Sunday, July 8, 2012 0 comments

I Love my Life!

After talking to a good friend today I realized that I need to set the record straight. Yes, initially Jakarta was shocking and at times overwhelming, but I love being here. I've fallen for Jakarta and HARD. Indonesia in general is fantastic. Life here is so different from back home. I enjoy what I do at work, I love the food, I am more fit and healthier (after I got the breathing issue under control it's been smooth sailing), I've made tons of friends and I am happy! Is it sad that I don't miss home? I really don't miss it at all. I know I am in the right career because I enjoy this lifestyle.  I have traveled to Singapore and other parts of Indonesia. Bali is next weekend, ah so excited!

I can't believe it took for me to go to the other side of the globe and to work for my government to realize how unhappy I was. Jakarta, you have opened my eyes to how wonderful life can truly be. I have done so many things here I didn't do back home and have experienced so many wonderful things. I did yoga for the first time here. I have a cook here who cooks me delicious and healthy meals. I've become very feminine and definitely enjoy shopping in a way I did not back home. I wear makeup and dress up. I have attained a self confidence that I didn't know I could possess. I've got my drive back and am constantly planning and working towards goals...I do not only feel like the old me but better than that - a new and improved me.

I love my life! I don't want to leave...
Wednesday, June 13, 2012 1 comments

The Joys of Living in the Tropics and Working for the Gov't

So Jakarta continues to push my limits while the Embassy continues to support my growth as a professional. For the past few days I have been dealing with bed bugs and let me tell you, it is not fun. Luckily, there was a unit available and we were moved as soon as it was confirmed that we had them. It's been two days and things seem better, but I am still a little paranoid about the bugs. I expect that with time, the paranoia will ease.

Work has been intense as we get further into the summer and we are planning for July 4th celebrations. Also, a lot has to be taken into consideration for when Ramadan begins as it will affect many of our deadlines because people tend to not be around at this time. I am definitely looking forward to July 4th, live music, food and over 800 people - should be a good time!

Today, I went to a cocktail reception at the DCM's residence that was for young professionals at the Embassy (mainly those on their first or second tours). I was very happy to get to know more of my colleagues outside of work, especially those in other sections or cones. I also had the great privilege of meeting a mid-level management officer who was also part of the Pickering Fellowship when he was younger. The Pickering fellowship is more or less the sister program to the Rangel program that I am in. We hit it off right away and he asked me if I had a mentor. Well in my experience, it takes a village to raise a child and so I believe I have had various mentors throughout my life. Therefore, you can never have enough of them! So I most certainly took up his offer to be his mentee. I am excited to learn more from him and to see him in DC next summer when I start A-100.
Me and officer Clayton

Monday, June 4, 2012 0 comments

Time to Embrace the Good as well as the Bad and the Ugly

Today, it was raining on my way out of the movie theater, which by the way costs THREE dollars a ticket. To an American this may sound like a bargain, but in Indonesia the divide between the rich and poor is truly GREAT as the average income in some places in Indo is 2 dollars a day. As I walked outside, there were these "umbrella boys" outside. These are poor boys who will lend you their umbrella for a donation while you catch a cab. They had no shoes on. Had tattered clothes on and were soaking wet. Some of them were middle school age while others looked like they were in high school. I felt so bad for them and I felt a pain in my chest that I hadn't felt for quite some time. I've tried hard not to let things like this affect me, but my parents didn't raise me to turn a blind eye to injustice. My parents know what poverty looks like as they grew up in it themselves. My mother for example grew up without a father and worked since she was 9 years old in order to help support her family. She had to drop out of school when she was in the 5th grade.
They all looked adorable. Maybe it's because they look so much like Nicaraguan children that I felt like adopting them or perhaps it was simply because these were living, breathing human beings. We gave them a dollar (which is more than most of them get as a "donation" per person. If they are lucky they can make approx. 4 dollars (about 40,000 rupiah) during rainy days. In Indo, that's lunch and dinner for some people.
I truly wish I could do more for these children. I'm actually thinking of volunteering a few weekends while I am here. I don't want to just enjoy the good and comfortable side of Indonesia. I want to embrace its ugly but most real side too.

I always think,
If I die, do I want to die without having given of myself to the world?
If I don't act and give,
Then what was my life worth?
Do I want to live my days in mediocrity?
Monday, May 28, 2012 0 comments

First Weekend: Lady Gaga Look Alike Contest and More!

On Saturday, I went out for some Chinese which was tasty and afterward, went with my roommate to the club known as "Immigrant". It didn't really have a club feel as it was more like a lounge, the music super old (but good) and the drinks at NYC prices (now that's just crazy). Anyway, it was enjoyable but I don't think I will be coming back here. The upside was that the location had a great view of the city which was appreciated. Hopefully, I will be able to try out some other neat nightlife while I am here.

View of the city from top of "Immigrant" (blackberry vr)
On Sunday, I went with my roommate to EX which is connected to Plaza Indonesia. It has more entertainment related activities along with food. We happened to be there on the day that there was a Lady Gaga look alike contest which was interesting. It seemed to me like there were more young boys dressed in drag than there were girls and I found this amusing. Overall, very enjoyable to watch the Indonesians rock out to Lady Gaga songs. I am sure they will be unhappy when they find out that Lady Gaga cancelled her concert here. Aside from the contest, we also went bowling with others from the embassy and some of their friends. I was very bad at bowling but enjoyed it nonetheless. Something important to note is that I am feeling better health-wise and no longer have trouble breathing! I guess I will stay on this treatment until I go back home to the States.

 Gaga's" Little 'Indonesian' Monsters
Today, since it was a long weekend I decided to go shopping with one of the girls who I work with. We also had lunch with two other co-workers of ours at Sushi Tei. It was really fun to grab food from the conveyor belt not always sure of what one was picking. I think I may have done this once in the States, but if I did, it must have been a long time ago because I don't remember doing it. Overall, a fun first weekend in Jakarta! Can't wait for next weekend when I will be flying to Yogyakarta for the wedding of one of my friends and fellow Seeple, Gerri!

At Sushi Tei with Friends

Wednesday, May 23, 2012 0 comments


I have to quote NPOV wiki when describing my current impression of Jakarta because it describes it so nicely.

"Quite frankly, Jakarta is not an attractive city: a sweltering, steaming, heaving mass of people packed into a vast urban sprawl, the contrast between the obscene wealth of Indonesia's elite and the appalling poverty of the urban poor is incredible, with tinted-window BMWs turning left at the Gucci shop into muddy lanes full of begging street children and corrugated iron shacks. The city's traffic is in perpetual gridlock, its polluted air is matched only by the smells of burning garbage and open sewers, and safety is a concern especially at night. There are few sights to speak of and most visitors transit as quickly as possible."

I hope to see an improvement on this impression of this city in the coming weeks and as I near the end of my stay. If I am lucky, I may be able to join a trip on Saturday to see a bead-maker in the southern part of the city.

At least my job is demanding but interesting and this is helping me to keep a positive outlook. This trip is helping me to grow not just professionally, but as a person as well. It is definitely challenging me to push myself past my preconceived limitations.
Tuesday, May 22, 2012 0 comments

Second Day at the Embassy: I’m Already on a Medical Treatment

Sunday night was one for the books. I seriously felt like I was dying. Yes, after walking for 20 minutes outside I was having an asthma attack and no, I am not sure how I made it until Monday morning. I seriously think my roommate Daniel saved my life. I thought I was going to faint and if it weren’t for his stoic nature and encouraging words I don’t know what would have happened. The pollution here really IS that bad. Hell, the sky is a constant grey! I am glad that if I was going to be here it was with the government. As soon as it was Monday morning I made my way to the health unit and was given an emergency inhaler and a steroids treatment along with some allergy meds. Today, I am still recovering and wearing a face mask whenever I go outside but definitely doing A LOT better.  To those reading this, if you have EVER suffered from asthma, think twice before you come to Jakarta, especially if you aren’t here with the government. You may not have access to adequate health facilities if you get sick. While in Jakarta the only walking I’ll be doing from now on is in the malls. Next time I bid on a post, I will consider the air quality as my top priority. I can deal with not having clean or running water or a possible political uprising but having trouble breathing is not one of them.
On a brighter note, the Embassy is fantastic. I am actually taking over someone’s JOB. Can’t go into the details of why, but while we wait on the replacement, who isn’t coming until the end of the summer, I am taking over. I work with a team of three Indonesians and they see me as their boss. This is really weird for me but kind of cool. They are also super sweet. They ordered me an air filter for our office and it’s coming tomorrow, yay! I also start language classes at the embassy next week so that I can be a better ninja (aka Indonesian look alike) since people talking to me in Indonesian and me not being able to respond is starting to get to me. The work that I am doing may seem boring to some people but I am enjoying it. It’s a lot of internal and logistical work – that’s all I can say. I am glad that I am hitting the ground running – in my case, jogging, because otherwise I’d be focusing on my sensitive but stable health condition and it would definitely not help my morale while here. I’m actually looking forward to going to Viet Nam at the end of my stay here - being able to get fresh air in Can Tho and to ride a bicycle sounds nice right now. Actually, there is a long weekend coming up and I am thinking of taking a train to anywhere outside Jakarta. I am desperate to be as far away from the smog as possible!
Lastly, I was supposed to have people install internet in our apt today and I was notified that they “overbooked us” and couldn’t come today. I don’t know when they are coming, so I will do my best to go to the internet café to update when I can. I also don’t have a working cell phone yet.  Hopefully, things will be settled by Friday and I’ll be more accessible then.
Well, “Welcome to Jakarta!”
Sunday, May 20, 2012 0 comments

