Volume 10, Issue 1
The article below is the first in a new fortnightly series created at the initiative of Federica Immanuel, the MULSS International Students Representative. International students doing the JD are invited to write on their experiences growing up in their hometowns, what they love about them, fun facts about their culture, or anything else.
Send your articles in to firstname.lastname@example.org
Let’s just say that this piece was inspired by ‘Property Exam 2014’.
Have you ever wondered why all Balinese share these three common names? There is just one simple explanation to that – these names identify the order in which we were born. ‘Putu’ and ‘Wayan’ both mean the oldest and ‘Ketut’ means the fourth child. If you are the second child, you are ‘Made’ or if you are the third, ‘Nyoman’. If there are more than four children, then we just repeat the names again.
I can go on about names but I want to move on to telling you about my hometown because, as cliché as it sounds, it has a special significance for me. First, I actually did not like my hometown until I moved here. I have always had that make-it-in-the-big-city dream and so I just could not wait to leave a place that felt too comfortable and was filled with too many kind and friendly people. And left I did. It was July in Melbourne and I thought, gosh, the air feels so clean! It did not last very long though. After three months of cold, wet and dark winter days, I started to see why I should have appreciated my hometown more.
There are countless things that I love about my hometown. I love that we are compliment givers. Wherever you go, people call strangers ‘Gus’ or ‘Gek’ which means good looking or beautiful. Can you imagine getting a “hey good looking” almost every day without feeling weirded out? I also love how easy we use the word “family” and openly call friends, colleagues, or neighbours a part of our family. The father of my dad’s colleague used to come seasonally to our house bringing vanilla pods and bananas from his farm because, as he said … wait for it, “we are family”. It may seem oddly naïve from an outside perspective but we do really embrace the sense of togetherness. This is what I miss the most. In fact, I could almost feel the warmth of our culture just by reminiscing and writing this.
One of my favourite memories growing up in Bali is singing this song called “Putri Cening Ayu” in morning assembly every day for a year. Now you may think that this song is a piece of moral excellence that all children need to absorb like sponges. Well, the song is literally about a little girl whose mother went to the market to buy rice because they ran out of rice at home. I still remember this song word by word and sometimes sing it in the shower – it has quite a good tune to it. I also can assure you that all people from Bali know this song by heart. Thinking back about it, that song did not make me or anyone a better adult per se, but it reminds me of how fortunate I am to have experienced a culture that I can call mine; that the person that I am now is shaped by so many people whom I can call family (and who never spelled my name correctly).
Federica Immanuel (Rica) is a second year JD student and the LSS International Students Representative.
The rest of this week's issue: