Wednesday, June 15, 2016


I realize that without you here life is just a lie, this is not the end...

So, this is it. A full year has passed since I said goodbye to my families, my friends, and my life in Indonesia. In my head this time never seemed to come but alas I sit in front of the computer and relive the past in my mind. This year has been a whirlwind for me. I finished up my freshman year at Gustavus a few weeks ago, a year that brought almost as many new experiences as Indo did (I guess I am a tough rugger now?), and even though college is a blast and living in my house again isn't so bad, I feel the emptiness. This emptiness is like that hole in my skirt that grows a little bit every time I wear it (the whole is now the size of my leg which I accidentally put through the hole the other day). At first it was a little I miss this... and I wish I could eat this... ever so often, but now it is to the point where every day I yearn for my mie goreng and hearing the morning prayer chant. The skype calls become more frequent as I desperately try to be with my friends though they are thousands of miles away. Suddenly home doesn't quite feel so homey anymore.

To be honest this is all quite a shock to me. Sure sure I've been warned about culture shock from reentry but I thought I had gotten past that after the first couple of weeks when I my sleep schedule was still off and I realized how much space in Minnesota is devoted to nothing. I had read other blog posts about how other rotex dealt with this, and it seemed like I was in the same boat as everyone else (everyone was sad to leave their country but happy to return to Chipotle). I don't think it was until Thanksgiving that I realized how much I missed my life in Indonesia. As I ate the biggest meal of my life (a highly anticipated one, about a year's worth of drumrolls leading up to that turkey and mashed potatoes), I remembered last year when my friend Fernanda came to my house with chips and cookies from the little Alfamart near my house to celebrate my American holiday. A simple gesture to make my day better, like so many other gestures that my family and friends made to make me feel welcome and at home in Indo, that crept into my mind as I devoured pumpkin pie. From that day, I noticed how much I missed my year. How special it all was. How lucky I was. I mean, not everyone gets to go on exchange, and to Indonesia no less. But my year was done, and I still have the memories, so I should be fine now...right?

Wrong. I miss learning bahasa with ibu Merna, struggling to grasp it as much as laughing at my horrendous -- yet improving -- abilities. I miss going out with Kak Diah who is still the best older sister ever. Bu Rini and Pak Herry joking with me after they'd come home from work...and so many other relatives and friends who made my life there such a joy. Those conversations, outings, jokes that linger in my mind make it so hard to just be happy here. Granted, I am happy to be with my birth family and school friends, but it feels like I am torn in two. How did that year go by so fast anyway?

If you saw my adventure fund (a cooler way to say piggy bank), you would laugh at all the things I am saving up for. Trips to Mexico and Russia to see my girls, volunteer trips across the world, a reunion trip to Indonesia, a trip to Sweden perhaps with Grandma...the list is much too long for my impoverished college student life but where there is a will there is a way. Or so I've been told.

For those who haven't talked to me recently, I have decided to live the life of a nomad (check in with me in two weeks, I am sure my life plan will have changed by then anyways). After my adventure to Indonesia, I have the travel bug. Now you might say "Why dear Katelyn, if you went to one country and miss it so much, then why would you go to another just to come home and miss it again?". Well inquiring friend, I am coming to realize that maybe this pain is a good kind of pain (like a "I just did a bunch squats" pain). I don't think we were put on this earth to stay in one place, because if that were the divine intentions then the world simply wouldn't be so big. We must take adventures in order to know where we truly belong (as Pinterest so eloquently puts it) and I don't think these adventures should be a "someday" type of deal. We need to grasp any opportunity that we have or, as Randy Komisar puts it, there is the most dangerous risk of all -- the risk of spending your life not doing what you want on the bet you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later. So, Kate Holman is going to become a nomad who doesn't live the same year 75 times and calls it a life.

Sometimes when I think about how Indonesia has changed my life, I wonder how much everyone else sees. Like when someone tells me that my family (in Indonesia) isn't my real bewilders me. They took care of me, taught me how to eat, to speak, to walk (if any of you remember how much I struggled to walk throughout Indonesia, then you can attest to this point). They were there for me when I was sick, when I was alone, when I was a pain in the rump. I cried just as much (if not more) when I said goodbye to them at the airport as I did when I said goodbye to the Holman gang. To me, of course they are my family, each and every one of them but to anyone else, they were just strangers nice enough to let me bum on the couch. Though I may not remember the name of every single person I met there, they all have affected me and shaped the way I see the world now. I am sure I am not the only exchange student that feels this way (I can almost see the collective nod from other exchangers around the world).

