The next chapter of Bali or Bust

It has been a delight to record our adventures in SE Asia on this blog for the past couple of years. I initially created Bali or Bust as a way to motivate me to meet one of my top goals on my Life List: living abroad for at least a year. We thought we’d be here for two, but we’ve been presented with an extraordinary opportunity… one we can’t pass up.

Indonesia has been amazing, challenging and sometimes even maddening, but nonetheless one of the most incredible things my family and I have accomplished. We have taken on tons of professional development, learned new cultural skills, a new language, and traveled every opportunity possible.

But as all adventures begin, they also must… evolve. Please don’t see this next chapter as an end to Bali or Bust. In fact, I’d like to take this blog to a new level and focus on other big items on my Life List. I plan to share my progress here.

The next chapter is still in the works, but enough has been green lighted to share with you now. Seth has accepted a position for a large organization in the United States, starting soon. I’m thrilled for him, and for what it means for our family. I won’t have to work four part-time jobs or scramble for child care like I did before we left the US. I won’t have to eat dinner alone on weekdays, like I do now, as Seth will be working remotely and will be home, in Portland, up to 60% of the time. We are thrilled!

But… You see I can’t just leave right now. As a teacher, I have invested a lot of energy into my students. I’m managing clubs that I created and a homeroom of seniors, who are desperate for help with their university applications. I feel obligated to at least guide them until the end of the semester, and I also recognize how essential the bridge is between the US and Indonesia. I don’t intend to burn that bridge.

Thus Eliana and I will stay here until mid-December. A part of me is buzzing with excitement, envisioning all of the new projects I get to do in my very own house back home (I forgot how much renting a house sucks). Another part of me is content to stay here forever, especially when I’m at school working. (What can I say? I love my job.)

I have a feeling these next few months will fly by. I have a lot of plans already (Hello Gilis in two weeks!!), which I think will keep me occupied and focused. My goal is to leave without regret; feeling fulfilled and satisfied and incredibly excited about returning home to our family and friends, which will hopefully involve even more growth beyond our wildest dreams.

Growth that I intend to continue to share with you here.

Literacy Week

We’ve been celebrating Literacy Week at school (a spin off continuation from Literacy Day on September 8th) by reading every morning for DEAR (Drop Everything And Read), writing a thank you letter to our favorite author (I stole the idea from Mighty Girl), class creative writing pieces, and a literary costume contest finale!

Eliana dressed as Princess Aurora and I as Fancy Nancy, which is also the book I read to her class on Wednesday. It’s been fun!
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An Educator’s BFF

I might be really late to the game, but this whole using technology in the classroom thing is pretty amazing. I’ve tried several applications and websites throughout my BA and M.Ed programs; be it forums, wikis, or other social media platforms that were popular at the time. But I have to say Edmodo is by far my favorite site for the classroom. Minimal set up and maximum output is my kind of tool. And how do the students like it?

I asked my seniors if they’re familiar with Edmodo because I created a group for our class and I wanted them to join. Do they need me to hold their hand through the process? One student reassures me, “No Miss Jenny, it’s easy, it’s like Twitter.” “Yeah for homework” blurts out another student. And the class laughed.

I had already posted the assignment with links for research ideas and within minutes, all 20 students had joined my group and started researching their topics. No paper. No hassle. And on Friday, when the assignment is due, all my students will need to do is copy and paste their summaries and links to our group, letting me track progress and time stamp each post. Homework will include commenting on other’s posts.

I have another group for my ESL class that I plan to introduce today. I’m hoping to use this like a toolbox with supplementary assignments for the fast workers, like an additional angle to what we’re all working towards. And did I mention the file library, google drive connection, or quiz and polling features?! Love.



Two steps forward, one step back

As I’m writing this, lightning claps the skies in Bogor and rain is pouring. Eliana is at a friends playing because I feel too ill to really give her the attention she wants right now. This is frustrating.

I’m sick of feeling sick all the damn time. This isn’t exactly a fun topic, but I feel it’s necessary to be honest on this blog, especially for those readers who are currently or who are planning to expatriate. The thing is… It’s not all travel wanderlust. It’s popping Imodium and Panadol and vitamins all the time hoping to feel normal for a while. Because I can’t remember what that feels like.

We have been feeling pretty home sick these last few weeks, Seth and I. Ellie? I don’t know. She’s really involved with her friends and school. She loves to give gifts to new friends and she really listens to them. This can be good and bad, especially when they’re critical, such as saying her peanut butter and jelly sandwich smells. (Naturally her lunches are a bit different than theirs and she gets a bit of flack about it.) So the next day she says she hates sandwiches.


The good thing is that I caught her class BFF sounding out words to her from a book. Whoa wait a minute, you’re reading?? Ellie was stunned. Me, thrilled. This was the perfect motivator to get her started. And it’s working!

Anyway, I suppose my point is this. Eliana is continuing to adapt amazing well here. This positive growth keeps us sane, but I’m not sure it’s enough to keep us here too much longer.

August can’t come soon enough.


School update

Eliana had her parent teacher conference this morning. She timidly presented her work to me with a very heavy Indonesian accent. It’s pretty funny to see how differently she speaks around me versus around her friends and teachers.

She showed me her art with mixed media and on the computer. She explained basic math equations to me and then read two syllable Indonesian words, such as roti, susu, nasi, sate…

It was really cool to see her show off her note-reading for piano skills. She explained the names of the notes, then played them on the piano. So proud!


Winter Break

You know how some people think that teachers are spoiled with long school holiday breaks? Yeah, well, we are. We earned ’em(!!!), but boy do I feel spoiled right now.

I submitted my grades yesterday and am on Winter Break until January 7! And although Christmas is only a few days away, it’s hard to get into the holiday spirit when it’s 90 degrees and I’m planning a trip next week to one of the most desirable island chains in the world (I’m talking about you, Gilis).

I mean really. I see holiday cookie after chutney after Christmas tree after ugly holiday sweater after rants about shopping stress on Facebook and Instagram. My response? Well. I miss you guys but I don’t miss that.

In the spirit of it all, we picked up some rambutan from a truck bed on the side of the overpass today. 12,000 rupiah, ’bout a buck.