It’s now 3 weeks into my two month contract. I’m in Indonesia on a 30 day tourist visa which meant from the beginning that I would have to handle my visa issue at the end of May. Luckily, there is a contact in Medan that works who will sponsor me to get a 30 day extension till the end of June. This is good because my only other option would be to fly out of the country to Penang, Malaysia and back in. Not only the money is a problem but if you’ve read my blog over the last several months you’d know that Penang is not one of my favorite places.
I sent a message to my contact and got a reply this morning saying that if I needed his help I would have to come this week and not wait till the halfway point next week. There is a certain visa processing time that I have to allow for. He said I have to bring my passport, disembarkation note from when I arrived in Indonesia and proof of onward travel before my visa runs out. This means, at the end of my stay here in Sumatra I won’t be traveling around the area like I had hoped. Instead, I have to choose a destination to fly out to so that I don’t overstay my time in Indonesia. Visa restrictions have gotten tighter recently here and I’m not really sure why. Instead of an extra 30 days spending my money as a tourist, Indonesia has forced me to other places.
(Update: I’ve arrived in Medan and I am going to do the visa extension at my guesthouse. It’s about $20 cheaper than the other guy)
This brings me to my next order of business. Where do I go after my extension runs out? I had absolutely no time to really go over it in my head since I have to be in Medan tomorrow with the confirmation for a flight in my hand. Internet is really spotty here so I can’t depend on being able to go in the evening due to the nightly storms and power outages so I made my decision early this morning. I’m going to fly back to Bangkok. (Obviously?) The flight isn’t too expensive and I plan to visit a good friend that I didn’t get to see my last time through. I’ll head south east again and pass back through Ban Phe and say hello to the TEFL International crew as well as some of the locals I had made friends with. This will be a quick trip through Thailand as the ultimate goal is to take a couple of weeks to relax in Cambodia before I start work. The border isn’t too far from Ban Phe and it will be nice to meet up with a good friend from the TEFL course who is working in Phnom Penh now.
I plan to return to Indonesia and start working in Jakarta as early as August 1st. I know, I know, why do I need a vacation after working only 2 months? Well, if you had the ability to travel for a month in between jobs, wouldn’t you? I’ll be locked into a 12 month contract with little vacation time so I’ll take it when I can. The job isn’t guaranteed yet but I have the feeling it’s just pending some copies of my degrees and certifications. There is an opening at English First and a friend of mine is a contact there so I should be OK, if I want it.
So, How is the Teaching Going?
I’m having my good days and my bad days. The bad days are pretty rough as I tend to lose all confidence in myself. The good days pick me back up nicely as soon as I realize where I am and that what I’m doing is something really special. Murphy’s Law applies strongly here in Sumatra. If anything can go wrong, it will. There are already very limited resources at my disposal and the ones I do have are dependant on mother-nature. Internet is a luxury and since I don’t have my own arsenal of lessons plans to fall back on, it’s imperative that I get online. The power goes out daily and there are storms in the evening that prevent me from being able to plan anything as internet places close down at the first lightning strike. Hujan deras! Raining profusely! The rain is bittersweet here as it hinders movement, is usually accompanied by lightning and causes the students to understandably not show up for class. On the other hand, without the rain it would be unbearably hot. The first week I arrived here it hadn’t rained for 10 days and if my readers can recall, I was pretty miserable. Since then the temperature has been mild due to the heavy rainfall every day.
I’m really enjoying the village where I’m staying. Everyone is extremely friendly and all the children in the neighborhood scream HELLO, HELLO!!! HELLO!!!!!!!! as I walk by. It really puts a smile on your face to get to leave the house to the sight and sound of children with absolute elation on their face. When the neighbor’s kids have friends over there are about 6 adorable Indonesian kids yelling “HELLO TAFUUUURO!! HELLO TAFUUUUURO!!!” It’s pretty amazing.
It’s turning out that my evening class with the 7-8 teenage girls is becoming the easier class to plan for and teach. This is opposite of my feelings earlier in the month where I was struggling with them. They’re all really eager to learn and at times bordering flirtatious. When they’re not calling me “sir” they’re usually smiling and saying “ganteng,” or “handsome.” I don’t care what they call me to be honest. Mister, Joe, teacher, pak, guru, sir… just not Justin Bieber.
I took on an extra two classes that weren’t a part of the contract. There is a guy who lives in the village who has students come to house two times a week. These are the most difficult classes for me to plan for because the age difference and skill levels makes it complicated. On Tuesday there is a 6 yr old girl who just stares back at me with a blank look on her face. The problem is, if I take it back too basic, I’ll lose the interest of the students who have basic English already. The last thing a 15 yr old boy wants to do is count his ABC’s and call out ” C is for CAT!” at some lame flash cards.
I think my confidence is growing as the weeks go on. As with every jobs, it seems my low points are Mondays when I have a fresh set of classes to teach. If I plan properly there is zero stress in teaching. My problem is wanting to unwind on the weekend instead of planning out the following week. I moved around some class times to free up Friday night so I have Friday and Saturday entirely to myself. The Friday night class I switched to Sunday night, since I’m already back at the clinic at that point. This will give me more proper me time after teaching so that Sunday afternoon I can start figuring out the plan for the week.
So, that’s what has been going on. There is hope here. When this first started out I questioned whether or not this is for me. If I’m being honest with myself, I know I’ve been lazy about lesson planning but as each week goes on I’m organizing myself and my time to better accomplish what I need to. Teaching in Jakarta should be a breeze after this as there will be much more structure and most likely a specific curriculum to follow.