Teacher Blogs

Search by country

Self-transparency or self-disgrace? When is exposing our vulnerability just too much?

Recently, I decided that a great way to spend each birthday is to celebrate someone I aspire to be like. Someone with magic good-person dust, willing to sprinkle it into my needy, greedy palms.

Where am I? I asked myself this a few hundred times a day as I pondered all the things I would have been doing had I not rolled up on this remote tropical island. I had fallen off the map, or it felt that way. I was in a place were clocks don’t matter because the time of day falls into two categories: before sunset and after sunset.

Are Western women easy? The answer depends on who you ask. I am a single white female (SWF) travelling in Indonesia, a country that has conservative values regarding women, so my Western perspective is biased. This musing may provoke a bit of controversy but isn’t that the best kind of reading? It’s certainly the best kind of writing.

James is an awesome guy. I met him in Wakai, one of a small group of remote islands in North Sulawesi, Indonesia called the Togian Islands. I was waiting for a boat to a smaller, even remoter island than Wakai. Turns out James was going to the same place. I asked him where he was from and he replied, “Jersey.” Weird, he didn’t sound American.

Rudyard Kipling wrote, “the first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it.” No kidding. I’ve spent a great deal of time in South East Asia. My senses have been abused beyond what I thought possible, to the point where the sight of some things don’t affect me like they once did.

I’ve avoided writing about this for some time because I fear it exposes my ineptness as a world traveller and an aspiring good person who is clouded by materialism. I am clumsy-minded, prone to inner torment and attached insensibly to things that have very little value in my goal towards being a more spiritual person. But here goes…

Out there in the world, Canada is like the forgotten kid on the playground, but it doesn’t care. It’s the underdog to the United States, what a friend of mine calls “America’s attic” (and can you guess where he is from?) When I lived in Indonesia, nobody ever guessed that I’m from Canada. They would hit on nearly every developed country until I finally tire of the game and just tell them.

I’m leaving Surabaya at long last. Of course I’ve left a dozen times over the course of two years to go on holiday but I always came back to my job and my apartment. Real Life was always there waiting for me to resume it. There were a handful of get-out-of-jail-free passes but I resigned myself to the shackles of responsibility and moral obligation to return to work after my blissful holidays.

I wasn’t quite done when I wrote about where to go to get a white vagina. That’s the thing about living abroad for two years, weird stuff becomes normal so over time you don’t even notice those little things anymore.

Pages

Subscribe to ESL101 Teacher Blogs