Septeswa Mulatarum Jati (INA YES to USA YP 18–19)

Assalamualaikum! Hi everyone! My name is Septeswa Mulatarum Jati. I’m 17 years old. I am an exchange student from Indonesia to United States of America. I currently live in Cleveland, Ohio.

I arrived here 3 months ago and I’ll stay in here for the about 7 months more.

I had never imagine living in the other part of the world by my self without knowing anyone here, left family and friends back home. But now I’m here in United States. This is a real challenge for me to make my own decision and to get out from my comfort zone. I believe that all of the experience that I will face during my exchange year in the US will help me to develop the sense of responsibility, maturity, and independence.

For the first week I stayed with my host mom, Carla Bailey, host sister, Janine, and also one of the AFS volunteer who spent a week in United States for vacation, Neusa from Mozambique, Africa. My double placement sister arrived the next week after Neusa went back to Africa and Janine went to Columbus for college. I thought that I will spent the rest of my exchange year with her only until my host Mom told me that there will be another exchange student who will stay with us for couple weeks. I was so excited, she is from Senegal. Now she’s still staying with us in the same house. It is so interesting to stay with people from different continent and culture. We did a lot of things together and we became really close to each other. Living with them makes me learn not only American culture but also African culture.

I go to public school, Cleveland Heights High School. It is not too far from my home, so I walk everyday to school. What makes me more excited was because Mom told me that there be 9 exchange students will go to my school. I met people from another countries who ‘m going to spent more time with them. They are from Chile, Thailand, Italy, Germany, Kenya, Ghana, Mali, Senegal, and Germany. My school has been having exchange student for more than 60 years. One of the traditions is the exchange student join singer class. Singer class is a class where the student learn how to sing and also choreography because in the singer class we have Drama Musical performance. We all did “Mary Poppins” musical performance just this month. It was so exciting and amazing become part of the singer class. Singer class is my favorite class so far.

I wanted to play sport so that I joined soccer team in my school. Now, I have no doubt to say that most of American kids are strong and really consistent. To be honest, became part of the team means that even though you are so tired, we still have to go to the practice and game. One of my friend, her feet got injured and she wore crutch but she was still going to the practice and to the game even though she could not play. Even when we had a lot of home works and test for the next day we can not just skip the practice.

What I really like from Americans is they really like to give compliment to other people even for only little things. For example “Hi, I like your outfit today”. The other thing that I really impress from Americans in my school is they won’t judge people and accept them the way they are. Cleveland Heights is full of diversity. Here I can meet not only white Americans, but also African Americans, African, Asian, refugee, and immigrant. I’m also surprise because there are muslims in Cleveland Heights. I met not only one, but like a lot of muslims in here. The mosque is far from my house though. I went there 2 months ago to do the Ied Adha prayer. When I went to the mosque, I met another Indonesian people there. I went to the mosque with my friend from Kenya.

In school, I join woman barbershop too. My host mom wore hair scarf (hijab) when they went there. I really appreciate on how my family and friends have really high tolerance with my belief and religion.

I also joined MSAN club in my school and I just had a trip to washington DC last week with my MSAN club to the hollocaust Museum and National Historical Museum of African American. I learned about Jewish people, the Hollocaust tragedy, and also the history of African American. The trip was really fun. I get to know more people and got new friends.

Last month October 28 was my very first trick or treat. I dressed up with a costume, I don’t even know what character I was, but I looked cool. I went house to house, I did trick or treat with my sisters, and I also met the other exchange students while we were doing trick and treat. I got a bag of candies and chocolates. But I almost finish eating them in one month. I already like America, every season has its own unique event, and sports in here are also varied by the seasons. This Saturday I just did my first song with the barbershop at church for the organ donation event.

As an exchange student, I have a role to be a little ambassador for my country, Indonesia. I want to share to Americans about my life in Indonesia. So, I did my presentation at church in my Cleveland area. I did it in front of my host family, my friends, the other exchange students, host families, and liaisons. It was not only me, my friend from Thailand also did the presentation that day. We also served traditional food from our country. I served “Soto Ayam” as it is so popular in my country. People liked my “soto ayam”, they ate it till it almost gone. At the end of my presentation, I gave them Indonesia money called “Rupiah”. I gave them 2.000 rupiah. They loved it. This first 3 months was full of fun, surprise, and amazing. It is supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. I can’t wait to try a lot more new things for the rest of my year in United States. Moreover winter is coming, I can’t wait to make a snowman.



The Indonesian Foundation for Intercultural Learning Official Partner of AFS Programs

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Bina Antarbudaya

The Indonesian Foundation for Intercultural Learning Official Partner of AFS Programs