***I’ve been putting off this blog post for a while now. I knew at some point I wanted to write a blog post about being in a long distance relationship (ldr) and what better time to write than when I’m experiencing a low moment in my service. Keep in mind this blog post may be skewed a little as a reflection of my emotions at this time.
Everyone knows that being in a long distance relationship is hard, it’s very hard but as hard as it is, it’s not impossible (although ~ 80% of people in my group who were in a ldr have broken up). In this blog post I will compare a failed ldr I had with an ex and my current (what I like to consider healthy, but who am I to judge) ldr now. If you’re going to be joining the Peace Corps soon and are debating whether to give ldr a try, I hope this blog will help you in some way.
Before leaving, make sure you’ve had an honest conversation with yourself, even before having a conversation with your partner. And I say this because there’s no point in going through a ldr if you don’t know what you want. Really ask yourself if you plan on having a future with this partner. If you don’t see a (strong) potential future, don’t prolong the break up. The inevitable will happen and it’s better to break it off in person and on good terms, that way when you return (in 2 years—though it seems like a very long time—and you probably aren’t even thinking about it at the moment) there will be a possibility of picking up where you left off.
Drawing from my own experience (let’s call my ex Will), when I studied abroad for a year during my junior year of college, I had no intention of staying with him. I knew on that day when I said good-bye to him at the airport, it would be the last time I would see him. But I didn’t break it off! 2 months into my study abroad (after we didn’t talk for about 3 weeks) I finally called it off. I could’ve saved myself a lot of headaches and 3 months of wallowing had I just broken it off sooner.
So lesson learned! Break it off if you have no intention of making things work.
It is hard enough being apart from each other physically; if you have no means of communicating back home on a semi-daily basis, forget it. (This sounds harsh—and you can take it for what it is—but I am only speaking about my own experience). My ldr would be impossible without being able to talk to my partner everyday. YES, we talk every single day, even if it’s just a simple text message. Being in a ldr means that you need to make up for your absence in the forms of text messages, video-chats, emails, and occasionally snail mails.
If you’re one of those people who hates being on their phone or likes to disconnect yourself from the interweb, please save your partner some heartache and break it off now. Being in a ldr means you have to stay connected! You have to stay up late/wake up early to talk to your partner. If you’re not ready to sacrifice your sleep, ldr is not for you.
With Will and I, communications got very bad (hence the no communications for 3 weeks leading to the final break up). One day I decided I wasn’t going to text him, just to see if he would contact me first. Funny, 3 weeks went by and NOPE, not a single text. I finally caved in and asked for a skype date, and he didn’t show (well he didn’t come online—you know what I mean). After 3 hours of me waiting, he finally text back and said “oh I wasn’t on my computer.” So….BYE Felicia! (Ok fine, maybe he was busy at the time, but honestly a nice courtesy text to say, “hey sorry I can’t make it to skype today or I’ll be late” would have done wonders. Who knows it could’ve saved a whole relationship).
Now, with my current partner and I, we try* to stay in good communication with each other (I say try because it’s a constant work in progress). We always let each other know ahead of time if we can’t make it to our weekly skype dates and we text each other EVERYDAY.
#3: Making Time
Being in a ldr comes with sacrifices and commitment! That also means when I’m hanging out with my other Peace Corps volunteer friends (as much as I love hanging out with them and we hardly get to do so) I have to excuse myself and make time to talk to my partner. The key word here is making time. That means if I have spotty Internet connection at home, I walk around my village until I get some kind of signal to let my partner know I don’t have signals! (Yes it’s hard work, but your partner will appreciate it. And yes I’ve had to do this on multiple occasions).
So if you’re one of those people who like living in the moment and would rather be present in the moment, a ldr might not be for you.
#4: 100% Trust, 100% Commitment
This goes without saying. There’s no relationship if there is no trust. If you don’t trust your partner or the other way around, don’t waste each other’s time. If you want to go into a ldr you need 100% trust from both partner.
If you’re not ready to commit 100% to your partner, ldr may not be for you. In reality what does this actually mean? It means not giving into temptation. It’s hard when you haven’t been with your partner for 8-9 months and you see a cute man/woman! Everyone has temptation, but what sets a committed partner apart is not acting on those temptations and trying to avoid situations that could tempt you. And those situations are up to you to judge. Some people say it’s hard to draw the line, but if you’re really honest with yourself the line is not hard to draw.
This is one of the most important components of being in a ldr. You have to pick your battles; some fights are not worth it. So you have to be willing to swallow your pride and apologize (even when your partner is unreasonably upset). I’ve learned that with my partner and I, if one of us apologizes, the other usually follow suits. Also when my partner is stubborn or upset with me (sometime for reasons I don’t agree with) I just remind myself, he’s upset because he misses me. 99% of the time, we fight because we can’t have enough of each other. When you remind yourself that your partner’s anger comes from a good place, instead of bickering you’ll feel happy instead.
