By Wiwin Hartini
The sunlight passes through the bus’ windows making everyone’s afternoon more cheerful after a day of work or in my case, school. Riding buses with 20 other people has become my normal routine. This is my first bus of three.
Coming from the fourth most populous country to the third shouldn’t be a big surprise, I thought. But it is.
When my Indonesian friends ask if I live close to Washington, D.C., because I live in Washougal, Washington, I explain that it takes about a six-hour flight to get to D.C. from where I live. It’s closer to go to Canada.
When my American friends ask me if I’ve been to Bali, which is an exotic destination in Indonesia, I explain that Indonesia has about 16,000 islands, and I lived on one, Sumatra, my entire life.
I spent three years living in the capital city of a province with about 2.5 million people. And yes, the U.S. seems to be more spacious when you go for a walk on a fine afternoon. But no one is outside relaxing on their front porch like my neighbors in Medan.
“Stepping out of your comfort zone will make you grow.” Have you been told this yet? Maybe, more than once? Same here. In reality, it’s more than a growth experience. It makes you rich as a human being.
Rich in experience because you are placed in a situation where you’re exposed to all kinds of people. “Wiwin, do all people in Indonesia wear hijabs?”
Rich in thoughts because you learn about agreeing to disagree. “Wiwin, what do you think about Trump?”
Rich in languages because you get to see how different nonverbal languages can be. “Wiwin! How have you been? Give me a hug.”
I am almost home, where I live with an American family. The sun lights up drops of rain on fallen Orange leaves—a pleasing contrast to the grey sidewalk. Welcome to the Northwest, they say, where sunny days are beautiful and green, but rainy days offer peacefulness.