Hilltop Online Editor
Imagine a city of skyscrapers and traffic jams, an exotic metropolis where cultures, ethnicities, and languages converge into a dynamic island community. Maria Christiani and Karen Tin, two Indonesian students studying abroad at Corban this semester, call such a place home.
Coming from Southeast Asia to Northwest America has been a drastic change.
Neither Christiani nor Tin had traveled much outside of Indonesia before, although Tin did visit the United States when she was eleven and has visited some nearby Asian countries as well. Both girls live at home while attending Universitas Pelita Harapan in Jakarta, a metropolitan area inhabited by an estimated 23 million people.
“It was a big jump,” said Christiani, a senior majoring in English education. “I had never gone abroad before I came to the States, which is… really different.”
The two girls arrived on campus August 21st. Christiani had just flown into Portland from Indonesia on a 20-hour flight with layovers in Singapore, Tokyo, San Francisco. Tin had flown in eleven days earlier to do some travelling to the Grand Canyon, California, Las Vegas, and Yosemite National Park.
Although Salem might not offer as much entertainment as Jakarta, the girls have already enjoyed some new experiences, from being on a farm for the first time to attending an Oktoberfest celebration.
On campus, the girls are adjusting to academic and lifestyle differences.
“There’s a lot of homework here,” said Tin, a junior majoring in psychology. “We have this language issue, so probably we think this is so much harder.”
“I’m used to being an early bird,” said Christiani. “Now I’m becoming a night owl. [In Indonesia] I usually go to bed at 10 and get up early; now I’m up until 1 doing homework.”
“You [Americans] are very loud and very open with whatever you think,” said Tin. “We are more reserved in class. People raise their hands every time.”
The girls began to see difference between Americans and themselves as early as freshmen orientation. “The craziest thing was the scavenger hunt,” said Tin. “Our teams left us behind. Americans run so fast!”
“People are crazy about sports here!” add Christiani.
In Indonesia, soccer, “the world’s sport,” takes second place to an unexpected pastime. “Soccer is a big sport, after badminton,” said Tin. “People love badminton.”
UPH offers scholarships to five to 10 students in its new study abroad program, which sends students to three American colleges and universities. So why did the girls choose Corban?
“I went to the website” said Tin, “And found out it is really a Christian community where we can not just study but grow.”
“I don’t know exactly why I chose Corban,” admits Christiani. “I looked at the website, and it has a nice campus; it’s near the coast.”
“The beach in Jakarta is dirty, but Bali is really nice and warm” Tin says. “I heard the other universities [in the study abroad program] are on the plains—or what is it called?—the prairie. I don’t think I would like that.”
In the semester ahead, Christiani and Tin hope to improve their English skills, gain new friendships, do some sightseeing, and understand American culture. They also have a few less serious hopes.
“I really want to ride an American roller coaster,” said Christiani.
Also, Christiani said she wants to see what the political climate around election time is like in America. Although Christiani has voted before, Tin will be eligible to vote for the first time in their country’s presidential election next year.
Whether the semester includes roller coasters or not, the girls are excited about their American adventure so far from their island home.
“I think maybe God led us to Corban,” said Christiani. “Maybe he has a big plan for us here.”