habis means exhausted In Bahasa Indonesian

Slice of Life

Slice of Life

Yusep–who goes by Dani–is our Indonesian teacher. He also teaches the students at our school.

I wrote those sentences because I think I know how to say them in Indonesian without help: Guru Indonesia saya adalah Yusep, apa Dani. Dia mengajar juga siswa-siswa di sekolah kami (Did you know that Indonesian has two words for “we?” Kami=myself and another person, exclusively. Kita=all of us together.).

Learning to speak Indonesian is making me “habis“–exhausted. Not capai (tired), but habis.  “Habis” is the word Indonesian people usually respond with when you ask for something you urgently need at the store. “Habis, miss.” Which means “empty” or “gone” in this case. Why? Because Indonesian inventory is either in constant flux or stagnant when it comes to what Americans consider staples.

I only attend an Indonesian language lesson once a week for an hour. Many students at our international school speak multiple languages. I’m in awe. Hearing them converse without understanding their exact words feels mysterious, but also natural that the pre-teens would literally have their own language. The main swear words go blissfully unnoticed for some time. Imagine, teachers of middle schoolers, listening to a room full of preteens / teens and not having to police their every $%&@!

In addition to speaking Bahasa Indonesian or Mandarin or Hangul (Korean) among themselves, English is the language of instruction at our school. Most are required to also take Mandarin Chinese. “Embracing the Future. Embracing Asia” is motto kami (our tagline). And we do.

I love how Bahasa (the word for “language,” not the stand-in for . . . ) Indonesian, is simple. Short words–like “sudah” are enough. You hear it translated throughout the day–when directing students to finish their work, “Already, Miss.” The phonetics are straight forward. Like Korean. Like Spanish. Unlike English.

Yet. My brain feels blurry–heavy–full. Pak Dani, our teacher, is funny, patient, understanding– everything you wish for in a good guru. Yet, after an hour, I say with relief–however quickly the hour flew, “Terima kasih, guru! Thank you, Teacher! Sumpai jumpa! See you later or see you when I see you.”

Remembering how habis–how cranky it makes me feel to be off-kilter, reliant and helpless for too long–is a good perspective though. My language acquisition is practical–of course–but also optional. I can step away when the exhaustion grates.

Students do not all have that luxury.


About jaclynfre

Tech integration specialist, recipe adventurer, fast walker, sporadic writer, aunt, sister and daughter
This entry was posted in international teaching, life and culture, transitions and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to habis means exhausted In Bahasa Indonesian

  1. Your adventure of a lifetime (although with your well traveled family who know what is ahead for you!) will provide you with a foundation not only for understanding the cultural differences and similarities but also for understanding language learning – such a complex task at any age!@

  2. I am amazed and in awe of those with multiple languages. My daughter feels similar to you…but really immersion still probably the best way to learn. It’s totally funny that the teens have their own language. xo

  3. Donna says:

    I was getting a bit habis my self, just thinking of trying to learn a new language now! It sounds exciting to be listening in amongst all the languages though.

    • jaclynfre says:

      It’s funny how in my English class with mostly language learners, someone will say something that teenagers usually say and everyone will giggle and when I ask, “What? Apa?” with a smile, they love to translate and let me in on the joke. It’s literally, being able to have teen language translated for you with the excuse of not knowing their language. Also–on the flip side, when I drop an Indonesian word here or there, “Kenapa?” when students don’t have their home–they think it’s amusing. (Kenapa = why)

      There are a lot of Korean students at our school in Indonesia, which is interesting–there are a lot of Korean ex-pats around the world–and I tried to learn this language with Rosetta Stone so it’s prompting me to get back into that also. The most fun is learning the cultural language of the now popular K-Pop with all the kids–but the Koreans at the center. The dynamics of Asian racial interactions–Korean, Indo-Chinese, Javanese, Singaporean, Taiwanese, Papua . . .

  4. Jaana says:

    I was trying to remember Indonesian words that I learned years ago:
    Aba itu? satu; lampu
    I love learning new languages; there is something special about being able to say what you want in a different language…

  5. Betsy says:

    It is no wonder you are “habis.” Languages can definitely make your head spin a bit. What a neat experience to be listening in on so many languages and the conversations.

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