La Metà della Mia Odissea e La Metà del Mio Cuore

Palita Rana Putinagari (INA AFS to Italy Yp 16–17)

As I run my fingers through the alphabetical keys of my laptop, while sipping a bit of my Italian espresso, all of a sudden my frontal nerves reminded me that today, 9 February 2017, officially marked the 151st day of my roller-coaster ride in Italy. In which that could also mean I will only have 151 more days to stay. Am I sad? You can say so. Am I happy? Certainly. What these past 5 months have impacted me both on my conscious and unconscious state would never I trade for anything in life. Yet as time have given me this wonderful opportunity, it is time too who will end all of this real soon. (Wouldn’t want to be all sobby dobby in this time of the year yet, but considering this is the last newsletter, maybe a little tolerance can be given)

The title says: “Half of my odyssey, and half of my heart” In fact, if I’d were asked to choose one word to sums up this exchange journey, I would say: (an) Odyssey.

Odyssey — noun \ˈä-də-sē\ (Ita: Odissea) def. a long wandering or quest usually marked by many changes of fortune, according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Guys, this exchange journey has been such an odyssey for me. To wander much in a place that stimulates my curiosity on every corner that it showed me. And to head over a future that overtime, has put me on a rock bottom or take me on the highest hills of fortune. It’s conflict, it’s compromise, and it’s very very.. exciting!

My exchange cycle is like the changing of the season… so far. If I were to put it into an analogy, here’s how it goes…

I came here in summer. It’s all exciting and bright and very new to me. I’m somewhere far from my comfort zone, living my own dreams. The sun was shining bright, the green grass was waving ‘hi’, and the sky was welcoming the new me into its territory. Although, as I have said before in my first newsletter that I had feared — still, I was one excited young lady, plus, people are interested in me. It was awkward at first but my host family asked me a bunch of questions, invited me to play everytime, took me places, and so much more. My friends, my new classmates, was like “Oh wow an exchange student!”, and they were like, “How’s Indonesia? How’s the weather there? Do Indonesians play soccer? What do you eat in your country?” Just like me, our curiosity was bursting out to one another. Every day is another day of beautiful sun. There were welcoming parties, hanging out together, and all the dinners we did before the school got heavier.

And further to the weeks……..it came autumn. Autumn leaves seem sad because it’s falling apart from its origin and from the part of itself. This might somehow have been quite as I was. I started to acknowledge that I can not always be the center of attention, I couldnt keep up with the lessons in class, I couldn’t understand what people are saying, and I couldn’t express what I wanted to say. Everyone isn’t going to try to speak in English anymore, and neither should I. I dove myself into their community, and I discovered their attitude, their norms, their habits, and their ways of life that are beyond words can ever describe. Sometimes I like, sometimes I don’t like the differences. Sometimes I was culture-shocked, sometimes I was thrilled with the similarities. I was falling apart….. from my origin. It was like a space between me and my origin that kept stretching, distancing myself from who I was before, both in a better and worse way. Whether I like it or not, It all happened unconsciously. Yet, above all, I found a beauty behind the falls. Just how I, as the typical tropical girl, was in awed to witness a season change for the first time. There is something unique as the flowers and fruits colours were hidden from sight. Something special about these leaves on the air, eventually diffusing with the ground. Like me, I started to diffuse with my environments. I’m keeping up with their rhythm as my adventure here pass day by day. They begin to treat me normally, not specially, thus, making me feel like I am one of them. Which I should have been, and which is why I am here — to assimilate with the locals.

A few minus degree celcius and chestnuts later, we greeted the season of Winter. One thing I notice, is that, as how the temperature outside gets colder, the relationship between families gets warmer. One time I felt so lonely I got into my state of rock bottom. The feeling just hit me hard that moment as I was watching the empty, dry and freezing view outside the window (ah so much watching Indonesian soap opera). For me, this is a normal feeling any exchange students would have atleast once. It’s the matter of how we will get back up afterwards. Simultaneously to the loneliness, I also feel so much warm with the families here. Everyone is so happy, so joyful, so nice and huggable. Especially in the day of Christmas, where all of the cousins got together in one long table, eating meals that every families have cooked from home…… for 5 hours! It wasn’t the food that filled the table, instead it was the laughter and the games and the talks that made the table seemed so full. When I missed home, they didn’t made me feel like home at all, nope. They made me a new home. A home where I can proudly say I can fit in. A home not exactly like before, a home not tied by the same blood, but a home bounded by love and affection.

Now, it’s still considered winter here. But I live in Italy, and the sun shines us the first than the other Europe countries. It sure loves us more. My days are getting brighter again as I have understood the language quite well. Im beginning to be able to go cross-region alone (and by alone, I mean with friends and no host family) with trains, im beginning to comprehend quite well in class, and my friends and I started to hang out a lot than before in this second semester. Though, truthfully, not everything goes quite as well, but those little things are nothing compared to what I’ve been improving as a whole. Plus, I kind of talk spontaneously with hand gestures now, and its probably the best change that could ever happen to me! Lol. Oh, and in this first month of new years, 3 teachers have trusted me to do a presentation of Indonesia in front of 3 different classes. I am somehow proud that I could explain it in Italian, every words and every slides are in the language I’ve just learned a few months before. I did put little intermezzo jokes on it, which I thought was kind of cheesy, but It was such a relieved that they did actually laugh. And it doesn’t just stop there, I have a schedule to do another one in another school next week. And then, my Italian scouts and I have been quite busy also in these past few Sundays. So, if you haven’t probably know, Im a girl scout here, guys! We made our home-made oranges and apple jams, and sold it to people in the street, we sold our own calendars, we helped to cook dinner for the community of the homeless, we also babysitted the cutest group of kids ive seen in my entire life! We sang, we entertained the elderly at the nursing home. It was fun! You may say, we did do a lot of service for the others. So in the end, by the way I see it, I have start the year freshly and newly! Spring might have not come out yet, but the signs have been so good so far.

My exchange phase is getting better and better, and I know it because I’ve already got plans to what I should do next in this stage of the year. Let’s hope it will go smooth, and may God forbids. My next half adventure is going to begin……. This time, there’s no other way than going up of the roller coaster. Ready…set….3….2….1…..

Keep up with me on what I would do next at: hmallora.tumblr.com

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