Last but not least, I just want to say I have no qualification to say anything. I just happen to be a girl who’s in a ldr with her boyfriend. And we have good and bad days. We fight and we bicker sometimes, but at the end of the day, we have the same goal. And our constant drive for that goal is what makes our relationship strong.
I have to give a lot of credit to my partner because he is amazing. I’m on a crazy journey and sometimes I wonder how he puts up with me. It’s a lot to drop on your partner (hey, you want to stay with me while I go volunteer abroad for 27 months?). But if you’ve found someone who’s willing to go through it, do it, you guys are worth it! My partner has been my rock throughout this journey and he’s one of the best things I have in life. I’m so thankful for him.
I hope you’ve found this somewhat helpful, but take what I say with a grain of salt. This is my experience having a ldr as a PCV, every volunteers’ experience is unique and different.
Best of luck!
I knew I wanted to join the Peace Corps since I was in 5th or 6th grade. And this long dream of mine finally became a reality last March. From getting rejected my first time applying, to landing at the LAX airport, Peace Corps wasn’t real. It wasn’t until I was at staging and meeting my fellow ID10 (other volunteers) that it finally hit me that going away for two years was real.
As I was sitting at the round table in the conference room with 6 other volunteers, I was constantly hoping their stories would convince me that I was making the right choice. My emotions were everywhere and a little voice at the back of my head kept telling me I couldn’t go through with it. It all felt so wrong. The honest truth was, I didn’t want to leave my comfortable nest. I loved being home, I loved babysitting my nephew and niece (also didn’t help that I spent 7 months with them-almost everyday) and I love being semi close to my boyfriend. It was one of the hardest things saying good-bye to all of that.
Then, my group found out we weren’t flying to Indonesia that following Saturday! (If you want to know why – watch this). There was a small part of me that felt slightly relieved. Having more time to spend in L.A. meant I had more time to think about flying back home. Throughout the week in L.A. and into the first week of training, being surrounded by people who were eager to served, allow me to mask my own insecurities about Peace Corps.
I had a miserable first few days at my Pre-Service Training (PST) host family’s home. Of course it had nothing to do with them, but with the fact that I was alone for the first time since I’ve arrived in L.A. I had several good cries in my room where I allowed myself to feel all the suppressed emotions I’d masked the last couple of weeks. I recalled one evening during the first week of PST, in a nearby Internet café close to my village, (the first time I finally got internet – about a week of no contact with friends and family back at home) I balled my eyes out reading an email from my boyfriend. I also cried when I was finally able to call him. So on several occasions I cried! I cried, I cried, and I cried until it finally felt ok. And I’m glad I allowed myself to. I needed it.
Don't get me wrong, it's not that I didn't want to do Peace Corps. I've never wanted to do anything else more, but reaching one's dream is scary! I was afraid of the unknown even when it was right in front of me. I was homesick, it was hot, I was tired from the long training hours and everyday I had to try to put on a brave face. It was hard reaching out to others when I kept telling myself I had to be happy, I must be happy, I chose this!
That was the worst part. As the weeks went by, slowly day-by-day, I could begin to imagine myself actually doing it. By week 5 of training, I felt better about sticking to my decision to come to Indonesia. Practicum (where we practiced teaching in a real classroom) rolled around, and I loved interacting with the students. I knew right then and there I had done the right thing! Now, after 5 months, I am thanking my former self for having to go through one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in order for me to do one of the best things I will ever do, which is getting a chance to be a part of my little village and working closely with incredible Indonesian students.
Everyday, as I stroll through my village on my short bike ride to school, I still can’t believe I’m living my dreams. I am finally doing what I’ve always wanted to do, and I’m right where I’m meant to be. And in my toughest times, I was reminded that God would never give me more than I can handle, so I thank God for challenging me everyday.
This morning I was woken up by the loud speaker from the Mosque diagonal from my house at 4 am. Every morning at 4 am sharp is the first call to prayer. For the past 3 months my body has been pretty good about ignoring the call to prayer, but this morning as if it was my first time hearing it, I woke up, shuffled around bed for a bit, and fell back into a deep sleep until I was woken up by my alarm on my cheap black Nokia phone at 5:30am. I press snooze for another 5 minute. I blink, and again at 5:35 my Nokia phone goes off. I finally get up, throw on some clothes, grab my toothbrush, toothpaste, and water bottle and head over to the mandi (bathroom).
By 6:30am most mornings, I’ve already had my breakfast, drank the coffee that my host grandmother’s made for me, decided which of the 5 batik shirt I should wear to school that day, and headed out the door. By 6: 40am, I’ve arrived at school. And like most days, I am the first teacher to step into the nice air-conditioned teacher’s lounge (this is a luxury I do not take for granted). I pop open my laptop and check my emails. The first hour of my school day is spent shaking hands and making small conversations with all the teachers as each arrives. With my limited Bahasa Indonesia, our conversation usually ends at “inggih sudah makan” (yes, I’ve already ate). Sometimes when I want to be real creative I'd say, “sudah sarapan” in the local language (Bahasa Jawa) and the teachers get a real kick out of it.
I teach at a SMA (highs school). In Indonesia, high schools consist of 3 grades; 10th graders, 11th graders, and 12th graders. I teach 7 classes, 4 - 10th grader class and 3 - 11 grader class. My classes vary by the day. My 10 graders meets once a week for 90 minutes, and my 11 graders meets twice a week for 90 minutes each.
This week, the majority of teachers have training for the new education curriculum, so there really is no class. Students are still at school so I still attend my English classes, but we’re mainly just reviewing materials and playing games since technically, I’m not allow to teach without my Indonesian counterpart (co-teacher).
After school today, I have English Club. I love my not-so-little English Club. Right now we have about 90 members and to help with the large class size, I have 4 student council members. They’ve been a tremendous help with announcements and taking care of admin things.
My day ends with me biking over to the coconut juice vendor near my school. I usually buy 2 bags of coconut juice and enjoy them as I watch a movie or read in the evening. 1 bag of coconut juice cost Rp 4,000 which is 30 cent USD.
Life here is slow but I enjoy waking up with the sun and sleeping before my little 6-year-old host sister does.
I've been horrible at writing.... but where I lack....I make it up in other areas! So yes, I have new vlogs to share. Please enjoy & leave me comments, requests, anything you want.
and M O R E ! !
If you're reading this blog and you don't already know.....I do have a youtube channel. I love vlogging my trips because "A picture is worth a thousand words." in this case, a video is worth a million! Here is my latest vlog. Enjoy
It’s been a while since my last blog post so let’s speed update you.
I’ve been at my permanent site now for a about 1.5 months and for 1 month I was fasting with my host family. But between you and I, I cheated. A few days of not eating was fine, however, I started having lots of migraines from being dehydrated. Therefore, I had to cheat and drink water during the fast. The most enjoyable thing about fasting was breaking fast with my host family.
Because of the holidays and the end of the academic year there hasn’t been much to do. I went to school a total of 4 days, so that gave me a lot of time, too much time. With my spare time, I’ve watched many tv shows and read a lot.
This is my list of accomplishments:
So as you can see I’ve had alot of free time, but can’t wait until school starts.
Eight weeks ago, I was welcomed into a very nice Indonesian home. As I struggled hauling two of my suitcases into my new room, I was greeted by a warm Indonesian woman. Little did I know that 8 weeks later this strange house would become my safe little space in a strange new land. Just like my mother did in the US, while I was packing for Indonesia, my Ibu here stood at the entrance of my door silently watching me squeeze as much as I could into two suitcases.
The morning went rather slowly. I woke up at 5:30 as usual and was all packed and ready to leave by 6:30. My counterpart had planned the night before to pick me up at 7, but jam kurat (flexible time) and they picked me up around 8. My ibu set with me in the living room as we both anxiously waited for their arrival.
As I shook my ibu’s hands one last time, I salimed (revering handshake by touching the back of the hand to the forehead to show respect to an elder) her and gave her a hug. Although hugs aren’t as common in Indonesia, I felt it was appropriate. My ibu has asked me to visit sometime in the next 2 years and I plan on doing so.
I anxiously got off the patas (a nicer and AC bus in Indonesia) bus at the Mojokerto Terminal and was immediately greeted by an older gentleman, whom I’d thought was my Principal (Peace Corps has it coordinated so that our principals would pick us up). I don’t know what he said, but like any other time someone spoke Bahasa Indonesian to me (and I don’t understand) I nodded my head following his gesture. Shortly after I nodded yes, he put on his jacket and gestured for me to get at the back of his motorcycle (which is a BIG NO NO because PC volunteers are not allowed to ride motorcycles) I realized, this older gentleman indeed was not my principal. I tried to tell him in broken bahasa Indonesian that someone was coming to pick me up. Roughly after 10 minutes, I finally managed to piece enough words together to get the message across. Like most motorcycle taxis I’ve had in the past (not in Indonesia, as this is my first time being approached by one) I thought he would immediately say something rude for wasting his time and go on his way to find another customer. To my surprise he smiled, nodded his head and gestured for me to sit down on a bench nearby under the shade. I was off to a great start and spent the next 20 minutes speaking in broken bahasa Indonesian with the older gentlemen sitting next to me on the bench.