Maybe that is what makes me feel so torn here. Is it that I no longer live in one place anymore, but rather my heart resides in two countries now, divided between many households? Or is it just because, had I known I would feel this way later, I should have jumped up every morning in Indonesia and pronounced love for being there? In my leaving-Indonesia blog post, I said that surviving in Makassar was such an accomplishment and that if I made it there then I could make it anywhere. Makassar, I am sincerely sorry that I under appreciated you during my year. You are truly the most wonderful place, and I could not imagine my exchange anywhere else. When I say I left a part of me with you, I do not exaggerate. 

Before this gets too long, I just want to say cheers to one year. I made it. I made it one year since from the best year of my life. One year since an entire lifetime was smushed into a year. One year too long. I would go back in a heartbeat, no question. But for now, you'll always be with me.

Though it hurts to miss you, more often than I would like, I will keep you alive in my memories until I get to see you again. I will live this divided life because I means that I got to have you. I will always choose this pain over never knowing you at all.
Until next time,
your wandering Holman

Sunday, June 14, 2015

I Lived

I owned every second that this world could give, I saw so many places and things that I did, and with every broken bone, I swear I lived...

Well everyone, as impossible as it seems, this is my last blog post about my exchange year in Indonesia. I truly can't believe my time here is done (well almost done, I go home in 2 days) and it all happened so fast. So bare (or is it bear?) with me throughout this scattered brained post.

Kate Holman's List of Accomplishments

  1. I survived living in Makassar, Indonesia for almost an entire year. If you can make it in Makassar, you can make it anywhere.
  2. I literally survived. There were multiple times on this exchange when I wasn't engaging in the (see Waterfall story for example).
  3. I tried bakso, cow tongue and liver, various parts of the pig that are certainly not meant to be eaten (Chinese new year...big mistake), and durian AND I lived to tell the tale.
  4. I have lived the celebrity life and discovered that I kind of hate it. There are almost no white people in all of Makassar, so everywhere I went people would do a double take and stare. There were also the people that would chase me down in the mall, on the street, especially at the water park/pool to get a photo with the "bule". 
  5. I have seen some of the most beautiful beaches and the dirtiest streets and have learned to appreciate both.
  6. I have made friends for life, whether they want me for life or not, they are gonna have to keep me around.
  7. I was pretty faithful on maintaining a blog. All you other exchangers should be put to shame.
  8. I have resisted the urge to death-glare everyone who asked my why my skin was white, my hair was blond, and my eyes are blue.
  9. I can go outside on a 100 degree day in jeans and a long shirt without melting.
  10. I can pronounce Assalamualaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh no problem.
I would love to continue a list of my accomplishments but I am afraid that we are getting to the point where I am getting proud of the littlest things and I don't want to bore the readers.

Indonesia, you have been a great (well most of the time) host and I will truly miss living here but it is time for me to head home. For those of you who were expecting more insight, jokes, laughs, or just a longer post in general, we can just have a good chat when I get back to the states. 

"It isn't a year in life, it is a life in a year."

Thanks and see you soon,
P.S. Here is one last joke. Fernanda was writing the "goodbye" letter to our friend Lucas, and she was trying to write a meaningful quote on the envelope. She accidentally misspelled a word and demanded a new envelope, I felt that she was being too much of a perfectionist so I jokingly took the envelope and ripped it in half. She then screamed at me that the letter was still inside of the envelope I had just torn in two. Needless to say that she was not too pleased so I had to tape it back up and my taping skills are nothing to brag about as it would seem. Sorry Nanda. We'll all laugh about it in 5 years, right?

P.S.S. I have been thinking about what to write for my last post since the beginning of the exchange and yet this is so short and perhaps my worst post! So ashamed.
Goodbye to my favorite Russian, I love you Lino and wish you all the best!

Goodbye to the best Brazilian, thanks for all the laughs Lucas!

Nands, we haven't had to say goodbye yet but I love you and I don't know what life will be like without you!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Beach Baby

I never thought that it would end...long hot days, cool sea haze, juke box plays...

