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Expat Tells All

Share your experience of living overseas here. Submit your confessions of being an expatriate here. If you’re not sure what to tell, just follow the format below.



1. Finally Woken - Januari 26, 2008

Current Location:
Scotland, United Kingdom

Other Countries Lived In:

Stories to tell:
This is the first time I live in a 4 seasons country. I have never experienced real winter, as in Sydney you call it cold when it hits below 20 degrees Celcius and people start wearing hats, scarfs and gloves. But so far I’ve managed to survive!

So what’s your story?

2. Maggie Carson - Januari 27, 2008

Hi Anita!

Well, you’d probably known my story already. I’m not too sure how much I’ll end up contribute to this web-blog-site. Anyhow… my stories followed :

Current location :
WIltshire, United Kingdom

Other countries I lived in :
Netherland (Amsterdam), Australia (Sydney), Singapore

I also had lived in Newcastle (North-East of England), and Bath (South-West). They’re both are great place to be in, for different reasons – one is so modern and the other one brought you back to Georgian time! My husband was born and bred in this beautiful town.

I have spent most of my adult life being overseas (13 years to date!) – not too sure what’s going on in Indonesia anymore. I’ve been in England for almost 5 years now – working and raising family. I was in Australia for 8 years before then – mainly studying (and partying).

I do still think Indonesian cuisine is the best one in the world! I had sample so many others, obviously. Unfortunately, England is not the easiest place to find your ingredients if you want to cook any Indonesian, especially not if you’re living away from London (and I’m only 1 hour away!). BTW, the best Chinese restaurant in England is located in Newcastle. It’s called Mangoes, and you can find it easily in Newcastle’s Chinatown if you happened to be around.

Where I am at the moment is in leafy rural area of WIltshire, surrounded by loads of tourist attractions e.g. Stonehenge and Avebury (both are circular stone formations); and Bath with its famous Roman Bath Spa, is only 45 mins driveaway.

I shall leave you with these stories now – not too sure if this is the right place for them but you could advise me otherwise.

3. Anna Madden - Januari 31, 2008


I met my husband in my hometown Semarang in 1997. He was an English teacher and I was a student at the same school. He took the job because he thought Indonesia was an island country with a lot of beautiful beaches. He thought Semarang must have some beautiful beaches as well where he could live on. Anyway, although it wasn’t what he expected (Semarang doesn’t have beaches), at least he met his future wife there … hahahaa…

We got married in 1999 in Semarang with a traditional Javanese wedding. Gus’s family came except John, his oldest brother. We decided to move to Jakarta and after two years living there, we moved to US in 2002.

We lived in Gus’s parents house temporarily. Benny was 1 month old and we circumcised him as soon we got to the US. Actually it was a bit late. Usually they do that when the baby is 2 to 3 days old. I think this is a good idea, because it heals quickly and Benny will never remember it.

After a year, we moved to our own house about 45 minutes from Gus’s parents house. It’s in the middle of nowhere. It doesn’t have anything. Boooriiiing!!! But after a while, I kinda like it. It’s peaceful actually.

I didn’t have friends at that time. Luckily my neighbor told me about a mom’s club in town. Since then I have a lot of American friends. I was introduced with my first Indo friend through Gus’s father’s friend who had an Indonesian employee. From her I started to know other Indonesians from their organization: Permias (Persatuan Mahasiswa Indonesia di Amerika Serikat).

Here is a list of my experiences:
– Join with Mom’s Club in my town:
It gives me a lot of information about important and fun things, such as: toy recalls, medicine recalls, website about sex offenders who live in your area, mom’s night out, etc.
– When I was pregnant with my daughter, Thia, my Ob-Gyn gave me important information about mercury in fish and shellfish.
– Found that FDA is recommending that over-the-counter cold and cough medicines not be used to treat infants and children under two years of age because serious and life- threatening side effects can occur.
– Almost never complain about internet connection (wicked fast!).
– Make a will, so you are ready with everything.
– It costs about $100 when I need a professional person to fix something. I know it’s ridiculous, isn’t it ?!
– Everything has a law. Everyone doesn’t mind to be in line. Awesome!
– No traffic and everyone obeys the rules of the road. I get used to with this situation, so every time I go to Indo I am scared to death with its traffic.
– Need to have a 4 wheel drive car if you live in 4 seasons area. It’s expensive but it’s worth it especially for driving in the snow.
– Learned to cook American and Italian food from my mother in-law, food tv network, internet, and magazines.
– Still learning to cook Indonesian food though (I didn’t cook when I lived in Indo).
– Need to practice my English more often 😉
– My husband got me a GPS (Global Positioning System) because my sense of direction is very bad.
– My teeth are cleaned every 6 month…yay…
– Have learned to ice-skate and will take ski lesson next time.
– There are two Asian stores in other town, but both of them sell just a few of Indonesian ingredients 😦
– Manicure is about $25, pedicure is about $35, massage is about $60, cut and blow dry are about $35-$40. I have tried them all, but it’s expensive isn’t it (they’re not including tips). I remember six years ago in Indo I did those stuff often for very cheap even though in a very fancy spa. Good bye my glory time! … hahaha…

