“Tomkiw, Lydia. Occupation: Journalist. Jakarta, first assignment as foreign correspondent.” -Adapted from the film “The Year of Living Dangerously” (really, all I did was change the name)
Well, the above statement is almost entirely true. So here it is – I graduated from Wesleyan University. College is over! I’m having a really hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that come September I won’t be returning to Middletown, Connecticut. I love New England fall and I even begrudgingly grew to like winter. I got used to having four seasons. And, now I am moving to a place where there will certainly be no snow although there will be two seasons, one much wetter than the other.
Brief interlude on college before I explain next year: I loved college. I loved Wesleyan. I loved the classes I took; the professors I had were fantastic people passionate about their subject matter and just interesting people to talk with. The friends I made there – well, I can’t say enough about them. If anything ever went wrong they were there and when everything was going right, they were there too. I probably owe them all several rounds of drinks, but that will have to wait for a year. I am so incredibly grateful to my parents who twenty-some years ago thought I’d want to college and made that possible. All in all, college was a good time and hey, maybe if I ever make any money (ha) I might donate (ha).
So, now what? Well, I am glad you asked. In a few days I will be moving halfway around the world. I got a Princeton in Asia Journalism Fellowship so I will be living and working in the capital of Indonesia, Jakarta at The Jakarta Globe newspaper. Asia, you say? Yes, this student who studied Europe, speaks French and Ukrainian is moving to Asia. Why? Because why not? I get to write and travel and that’s exactly what I wanted for a year or maybe two after graduation.
So, what have I done to prepare? Well, I typed in “Jakarta” into my local library’s website and then ordered what came up. I watched Anthony Bourdain’s Indonesia episode and am now very intrigued to try a durian fruit (he described the inside as “custard”). Bourdain fell in love with Indonesia and since he is such a cynical character I think this bodes well for me. I watched the Mel Gibson (before he was crazy, and when he was young and really, very good-looking) movie “The Year of Living Dangerously” which is adopted from the novel by Christopher Koch which is all about a foreign journalist in Jakarta in the mid-1960s when President Sukarno is about to fall. I am going to start a novel by Indonesian author Pramoedya Anaata Toer, who I gather is, one, if not the main, big name in Indonesian literature. I have been listening to podcasts to learn some bahasa Indonesian. And I bought a modern history of Indonesia book and a phrasebook. Victor bought me a very useful book “Culture Shock: Jakarta” by some Brit ex-pats who have assured me that I will hate Jakarta and then love it immensely. It is a hilarious and helpful book, so I will have to quote it later. I owe many thanks to several Wesleyan students who are all from Indonesia and took the time to talk with me about their hometowns and their country and put up with some very silly questions that I asked: Erwin, Jourdan, Mita, Lana, and Elena – terima kasih (God, I hope I got that right. It’s supposed to mean thank you). They explained to me that Jakarta (a mega city of 9 million plus) is the NY, DC, and LA of Indonesia.
Everything is about to change. I’m getting nervous, anxious, and excited. I’ve gone to my local taqueria three times in as many days to get my fill of Mexican food before I go. The plan for the next week is get to Jakarta and then from there go to the town of Yogyakarta where I will take a week long language intensive. Yogyakarta is one of the most visisted areas in Indonesia. Close by are two incredible temples: Prambanan and Borobudur. I’m hoping to visit both as well as the bird market and palace in town. I plan to update this blog every few days, much like I did in Paris, with stories, photos, stories and photos about food, and my general impressions and maybe even some short creative non-fiction stories (that may be ambitious). There is a link on the side of this blog to “subscribe” that way each time I post something, you’ll get an email with the post instead of having to try to remember to visit the site. For now, I leave you with a classic that’s become a bit of a theme song now: