September 6, 2008
Ramadan 6, 1429 H
Now it’s almost 3 months I’ve back to Indonesia after my AFS-YES exchange student year in United States. What do I feel? Honestly, I learn a lot from my experience and anything that I got back from 3 months ago. It’s not right, it’s not wrong, it’s just… different.
When for the first time I came to the State, I felt like I am a newborn person or somebody who just woke up in the morning and when he turnaround; he find himself on the Martian Plain. It was really strange. Everything is new, people are different, and the weather changes (not like in Indonesia, which is tropical and only has dry and rainy seasons). I learned new culture, spoke with English every single time (even when I was dreaming or talk to myself inside my mind), ate various new foods, and of course, deal with the American high school’s life.
As a newborn person or a human that just landed on the Martian Plain (that’s what I thought on my very own point of view), I decided to be an observer. Firstly, rather than talk a lot, I preferred to watch my new environment, the regulations that dominated the system, and also the local inhabitants. It was kinda difficult, because everything that is have a very specific distinction between my culture, belief, tradition, and norm and their culture, belief, tradition, and norm; sometime is really different. For the example, in Indonesia if you meet with somebody on your class, then you work together with him and talk to him, he could be considered as your friend. After that, you can continue the relationship outside the class; you can hang out with him, play soccer at his backyard or go to movie together. But in my American high school, even though you already talk with somebody in your class and work as a partner, you still be the stranger or at least he/she will recognize you as the classmate. And when you meet with him on the hallway, he/she could just walkthrough you without any smile or any ‘hi!’ .
The individualistic culture that rooted in the society made me struggle. I was born with a strong belief in a mutual cooperation tradition, that you live in this world together with other people, so whoever is that you have to be nice and show your good intention. But really, after my first month I realized that it’s hard to smile! This example often happen; I walked on the hallway, meet with someone from my last period and we’ve been work together or at least I had asked her if she have a pencil that I could use (he/she saw me too), then because I thought that it would be nice if I greet and smile to that person, that people just ignored me and keep walking. No smile. No friendly attitude.
That experience taught me a lot. I don’t want to be a nice kid after that, or smiling like a weird people to every single person that I’ve met before. That’s silly! That’s not cool, shame. Then I tried to adopt those people style; ignoring other, no smile, mind-your-own-business and pretend that I am the center of the world. Well, that’s don’t turn quite good to me. I felt that contradicted with my original norms and values, besides this attitude can’t stop you from stereotyping somebody.
I decided to leave it. I belief every people are good, basically. The Americans are the most easy-going people in the world, like my host-family and some people outside the school. Maybe this behavior appear because that kids do not know yet about how it’s feel to be a stranger that travelled a halfway around the world or maybe this attitude is just a part of their un-matured mind. Well, they are high school kids like me and their hormones still pumped the stream of teenager’s egocentric. At the end I look back to my sentences at the beginning of the year; it’s not right, it’s not wrong, it’s just… different!
But of course, you will always find nice people everywhere.
I met with some wonderful friends, we made a friendship and they showed to me a pure intention and accepted whoever you are. They were the people who helped me to understand about how important is to understand each other, not to judge others by their appearance, and just enjoy the rhythm of your life. I really appreciated for every kindness that they gave to me and their friendly behavior. They didn’t realize it yet, but what they did to me someday in the future will bring the nations into what we call it as a world peace and become the bridge of cultural understanding. I won’t forget them. Someday I will make them proud because they’ve known me.
And now, what did I learn from the social intercourse in United States? I learn a lot about how important is the role of family to built their children character. The social pattern at the high school life; freedom of choices, clichés, people that you choose to hang out with or people that you want to be as your close friend. I also aware of how teacher attitude in the class could effect the students. After all I enjoyed my year in USA. I hope someday I could get a second chance to do something similar to this. And when that time come, I would be prepare and ready to face another social phenomena. I belief a person could change the world, don’t you? You got the opportunity, friends!