The Idea of Going Back for Good

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 πŸ˜› (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, cafΓ©s, 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 πŸ™‚ .

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! πŸ˜€ ) 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! πŸ™‚ See you soon in Jakarta or in some other places!

Can anyone perhaps suggest me a good place to hang out (certainly not malls/cafΓ©s/ 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.


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17 Responses

  • going back is always more difficult than going away – at least for me it was.

    i would say that you should follow your heart. if you feel indonesia is not for you i am sure your parents would respect those feelings.

    no harm in giving indo a roll tho eh? : )

  • amellie

    john: well, I’ve been thinking about it for quite long and “my parents” are only one of many reasons (the other reasons can’t be mentioned here πŸ˜€ ). so I really need to go back πŸ™‚ whether I like it or not. Going back is not a big of a problem I think; but going back to Jakarta is! But anyway, I wanna give it a try though… πŸ˜‰ and my heart says so too! This post is just about those things I’ll be complaining about if I end up living there πŸ˜€ .

  • Amin.. πŸ™‚

    In the end, we can only pray for your well being. Where ever you will end up at. Just remember that you’re not alone. Many of your blog reader and friends are here in Jakarta. And I’m sure all of us would be happy to help.

  • amellie

    imansyah: thank you!! I’ll make sure I’ll remember that and bother you hahaha πŸ™‚

  • I am sure eventually you will love living in Indonesia as much as living abroad πŸ™‚

    For me, Amalia, no matter how comfortable it is to live in a clean, safe environment outside Indonesia, i can’t wait to go back home. I wish i could be more like you, enjoying everything as much as possible.

  • I guess this one will apply for you :
    “It’s a funny thing about comin’ home. Looks the same, smells the same, feels the same. You’ll realize what’s changed is you.” (Benjamin Button)


  • amellie

    batari: Thank you! πŸ™‚ I think what makes it different is that I grew up and lived in Jeddah for 10 or more years, so I regarded Jeddah as my home. It’s true that no matter how much I hate the country, I always long to come back. Indonesia is more like where my identity lies in. I feel a great sense of belonging when I’m there, but I don’t feel truly connected as I didn’t live there for quite long.

    But I’d love to try it πŸ™‚ and yes I think I’ll eventually love living there as much as living abroad!

  • H

    You don’t sound very different from the Indonesians who’ve lived in Saudi, the ones you mentioned here. If gets all that bad, make me a call. I’d be glad to try cheer you up from the misery of having to degrade back to your original country. πŸ™‚

  • amellie

    Hning: yes, I’m afraid I’m not πŸ™ I thought I’ve changed, but in fact I havent haha. Sad, isn’t it? LOL. But I’m fixing it. Gonna have to πŸ˜‰ Btw thanks for visiting!

  • Samuel Louvan

    Hehehe posting-an yang menarik Mel. Bagiku sih bukan keputusan mudah tuh.
    Walau aku jg udah ngambil keputusan tetep aja gak 100 % yakin. Pas mbalik
    ke Belanda rasanya sedih jg membayangkan wah nanti gak bisa terbang pake
    SQ lagi hehehe, gak bisa jalan2 lagi, gak bisa kerja 9 to 5 lagi etc.

    Yah ikuti passion-mu dimana gitu Mel, kata Steve Jobs sih jangan settle down sebelom kamu ndapetin apa yng bener2 kmu inginkan. Dengan begitu hidupmu lebih
    bermakna hehehe.

    Just my two cents πŸ˜‰

  • amellie

    Sam: Makasih byk Sam udah ngingetin πŸ™‚ Indeed, bukan keputusan yg mudah. Kirain cm aku aja, ternyata kmu yg emang dibesarkan di Indo begitu juga! Hehe. Let’s reach our dreams, shall we? πŸ˜‰ Tetap semangat sam!!!

  • you know who me are

    Dearest Amel,

    juat for your remedy, who says that working in indo will make u broke till u cant afford traveling abroad and buy nutella? hahaha..kasian amat.

    i got paid very well without sacrificing my idealism. i cud have traveled to asia countries every month or travel to europe every second months..if i did not save for my own wedding..hahaha.

    and u r an IT girl, they’ll pay you too much! a friend of mine works in IBM and got paid like at least 30 million rupiah per month excluding bonuses. BLAH! another friend establish his own IT company and married and have a child and traveling all the time and enjoying his life too much.

    so get rid of the financial aspect on why u dont wana come back.

    focus on the polution and psikosocial problem. because of that, i dont suggest u to come back. hahahaha

    the thing is, indonesian enjoy too much living in indonesia. and this is bad..u know. smart people like u shud be making profit for the country by living abroad. like the indians..u know..

    we are so over populated here, but as well in the neds. so go back to australia or live in malaysia or singapore. choose to work in a laid back high profit company, get well paid, live happy and visit jakarta for once in every month or so. i am sure u can afford that. u can also call them every day or come back home anytime needed.

    kikikikkkk…now i am regulating ur life..kikikikkkk..

  • amellie

    thank youuu “you know who me are” for the comments πŸ™‚

    this reminds me of a friend of mine who once said that “if you wanna go back, make sure you don’t find a job, rather you create a job!” πŸ™‚

    I think it’s a good idea to live in a nearby country so that I can go back anytime I want πŸ™‚

    Errr… I’ll think about that later! hihihi.. thanks again πŸ˜‰

  • Ajeng

    Hi! Just wondering.. It has been a few years since you posted this. What happened next? Are you living in Indo? I’m actually having pretty much the same problem. I have been wondering whether or not going back to Indonesia for good. I’ve been living abroad for 4 years and getting a permanent contract is actually giving me the opportunity to actually stay here long-term.. Maybe you have some insights? Thanks πŸ™‚

    • amellie

      Hi Ajeng! Good question! I’m still living abroad, currently in KL now. I’m still hesitating to go back for good up until this day. I think it’d be great if I could just blog about it. Treat it as a follow up of this blog post. Stay tuned πŸ™‚

  • la vie en rose

    Hi dear, been in your shoes. Lived abroad half of my life but once u’re settled with a family on your own then anywhere will be home, as long as love is there. Try Bandung, u’ll love it. Not far from J-Town so u can still visit your family. Smaller town so less traffic jam, greenery in city… Welcome back!

  • come here to find something that can motivate me and find the reason why should I go back to Indonesia

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