Index of Common Words and Phrases

Aku – Informal Indonesian for “I.”

Anda – Formal Indonesian for “you.”

Apa – Indonesian for “what.” I say this all the time.

Buka Puasa – Breaking fast; the action of eating the first meal of the night during Ramadan.

Bule – Apparently literally “albino,” this is the Indonesian term for foreigners, particularly white people, and I’m told it’s not derogatory. Do I count as a bule? I have yet to figure this out.

Darmasiswa – The program that kept me in Indonesia for a third year. It’s a scholarship program for foreigners that allows them to study at an Indonesian university for a year.

ISI – More completely, ISI Surakarta, or most complete of all, Institut Seni Indonesia Surakarta. An arts university in Solo where I studied for a year.

Jarik – Much like a sarong, this is a batik skirt used in Javanese classical dance. Depending on the dance, this skirt can include a piece of material that drags on the ground between the dancer’s legs. This is as annoying to wear as it sounds.

Javanese – The language spoken on the island of Java. It has several different levels of formality that can vary not only depending on who you’re talking to but also depending on the subject which you’re talking about. This means that I’m often too shy to use it because I have no idea who I’m going to inadvertently offend.

Jilbab – The headscarf that many (but not all) Muslim women in Indonesia choose to wear.

Kamu – Informal Indonesian for “you.”

Krama – A higher level of Javanese, used for talking to your elders and betters. Also, because Javanese is confusing, it’s pronounced kromo.

My favorite vegan restaurant – Named Loving Hut, this is one of a world-wide chain of vegan restaurants run by a woman with questionable motives. (Feel free to Google.) Nevertheless, the food is delicious and the people who work here know my drink order.

Maghrib – The prayer that occurs at sunset.

Mbak – Term of address for a young woman.

My junior fellow – From the Shansi generation after me, meaning that I’m in charge of guiding him with all my knowledge of Indonesia. No pressure.

My senior fellow – She’s here for the same reason I am, but she got here a year before me and is therefore infinitely wiser.

My Shansi mentor – Has seen more Shansi fellows than I can count, is awesome, and always makes sure that I’m eating. Also is under the mistaken belief that I am already able to eat spicy food and already able to speak Javanese.

Ngoko – The lowest level of Javanese. It’s informal and most often used among peers.

Oberlin – The college I attended, known for being crazy-liberal, hipsters, and having gender-neutral bathrooms.

Ojek – Pay a man a small fee and he drives you where you need to go on his motorbike.

Peking – Sort of a smaller version of a saron, meaning that its range is higher than that of a saron. Also, there’s usually only one in a gamelan set.

Prambanan – A Hindu temple located about forty-five minutes outside of Yogyakarta. It’s a popular tourist attraction. Also, the Ramayana Ballet is frequently performed here for the pleasure of said tourists.

Ramayana Ballet – A classical Javanese dance performance based on the Hindu epic the Ramayana. It involves Rama, Sita, and a golden deer, among others. Ask Sara for more details.

Sara – She’s from the same program as I am, but stationed in Aceh. Our relationship centers around Lord of the Rings, Bigfoot, and our upcoming wedding.

Saron – The instrument in a gamelan set that looks the most like a xylophone. As far as I can tell, it’s one of the easiest to learn. It also frequently carries the melody.

Saya – Formal Indonesian for “I.”

Shansi – The organization that sent me to Indonesia. Shansi’s goal is to foster connections on a personal level between the United States and Asia.

Solo – Also known as Surakarta, this city used to be part of a kingdom along with Yogyakarta. Now they are separate.

UGM – Universitas Gadjah Mada, or the university where I teach. It’s one of the biggest universities in Yogyakarta with an overwhelming, sprawling campus. I get lost whenever I try to go somewhere new.

UKJGS – Unit Kesenian Jawa Gaya Surakarta, or the dance group that I constantly talk about. This is a two-branched student group for students interested in either traditional Javanese dance from Solo or gamelan.

UNS – Universitas Sebelas Maret, a large university in Solo with a campus adjacent to ISI’s.

Waria – An amalgamation of the words wanita and pria, woman and man in Indonesian. This term is used to refer to people who are male to female transgender.

Wayang – Short for wayang kulit, this refers to leather puppets and puppet shows.

Wayng orang/Wayang wong – A dance and theater performance based on wayang kulit puppet shows but performed by people instead of puppets.

Yogyakarta – The city in which I currently reside. It’s a university city, meaning that lots and lots of people come here to study and then frequently end up staying to work.


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