Saturday, February 04, 2017

8 Reasons to Fall in Love with Indonesia as an Expat

April 23, 2013, I took a giant leap of faith and flew as an expat to the country I knew nothing about-Indonesia. The country which became my home for almost four years will always have a special part in my heart. It was an amazing experience meeting the best teachers in different fields!

Here are some of the reasons why I have fallen in love with Indonesia.

Borobudur, or Barabudur is a 9th-century Mahayana Buddhist temple in Magelang, Central Java, Indonesia, as well as the world's largest Buddhist temple, and also one of the greatest Buddhist monuments in the world.

1. Kind, Hospitable and Generous People-
Upon arrival in the airport, you will be greeted with their signature slight bow and the words, “Selamat datang di Indonesia.” The same gesture of respect is experienced when you visit malls or different places. It is also customary for Indonesians to shake hands as they welcome you. When you visit stores especially if you are staying for a while, they always have this bottled water prepared for you. I remember that the first time I visited the school, the director gave me her own food (fried chicken and rice) when she found out that I didn’t like those with spices and too much flavor. Their first class hospitality became clearer to me when I stayed during holiday with an Indonesian family. They treated me like their own family and showered me not just with kindness but with respect as well. 

2. Salary- The salary is definitely enough to live a comfortable life. As a matter of fact, it is normal for most teachers and their family to have vacation in their native country twice a year- Christmas and end of the school year. The salary is enough for most of them to travel in nearby countries such as Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. Others even travel to Japan, Korea, Australia and United States. What I love about Indonesia is that your starting salary is based on your educational qualifications, experience and capabilities diminishing the ‘seniority’ rules in determining the salary.

With my husband at MONAS. 

3. Picturesque Sceneries
- With about 17, 500 outlandish islands, there are many places to explore. It is usual for many teachers to spend long weekends visiting picturesque sceneries. There are wild, untamed travels if you belong to the adventurous souls. There are also multi-colored lakes, hot spring, active volcanoes and long list of pristine beaches with crystal clear water. Some of my former co-teachers with different nationalities love scuba diving, snorkeling and hiking. You can also immerse yourself with their unique culture while enjoying scenic natural resources. If you are having a wearying day in school, a trip to Monas might just be the solution. The 433 ft. tower in the center of Jakarta boasts the top with plinth of stone where a bronze torch stands weighing up to 14.5 tons coated with 35 kg of gold plate.

Taman Bunga with friends. 

4. Deluxe Housing Plan- Schools in Indonesia offer lucrative housing plan. In fact, most of the apartments are located just beside giant luxury malls.

Greenbay apartment with a mall right beside it. A perfect haven for a demanding work at school and home to many expats.

Central Park residence also houses some of Indonesia's Expat. 

5. Professional Development- The learning opportunity for teachers is countless. It is common to have speakers in the seminars from UK, Singapore and other countries. It is the best training ground as well because you will learn other curriculum widely accepted in the world such as Cambridge, IB, and School of Tomorrow/ACE. Teachers are also given the prospect of traveling through International competitions and activities like World Scholar’s Cup which allowed one of my friends to travel and compete in United States. There is also the Reach Cambridge which may be your chance to travel to UK. The Harvard Model Congress Asia (HMCA) which is a global conference where international high school students learn and experience government while playing the roles of officials in the United States government and several international political bodies may be another way for you to explore other countries.

One team, different nationalities- Americans, Singaporean, Canadian and Filipinos. 

6. Unique Diversity Experience- On my first day in Indonesia, I was in the lift with a Chinese, an American and an Indian. That was just a glimpse of the kind of diversity I experienced in that country. I lived in the same house with a Canadian, two Chinese teachers, and Filipinos on my first year of teaching. I learned various cultures through daily personal interactions with people who came from different parts of the world. Imagine yourself in a Teacher’s office surrounded with Canadian, Indian, American, Singaporean, Malays, Mauritian, and of course Filipinos speaking their own languages. There are differences but to have a glimpse of other country’s culture is definitely a wonderful experience.

Nasi goreng 

7. Authentic Asian Food- Indonesia is home to some of the best Asian cuisines. Variety of seafood gastronomy is available in different restaurants. Indonesia has about 5, 350 traditional recipes. Their famous rendang, nasi goreng and satay are included in World’s Most Delicious Foods.

Taman Anggrek mall in Jakarta, Indonesia. 

8. 100 Plus Malls right in Jakarta- Of course, the demand of school works can always be exhausting. However, malls of different sizes and class is of your choice. Sometimes you just need to cross a road and you will be in a different mall. Your perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of the endless school works is just around the corner.

Above all the perks and privileges, what matters the most is actually the beautiful experience of imparting knowledge and immersing oneself in unique culture and traditions of Indonesia. It is falling in love repeatedly with the humility and generosity of the people and embracing the little things that make this country a second home to expats from all around the world.

Filipino Song at Whitehall MacDonald’s!

Normally, we have a more stress-free Saturday. However, we had quite a long list of the things to do and people to meet today so my husband and I decided to just grab a quick meal at McDonald’s. We opted for the one at Whitehall since it is less busy. We were enjoying a quiet meal when I suddenly heard a Tagalog song being played. I was like, “What? Of all places here at Michigan?". It was the big hit of Yeng Constantino when she was just starting as a singer.

I started humming and before I knew it, what was just supposed to be an ordinary Saturday turned out to be an extraordinary one. It’s hard to miss the place where I was born and spent the big portion of my life, but, I do long for it whenever something reminds me of my home away from home.

When we were at the car, I translated the lyrics of the song to my husband. It’s actually a beautiful reminder of holding hands on a journey amidst uncertainties.


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