So, it’s November. And, here in Bandung, that means we are well into the rainy season. In Indonesia, well, on Java at least, there are two seasons: rainy and dry. The rainy season is exactly what its name implies: rainy. It beings in late September and continues all the way until the end of February. Most of the time, mornings start off somewhat cool, become sunny, hot and REALLY humid, and then towards the afternoon, the clouds roll in, and there is a rain storm or thunderstorm in the late afternoon that either stops or continues into the evening.
Today however was different. I was at school, and the storms moved in around twelve and the rain was so heavy the sound of it on the roof almost drowned out the teacher’s voice. By the time I got home, the rain had stopped, but it was still humid, and I am tired. I’ve been run down recently, but for very good reason.
A lot more has changed here than the season.
This is a post I never thought that I would be writing, but, here we are. I guess I should just come out and say it: I had to switch host families. It was a very hard decision to make, but it was the right one. Here’s what’s been going on.
So, my blog has mainly focused on the many great things that have been happening since I arrived in Indonesia, but I’ve been leaving out some of the more difficult situations. I really love my first family, and they have been nothing but kind and understanding since my arrival. All of that was true. However, about three weeks into my stay at their house, I started developing an allergy to something either in or near the house. As time went on, the allergy only became worse and worse, and I found myself almost constantly run down or feeling sick. My family was aware of the problem, and tried to help me every step of the way, but there was really nothing that they could do.
I had a feeling that this might happen when I came to Indonesia. Literally, my only health concern was being allergic to my surroundings. I’ve always had a problem with allergens in the air, but because I lived in the same town and house for all of my life, I just learned where not to go when my allergies flared, and was adamant about taking my allergy pills during the bad seasons. Eventually, I developed a sort of tolerance because I had lived in the same place for so long.
But here, it’s different. I’ve never lived in a tropical climate, so, there many new plants, and even more than that, new allergens, pollutants and bacteria everywhere. It’s only natural that someone so susceptible to allergies would feel the effects of a MAJOR change in environment. I tried to wait it out and see if I would adjust. My family and I tried everything: medicine, switching my bed room, eating local fruits, but nothing helped. It was then that switching became my only option. My allergies were less severe when I went to other parts of the city, so I hoped that by living somewhere else, I would feel better.
Usually when an exchange student wants to switch families, AFS must find the family for them. However, in my case, I was extremely lucky that my kind host parents took it upon themselves to find me living arrangements that were not only perfect, but AFS approved.
So where am I now? I’m still in Bandung, but on the other side of the city. My first house was located in a neighborhood in the south of the city, where the land if very flat, the weather is hot, and there’s not many trees. Also, there is a big highway nearby, so the fumes and dust could have easily contributed to my problem. Now, I live more towards the north of the city in a house near the mountains. Here, it’s cooler because of the elevation, and there are more trees and less traffic, so the air quality is better, and it has helped me significantly. Oh, and the house is actually closer to my school, so I didn’t have to switch schools either!
But, the even more important thing is who I’m living with. My host mother talked to her niece and nephew, and they agreed to let me live with them. They had an extra two rooms, so they offered for me and Zata to live at their house. In my new family, I have two little sisters: a two year old sister, Naomi, and a two month old sister, Rachel. Needless to say, the cuteness level is off the charts at this house. As if that weren’t enough, they have two dogs! Yes, DOGS! In the Muslim faith, dogs are considered dirty, and Muslims cannot be licked by dogs, so it is very rare to see pet dogs in Indonesia. However, these dogs live outside in the backyard, and are here to protect the house. However, they are very friendly, and my family is ok with me playing with them.
And the best part about all of this? Since my new family is related to my old family, I still get to visit quite often. Now, I have two families here. I know that this whole situation wasn’t exactly what I wanted to happen, I couldn’t be happier with the end solution. If this problem had to occur, I’m so glad that we found this solution.
These past few weeks have been extremely stressful in some aspects, so now, I’m just taking the time to let my body relax, recover and re-adjust.
Well, that’s all for now, but I realized that I didn’t put any pictures in this post. So, for those of you who like seeing the pictures more than reading the post, here’s a little preview of what I’ll be talking about soon.
Ok, now I’m really done. I promise next post will be more about my crazy adventures and shenanigans (regardless of all of what’s been going on, I’ve still had many….) in this wild and beautiful country.