June 6: Day 0: Fun and unexpected!

By: Zafira Rahmani Nur Shabrina

It has been three weeks since being announced as a participant of the USIPP program and I have been counting down this day to come. It finally did come (yeay!) and many unexpected things happened.
I started off the day by having a ver y quick final exam, which my very generous lecturer forgot to prepare. Thus he made me some very random questions to do (including making my own questions, which was fun and easy for the most part). I finished at approximately 9 o’clock, and headed towards the wisma… Then I got to meet the other participants!!
We had a great introduction. Jack, Kate, Fulvia, Ellen, Anne Marie, and Carrie were so nice and warm. It sort of surprised me because I thought everything would be formal and it came out that it wasn’t. It was really unexpected and I actually was nervous earlier, but it disappeared the moment I met them.
So enough of the introductory… let’s get on to the details!
Today we had a scavenger hunt. We were to split up in pairs (which later on became our roommates) and figure out the clues given which lead to places we were suppose to go to. My partner is Fulvia (who by the way comes from New York and is in her fourth year of study in political sciences). It took me some time to figure out where we went, but I found out its Mirota Batik in Malioboro and Beringharjo. The Major problem to this assignment (or should I say adventure) was I did not know my way around Yogyakarta, and especially not on public transportations. So I think I gave Fulvia a minor heart attack when telling her that I don’t know the way (plus I can’t read maps). But she did a very good job of hiding her worries and told me that she trusts me whatever I’m going to do.
So then we rode the bus (transjogja) to our first destination: Beringharjo. I was excited, it was my first trip to Beringharjo alone (let alone bringing someone else along). The moment we went in Fulvia became very eager to shop and I knew I had to stop her, because one thing I’ve learned from previous experience, once you start to bargain you could never stop. So I told her we would have time to shop later on the 16th, before going to the US. But it was really great to see Fulvia having fun and being so interested in stuff being sold there.
We then basically roamed around the market interviewing some merchants. Our major goal was to find the history and events that occurred around it. Later on we figured out that no one, no merchants, not even the people who worked in the marketing office, knows one bit about the history of Beringharjo. We did find out that festivals take place at the street nearby, especially on new year and independence day.
After exploring some parts of all three floors, we went out and crossed the street to our next destination: Mirota Batik. The first thing Fulvia asked was what the very distinct smell was. I explained that it’s called “kemenyan” and it’s made out of flowers burnt on ash. She asked so many clever questions which actually took me time to find the answer. Fulvia also asked about the Sultan, and how the community worships him. And you know what? We weren’t even in the store yet! Again, I was happy Fulvia was that eager.
The first floor of the store displays more batik clothing, which I’ve already shown earlier in Beringharjo. So we went directly to the second floor and found accessories as well as puppets. I tried to explain what everything was to Fulvia, and hopefully she gets a basic idea of what everything was. I tried to explain some javanese puppets or wayang, such as Rama-Shinta, Arjuna, and Bima. One thing that was very interesting that was spotted by fulvia was the religious figures sold at the store. There were calligraphies of Muhammad, statues of Jesus, and also temples. I didn’t really think about it, maybe because it is encountered so often. But suppose to someone who views Indonesia as such a muslim and Hindu-Bhuddist dominant country, this really would be interesting.
The last part of our trip was, I would say, the most fun. We took a ride around Malioboro on a horse a traditional horse cart. Or what we usually call Andong. It was fun to just see buildings amd enjoy the bumpy ride. A great end to a cramped and stuffy market shopping and sightseeing. Fulvia, too, said that it was sor of like the high light of the day. Then we took the bus home, which felt so long.
At approximately 4 at noon, each pairs presented and tried to “sell” the places they went to. Everyone did a great job of showing off their destinations. Fulvia and my presentation was up first, and I’d say we did a good job of making them want to buy everything in Beringharjo and Mirota Batik. Second up was Binar and Ellen, who wnet to Gembira Loka Zoo (who at the end won the reward). Their presentation was amazing! I drooled. After that was Fikar and Carrie’s which was the obe most filled with information of culture, history, and faith. It was also awesome. Last but not least was Anne Marie, who presented without Annisia. She made Taman Sari sound very interesting, and also did a great job.
Night activities were even more fun. We got to discuss norms and do’s and don’ts both in US and Indonesia (Java). We continued the discussion over dinner in Raminten. It was great to see everyone so excited to try new food. The four Indonesian students tried to explained every single menu, so the US students would get a picture of what each was. Thus they could pick what suited them best. The menu it self was quite interesting, like Sate Kerang and Beras Kencur. Very Javanese culinary. It was perfect.
We came home feeling very exhausted, and was ready for bed. Can’t wait for another day of fun and adventures. See you tomorrow everyone! Cheers!

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