Last Few Months in Salatiga

by Tabitha Kidwell

Yesterday, the new semester started at STAIN Salatiga. For everyone else, that is. Not for me, since I have Mondays off. I have Fridays off, too, so I spent the day the same way I will spend many of my “weekdays” this semester – going for a long run, lingering over a coffee while reading my Facebook news feed, making an elaborate lunch, and generally relaxing all day. It’s shaping up to be a relaxing semester. I’m teaching as many classes as past semesters, but a scheduling miracle put them all on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday mornings. Plus, the classes I’m assigned to teach will be easier to prepare for – the last two semesters, I taught teaching methods classes that really pushed me to research the best teaching practices and present a lot of content in a meaningful way. By that, I mean it was a ton of work! This semester, I am teaching a few sections of reading class, a listening class, and two classes for the other lecturers. I’ll have to find materials and activities, but I can pretty much do whatever I want as long as it improves my students’ overall reading, listening, or general English ability. So I’ll spend far fewer afternoons and weekends researching, planning, or grading.

Besides teaching, my other commitments are getting easier, too. The English camps and the ETA trainings that I put a lot of energy into in October, November, and December are over. The conference invitations that poured in and kept me running all around Central Java in October seem to have dried up. I still have my elementary school teacher group and the STAIN lecturer support group to plan for, but now that I know the participants better, that is easier, too. As an English Language Fellow, you don’t really have a boss – the State Department hires us, Georgetown pays us, and the local Regional English Language Officer oversees us, but we file taxes as independent contractors (and pay the self-employment tax to prove it!). The crazy schedule I kept in the fall was only a result of my own inability to say no and to limit my commitments. I’m glad I did all that extra work- my CV is stacked now! And now that circumstances are different, I don’t feel too bad about taking it easier this semester and basically only doing what my contract says I am supposed to be doing.

So what will I do for the next three months? I’ll train for a marathon and do a sprint triathlon on the way. I’ll try to get through Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and The Wire. I’ll read a few of the books I’ve been meaning to read – especially the 5 or 6 actual/non-ebooks that I’d like to read and leave behind. I’ll visit my Indonesian friends’ houses and travel to the last few of places I want to see in the country. I’ll do crosswords and play Words with Friends. I’ll finish all the lessons in the Basic Indonesian book I’ve been working through. I’ll get lots of massages and facials. I’ll write in my journal, pray, and finish A Course in Miracles. I’ll apply for jobs and research PhD schools. I’ll plan my post-fellowship travel in Vietnam. I’ll study for Jeopardy. I’ll (hopefully) decide where I want to live and what I want to do next year. In short, I’ll have a great final 3 months, and I’ll be ready to go back home in June or July!

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