Sorry for the delay, but can you believe that April is almost over? Well I can't. It seems like yesterday my mom was playing an April Fools joke on me (it was a terrible joke, she told me my beloved dog had died), and now there are just a few days left until May. Let's review the month, shall we?

At the beginning of April, Fernanda told me and Alina that she had organized a special trip to Bali with our other friend Lucas to celebrate Alina's and my birthday early. So on April 3rd, we were off. I think every time I go to Bali, I have more fun than the last time I was there. This trip consisted of a lot of swimming, general fun having, elephant visitations, a trampoline park, late night clubbing, and long walks to find food. Here is some photo evidence:

Send me to the beach and all my troubles will go away

Alina, Nanda, and I before our day at the safari

Me and a REAL lion (sorry about the bad photo quality, apparently flash irritates the beast)

Fun at the elephant park

Me and my new friend

Me singing the elephant march song from the Jungle Book

The boys and there new pal

On another note, this year was my first birthday away from home. My sweet friends surprised me at midnight with cake and singing, my parents took me to lunch and then I wrapped up the day singing karaoke with Nanda and Alina. A few days later was Alina's birthday, so Nanda and I set up a surprise for her with our other friends which was quite the success! Perhaps I have a future career in surprise party co-planning. 

Unless I am mistaken, I have only actually spent 3 days and nights alone at my house this month. It seems that almost everyday I try to see my friends and most nights become sleepovers. As June is quickly approaching, we (Alina, Nanda and I) have been trying to see each other as much as possible. I don't think anyone warned me about this part. The part when you realize that your time with all the wonderful people you have met on exchange is limited. At the beginning of exchange, a year seems like an impossibly long amount of time, it seems like forever. It isn't until you only have a few months left (in my case, two) that you realize how short a year really is. 

Well, for those of you who were hoping for a longer post, I am sorry. This time, a short and sweet one will have to do. Also, no promises about when I will be able to post again. It seems that May will be just as busy as April was, and then it will be June already!

Until next time,
your wandering Holman

Friday, March 13, 2015

Could It Be Another Change

Could it be another change, to come and rearrange...

AND WE'RE BACK! Hello to all, sorry I haven't blogged more recently. The wifi situation at my new house isn't exactly stable but better late than never, right?? Seeing as it has been over a month since my last post, let's see what kinds of stories I can remember.
For starters, I switched to my second host family at the beginning of February. My new host family happens to be my friend Fernanda's first host family, so they already knew me (Fernanda and I aren't new to the concept of sleepovers). They are great people and I feel quite comfortable here. I must admit that I miss lunches with ibu Merna (my first host mom) and going out with Kak Diah but otherwise things have been going well. Here is a picture of my life on exchange packed into a few suitcases and some shopping bags:

I have recently taken up a new traditional Makassar dance class (to consume some of my free time). My class is led by our instructor, Mimi, and it consists of me, a 6 year old, a 10 year old and a 22 year old. Quite the group. It isn't my usual style and not some of the dance routines I learned back at home, but it is fun nonetheless. I think the 10 year old is better than I am, but I am just a bule. The hope is that I can return home and impress all my peers with my mad hand and fan skills. Also, for those of you hoping that I would come back a muay thai master, I am sincerely sorry but that ship sailed in November when I realized how expensive it was.
At the end of February, I went on the first Rotary trip. To say the least it was not as I had expected and to keep the tone of this blog light and positive, I am only going to tell you the highlights. Highlight number one: it was a great opportunity to socialize with the exchange students from other cities (Surabaya, Solo, Semarang and Bali). We all certainly had plenty to talk about (most of it Rotary and Indonesia related). Highlight number two: I got to see a sunrise will on a mountain. Never mind the fact that it was extremely cold, I was sleep deprived and hungry. I got to see the sunrise. Highlight number three: I got to see a volcano and it was pretty impressive. It did require going up that more than 240 stairs and a considerable amount of walking but a volcano is a volcano, right? I do have another story, it is however the opposite of a highlight (a lowlight, if you will). One of the days, we had to check out of our hotel around 4 a.m. and load our bus. After driving for 6 or more hours, we got off the bus to find ourselves at a lake. We drove 6 hours to see a lake. WE DROVE 6 HOURS TO SEE A LAKE. As you can imagine, I wasn't too excited about this, being from Minnesota (the land of 10,000 lakes) and all, but I was trying to be a good sport. After staying at the lake for about an hour, we were told our next stop was to a strawberry patch to pick some of the berries. For those who don't know, I worked at Lorence's Berry Farm for a while during the summer picking, you guessed it, strawberries. I was completely speechless that we had driven 6 hours to see a lake and pick strawberries. However, before we could get picking, the rain started so we decided to drive back. That's right, drive back...6 hours back. 12 hours, for a lake and strawberries. That is my life folks.

