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A few years ago I was completing my TESOL certification course, planning my escape from the USA and looking forward to going halfway around the world with my new-found skills. Little did I know that once I arrived in my new home and began working that I was about to receive much more education than I was giving to my students. I consider myself to be a very open, understanding person who loves to read about other places around the globe and travel as much as I can. People fascinate me so I thought this would be an easy transformation. What I didn’t realize is that no matter where you go, or how nice you are, there will always be uncomfortable situations that come up that need to be dealt with. Nothing bad happened to me in the two years I lived in Indonesia, but no one warned me of the potential challenges that were still there, nonetheless. Luckily for me, the Indonesian people loved western teachers. I have blonde hair and green eyes, so I received a lot of positive attention. For a while, the attention was great and a little funny. I felt like a celebrity anywhere I went because I was constantly getting people coming up to me wanting me to pose for pictures with them, or someone wanting to practice their English with me. Those moments felt great. However, over the course of those two years, there were times when I was homesick, there were times when I was legitimately ill and I didn’t want to talk, or pose for pictures, or be hollered at. These were the times when I thought back to my preparation for working for the company I started with and no one explained what may happen, or how the locals would react to me. Not to mention that there are fewer women teaching ESL than men…so I had no idea of how much I would stick out initially. Not having any privacy really got to me near the end of my stay, and that was unfortunate, but on the other hand, I’m so happy that the local people embraced me in a way I was also not expecting. Yes, the Indonesian people remind me of how the USA was in the 1950s where an “old-fashioned” way of thinking seems very backward to me in today’s era. However, there were many attributes that I quite liked. For instance, the times when I went out to the more populated parts of Jakarta, there were always friends of friends I met who were all concerned that the ladies made it home ok, that no one bothered us, that we were “protected”. Also, in the little community where I lived, even though there were some busy-bodies that were nosy and judgmental, there were also loads of neighbors who looked forward to saying hello in the morning and asked about our home countries. It was easy to make friends and even easier to be accepted into families as an extended relative. I learned so much about the local culture because it was easy to absorb into, easy to make friends, easy to be liked. The only problem came when I wanted to feel like I was at “home” which I knew would never happen because I didn’t look like everyone else. I could never sunbathe like I was used to doing, never wear short shorts and tank tops and never walk freely out of the house without doing my hair and makeup, knowing that my photo was going to be taken or loads of people were going to interact with me. I truly loved my time abroad and wouldn’t change it for anything, but I do wish that the teaching companies/schools would prep potential teachers with some information upon entering the country. It would have been nice to hear testimonials from previous teachers on what to expect or connect with current teachers that I would be meeting shortly. Having the correct mindset, especially for someone who is basically an introvert, would have helped to mentally prepare for the day-to-day interactions and experiences.