Adventures · Culture · Islam · Lifelessons · Muslim · Religions · Solo traveler

The Islam from a different point of view

It’s crazy how time can go slowly and fast at the same time. Three months ago (note: written in november 2016) I arrived in Malang, to start my adventure as an English teacher. I didn’t know anything about this city, or even Indonesia as a country. I didn’t know anything about the family I would stay with and I didn’t know much about teaching the English language. I took a huge step in the unknown, a huge step out of my comfortzone. 


Now, three months later, it feels like I just arrived here. I have had my farewell party, I said goodbye to the people who welcomed me here eleven weeks ago. These eleven weeks have been challenging, exciting, boring and memorable. But most of all, they were filled with learningexperiences. No matter what I did, I learned something new each day. About life, about Indonesia, about my friends and about myself as a person. I have grown personally in so many ways, which I’m forever grateful of. This wasn’t easy. Actually, it was kind of hard. 

Imagine that you’re going to a country that you’ve never visited before, with a culture that you’ve never experienced before.

 What to expect before you get there? I didn’t know, I had no clue what to expect. So I didn’t expect anything and came here open minded and ready for anything. Well, that’s what I thought. 

The first few days were tough. I felt lonely, I didn’t know what to do in many situations and the language barriere didn’t make it easier. Different food, different religions, different bathroom etiquette and different manners. Everything was new and different. Which isn’t bad, but just very exhausting and confusing. After a few days I felt better and got used to the way they live here. I learned some Indonesian words and I met other interns from around the world. We had the most amazing adventures together. Seeing the sunrise from a volcano was magical and walking thru the jungle for several hours was unforgettable. I saw the most amazing landscapes that I’ve never seen before and I met people who treated me like their own family even after just meeting that day. 

The next few weeks I experienced many mixed feelings. Teaching was fun but hard from time to time. Not because of the students, they are amazing, but because of my lack of experience as an english teacher, the heat and the effort it took to find usefull resources to teach the students. Living with my hostfamily gave me the chance to experience the Islam from another point of view, which was really interesting.

All the muslims that I’ve met (and almost everyone is Muslim in Malang) these three months are amazing people. 

They are the friendliest and happiest people I’ve met in my life.

 I admire their dedication to their religion, it’s inspiring to see how they give meaning to their life and their religion. Many bad stories about the Islam and muslims are being told on the news, many people in the Netherlands support a politician who wants all muslims to go back to their own country. I won’t deny that some muslims are extremely dangerous, but that doesn’t make it right to think that all muslims are like them. People are afraid, afraid of the unknown. I have experienced muslims and the Islam by living with a muslim-family in Indonesia. Mosques in every street, praying five times a day. Getting up at 4am to pray seven days a week, no nailpolish nor make-up, a jihab when going somewhere and your body covered up. That’s how they live their life. It’s different to our lives, but that doesn’t make it bad. They are polite, friendly, welcoming and very thoughtful. They respect other religions, they respect people who believe in something else or people who don’t believe in anything at all, like me. It has given me a lot of new insights and new perspectives, which I think many people could use to make their own life easier and less filled with hate. 

And it feels like that’s what the world needs right now: the love for life and for eachother that I’ve felt in Malang, instead of the hate that some people are spreading worldwide. 

With three of my colleagues at Gracia School, Malang. 

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