Finding Familiar

So… for me, one of the difficult parts of moving someplace new is getting used to things being different than I’m accustomed to.  For example, after four years of wonderful college goodness, it came as a real shock when I got a job, moved to San Francisco and realized I had to wear pants on a regular basis.  It still haunts me.  But I’ve adapted, and now some days I even wear pants on the weekend.  And sometimes I don’t.    

This seems to be true as I am adjusting to life in Badung, Bali (the adapting, not the pants). Luckily, the Executive Director of DINARI, Mr. Alit, has been kind enough to take me in and house me in his guest room, which has given me the pleasure of getting to know his family and joining them for meals and other daily activities.  I’ve also made some new friends at DINARI and have really enjoyed the chats with clients and the random conversations that I’ve had with people on the street. The hard part has been kicking my technology addictions and social dependencies.  

Although some of these habits I am happy to be rid of, like the Blackberry and internet addictions, I realize that there are many habits and patterns which I can’t wait to resume when I get back, nearly all of which involve socializing with friends and family.  These habits include post-game celebrations, sushi with Chuck, porch-talks, 3:00 AM heart-to-hearts, and email exchanges so glorious that you wish you could read them again for the first time.  

So while I’m away from some of these social interactions, I’ve been thinking a lot about what has been making me feel the most like… me. During a typical day spent meeting new clients, struggling with the Indonesian language, working with the DINARI staff, learning a new culture and trying new foods, sometimes it feels good to find a few minutes to spend time doing something familiar.  

From my travels in that past and my last few weeks here in Indonesia, I have found that the following list of things really helps to make me feel balanced (in no particular order): 

1.  Reading/Music/Email: These are the obvious ones, so I’ll get them out of the way. Nonetheless, when you can’t understand the language and spend much of your day trying to learn on the fly, it feels incredible to let my brain loose. So far the Lonely Planet guides for Bangkok and Bali, Eat, Pray, Love (source of future blog), Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, Yunus’ Banker to the Poor have been wonderful friends. As has my rediscovery of Oregon’s own Everclear, especially “Santa Monica” and “AM Radio”.  And with email, there’s nothing better than coming back to the Gmail after a few days away and seeing a bunch of updates from friends, even if the only friends who wrote are the ones offering Viagra at a once in a lifetime price. 

2.  Junk Food: I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the occasional cookie/wafer/chocolate randomness binge.  I have literally cried tears of happiness upon discovering Oreo’s in a local market.  

3.  Sports: Thankfully so far in Bali, I’ve been able to play ping-pong, volleyball, badminton, a game of hoops, and even raced a nine year old (results still under protest).  Getting out there and getting the heart rate up with a little friendly competition is not only social, but helps wear off the fried banana breakfast. 

4.  Playing with Kids: The nice part about being a Kiva Fellow is that you meet a bunch of clients that often have their little sons and daughters running about.  For the most part, playing with children takes no knowledge of the Indonesian language, which fits my skill set perfectly. Whether it’s a quick game of tag or figuring out who can make the weirdest face, playing with the Balinese children has been a blast. 

So that’s my list… pretty generic, I admit. My question to any who want to participate is: When travelling or acclimating to some place new, what makes you feel balanced? What did I miss? Feel free to add any updates to whatever I’ve listed including books, music or your secret addiction to powdered milk.  

Cheers from Bali,  



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