but my batik elective class finally began as well!  I have a mild obsession with the many wonderful kain (fabrics) of Indonesia, as anyone who has seen my wardrobe knows, and batik is definitely one of my favorites.  I have wanted to learn how to make it for years now, and finally, through CLS, I get my chance to try my hand at it!  We spent the first class tracing over a pre-drawn traditional motif with malam (“wax” or “paraffin,” but also the word for night, which I really like), using a canting, a traditional too used for applying the wax to the fabric.  It was certainly challenging; there is actually a tradition of saying that women who make batik make the best istri (wives), because they have to be so sabar (patient).  I had a lot of fun joking about this throughout class, and I was also pleased to see that I was beginning to get the knack of batik by the end of our first session.  We will add color to our fabric next week, and I cannot wait!

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Dog cafe!  

Because I was no longer rushing home every day to rest away my illness, I was able to have some fun with my tutor time as well.  We went to several cafes together, including a dog café, which was possibly the most enjoyable place I have ever mengerjakan P.R. (done my H.W.—P.R. is short for pekerjaan rumah, or literally home work).

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Considering I haven’t painted since early high school… I’ll take it!   

We took another class trip this week, this time to Batu, a small neighboring city that is famous for it’s agritourism.  We got to explore kebun jambu (guava orchards), memetik jeruk (pick oranges), and eat raw sayur-sayuran (vegetables), a rare treat in a country where most vegetables are stir fried or boiled.  Following our morning at the orchards and adjacent farm, we visited a local artist whose paintings act as criticism of the interaction between the “modern” era and traditional practices, influence from foreign powers, among other topics.  The paintings were compelling, and I wish more people had a chance to see them.  After touring his studio, the artist, Pak Slamat, provided us with some painting supplies and canvases, and we spent the afternoon working on our own lukisan-lukisan (paintings).  I won’t say that mine was genius, but it was still a really enjoyable afternoon.  After lunch all of the classes visted Coban Rondo, a beautiful waterfall I have actually had the privilege of visiting once before.  One of our assignments over the weekend was to make a vlog about our time in Batu, and you can watch it here.  (It’s all in Bahasa Indonesia, and I did not subtitle it, but I feel like it’s still fun to watch.  Plus you get to meet Mbak Lo, one of the people in my class, and she’s awesome!)

In many ways CLS feels like a language-learning summer camp, complete with games and weekend trips.  It sometimes feels a bit strange to be in Indonesia and not working at an actual job, as that is what I have always done before, but I have decided that maybe my best approach to these next few weeks is to embrace all of this.  Of course, this is not to say that I am not working hard as well (those many hours of P.R. each night are not to be laughed at), but I am overjoyed that learning Indonesian, something that I always had to work into an already packed schedule, is my only real task here, and the various outings and cultural classes are simply wonderful.  I’m channeling my inner Mary Poppins, finding the fun, and loving my time with CLS thus far.

 

Food of the Week: Rujak.  Rujak is a type of food served with a sauce that is both spicy and sweet (a combination I wish America did more of).  There are many different versions, but my favorite is the fruit version, which we were served while we were in Batu this weekend.  The fresh fruit, the spicy and sweet sauce… it was all perfect.

 

Word of the Week: Bekas Pacar.  I would promise that not all of my words of the week will be related to dating, but as these seem to always be the most amusing words, I’m going to aim towards not making a pembohong (liar) of myself.  But earlier this week we learned the word bekas, which means “leftovers.”  (If you are wondering why I never learned this in the three years I lived in Indonesia, it is clearly because you have never been fed by an Indonesian mother.)  Our guru-guru (teachers) did not hesitate to inform us that another, less-polite way of referring to your mantan (ex) is bekas pacar, or “boyfriend/girlfriend leftovers.”  We’ve been having fun with this phrase ever since.

 

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Murid-muridku!  

Person(s) of the Week:  Murid-muridku.  (My students.)  As I was headed to buy batik with some of my fellow mahasiswa CLS the other day, I heard someone call out “Miss Grace!”  Much to my surprise, I had run into a group of my past students from Gorontalo!  While I anticipate being able to see some of my students from Malang when I have time a bit later, I never imagined I would be able to meet up with my students from Gorontalo, as it is so far away.  But it turns out several of them are kulia (going to university) in Malang.  We have plans to see one another in the next few weeks, and I could not be more excited.

 

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