waiting for the sunrise

the volcano and me

What to say about this March so has been pretty good, I can't complain. I can't believe that I have already been here for more than 6 months now and will be leaving in less than 100 days. Time certainly does have a way of flying by when you're not looking. Going home feels so far away when I think about seeing my family again but it also seems much too close when I think about having to leave my family and friends here. Exchange has given me feelings I guess!
Last minute funny story: On Chinese New Year I went around with my friends Alina, Fernanda, and Fernanda's mom to different temples. All I remember from that evening was smoked everywhere, a kid tripping and almost burning down the temple, and never wanting to hear "Gong xi fat choi!" ever again. That's all I got for now, so da da for now!

Until next time, 
your wandering Holman

P.S. I have been having dreams in Indonesian...for those of you keeping track, cross that off the bucket list!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Life in Color

The sun bursts, clouds break, well this is life in motion...

Hello everybody! I figured another blog post is appropriate since I just got back from Bali, again. You know what they say, when in Indonesia, visit Bali multiple times. It was my friend Fernanda's birthday on January 16th so we decided to celebrate it in style with a mini vacation. So Fernanda, Alina, Lucas and I packed our bags and got going. While we were there we got to do all kinds of cool stuff like visit a water sport beach with jet skis, a turtle island and a fly fish raft thingy (think of tubing but instead the tube goes in the air, like mini para sailing). We also got to visit some restaurants that we don't have in Makassar, like La Hacienda (Mexican food), Slavyanka (Russian food) and Hard Rock Cafe: Bali. On the second day we met up with our friend Will who lives in Bali, and on the third day we all traveled to northern Bali together. The villa house we stayed at was gorgeous, had a private pool and was really close to the beach! We even got to go snorkeling. Let me tell you, I am terrible at it. I am really bad at swimming with the flippers and whenever I went underwater I would accidentally suck in a bunch of saltwater. I finally got the hang of things afterwards though and then it was really fun. We were snorkeling in an area where they are trying to regrow/grow coral, so when you looked down you could see all the coral and little fish swimming around. Also, the structures used to regrow coral reminded me of that one James Bond movie (maybe Thunderball?) when he is looking for the missing plane in the ocean and it is camouflaged. I felt very spy-ish even though I was basically floating on top of the water. This Bali trip with my friends was so much fun, and though I don't have nearly as many pictures as my first trip there, I have all the memories (Alina, Nanda, Will and Lucas...byeeeeeeeeee Alex) and the sunburns to prove it. Here are some of the pictures I did manage to get (though most of them are from Fernanda's phone):

(me at Hard Rock)

(Nanda and I visiting Turtle Island)

(Makassar team)

(naturally it is gloomy when we decide to go to the beach)


(sometimes I clean up nicely)

(the Russian and American are a nuclear family now...ahhh jokes)

Other than my fantastical trip to the Land of Beautiful People and Places (that would be Bali, there are a lot of beaches and Australian guys), not too much has happened to me. I move to my next host family in about two weeks and I am facing the problem of having too many things and not enough room in my suitcase...looks like I may be coming back to America with a few extra bags. And on that note, I'll be signing off. Uffda this is a short one.

Until next time,
your wandering Holman

P.S. If there is anything you guys want to read about that I haven't mentioned, send me a message on facebook or email and I will try to slip it in the next post :)  

Thursday, January 1, 2015

To Be Surprised

Baby, be prepared to be surprised, it's all I know...

