A chapter in Indonesia

After six years spent in Indonesia, I hardened myself a lot. I really thought that nothing could surprise me. I signed up for a partial scholarship which gave me access to free education despite having to be responsible for all my other personal expenses. However, coming from a very modest family, my ends of the month are never easy. But with experience, I got used to it. A fews years before coming to Indonesia, I was living with my parents and sisters. I can certainly say that we had a rather pleasant life. Then one day, diabetes took my father away when I was only 12 years old. Suddenly our standard of living had completely deteriorated , but luckily, though, my mother had an income. Yet, with four daughters in charge, our financial situation had changed. We had to move to the country side. I went from a spoiled child to a hard-working young girl. One day, when I was about 18, I had decided to apply for a full-funded one-year scholarship to learn the culture and Indonesian language. I was called for an interview. A few weeks later, I had gotten the call that I had waited for. I still remember my mother's face lighting up when I announced that I got the scholarship. Besides, I still had to obtain a passport, which was not cheap. My mother, however, always found a way to make things possible. Soon I had arrived in Solo, I had become more familiar with Indonesian culture.Towards the end of the program, I had met a man who promised to help me financially in order to obtain my bachelor's degree. I believed everything he told me. Although my family objected due to our financial situation, I applied and got accepted. My patience and endurance have been tested since the moment I signed for that scholarship.  It started with my trip to Malaysia to renew my visa. I left Indonesia with my tickets and the money for the visa. I was informed that I would get my new visa in the afternoon if I came to apply early in the morning. Therefore, I hadn't booked a hotel. The plan, however, was not panning out how I had imagined. I had to wait for two days to get my visa. So I slept at Kuala Lumpur station at night. The following night, tired and hungry, I had a very bad encounter, a man had been following me and began to chase me in the station. But I managed to elude him and hide in a bathroom stall. The next day, I finally got my new visa. So, I began heading back to Indonesia, a flight that, luckily, I was able to postpone. But again, as unlucky as I was, my flight had been delayed and I had missed my train from Jakarta to Solo by just a few seconds. I had nothing left with me. A man had seen me in distress, suggested that I sell my camera at a market near the station. I mustered up my courage and sold the one last, good thing I had on me so I could buy a return ticket that same evening. I soon learned that misfortune tends to follow me. A few months later, after I had just started university, I was involved in a motorcycle accident. My right leg was completely fractured . Fortunately, the Indonesian government offered insurance for injuries, which I was able to use to my advantage. However, as a result of the accident, I missed an entire semester of university that I had to make up later. As time passed, my relationship with my boyfriend had completely deteriorated. I started looking for an online job since working is forbidden for foreign students in Indonesia. But I couldn't get a single job. Having no other choice, I applied and was soon accepted for a babysitting job . After two months, the family decided they did not want me to be their babysitter anymore, without any reason given. As time went on, I have accumulated my rents. It had gotten to the point that I was even struggling academically. Since I lacked money, it was difficult for me to finish my final project. A few weeks before the Corona virus hit Indonesia, I landed a small job as a private French teacher for a little girl. I thought it would at least help me to pay my rent, but unfortunately, it ended as soon as it had started. Getting a scholarship and studying abroad could be the best or the worst experience someone could have, but it all depends on how we react to the challenges that accompany it. These last three months have been the hardest. But I felt that I no longer suffered from my situation. I have normalized the fact that I sometimes do not have food for a couple of days. It's frustrating but I'm learning a lot about myself. Besides, it also teaches me how to control myself and focus on my goals. Deep inside, I know I still have a very long way to go. I believe that someday I will return home with my hard-earned diploma in my hands and make my mom so proud of me. I have lived this way for the last five years, and while I have yet to see the light at the end of the tunnel, I still have hope that I will see it some day and that I will finally be able to close this chapter of my life.

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Mike Lyles

Author of “The Drive-Thru is Not Always Faste...

Staresville, United States