I am not going to lie to anyone and I’m not being a hypocrite. I do enjoy living abroad, despite cultural and language differences, despite being a minority, and many other things. I don’t care about those people who have accused me of being unpatriotic towards my own country! Talk about whatever you want; you won’t understand it until you experience it yourself! I am already used to living in a country where everything is convenient, safe, and clean. I can find a park and just walk or relax there on my own to ease my mind. I can go to a public library and read or borrow some books. I can walk along the river. I can cycle for hours with no difficulties. I can travel without being stuck in a traffic for hours. I can pamper myself and have a real quality time without ever going to a mall AND spending a cent of money. I can live modestly and nobody brags about my choice of living, my old gadgets, my old fashioned style, and how much money I have! My life goes not too fast, yet not too slow. I feel great, everyone feels great, I love it.
Well, I only lived in Indonesia once in my entire life and that wasn’t long enough: three years, compared to 21 years I’ve lived abroad. I was there to attend high school, and even then I refused to be put in the “normal” school. I wanted to enrol in the boarding school so that I could have peace in mind. Now I am 24 years old. I’ve dreamt about living abroad til I get married, have kids, and send them to the best schools; but the more I thought about it, the more I felt that these dreams were too far to be reached. Not that they are not possible. They are possible if I insist on following them. But I guess, I have been following my own desire and needs for a long time that it’s now the time for me to follow the desire of other people; my own family.
My parents always have this dream of going back for good. They’ve been working very hard to ensure that their children’s needs and education are fulfilled, so it’s time for them to enjoy their life. I am already out of their responsibility. And soon my sister will follow, insya Allah. Then, there’s my brother who will attend college in 3 years time. By the time my brother finishes his degree (or even before that happens), I bet the time for my family to go back for good arrives. It’ll happen anytime soon. So, I think my mom wants me to settle in Indonesia first and handle some issues so that by the time my parents go back, everything has been taken care of. This will hopefully make them a lot easier to settle.
At one point, I feel honoured to be trusted to take care of these family issues. But on the other hand, I feel challenged and even scared to go back and not being able to leave again. Let’s just face it, if I work in Indonesia, I don’t think I’ll be able to afford travelling abroad again. That’s what I’m worried about. I won’t be able to see the outside world again. I’m going to miss out some of the exciting opportunities that are available. I am gonna have to give up on a lot of things, including my favourite chocolate spread Nutella! Hehehe 😛 (it’s bloody expensive in Jakarta!!) And… I have to adapt again in a city where disciplines don’t matter anymore and where my patience will be tested.
But then… I ask myself: why does it matter so much? True, I might miss some of the great opportunities abroad, but aren’t there great opportunities too inside my own country? And how about travelling? Well, Indonesia has a lot of things to offer, so there’s nothing I’ll be missing out in terms of exploring, right? I also feel like I have been an alien in my own country because I wasn’t raised and grew up in Indonesia. Isn’t this a great chance for me get to know my country better?
If you know me for quite some time or you’re a reader of this blog, you probably know already that I was very much a career-oriented person. I used to dream of working in a well-known IT company and going up to the corporate ladder. Although my goal was to be successful, I wanted to earn a lot of money so that I could travel and save them for my future life. But now, money doesn’t concern me anymore (at least for now, it might be a different story when I’m married, for example). I’m sure I’d be pretty contented as long as I have money for foods, a place to stay, and fun. Having a career and working in a top company isn’t my main goal right now. I just want to have a decent yet exciting life… and of course, I want to get married (ok, I still have to find the guy first hahaha) and have kids. Hmm… but I do feel sad though, that my kids wouldn’t have the privilege of growing up in another country like I had.
Am I ready to go back? Honestly, I will never be ready. Jakarta is the least place I want to be right now. Or even in few years time. The traffic jams, the noise, the pollution, the trash, you name it! Besides, I am a person who values life so much. I want to enjoy living as much as possible. Because when this is fulfilled, everything else seems to follow, including my relation with Allah SWT. I don’t want my life every day spent in the office and traffic! I wanna slow down. I wanna enjoy it. I want to have a balance between work, social, spiritual, and family life. I want to feel that I’ve achieved something or have done something meaningful and exciting every day. Life in Jakarta is too chaotic and busy that it’s hard for me to find a time for myself. At least, that’s what I felt when I was there.
