Rotary exchange student shares trip

  • Jaffrey resident Nadia Bhatti has spent the past month and a half in Indonesia as a part of the Jaffrey-Rindge Rotary exchange student program.  COURTESY PHOTO

  • Bhatti rides a horse-drawn carriage through the streets of Indonesia.  COURTESY PHOTO

  • Bhatti takes a photo with famous Indonesian director Riri Riza.  COURTESY PHOTO

  • Bhatti enjoys some nasi kuning yellow rice. Bhatti said one of the biggest adjustments to living in Indonesia has been the amount of rice she has to eat.  COURTESY PHOTO

  • Bhatti talks with one of her teachers.  COURTESY PHOTO

  • Nadia Bhatti rides a rickshaw through the streets of Indonesia. COURTESY PHOTO

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Monday, October 10, 2016 7:10PM

When Nadia Bhatti’s alarm rings every day to wake her up, most of her friends and family are just heading off to bed. Bhatti is not a third-shift worker: She is halfway across the world on an exchange program.

Bhatti, a junior at Conant High School, has been in Indonesia for the past month and a half as a part of the Jaffrey-Rindge Rotary’s exchange student program.

“My family is pretty worldly, and I’ve always been interested in language and travel,” said Bhatti, in a FaceTime interview. “I’ve always had an interest in travel because I think it’s really cool to see new places.”

Bhatti, a Jaffrey resident, is far more versed in travel than your average high school student, having been to Pakistan, Nicaragua, Canada, China, England and France.

“I probably traveled by plane more than 100 times before my friends even knew what a plane was,” said Bhatti, who said her dad is from Pakistan, while her mom is a bat biologist and Spanish teacher. “My family always joked that I would go on an exchange program in my junior year and here I am.”

Bhatti said she chose Indonesia as her place of study because she has long been interested in Asian culture, and she heard that the language was relatively easy to pick up.

The transition for Bhatti so far has been relatively easy, although there have been a number of things she has had to get used to.

“We are supposed to be eating the traditional food, so I’m eating rice three times a day, which is a bit of a challenge,” said Bhatti. “It’s also a little different because the family that I am staying with has two drivers and three maids.”

The structure of education in Indonesia is vastly different, according to Bhatti, as there are two main tracks a student can enter: science and math or social studies.

“They take 14 subjects at once over here,” said Bhatti. “You only see a teacher for a particular subject once a week.”

Bhatti said she has 36 classmates, a group she describes as “close knit.”

“They are so loud, and they tease and make fun of each other just like a family,” said Bhatti, who said she recently went over to a classmate’s house, where they made sate, hung out by a fire, and had a photo shoot.

“It’s funny to see how the rest of the world sees the United States,” said Bhatti, of interactions with some of her classmates. “They ask if our lives are like “High School Musical.” I also have had a question or two about Trump come up.”

While Bhatti has had plenty of fun experiences – including visiting monuments, watching a goat being sacrificed, and riding to school on a motorcycle – it doesn’t prevent her from occasionally missing home.

Being so far away, much of Bhatti’s communication with family and friends is through cellphone apps and email. Bhatti said she tries to communicate with her parents a couple times a week.

“I have 11 gigabytes of storage on my phone, and I fill it about every two days,” said Bhatti. “I’m trying my best not to get sad and miss home.”

Bhatti is unsure of what she wants to do when she gets out of high school, but her exchange experience will likely have an impact.

“At one point I wanted to be a chef, but I’m not as sure anymore,” said Bhatti. “I think I want to do something with travel, history, or language.”


Nicholas Handy can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235 or nhandy@ledgertranscript.com. He is also on Twitter @nhandyMLT.