Thursday, November 21, 2013

Shocking Family History: The funny thing about being shipped off to the U.S. at seventeen

Determination is a funny thing, but family history is even funnier, I guess.

During the final years of high school as university brochures begin to pile up atop my cupboard and SAT daily questions begin to clog my spam folder, a question arose quite unexpectedly. Resembling a a Jack-in-the-Box that would inevitably jump out of the box much to my annoyance, this question intrigued me, which was much better than utter blandness. The question in question, ha (not very intelligently so) is "So, darling, I see that you are going abroad for university. Are your parents actually letting you go so far? I mean it's an awful lot of traveling. Also, it would be such a shame since you're their only child." Maybe it would not be so reminiscent of questions in the 50s, but doesn't Jakarta's social scene sort of mimic 50s decor?

Ugh! Why are you asking me all these questions???


Accounting for my status as an only child, many believed that my parents would never allow me to study in the U.S., which is practically on the other side of the globe. Funny thing is, 1) if I were a boy the question would never come up, and 2) if I were not an only child there might be some chance that it would not emerge. Yes, if I had something dangling between my thighs I would probably be shoved off to the States or somewhere further and far more brutal. If I were a boy with siblings I would even be thrown to the wolves. Maybe, if I remained a girl, but had siblings, they'd think that it was reasonable to ship me off to a closer foreign country. Whatever the combination, I sincerely believed that it did shock some people that my parents would send me to America, especially New York.

America is so far... No but, really though
Yet, coming back to the first sentence above, my parents and I were (sort of) determined to have me study in the States, even at a very young age. And perhaps this all had to do with family history. Three generations before me, my grandmother's brothers (literally) sailed to Holland, albeit together but still they were without parental guidance or a guardian. Two generations before me, my uncle and aunt began studying in metropolitans before they turned fourteen, again without parental supervision. I guess, I had the privilege of being born to a family crazy for education. Whether you're a girl or a guy, you were going to go somewhere far to study. Rarely did we own a car before turning twenty-five, despite the number of family members who lived miles apart from their parents and siblings for the sake of education.


Realize that every family treasures its own priorities. Your family may have other passion and rites of passage. For instance, I know a family whereby the grandmother would offer the granddaughters plastic surgery when they reach a certain age. There's another that requires its daughters to attend a debutante. To outsiders, these traditions would seem to go against nature, much like they did when they found out that my parents allowed me to study in the NY.

For a good amount of time we are shielded from other people's familial customs, but here's another thing for ya: wait till' you get married, then, maybe you have to understand or follow these mind-boggling procedures!

*Author owns rights to all of the photos above

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