I’ve never been to Asia before. Actually, living in Miami and Southwest Florida for most of my life, I hadn’t even known very many Asian people. Broadening my social network was huge attraction of Columbia Business School, and the opportunity to make friends from all over the world has been an incredible experience. One that tomorrow morning will become even more amazing when I travel with my friend and clustermate Aphrodita, a native Indonesian, and 18 other students to Jakarta and Bali for Chazen Indonesia.
The anticipation for this trip has been tremendous. Excitement over the wide range of companies and government officials we will be meeting. Awe of the natural beauty we expect across the country. Disbelief at the incredible properties at which we are staying (seriously, wait for the pictures). A touch of anxiety over the 27 hours of travel to get there. Confusion as to what exactly “cat poo coffee” is, and why we will want to spend $8 on a cup.
My mind has been racing with excitement about this trip for weeks now, but two aspects of the experience stand out as most interesting: batik and Nyepi.
Having lived most of my life in tropical climes, I can attest to how sweaty a business suit can be on a hot day, but our itinerary calls for plenty of business formal. Enter batik, a traditional pattern that is found on lightweight, open-collar shirts and dresses. This traditional garment is acceptable wear for westerners in formal situations. We all plan to purchase one there, and some guys are planning to skip the sport coat all together.
Then, while in Bali, we are lucky enough to be present for Nyepi, the New Year’s celebration for the Balinese style of Hinduism. While the day itself is something of a day of atonement during which the entire island shuts down and many locals take day-long vows of silence, the celebrations on the eve of Nyepi promise to be a once-in-a-lifetime cultural experience. Some Balinese people make statues of bamboo and paper to symbolize the demons of the past year, which are then paraded around the village and burned. Truly a cultural experience unlike any I have experienced.
These experiences should amount to a spring break journey unlike any other. I am excited to share more of our adventures and meetings as the trip progresses, but until then, I am very behind on my packing.
-Mark Adelman ’16