Made it.

Made it.

I actually landed six and a half weeks ago, which feels like a crazy thing to say. But then, any variation of “I live in Asia now” still feels like an absurd statement. Anyways, sorry (Mom) for not getting around to posting in that month and a half! I will say that finding good internet here is cause for significant celebration, but I will also admit that this excuse doesn’t hold up for all six weeks.

This city, though, is far more interesting than my laziness. It is crazy. It’s huge, and loud and so fast. From the roof of our building, you can see the ocean, mountains, roughly 100 high rises and the 5-6 malls that are in walking distance. I have a pretty long list of restaurants, museums, open mics and cafes (one of which is Harry Potter themed?) to check out and a number of fun new humans to explore with.

It’s a funny time of transition for all of the interns here. Over the past two weeks, five of them finished their year and left. Two are extending another half a year, and one more came later than the others and so is only halfway through. My roommate Hannah and I showed up just in time to get to know the community before it went through this massive overhaul, and the changes aren’t even done. Two more girls are coming in less than a month, which will settle things for all of four months. I miss the girls who left, even though I only knew them for a few weeks. Common purpose and lack of larger social circles/any kind of comfort zone kind of speeds up the friendship process, I guess. But at the same time, I’m so excited to meet the girls coming in and to deepen my friendships with the existing interns. This job attracts some crazy fun, smart and ambitious people. And I cannot even begin to talk about how much I already love the local staff. You know what? I don’t think I will. I’ll save that for it’s own post.

Honestly the worst thing so far has been the traffic. It’s practically a curse word here and a great excuse for showing up 3 hours late to anything. Think L.A., but pretend like driving is a game where lanes are made up and general traffic signals don’t matter! There are only supposed to be 3ish lanes on most roads, but somehow 4 cars, 3 motorcycles, and another endlessly moving line of actual bicycles fit in those 3 lanes. So (Courtney) I promise I will not, in fact be getting a motorcycle. I’m almost getting to the point where I’m grateful for well enforced traffic regulations in the States. But also maybe not.

Other things which are (in fact) privileges and not rights:

  •  Good wifi
  • Dr. Pepper
  • Airconditioning
  • Average wifi
  • Flat sidewalks
  • Clean water and/or air
  • Bad wifi
  • Any internet at all really

Adjusting to a new culture is fun and overstimulating and overwhelming, and so is the work I’ve been doing. The main reason I haven’t posted anything is because I’ve been working 10+ hours a day for the first time in my life, and I keep waiting for that to not be true so that I can take the time to write something.  Funny thing about work though, it always seems to be there the next day. 

Since I’ve been here, we’ve had  multiple people convicted of human trafficking, another few take plea bargains, a number of establishments that sold underage girls have been shut down by the government, we’ve taken children as young as six and eight out of exploitative situations and I actually assisted on a rescue. By “assisted,” I mean I was only getting coffee/breakfast/snacks/lunch/also dinner for the victims, police officers, lawyers and social workers, and I was happy to be able to contribute even that much.

In between meals on the rescue they didn’t have all that much for me to do, so they told me to go talk to the girls. Honestly, that idea was initially terrifying. I know, I know, but how was I supposed to relate to these girls on any level whatsoever? Y’all I’m so happy to announce that I was wrong to be intimidated. It was so good. They taught me some Tagalog, and we talked about everything from places we wanted to see to how we did our hair. I thought talking about boys might be a touchy subject, but I can now confirm that the ideal guy (tall, rich, handsome, young, but not necessarily in that order) is one of the world’s great universals.

We/the police shut down this bar because they were employing minors, but not all of the girls were underage or trafficked. This meant that when we went in, we had to pull out all 60+ girls, but they didn’t all want to come out. Some of the girls I made friends with are already back at the same work, because that’s what they do and that’s their choice. The whole thing was heavier than I’d expected.

More on that later, I’m sure.

But in summary: hey hello I’m alive and I love it here and here’s a picture Hannah took of me and a tree and our neighborhood (kinda) to prove it.