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.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Why You Should Put Down Your Phones!

My husband and I love playing games and watching videos on our cellphone. He has his own likes and I have my own. At times, we get too absorbed with our phones. But, there is one thing that we don’t forget to do every night- put down our phones.

The key to a successful relationship is not a fairytale made in heaven but simply communicating with each other. Every single night as we put down our phones, we talk about practically everything. We discuss our differences, laugh at silly things, plan for the future, and sometimes just simply affirm our love for each other. Putting down our phones gives us the time to completely focused on each other.

More than two years of having no other means of communications but through phones, we learned that now we are finally together, the best way to communicate is when we put our phones down.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

I Got a New Job!

Starting anew can be quite scary. This is especially true when you are starting thousand miles away from your home for decades and you need to untangle yourself from things you got used to. However, there is always an assurance that I am not circumscribed by the past. I am free to define what I want to happen in the future. Whatever I have achieved before, I can work hard to attain the same feats even if I need to start from scratch.

Finally, after more than two months, I received my SSS card last Wednesday and it means, I could look for a job. Immediately, I sent an application online and after an hour, I got a call for an interview. I had flu after that so I never really had any time to worry or thought about it.

The meeting with the program coordinator last Monday reminded me of what I love about teaching. Her questions brought me into reminiscences of the past and affirming that what I worked hard for was not in vain (I am writing a different blog about this). I was told that by the end of this week, I would hear from them once they’re done interviewing the other applicants.

A day after my interview, I received the call confirming I got the job. And this morning, I signed everything including stacks of tax papers. It may not be as lucrative as the job that I had before but it is a really good start. After all, every single journey that I have embarked on, I’ve always learned something new. That makes the journey more special!

So, yay to the good news! I got my first job here in the US!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Beauty, Intelligence and Respect

I love Facebook. It is probably one of the attestations that the world has evolved into completely new paradigm socially, economically and politically. However, I cringe in disappointment whenever I encounter posts that hurl vicious words against an individual. Sadly, when it comes to intellectual discourse some people opt to stoop to the lowest level of character assassination and using spiteful words instead of addressing and discussing the real issues and suggesting solutions.

Maxine Medina’s rise to fame is glumly not just because she is representing the Philippines in the Miss Universe pageant but because of the circulation of her videos answering questions. Her beauty and confidence are clearly manifested the way she projects herself on camera. However, thousands of comments ruthlessly attacked the way she answered the questions. I understand.

The beauty queen has distinctly a problem with expressing her thoughts in English. Nonetheless, stooping down to the level of insulting her complete being will never be justified. Calling her names does not address the real issue. It is not her problem that she won the title to represent the Philippines. Yes, she has the responsibilities to ensure that the country is well represented during the contest, but it should not come at the expense of insults and totally being disrespected in the process. Judging from what her coaches stated, she worked hard to improve. There were many beauty queens who won the title using their native language. Most importantly, you cannot judge a person’s intelligence solely on how she answers one or two questions orally.

Some of us have become callous individuals who prey on the weakness of others. Let us bear in mind what Berg once said, “Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity. We can choose to use this force constructively with words of encouragement, or destructively using words of despair. Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate and to humble.” Or in this case, to show respect.


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