First Year in US

Whoa, I can’t believe that it’s already a year since we left Indonesia! So much things going on and gratefully we’ve survived from the homesickness and culture shock. Alhamdulillah.

The Reunion (Sept 18, 2011)

Take a look at the past one year made me realize that even though there’re not so many high achievement in term of career and academic (for me, not for Ara, he’s certainly showing much progress doing the research and courses), I’ve done a good job for being a mother 🙂 Not an straight As kind of mom, but I deserve a B+ 😀

This is going to be a long post, you’ve been warned! I made this post because yesterday one of the volunteer from national park just made my day by saying that:

“You are the most unique girl I ever met. You have a toddler with you, but you do many activities volunteer here at the park, ocean explorium, clean sweep ocean? Student at Clemente Course, the Artworks, and..Sunday School you said? Not many mothers doing it, you should be proud of your self.”

I was kind of flattered when she said that, because its not an extraordinary things…,not like I’m working in a big multinational oil and gas company with high salary or have a scholarship for PhD in an any Ivy League university. It’s just volunteering and take some courses for art and humanities, for free.

But the thing is, her words stuck in my head, and somehow…. I feel proud to myself for doing this and that, keeping my days busy going out with Azka, learn new things, meet new people, and again… LEARN new things every single day. So my response to her was:

“Thank you very much. But it’s nothing, I have a lot of energy and I need sometimes off with my son, just for 2-3 hours and do my things. It’s good for him and for my husband too, so they can have a father-son session (laughed)”.

I can say this because the struggling era has passed, at least the hard first year. But I do face a challenging year dealing with new things… Especially the hit question: “Jadi lo ngapain Cha di sana? Ga bosen ya di rumah aja? Ga cari kerja or sekolah?”. Sometimes in my so sensitive days, this kind of question could ruin my day. I was just don’t like what people think of me DOING nothing and being bored staying at home. Because it wasn’t like that. Not as simple as that.

What most people don’t understand about my condition when I first came here is: I was a new mother of a 4 months old baby, living in a far far far away country from her big family, no helpers or whatsoever, never cook anything (or do a constant cooking) during her 25 years of life (except instant noodles and sunny side up egg), have no idea how to chop an onion (I had to look the VideoJug to be expertise on that!), have no idea of a first years of baby’s life (YES, I do read many books during my pregnancy months, but sadly I didn’t absorb many information from that. I should’ve read the wrong books!! D’oh), facing a completely different absurd-weather (shoo away you cold breeze wind!), no friends at all, have to be stay at home due to the coldness ( it’s fall, and fall in New Bedford is godforsaken know how chill it is), etc..etc.

The bottom line is I had to adapt with SO many new things in my life, this also includes the fact that I’m a very active kind of person who can’t stay put in one place, always in the need of traveling, going to some music concerts, film festivals, making tees (and selling tees), participate in youth organization and conference and etc… So staying at home and “do nothing” seems like a torture to me.


The thing is, I’m not alone! I have this cute lil boy who completely need my attention for like 24/7 (nah, I’m kidding, its 20/7 :p)  and this man of my life who also need my affection (yeeaa), an apartment to be taking care of  (the sink! the toilet! the laundry! the garbages! the carpet! the floor! the windows!….), and…..of course, a stove & oven that I need to functioned so it will make a tasteful foods coming out of it!  SO.. I’m full enough. Still, seems like I’m not doing anything at all right?

Yes, that’s not the end of my day.

  • I have to go to groceries store to fill up my fridge; this is a really good exercise, especially if you go back home with 7 kg baby and 10 kg groceries stuffs and try to go to the third floor with narrow steps!
  •  Go to the health center to keep up with Azka’s immunization schedule
  •  Go to here and there to apply for gov-subsidized programs; insurance, fuel assistance for winter, community development office for tax return, etc.

And most of the time I was just going with Azka -who’s calmly being carried by me (thanks to BabyBjorn and to Winda who’s recommending it) by bus. I will tell more about the bus in here. This bus is not like angkot who’s happily waiting for their passengers at the side of the street. No man. No. I wish they did. This bus, I meant the bus’s drivers, only keep their eyes facing straight to the street. They won’t take a notice if you’re running towards them -to reach the bus sign- with the heavy coat and carrying a baby in a middle of the winter. Like hell they won’t. So….Again, I have another thing to cope with – come 5 minutes earlier before the bus schedule (watch out for slippery street!). Oh, forgot to mention, here in New Bedford (or other small cities in US I think), they don’t have any shelter to wait for the bus. They have no sign indicates the bus is approaching you in how many minutes (unlike in Europe), so, use your feeling – I meant use the bus schedule and try to figure out how long should the bus take from Point A to your point A’. Nah).

Oh, I talked too much about the bus, didn’t I? I have so much to complain about the bus!!! Sorry.

Ok. Back to my first months here….Well, yeah,beside those tasks above…

  • Most important thing that I need to learn – and now it’s become the best part of my day-  how to COOK for a baby (first solid foods) and of course, to me and Ara. All I do in the noon is keeping myself busy looking through and some other Indonesian food bloggers and at some point I gave up cooking Indonesian foods in here! (but currently I;m more than ever eager to learn how to make nasi uduk, batagor, tuna balado, etc). So what I do is searching some good and simple recipes from Food Gawker (my lifesaver) and look up HOW exactly it’s been done by watching it in YouTube or VideoJug. God bless Internet and Websites now I can cook and bake many good recipes, want to try some? 🙂
  • And of course besides all of that, we have to be out there and meet nice people, so weekend is the best time to “hangout” at the library, YMCA for swimming, museums, parks, beaches (summer please), mall and cafes.

Do you think I’m still not doing anything at all? I gotta tell you that I don’t even have a slot of time to watch movies and serials. If I happen to watch them, I always watch it at midnights OR sometimes, midday (if I’m lucky enough that Azka is having a good nap :D).

But life goes on, we’re adapt well in here, the struggling era keeps on going until now.If the first year is an introduction/ adapting process, then the second year is about: making friends with the locals and (keep on) learning & experiencing new things. The opportunities are all out there, we just have to be eager to find it AND make it part of our lives.

Bismillahirrahmanirrahim for the second year 🙂

*Special thanks to Aybun who constantly send his prayers to us and text us in weekly basis. Love you Aybun. Akiya and Eni for the Skype sessions, make us feel like we’re just an inch apart. Thanks to our families and friends, you know who you are. And to Winda – who’s been accompanying my days here in US to the ‘insignificant’ chat sessions and always be there to supporting and reminding me about anything, everything :*


2 thoughts on “First Year in US

  1. This is a wonderful blob, Ceniza. I gave me a great insight into your experiences here in the US. I’m so glad to have finally met you and hope to see you a lot more. Azka is such a special little boy, and very lucky to have you and Ara as his parents. I am looking forward to reading more.

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