A Piece of Tons Wonderful Experience (by: Aries Buana)

Being an exchange student is the greatest experience I ever had. I am Aries Buana from Chapter Palembang. I represented Palembang with other 2 my old friends. First of all, I want to say thank you very much to Allah SWT for everything that make me sitting here in front of the computer but in the other side of the world. I couldn’t forget Bina AntarBudaya. They helped me to reach my dream to visit and learn other cultures. I am hosted in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (PA) which is in East-Coast of America. If you don’t know what’s the famous thing in Pittsburgh. I will say “STEELERS” which is one of the best and famous football team in the United States.

I am going to school to Barack Obama Academy of International Studies. It seems very cool if I say it to someone. My school is kind a special school , because they use IB (International Baccalaureate) program. I would say it’s much harder than other American schools because I have felt the American standard school. I am hosted by Donovan family. My host mom and my host dad are Professor in University of Pittsburgh and they both are extremely awesome, smart, genius. All good words that I can say are in their personality. They have one daughter. She is 16 years old. I really love her, she is so nice and friendly. Her name is Caley. I think that’s good enough for brief introduction.

Let starts from here!. As a Moslem, I did fasting on August until September. I started fasting from DC when I had YES orientation for first arrival. Began with 2 pieces of granula bars from YES committee I started my fasting experience in the United States. It was a test for me because the majority of people here are not Moslem and it was still summer. Saw people around me eating and drinking tried out me to see how strong my faith. I just capitalized intention and sincerity because of Allah. Bad and good situations I passed it rough and smoothly. In my entire life, I never fasting in Ramadhan without sahor, but I did here. I didn’t eat sahor like 3-4 days. If I am not mistaken and I did 2 days in a row it because of overslept. Hehehee. I didn’t despair and tried as much as I can do. One of other test was running 4 laps of football field on the gym class at noon under the hot sunny light. That was crazy. The teacher allowed me to not run but I just wanted to try. Ramadhan is the special moment for me and my family. So, I felt homesick on Ramadhan especially first week of arrival.

After I got information about Islamic Centre in my city I directly went there because I missed mosque and “buka puasa bersama”. It healed me a little bit. Surprisingly, first time I came there the Imam sent email to one of Indonesian people that he knew. At the same time when I was eating dinner, he (Om Doni) and his son (Athif) poked me from behind. I was shock and said “Alhamdulillah” in my heart. It treated me a lot from missing my family in Indonesia. Time drove me and them very close and they invited me to be a member of Indonesian community. Since that time, I was invited to join gathering in Indonesian family for “buka bersama dan pengajian”. Because of Om Dony and his family, I used my empty time to join of youth community in the Islamic Centre. I went to Mosque almost regularly to help arranging , carrying the table and food for buka puasa bersama in the Islamic Centre. It was not only treated me from the homesick but also made me had a good connection and socialize with other people around the Islamic Centre which majority are collegian, teacher, high school students, Proffesor, and etc. Missing the food is the caused for making me homesick, but it covered as well. I found Indonesian food of course from Indonesian family. Lucky me ! they such a nice community. I LOVE INDONESIA!

Until the Ied day came, I found my answer what is Ied day here look like. Moslem people here celebrated like a huge party. They provided free food, booth and all of the interesting things that I couldn’t find in Indonesia. Indonesian Tradition namely sanjo ( in Palembang) or visiting family and neighbor was happening. I did it to other Indonesian families and for sure ate Indonesian food .

Well, that was a part of hundred my adventurous. To be honest, I never expect that someone invite me to travel. November 24-28, 2010 became a wonderful moment I ever had and historical moment in my life (Yeah). My host family and I traveled to Fort Collins. They invited me to go with them exactly in the first day I stayed in their house. How lucky I am! I answer spontaneously and without any hesitate to say “YES”. I went there in thanksgiving. I was so freaking excited to see the other part of the United States. My host family gave me simple information that on there will be very different. When I was in there, it snowed already but still very light snow and not much.

My first snow was in Colorado. It was cold outside but I just wore 2 layers (sweater and shirt), gloves. Hahaha. We went there to meet host mom’s parents. They lived there and my mom grew up in Colorado. We flew from Pittsburgh to Denver, Colorado. My seat was 14A (I still remember). We rented a car for easy driving to everywhere. We stayed in cabin up on Rocky mountain. Grandpa Louie and Grandma Carol that were the nickname I called for them. They owned the cabin. Surprisingly, the cabin was 17 years old as old as I am and It looked like new. They said to me that they cared the cabin so much and almost every weekend they stayed in cabin. That was the first time experience to stay in cabin that I just could watch it from movie. They were so nice like my host family. Rocky mountain is very popular in the United States especially for skiing place, but we didn’t have enough time to ski there.

We went hiking to up on hill close to the cabin. Grandma just stayed in the cabin because she was sick. My host family, grandpa, me and Oly together walked up on the hill. Oly is a dog. He was big dog like a wolf. The funniest thing was he always run back and forth to make sure that we didn’t lose in a line. The view was so beautiful. Since that time, I realized that I was in other country because when I stayed in Pittsburgh the feeling was as same as how the city look like. I couldn’t imagine how beautiful the mountain and the view. About 2 hours, we backed to cabin and I realized when I touched my hair, it was freezing. Hahaa.

In the morning of November 25, 2010 we went to frozen river. It was pretty awesome. The sun light made the river so shiny. I walked on the river and I almost fell because some of them cracked. I walked from the point close to the cabin till under the bridge. After that, we got back to the cabin and prepared many food for celebrating thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is one of the biggest holiday in the USA. People usually eat Turkey as a tradition in thanksgiving and so did I. There were many food served on the table. I ate a lot and still had many left over. We spent time in the city also for shopping some souvenirs, Christmas present, and etc. We watched Harry Potter also although I already seen it once with my friends. My host family and I flew back from Denver to Pittsburgh at November 28, 2010. Five days traveling was good enough to see the differences. It was a huge moment in my life.

I was disappointed to make the closing for my Newsletter. There are tons of events and moments that I want to share to you (read : reader). I might share it to you in the other chance. Hope you can enjoy my stories! Sorry if I did mistake on spelling and grammar. (lol)

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