Sonja Elsegood is a teacher at the Indonesia Australia Language Foundation (IALF) in Denpasar, and has been living in Bali for four years with two of her four children, 14-year-old Bodhi and 9-year-old Jaya, in Sanur. The 50-year-old recently married Balinese native I Wayan Sadya. She shared her day with The Bali Timesâ€™ Arga Sagitarini.
I am a religious person. Before going to work, I make time to pray before the Buddha statue in my house, asking for his guidance for the day. I believe I work better by focusing my mind on spiritual thoughts, instead of just on money. Sometimes, though, Iâ€™m in a rush in the morning, and so I pray in the afternoon, after coming home from work.
I have four children from a previous marriage. Two are grown up and living in Australia. The other two, Bodhi and Jaya, are here so they can learn to speak a language other than English. I named them Bodhi and Jaya because of my Buddhist beliefs.
By 7:30am, Iâ€™m at my office on Jl. Sesetan in Denpasar, after a 30-minute drive from my house in Sanur. My work is all about teaching. When I donâ€™t have classes to teach, Iâ€™m studying. The work keeps me so occupied that sometimes I donâ€™t even have time to do other things. But even so, I enjoy what I do, especially teaching cross-culture to my students, in which I introduce them to Western culture, so they can learn to understand and adapt themselves nicely to it. In exchange, I also learn many things about their culture. Itâ€™s good knowledge and I feel lucky to have this opportunity.
Besides teaching about cross-culture, I also teach the English language to local people. My schedule is flexible, and if another teacher doesnâ€™t turn up Iâ€™ll cover their classes for them; itâ€™s not a problem for me. IALF Is a very professional institution and the students are enthusiastic about learning.
After being in Bali for a while, I now understand some differences between the West and East. The main difference that I see is in greeting someone: in the West, the greeting is by asking someoneâ€™s opinion about things around them, letâ€™s say a painting, and in the East the greeting is a personal question â€“ your name, where you are from, if you are married and have children. Some Westerners donâ€™t feel comfortable about this.
Australian is not my original nationality. Iâ€™m Dutch by birth, and became Australian after my marriage to my first husband. In Australia I was working part time teaching Bahasa Indonesia in school. At other time I was busy taking care of the family, so I didnâ€™t have enough time for trips or holidays. Before and after the divorce I had visited Bali, and after divorcing I started to think of working here. Then I had a chance to teach at IALF and moved here.
Because now I am working full time, I have less time to cook. So I hire someone to do the cooking and cleaning at the house. Strangely enough, this makes me an alien in my own kitchen. It feels like itâ€™s not mine but my helperâ€™s territory. This is very different compared to when I was in Australia, where I was always in the kitchen. Iâ€™m vegetarian, and so is my husband. Iâ€™ve been accustomed to fruits and vegetables for some time, and when I eat bread, somehow I donâ€™t feel good. Right now I feel my lifestyle is much healthier.
I work eight hours at the school and get home at 4:30pm. I always work out at the gym, usually between 7 and 7:30pm. Afterwards I have dinner with the family, sharing our stories of the day. I go to bed early, at 9 or 10, because Iâ€™ll be busy the next day. Before going to bed, I read the children bedtime stories until theyâ€™re asleep, and as I have husband now, I spend some time talking with him.
Itâ€™s a bit strange being with someone after being alone for so long, but Iâ€™m happy to have someone to share my life with now. Wayan has given me a Balinese name, and he treats me like a Balinese girl. Nyoman Kertiasih is my Bali name, and although I donâ€™t use it formally, I tell everyone thatâ€™s my name. I am the third child in my family and in Baliâ€™s tradition the third child is named Nyoman or Komang.
I like being in Bali. For me, Bali is the center of spiritual things and has a very old religion as well as tradition. There are more things that I want to learn about religion, because I want to have a peaceful mind and be a better person before I die. Everybody has a good and bad side; I want to neutralize my bad side and be able to control it.Filed under: One Day