Five days into my arrival and I was already packing up to leave.
Turning to face my two housemates in the dark evening, they merely rolled their eyes before throwing their suitcases into the back of the taxi.
They’d already been on this rodeo.
I sighed and did the same, hoisting my bag containing my pyjamas and prayer beads atop my shoulder as I slid into the car, ready to go to the new apartment we’d be living in for the next week. I hadn’t even been in our current one for a week.
It had started in the morning, when I’d heard a huge crash followed by shrieks. I turned over and ignored it, the sunlight dipping onto my face, needing sleep more than anything and reasoning that someone would come up and tell me about it if whatever the crash was was something urgent. I said to myself that I’d run straight down though, if I heard anymore yelps. After all, I couldn’t be that much of an asshole.
Wait… what? Is someone knocking on my door?
‘Diandra! Wake up and come downstairs! Get dressed but do not use the water! Don’t use the toilet or even brush your teeth, just come straight down. And cover your nose!’ I heard my housemate walk back down the corridor as I sat up in a panic, immediately pulling on appropriate clothes, grabbing my phone and my most treasured piece of clothing, and dashing out of my room, hair wild and teeth unclean, stumbling down the stairs in a tired stupor.
‘What… the… actual… fuck?’ The ceiling on the ground floor had collapsed, the stench of urine I could lightly smell for the past few days now seeping into every crevice, making you choke. The pipes had burst and sewage water had come gushing out when the ceiling fell in.
I joined the others who were smoking outside, looking and sounding mildly fed up as they recounted tales of it happening before, that they would have to go to work with this hanging over their shoulders, that we’d be moving again, etc. I was still jet-lagged and unfocused, sitting down and staring at the beautiful green trees, ignoring what was happening because I was just so desperate to have peace and settle and make this home my space for the year it would be, that I would’ve gone mad or cried if I didn’t just largely block it out.
We moved to apartments later that night, the house being deemed too unsafe for us to stay.Yet despite that hiccup, and the fact I saw eight cockroaches in our kitchen today (we’ve now moved back into our regular accommodation) and thought I heard a cat mewling in the walls, it’s been a pretty decent two weeks (even if the aforementioned things are still affecting me). My housemates and supervisor have been amazing so far, taking me out to football matches (Palestine vs. Hong Kong and Indonesia vs. Laos – until that game I hadn’t even realised Palestine had a football team, awful much!?) during the Asian Games, going to the spa for hair baths, pedicures and hour long massages (because it’s much cheaper here than in the UK!) and for shopping in Jakarta, where I bought a gorgeous new blazer for work and two olive green dresses. I’ve also gone to a vegan restaurant and to a posh cinema where the chairs recline and there’s warm blankets and waiter service. I even went to Singapore for a day! A very long, tiring day.
But I miss home, of course. I miss being out on a Friday or Saturday night with my friends on the town, with brunch in the morning to soak up the leftover alcohol. I miss my Sunday’s baking with my youngest brother, and hearing the elder one play the drums, even if it was at flipping 9am. I miss meeting my beau for lunches and dates, and cuddling him. I also miss my parents, because I’ll always miss them if they’re not cooking lasagne or rice for me. It’s odd, being here sometimes because whilst I’m not homesick, I’ve definitely experienced odd feelings. Things such as thinking, ‘oh! I can’t wait to tell this-person-or-that-person about this cool thing I did today!’ before realising that actually… no, you’ll be telling them via a Whatsapp call or text, but you won’t be telling them in person over a coffee or cocktail like you initially thought. I’m trying though, to fill my space with the things that make me happy, to really make this my home.
My kitchen cupboard for example, has (alongside the roaches!) vegan protein powder, peanut butter, loads of spices and herbs, teas, oats… things that are essentials in my pantry. Things that I always have at home. My bedroom has my scarves flung about, and a collage of photos on the wall of my near and dear. It’s also got my make-up, a candle that smells of cinnamon when it burns and my most favourite perfume. Things that remind me of my home. Things that are integral to my identity. I struggled to sleep for the first week, in this strange room in a different country, but I think having my things surround me, and doing what I typically do at home, has helped settle me into a routine. I went out and bought ingredients to make vegan chocolate chip cookies today, for example, because I almost always bake at least once a week.
I’m bored sometimes, though, especially when my housemates go to work. But for the past week especially I’ve tried to set up a routine, one that incorporates me writing a lot more (both for this blog and other publications), exploring, developing, and watching Queer Eye. I’ve set myself up so much that I’m now going to miss all of my free time when I begin training on Monday, but that’s always what happens, right? You miss what you don’t have. I missed a work structure in my first week, and now I’ll miss being able to spend my time exactly how I want it. I am excited to start though.
I’ll say this however, even if it does sound a bit pathetic, but I’m already counting down the weeks until I leave here to return to the UK, and I’ve got 50 more to go! It sounds like a long time, because it is, but I’ve already been in Indonesia for two weeks! 50 more will go by in a flash, and no doubt at the end I’ll be complaining that it was too quick and that I should do another year either here or elsewhere. I’m not counting down because I hate being here though, or because I regret my decision, but because it’s just something else to look forward to: seeing all of my loves again.
Oh, and it turns out I may have been one of the causes for the burst pipes – putting tissue paper down the toilet when the system is too weak to handle it!