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Indonesian Society Abroad Juni 3, 2008

Posted by finallywoken in Being Expat.

When we land in our host country, one of the first things we do is to find and make new friends. And no matter how fluent we speak the foreign language, most of us will be glad if we could meet up with other Indonesians. It would be very easy to do so in cities like Singapore (half of the country population is Indonesians anyway) or Perth, or cities with historical link to Indonesia like Amsterdam, where everywhere we turn we practically could bump into another Indonesian.

But what if we live in not-so-popular country, like me, for example, who happen to live in Aberdeen, Scotland?

If we are students, it would be easier to meet other Indonesians since there are Indonesian student societies everywhere in the world. But if we work or run our own business, we don’t have associations like British Chamber of Commerce and we are only able to meet other Indonesians by word of mouth, or through social networking websites.

Having no one to ask to, we certainly will turn to Indonesian Embassy in our adopted country. Most of them will list PPI (Perhimpunan Pelajar Indonesia) and religious communities. But rather than that, nothing.

I think Indonesian Embassies should take one step forward and be more active to gather Indonesians all over the countries, and not only focus on big cities. They should have a special section where Indonesian Societies could register their organizations, even if that community is only “arisan”.

In the mean time, to broaden our network around the world, below is the list of expat links I could find so far:

If you come across similar sites, please let me know so I could build a database.



1. the writer - Juni 7, 2008

Call me snobbish (LOL) but I don’t feel myself fitted in the Indonesian communities here. Enough said about what the kind of things they do here but it’s damn difficult for me to find a “perfectly normal” Indonesian here to be friend with.

Even the Indonesian student I know here is a bit….um…special.
So, I’d rather be friends with people around the world rather than spending time hunting a friend from home country.

2. Domba Garut! - Juni 8, 2008

Yeah, I know that feeling.. and it’s not only us as Indonesian, some Philippinos I know well have had the same predicament. Perhaps it’s just those kind of people that put off other good people to befriended with..

I guess I am lucky enough to mix and mingle perfectly with the folks here.. I guess since it’s a post-conflict setting that made the bonding better and faster 🙂

Nice to have found this blog and kind regards from Liberia, the jewel of West Africa.

3. finallywoken - Juni 8, 2008

@The Writer: not everyone is like you. I personally don’t really care whether I have Indonesian friends or not, but others do tend to mingle with other Indonesians only (remember my post Hang Out with Fellow Indonesians?). So far what I’ve observed, they (or we) find other Indonesians through a friend of a friend of a friend. Our embassy doesn’t really care about us – as far as their concern, if you’re not a diplomat or a student, you’re capable of taking care of themselves. But there are cases like having their mum travel by themselves to visit beloved children, and it’s handy if you know other Indonesians who happen to going back at the same time (mind you, perhaps other mums have traveled around the world and don’t need assistance, but your umm.. ‘unique’ friends might have mums who perhaps never even set their foot onto the plane, let alone capable of engaging a conversation with custom officer).

So I think our embassies should be more proactive to list Indonesians in their respective countries.

@Luigi: nice to have you visiting us. Hope you have a good time in Liberia!

4. the writer - Juni 9, 2008

@finally woken: yup i know that not all people like me, like you said, most indonesians prefer to hang out together. the thing is that our embassy is actually pretty good in gathering all these indonesians. We have tons of events and even “arisan” thingie. I, however, showed up once at those events only to be bombarded by *want-to-know-aje* questions and scanned from top to toe (i think they can apply for jobs at the anti-drug squad in the airport – because they way they look at you make you want to pee in your pants) and dismissed me once they found that i was not carrying any major designer label somewhere on me.

so, i simply decide that they don’t fit me, or i don’t fit them, whichever you prefer 🙂

5. Finally Woken - Juni 9, 2008

Yeah, but again, they only do that in capital cities, so people like me who live far away from them don’t get the same attention, let alone invitation! :P.

That’s why what I think they should be more proactive, think beyond their nice city and office, realize that there are other people who live outside capital cities.

6. mukuge - Juni 10, 2008

There are definitely Indonesian who live outside capital cities. Most of my Indonesian friends (counting out people at the embassy) live outside London. I met most of them through previous networks I built in Indonesia… so-and-so’s son, so-and-so’s son’s friend, so-and-so’s colleague and the likes.

Sometimes a random approach works too. I’ve met an Indonesian at university’s computer lab (she noted the carry-bag I used and took a stab at introducing herself), another one whilst shopping in a department store, and another in a supermarket. Social networking sites could also help re-establish contact with long-lost friends who had moved around the world… they might be just a suburb away!

I’ve never been involved much in the ‘arisan’ scheme of things, partly because I’m not too inclined (bothered?) to go to the embassy (or the ambassador’s residence in some cases). I simply find my lack of inclination to be worrying at times.

7. Lorraine - Juni 10, 2008

Hi there,

I recognize this posting very well but this situation is not particularly for indonesian living abroad. A Dutch friend of mine who lives in Bangkok told me the same situation as described above within Dutch expats there. I believe hanging around with your fellow countrymen when living abroad is a longing to compensate what you left behind in your country.

I do gather with several Indonesians Ladies on regular basis (once/2 months) but refuse to participate with the arisan thing. Honestly, I come to see them to be able to hear my native language being spoken & of course for the food :-).

I agree with you Anita that our embassies don’t care of its citizens besides when you’re a student or diplomat or even living in the same city where the embassy is located. I was once not treated well when applying for a new passport in our KBRI in Den Haag.

As for Indonesians who still don’t speak the language of the country they’re living, too many examples to mention. Most of these people are married with men who worked in Indonesia and speak the bahasa Indonesia very well, perhaps it is lack of motivation?

One thing I don’t really like is the social controle fellow indonesians practice within the society. When you are a bit different than the rest, you don’t belong to the ‘group’ anymore, this to name an example. Or the obligation for the husbands/boy friends to come along to events (mine prefers not to), otherwise it is considered weird as a married woman to come alone. I can go on and on with many examples but I leave it at this point.

I love to keep my contact with the Indonesian Society this way. It suits me well.

8. M - Juni 10, 2008

Lorraine said:

“When you are a bit different than the rest, you don’t belong to the ‘group’ anymore, this to name an example”

mulia says: waaaaa….this is so true..But a lot of us do this unconsciously.

9. andiesummerkiss - Juni 12, 2008

I agree with some of the comments above. We just need to strike a balance. We already take the bold step to move away from the country, it doesn’t make sense to form our own “Little Indonesia” and ignore the rest of the foreign community. I realize that it happens quite a lot. Although a little bit of arisan ala indo wouldn’t hurt anybody, but it would be nice if everybody makes a bit of an effort to join other communities and step off the comfort zone. 🙂

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