Last weekend’s adventure began with a warning: don’t wear green to the beach. This piece of advice stems from the myth surrounding Nyai Loro Kidul. Now it may sound silly to the western ear but folklore and mythology in Indonesia and especially Yogyakarta is for the most part considered truth. And there’s evidence to prove it!
During orientation upon my first few days in Indonesia we were told the story of the Queen of the Sea. If memory serves me correctly Nyai Loro Kidul is the legendary spirit-queen of the Southern Sea. This Queen is also the mysterious queen that all the Sultans of Yogya worship and become spiritual husbands of. By “marrying” the queen, these sultans are guaranteed ruling power over the land.
Nyai Roro Kidul is said to have a fondness for the colour green, especially when worn by men. Therefore if you are seen wearing green on the beaches of the South Sea, Nyai Roro Kidul will lure you into the sea by engulfing you in crashing waves as you are taken to become her slave for eternity.
Believe it or not, people who have worn green to Parangtritis have been reported missing! My friend swears that she was engulfed by a wave and the wave took her green skechers at Parangtritis. A few other items went missing this weekend as well. Even if you don’t believe it it’s best to be on the safe side and leave your green wardrobe at home when heading to the beach!
Besides the short beach trip to Ngandong just about 2-2.5 hours outside of Yogya, I haven’t done much in this last month. So far I’ve visited Jakarta and have mostly been hanging around Yogya shopping and listening to jazz and reggae. We are in our 4th or 5th week of school and so far so good. I ended up dropping an immersion course and picking up another on Indonesian political thought, the class is taught in bahasa. It can be tiring because your mind is working harder comprehend what is being said. I’ve heard that if you can understand 30% of what is being said you’re still at an advanced level, so I guess my Indonesian isn’t as horrible as I thought.
I just did a presentation in bahasa on corruption and democracy for my korupsi dan anti-korupsi class, I think went smoothly. I had a few Indonesian friends check it over and it turns out there were only a few mistakes! With some minor changes, I gave my presentation and it seemed like people understood. Sukses!
While school is useful I’m finding out that most learning occurs outside of the classroom like many people have told me. It’s quite easy to hang around foreigners and just speak English but after making friends with a few Indonesian’s I have surprised myself by how much I am able to express. I have always found grammar my strength, so it has been and will continue to be integral to my language studies to continue to put myself out there and engage in conversations using bahasa. I have to get over being malu-malu (shy)!
In other non-school related news… I have found myself extremely comfortable in Indonesia. I’m not quite sure what it is but Yogya and almost all people I have met have been nothing but welcoming. It can be frustrating at times because a simple task can take a whole day to finish, but mostly things are laid back. Getting food is convenient and cheap, transportation is convenient and cheap, and the people are friendly and curious and want to ask questions, which is good for practising language skills. Although, the questions get redundant like: where are you from? What are you doing here? How long will you stay here? Sometimes they can get a little personal like: Are you married yet? Why not? Do you have a boyfriend? What’s your religion? I have never been too taken aback by these questions, to Indonesian’s and many other people around the world these questions are just a regular part of small talk.
I have also been trying to get myself involved in some extracurricular activities. I have joined a group which is working on a play about beach safety and will be doing performances at the beach for locals and tourists. This was a random opportunity that I decided to take up but it should be fun! I was told to jump at any chance to engage with the community because it can lead to amazing things, it wouldn’t be “immersion” if you didn’t! And this weekend the same person who is organizing this play has asked me and a few friends to go to a small village to meet elementary school students her description was a bit vague but I’ll update you on how that ends up.