First Day Fully Awake in Indonesia

My room, which was formally the study
Selamat Siang!
I came in yesterday at around 1:30pm Indonesia time. I met my boss Matilda at the airport. My initial impression of her is that she is super cool but will also demand good work, which is fine by me because that is what I am here to do! She is originally from Texas. Daniel the 2nd intern was also on the same flight and I actually met him in Hong Kong while waiting for our flight to Jakarta. He goes to the University of Texas for graduate school. His bahasa Indonesian is really good. He lived in Indonesia for 5 years as a young child. In the coming weeks there will be 2 more interns joining us. Later that night, we were invited to eat dinner with Daniel’s boss Michael and his wife Anna (she is Filipina). It was a really nice restaurant and my meal was equivalent to 5 dollars and I had leftovers to take home for lunch! It’s such a pleasant thing to eat out so cheaply.

Today, Michael and Anna picked us up around 10am to go shopping for essentials. Daniel and I split the bill and we got a good amount of stuff for about 60 dollars each.  Also, Daniel and I have agreed to cook at least twice a week. Let’s see how that goes! By the way, I blend here very nicely! No one has asked me where I am from. So far, I of course have had people come up to me and just talk to me in Indonesian. And I of course look like a deer caught in headlights every time. Therefore, I’ve started to learn basic phrases and have had Daniel’s help with this. I’ve memorized greetings and how to say ‘I can’t speak Indonesian’ along with, ‘can you speak English?’ I was also able to find out more about the Management section’s culture and it seems so far that I have chosen the right “cone” for me. 

My colleague Daniel
They are the least formally dressed because they work mainly with FSNs and locals. They don’t normally meet with higher ranking officials and I am totally okay with this. Guess I won’t be using my suits very much. I am so glad I packed dresses too because apparently that is what most of the female employees in that section wear. Besides Matilda, I will be the only American in the housing section, the rest are Indonesian nationals. Also, I am the Housing Coordinator! Therefore, I will be helping FSO’s who come here for post with their living arrangements. I also asked about July 4th celebrations and what the embassy normally does. Apparently, the Management section bears the brunt of the July 4th celebration but I am okay with this too. There is a planning committee and I heard that those who deal with the food and beverages get to do food tasting at various caterers – I’ll see if I can join! Hee-hee

So excited to start my first day at the embassy tomorrow!
Sampai nanti,

Tuesday, May 8, 2012 0 comments

1.5 Weeks Till Indonesia

Done with my first year at Columbia SIPA! One more year and I'll have that sweet masters degree.
I can't wait for excited!!!
I hope I can hit up Bali, Yogyakarta,Singapore and Vietnam!
Life is awesome right now. All my hard work is paying off.
*does happy dance*
Wednesday, March 28, 2012 0 comments
I've been wanting to update this for a while now, but it has been crazy busy at SIPA and it will be even worse as we approach the end of the semester.

Here's my remaining schedule:
April 3rd: My 25th birthday
April 6th: 2nd Econ exam
April 11th: Group budgeting project due
April 26th: Ethics paper due
April 30th - May 1st:  Comparative Development take home exam. Prof. gives people 48 hours to complete
May 2nd: Budgeting take home exam due
May 4th: 20 pg Evolution of Terrorism paper due and Econ exam same day
May 18th: Leave for Indonesia