Happy New Year to all! I can't believe I haven't posted since last year (haha I made new year joke, so clever). That being said, let's get you all caught up to speed.
As far as stories go, I only have a few to report (not because I lead a boring life, but because if I told you everything that I do then there is nothing left for just me to know). Let's start with a wedding tale. Though my parents are invited to at least 4 or 5 weddings a month, I haven't actually been to the wedding ceremony. I am beginning to think that only the family is invited to that and all the friends and extras are supposed to attend the reception only. The reception itself is rather different (and less fun in my opinion) than a wedding reception in the good ol' USA. There is a stage for the groom's parents, the bride and groom, and the bride's parents to stand while all of the guests go and greet/congratulate them. Once done, the guests can help themselves to some food, maybe listen to the music playing for a while and then leave. Guests can come whenever and leave whenever (my record for staying at a reception for the shortest amount of time is 25 minutes...enough time to say hi and eat). There isn't any dancing, which is why I think American receptions are more fun but that is unfair of me to say since none of the reception guests seem to want to dance. So to enjoy half an hour of a wedding reception, I must prepare myself for an hour (according to my sister and ibu). I figured I would just have to shower and wear a nice dress and then I would be set. Oh how simple minded of me. I like to think of myself as a Barbie, because my ibu and sister love to do my hair, makeup and dress me up. My lack of knowledge about makeup astounded my ibu, and she told me I must learn sometime since I will put it on a lot when I am an, I got time to learn. I don't think I will be adulting for quite some time now. 

Christmas time in Indonesia...oh what a sight. Though most of Indo is Islamic, there is a small proportion that is christian which means that there are stores and places you can buy Christmas-y stuff! So my friend bought a tree and decorations, and together we got into the festive spirit of decorating, making paper snowflakes, listening to the holiday songs (on Youtube naturally), etc. When Christmas eve came around, Fernanda and I decided to go to one of the churches here (I only know of two in Makassar, and the other one is far away I think). The church we went to is the biggest one here (though it isn't that big) and also catholic. So for that night, I was catholic too. The service itself was all in Indonesia, even the Christmas songs, so we were pretty lost throughout the TWO HOUR LONG service. It was extremely hot and rained, we didn't understand anything (except for the Jesus birth story, but I only understood that because I basically have it memorized), but we went to church for Christmas.

jolly old saint Kate-olas

our humble tree

On Christmas day, I left on a trip to Tana Toraja with Fernanda and her family (my second host family actually). For those of you who don't know what Toraja is (which I am assuming is a large portion of you), it is a famous village on my island that is about 9 hours, by car, from my city. It is famous because it has traditional houses that people can still use and for its burial methods. When a person dies, they can be buried in a rock, in a cliff, in a tree (babies only) or in a wooden box shaped like the traditional house. Also, bulls are super popular here (though the people call them buffaloes, I am pretty sure they are just bulls), which makes bull fights pretty popular too. I got to watch one of these and I can safely say that I am not a huge fan. However, the Toraja people get super into the fights. It's kind of a big deal. Toraja is also surrounded by mountains which is absolutely gorgeous, and also extremely terrifying. Driving on the narrow roads, up the side of a cliff...I said my prays more than a few times. And since there aren't speed limits, the driver was driving like we were in a get away car! Astaga. There is more I could tell you about Toraja I suppose, but to be honest, my understanding of it is that it has beautiful views, lots of dead people and death-defying roads.

Real talk time. I know that I have mainly been using this blog to rattle off my tales and misadventures but lets talk about exchange and all those deep, personal things. I hope that by reading this, you all have become at least a little more interested in seeing the world or traveling because it truly is the best thing that has happened to me. It still feels like I am living in a dream, after all, I have never had this much luck before in my entire life. I have been learning so much here about Indonesia, myself and life. It is so hard to describe what I mean to you guys, but anyone who has gone on exchange knows what I mean. To those of you going on exchange this summer, you will have the time of your life. To those of you who are considering exchange, do it. DO IT DO IT DO IT. Living in another country is scary, wonderful, difficult, amazing and so rewarding all at the same time. So, to sum up what I am attempting to say: I love exchange. These past few months have been amazing and I wish that everyone got to go on exchange! Real talk done.

Until next time,
your wandering Holman

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Sweet Disposition

A moment, a love, a dream, a laugh...