Then finally I spotted someone coming across the street waving at me. I’d also mistaken this man for my principal. He turned out to be one of my counterparts and at last, I finally met my principal inside the car. The first thing I noticed was their sense of humor and how down to earth they both were. My counterpart hesitated and apologized in advance if he is being rude by asking me about my ethnicity. (***Keep in mind, at this point I’m pretty fed up with people questioning my identity and wanting me to “prove” that I’m really an American). It was a very kind gestured and I appreciated it very much.
After a couple of hours of touring my school, meeting other teachers, and having lunch with them, it was finally time to meet my new host family. They seemed more nervous to meet me than I was to meet them (since this is my second host family). Not going to lie, I think I fell in love with my nenek (grandma) at first site. She just has something about her that’s so warm and inviting. After 5 days with them, I am so happy and excited to start living with them. I’m very fortunate to have such a lovely little family for the next two years. My little host sisters are wonderful and eager to get to know me. I have nothing but amazing things to say about my new host family. Additionally, I’m very fortunate that I live very close to my school (5-8 min walk).
To top the whole trip off, I was expecting to be dropped off at the bus terminal this morning but instead was taken to a museum and to the Candi Brahu, a temple located inside the archaeological site Trowulan in the former capital of Majapahit. Then after several failed attempts of finding a patas bus back to Kediri (holiday weekend, everybody was traveling) my counterparts told me they would take me to another bus terminal in the next town over. Just as I was thinking about what a long drive it had been I saw a sign that said “Selamat datang di Kediri” which means welcome to Kediri. It turns out, without telling me, my counterparts decided to drop me off just because they’re the most amazing people ever.
I can’t even get over how amazing these past 5 days have been. I feel refreshed and this is the most excited I’ve been since being in Indonesia. I finally found where I belong in Indonesia and can’t wait to start working with my counterparts and my school in June!
***With the Peace Corps, we get placed with a PST (pre-service training) host family while we’re training for the first 3 months. Half way through PST we get to find out where we’ll be placed and work for the next 2 years.
My group has had two long anxious weeks waiting for our permanent site announcement day! I’m happy to say…I’m going to Mogokerto! It’s only a 2 hr bus ride from Kediri (the village I’m currently training in) and 1 hour away from Surabaya, which is where the Peace Corps office is located. I’m super excited because I’ll be teaching at a SMA (public high school) and I’m also very nervous as well since my only “real” teaching experience is with my practicum school right now. But I’m confident Peace Corps training will prepare me well for my service.
I’m a little sad that I don’t have any of my fellow ID10’s as site mates but luckily the closest ID10 to Mojokerto is only 2 hours away in Kediri. Additionally, I also have an ID9 in Mojokerto who lives about 1.5 hr (bike ride) from me. So I will be able to learn a lot from her.
Tomorrow, I’ll be taking a bus to Mogokerto to visit my permanent site, school, and meet my new host family. It’s all so exciting and nerve wracking all at the same time! I will have a host grandma, a host mom, a host dad (who won’t be around much because of work), and 2 little host sisters! I’m so excited to meet them all tomorrow.
I’m becoming very bad at updating and writing on my blog. There is no excuse besides how long and crazy PST (Pre-Service Training) days can be. Most days I wake up at 5 am, mandi (bucket bath), get ready, eat breakfast and try to squeeze in laundry time (I’m lucky, my PST host family has a washing machine) all before language class at 7 am. From 7-12 pm is language class, which is actually taught at my house (again, I’m very lucky). My language cluster consists of only 4 volunteers (all language classes are small, 4-7 volunteers). Then we have a lunch break from 12-1 pm. After lunch we all bike over to the next village for TEFL training since we’re all going to be English teachers. That typically last until 5 pm and I usually get home by 5:30 pm. As soon as I get home, I take a nice cold mandi because I’m always swimming in my own sweat. By the time I’m done with my mandi, my ibu usually has makan malam (dinner) ready. The rest of the night is spent sitting outside of my front porch conversing (with the little bahasa Indonesia I know) with my host family and neighbors. My nights typically end around 8:30 pm because I’m usually very exhausted by the end of the day. Blame it on the HEAT!
This week, we started practicums at the local middle schools/high schools in Kediri. (More about practicums and what it’s like working with Indonesian counterparts will come in a later blog). My schedule is still similar with long days. I have practicums in the mornings followed by 5 hours of language training at the end of the day. My language cluster and I have quickly discovered that a small 30-minute nap session after lunch makes a world of difference in our long busy days. It’s now officially a Blab B (my cluster name) thing.
This is where I share my journey in the Peace Corps. The contents of this blog are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. government or the Peace Corps.
Hi welcome to my blog. My name is Sia and this is my safe haven. This is a place for me to write, journal, and share ideas.
IG @ ms.sia.chang