Monday, February 6, 2012 0 comments

La Unidad Latina Foundation - Undergraduate and Graduate Scholarships

Educational scholarships are awarded to Hispanic students on a competitive basis and range from $250 to $1000.
Applicants must:
  • Undergraduate applicants must have a cumulative GPA of 2.80 – 3.60 out of a 4.0 GPA scale. Cumulative GPAs above 3.60 or below 2.80 do not qualify for a scholarship,
  • Be currently enrolled in an eligible bachelor’s or master’s degree program at an accredited four-year college or university. Eligible degrees include: all Bachelor degrees, Master of Arts, Master of Science, Master of Public Administration/Policy, Master of Social Work, Master of Education, and Master of Divinity,
  • Have completed at least one full-time year of study for undergraduate applicants, and at least one full-time semester of study for graduate applicants, and
  • Reside in the United States.
Required Documentation:
  • Official university-issued academic transcript(s) required and included in application. Graduate students are required to submit graduate and undergraduate transcripts.
  • Letter of recommendation from university administrator/faculty or community leader demonstrating student leadership and commitment to civic service. (200-350 words).
Application Submission Requirements:
  • Applications are only accepted within the 45-day period prior to the deadline. That is, as of January 1st for the February 15th deadline, and September 1st for the October 15th deadline,
  • Applications must be postmarked by the deadline, and
  • Do not send applications by registered mail or other delivery service requiring a signature (Fed Ex, UPS, USPS Express Mail, Airborne Express), as we are sometimes unavailable to sign for deliveries.
Thursday, January 19, 2012 0 comments

Summer Fellowship for Hispanic Undergraduates

Are you currently an undergraduate college student? 

Apply to CHCI's Summer Congressional Internship 

All program participants will receive an eight-week work experience on Capitol Hill and these great benefits:

  • Stipend of $2,500 for the eight weeks in D.C.
  • Free roundtrip travel to Washington, D.C.
  • Monthly Metro transit stipends
  • Housing (all expenses paid by CHCI)
  • Leadership development

This unmatched experience to learn first-hand about our nation’s legislative processes is available for college undergraduates enrolled full time in an academic institution.  Students of ALL majors that have an interest in the development of public policy and who have demonstrated leadership abilities should apply.

To learn more about the program, eligibility requirements, and how to possibly get credit for the internship, visit

The CHCI Staff is here to assist you with your application, so contact us at or 1-800-EXCEL-DC with any questions.  You can apply to more than one of CHCI’s amazing programs at the same time.

*Current college seniors graduating in May 2012 are ineligible to apply; however they are eligible to apply for CHCI's Public Policy Fellowship program.  The application deadline for the Public Policy Fellowship is February 17, 2012.  Check the CHCI website for complete eligibility requirements and deadlines.
Sunday, January 15, 2012 0 comments

Arkh: A Genderqueer/Minority Focused Videogame

There are some wonderful people doing a great thing right now. They are working on a genderqueer/minority focused video game completely off the beaten path. If you are tired of minorities always being anything but secondary characters, and queer relationships being mocked and made fun of, this game will change all that. If you would like to learn more about what they are working on, please click here:

Also, feel free to chip in and help them reach their goals!

Saturday, January 14, 2012 0 comments

Cancun, Mexico

As a Spanish speaker I had a very interesting five days in Cancun. The things that people said under their breath in Spanish sometimes made me laugh while other times it just made me smirk. In the end, whether you speak Spanish or not, tourism is their livelihood and they will do their best to get those dolares out of you. Yet, the best part of it all, I would say is what I came for: fresh grouper fish, white sand and warm weather :)

Henry and I stayed at the Club Internacional de Cancun which is part of the Royal hotel chain. It was very spacious and quiet which we really appreciated. We went to the Hotel Zone but really didn't like it. It had a fake feeling, what with Starbucks and Versace stores being there. All these name brand stores and overpriced items...Some people may like that, but I for one don't. Therefore, we took the public bus everywhere to save money and to have a more real experience.

The buses are nice, clean and they run very often. If you are traveling on a budget I would recommend it (it costs less than a dollar per person) as it is not too difficult and there is only one main street if you stay in the areas where all the hotel chains are. However, if you know some Spanish, I would say to venture out into the city of Cancun where the real action is.

We got lost while trying to get to Plaza las Americas, the shopping center of the people of the city of Cancun. It was great because although we went in the opposite direction of where we wanted to go, we got to see how people interact with each other and how they live their lives. We knew we were somewhere completely different when a taco was one peso (where we were staying three tacos are 50 pesos) and the houses started to look a bit more worn down.

We also went on a catamaran party cruise sort of thing to Isla Mujeres and that was fun. People went snorkeling, although I personally didn't feel comfortable enough to do that. The snorkeling instructor toward the end also had everyone on the ship do tequila shots while he was dressed in very stereotypical Mexican garb. He was a hoot! Lastly, we went to the Royal Sands to their spa in order to end our vacation on a relaxing note. One word: Awesome. Well worth the money to do as the spa is affiliated but is not part of the hotel. The Sands also had a HUGE majestic pool that was quite a sight to behold.