Not to mention that there is nothing that Jakarta can offer me except malls, cafés, restaurants, or any other places that require my wallet to burst. I remember that I had been to the National Library when I was in high school but I was EXTREMELY disappointed by its services and facilities. Can you imagine that they didn’t provide online or digital searching of their book collections?!?! It was still done in a very traditional way — going through a huge chunk of catalogues and indexes sorted alphabetically. The books that they had there were quite awful. And the fact that we couldn’t go “inside” to see the book itself irritated me (I had to give the title of the books to the officer there and he would find it for me). I don’t know if it has been improved or not. Well, it’s been 7 years already! They should have done something significant!! Yes, this was indeed our National Library. How about the public library?!?! Are there any public libraries in town?? In a country like Australia and Netherlands, the public library is not only about providing books (to be accessible) to the general public, but it’s also a meeting point for some people, a place for children to play + read books, and a place to relax. I, myself, really love to go to these libraries. I could borrow some non-academic books (from non-fiction to novels) with low price and sometimes even relax to have a cup of coffee there. It’s a great place to study too! Anyone knows good public libraries in Jakarta? So far I only know a small bookshop/library in Kemang, called Limma Bookstore. I used to frequently borrow some English books over there when I was still in high school and they had quite good and recent collections. If any of you knows the kind of similar libraries, please do let me know 🙂 .
And how about clean parks? Clean river? Will I never see any ducks or swans wondering around the city parks anymore?!? Tell me, where in this town I can walk peacefully, breathing fresh air with trees surrounding me? Do I really need to escape to Puncak every time I want some fresh air? It irritates me. I was thinking, maybe I should just move to Puncak altogether; after all, almost 60% of my time in Indonesia are usually spent in Puncak. I thought about living in other city or even in another island. But I haven’t thought about it very well because I’m still not familiar with everything happened in my own country. Plus, all my families are in Jakarta. So, no matter what, I need to start everything in Jakarta.
But I guess, all of these are part of the challenges. I have to face them and try to find ways to enjoy myself in a city I barely know. No matter how crappy Jakarta is, I can’t deny the fact that the city is part of my identity. I have to get used to it. I know I can. If I could do it 10 years ago when I started my high school, I’m sure I can do it now. This reminds me of a friend of mine, Asti, who had been abroad for most of her life (ranging from the Philippines, UK, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, and Australia! Hff, what a girl! 😀 ) and now she’s back for good; working in a multinational company in Jakarta and who would have thought that she has the chance to travel extensively for her work?!? I’m sure she has some ups and downs living in Jakarta (as written on her blog too!), but she can cope with it and still survives hehehe. Asti, I definitely want some tips from you! 🙂 See you soon in Jakarta or in some other places!
Can anyone perhaps suggest me a good place to hang out (certainly not malls/cafés/ restaurants!) or interesting activities that I can do in Jakarta? Visiting museums is what I have in my mind right now, but I don’t know if these museums update or change their collections every few months or so. Most museums abroad, for example, Van Abbe Museum here in Eindhoven, have different activities and collections every few months so people can go there few times a year. I have been to Museum of Bank Indonesia and I was pretty impressed (I was there for only 15 mins though, they were closing). I have also been to Fine Art & Ceramic Museum (Museum Seni Rupa dan Keramik) and to be honest I was very much disappointed to see its collections that were not taken care of (full of dusts and everything!) and the lack of collections to be displayed, although its building was massive! The museum was quite nasty too! Seriously, we are a rich country with a rich culture and arts… why didn’t this museum represent that?!?!
To wrap up this post, I guess everyone will ask me the question: when will I go back for good? I don’t know. I need to finish my study first (which I am currently struggling about) and work in the Netherlands for a year. After that, there’s a great chance that I’ll be going back to the beautiful Indonesia. Whether or not I’ll end up in Indonesia, I have to be ready from now on. Let’s just pray for the best. And let’s see where the future brings me.