Starting differently, being random... I want to share my travelling experience, but not in a sterile way....not just describing things, but writting how I really see them and feel about them. So this is it, the new beginning of my story J And you are all welcomed to join me in my journey. Today I would like to tell you a bit about cultural shocks that I experienced so far.
When I went for my first internship to Romania, I did not really experience cultural shocks there. The reality was quite similar to the Slovak one, so there was no reason for some big surprises. That was also one of the reasons why I told myself that next time I will choose a destination that will be much more exotic, where I can really test myself in a very new environment and I believe Indonesia is fulfilling those expectations every day.
You know, after a certain time you spend in the country instead of seeing things as weird, strange, judging or not liking them, you get to the point when you start asking questions, build up your patience and respect towards the way of life. That is what I finally learned after 5 weeks of living in Jakarta.
So here are those things that I found „weird“ at the beginning:
1. 1. Bathroom
First evening when I arrived into the house of my host family, my host sister showed me around the house. She took me to the bathroom (at that point I thought that is just a toilet). Then I wanted to take a shower, so I asked her again to show me where the bathroom is and she was surprisingly looking at me, not really understanding what I am asking.
In some of the houses you only have a toilet and next to it a big bucket of water for taking a bath (no separation of the space for toilet and shower). In some places you do have a shower, but again it is right next to the toilet. They do not really use hot water for showering as the weather is always very hot, so that was also a bit of surprining for me at the beginning. But after a certain time I got used to it or I just boil the water if I really want a hot bath. They also have 2 types of toilets – the normal toilets and squat toilets.
2. 2. Perception of distance and walking
If you ask someone in Indonesia about a distance to certain place you will get different answer if the person talks about distance by car/motorcycle or by walking. People in Indonesia are very comfortable. They do not really walk unless i tis really necessary (well, why would they, if there are so many possibilities of using public transportation or their own vehicle). So if you ask someone for the way to get somewhere they would not advice you to walk even if the distance is around 10 minutes of walking, because with the temperatures and pollution the walk would not be very pleasant. The other thing that I noticed is the fact that Indonesian people walk very slowly.
1. 3. Rice, rice, rice
In Indonesia people eat rice all the time (even for breakfast) and are capable to combine it with everything. They do not consider to have a meal unless it includes rice. They eat it even with soup... For me this is a bit of a challenge, because as coming from the country where meals are very much based on potatoes, it will probably take me some more time to adjust to eating rice so frequently.
2. 4. Sweet, sweet Indonesia
First time when I ordered a juice, I was quite surprised by how sweet it was. They consider „juice“ as a „juice“ only when there is sugar included. Generally the sweet food and drinks here are very sweet. In my opinion the reason for that is the fact that their food is very spicy, so if they did not add so much sugar to meals and drinks that are supposed to be sweet they would not feel the sweetness.
3. 5. You are eating rice with a fork?
Yes, that was a question connected with amusement when I started eating rice with a fork. Usually, when you order a meal you will get spoon and fork (why would you need a knife with fried chicken, if you can eat it with hands) and spoon is the one with which you are supposed to eat rice.
4. 6. Wanna blend in? Not gonna happen.
I am a Leo by the sign of zodiac, what means that I loooove attention. And believe me that in Indonesia, being a European brings you a looot of attention. No matter how hard I would try to become a local person, I will always be different and people will always stare and greet me and ask questions. From a certain perspective it is very nice and enjoyable, but you know, from time to time everyone has a day when he/she just wants to dissapear and for me it is quite impossible in here.
So far these are some of the things that surprised me at the beginning or keep surprising me even now, but I am sure this is just the beginning. The more I will interract with people, the more I will get into the culture, the more small details will occur. Luckily it is quite possible to handle all of these things, it just takes a bit of time.