Hello hello hello again. I have found that these introductions are the hardest part to write, and you all probably skip past them anyways, so let's just dive in!
For those of you who were wondering when my inevitable stardom would begin, wonder no more! I have made a newspaper debut (along with the other exchange students) in the local newspaper, the Fajar. Naturally I was in a very elated mood which sent me into a goofy kind of state (not great timing...) because I started making some faces to the camera during what I thought was the outtakes (I could have sworn it was outtake time). This came back to bite me in the...behind when the newspaper came to my house and I saw that the picture they chose to use was one of the outtakes ones!! Everyone else looked fine. I was really the only doofus. Mind you, I did smile nicely for a bunch of pictures too, but for reasons unknown, they decided against using the photo where we ALL looked good. Lesson learned: don't get cocky and make funny faces in public. Or in front of a camera.

the one they used ^

the one the COULD have used

So I recently went to Malino (another city on my island) which was amazing. The weather is windy, cool and perfect. Like Minnesota in the fall. And the house we stayed in looked just like a cabin and had the most spectacular view of the mountains and rice fields! Trust me when I saw that this is quite possibly my favorite place in Indonesia (keeping in mind that I have already seen Bali).

This next story is perhaps a little cringe worthy, or at least it is when I remember it. So my friends and I wanted massages and we heard from another friend about this place that was pretty cheap. Wanting to save a rupiah, we went to this new place. It was pretty inexpensive, so we bought a package that had a sauna, massage and traditional scrub along with an ear candle treatment. The sauna turned out to be a really small closet-type thing (you know, like the place someone stores a dead body or where James Bond would lock you inside to die a toasty death). I only stayed in there long enough to contemplate the likeliness I could get trapped in there and left after a minute or so. Next were the massages. This was awkward for a number of reasons. Reason 1: we were basically laying on the massage tables naked except for underwear that the masseuses gave us. Reason 2: all the massage tables are next to each other so you can look over and see your buddies. Reason 3: They massage your buttocks (dad, I am really trying to not say butt, it is getting difficult though), and to do so, they pull down the underwear enough so your backside is exposed. Reason 4: none of our bottoms have seen the sun for quite a while, so the lack of tan is real. Reason 5: because the tables were close and we could see each other, the whole massage we laughed at how each other's caboose were so white. The traditional scrub turned out to be the worlds most painful mistake. They rubbed a rough paste, which I could have sworn was sand paper, all over us (yes. the behind too) and then when it dried they had to rub it off which hurt more than putting it on! And now I know, no good can come from a scrub. Lastly was the ear candle. This was pleasant until part of the candle broke off and almost lit my face on fire. To those of you who think I am exaggerating, all I have to say is that I wish I was. Thankfully, no pictures were taken of this experience.
Very recently, I got to visit Air Terjun Bantimurung (a waterfall) with my friend Fernanda, Kak Diah, and ibu. It was so gorgeous with the cliffs covered in greenery and butterflies everywhere. The waterfall itself was so beautiful too. After admiring it for a few minutes, I noticed my ibu swimming in the stream! I wasn't aware we could play in the water! So Fernanda and I waded into the water at the bottom of the waterfall to take our pictures, had a mini water fight, all good things. Then we talked about how it would be fun to float to the stream. NOT FUN. Jokingly, I did this and the water was a lot stronger than I anticipated and it took me from the base of the waterfall with aggressive speed. At first I thought it was super fun, like a roller coaster, until I noticed my ibu and Kak Diah shouting with worried expressions. That is when I noticed all the rocks I could hit my head on ("Sharp rocks at the bottom. Most likely. Bring it on. BOOYAHAHA"). Luckily, before I got too far and hit my head on something, I got stopped up on a large boulder. Crisis adverted. Here are some photos before my little adventure.

right before I slid ^

I was reading some other previous exchange student's blogs and realized that they talked about food and places a lot more than I have. To those of you who wish I would talk more about those things, my deepest apologies. I can never remember what the food is called or what is in it, I just eat it and hope it isn't dog or horse and as for the places, I suppose I could describe those more. But isn't the point of exchange not to see places but make memories and bring back stories? If that is the point, then this blog isn't half bad! Anyways, ta ta for now!

Until next time,
your wandering Holman

P.S. I found a store with nerf guns! The assassins game is back on as of now!

P.S.S. To those of you who are loyal readers and genuinely enjoy what I have to say, thanks a ton! You're the reason I keep blogging away.