If you want to know more about me, you can visit my website:


4. >Lisa - Februari 12, 2008

Here goes my story.
Current Location: Paris (well southeastern suburb of paris)
Hometown: Jakarta

I moved to Paris in 1998 to look for job opportunities while I kept myself busy with my french course (back then I’ve learnt

french for over 6 years in jakarta yet I had difficulties following people’s conversation or simply watching tv). My sis who

has settled a couple years earlier, kindly let me stay in her small apartement (the smallest I ever been, 9 or 11 m2!). In

the mean time, to earn some extra money, I also did some baby sit in the afternoon. The next year I started to look for jobs

seriously. Here, you can come to a job fair where companies have their stand and you can drop your cv to one of the

recruiter. Even better, you could have a quick interview. So I prepared two dozens cv in french and in english and started

queing in stands like everybody. I was more focus on multinational co. since I was holding a student visa and I presume a

multinational co. is used to deal with foreign workers and their paperwork.
I must say that I was lucky at that time there were not much restrictions for foreign workers than there are now. After few

reject letters, I was entitled to some interviews. Oh by the way I am in telecommuncations business. After 4 interviews, I

finally got this job (I’m still at this co. since 1999!). I remember, I was soooo happy that when my manager (the recruiter)

said to me some numbers (salary) I didn’t say a word because it was way above my expectations!
So I started my new job, I was so excited. I was very open and always go to others. But I learnt a precious lesson, here in

France, you don’t make friends with collegues. You can get close with some but never ask personal questions. You don’t hang

out with them. There is a thin line… a barrier. I was so unhappy at the first, I miss my ex-collegues in jakarta (hi

ericsson girls!) where we went out in group for lunch or shopping in PIM. Little by little I got used to the “rule” and I

managed to have real friends at work. Oh… one thing, mastering english is a plus here, I’m proudly say that I speak english

better than my everage french collegues. But hey, I’m getting this french accent in my english… help! In my co. there are

many nationalities. In my own division (Wireless Network Engineering), there are more pretty much “non french” employees: we

have a turkish, an algerian, a tunisian,a morrocan, an ivorian, a romanian, an indonesian (me), a south korean and 7 others

are french. Voilà a little bit about my job hunting and work life.
I just want to add something, that I learnt an important value since I live here. Dignity labor is exist. What I mean that

whatever your job is, you will not be considered less here. You won’t be ashamed to say that you are a bus driver, a plumber.

Even a plumber or a locksmith could make money better than an engineer like me.

Housing is a real problem here. Renting a flat is sooo expensive in Paris (it concerns as well big cities like Lyon, Marseille or other cities in the southern), not to mention buying it. Just to give you a picture, my niece paid 525 euro for a 25m² studio. I don’t know if you can imagine that you can find apartement as small as 9 m² or less, even with a share bathroom (yaks!). It was a culture shock for me coming from a big family with a big house where every one have their own room. But if you are willing to live in greater Paris (like my husband and I did) you can have more space for the same amount of money.

Public transportation
Paris has one of the best metro system in the world. It’s really easier to take public transportation than your car. You won’t find a park space easily and the underground parking hall is expenssive (example: 12 euro for 5 hours). Parking in the street costs about less than 2 euro/hour but you can not stay more than 2 hours.
TGV (high speed train) is also an advantage (except for the price) to get from one city to other cities in Europe in a very short time.

That’s it for now, I may add some in the future.

5. mementoes - Februari 13, 2008

Current location :
West Midlands, England, United Kingdom

Other countries I lived in :
France (Paris and Vichy)

Stories to tell:
I first came to England in 2003 as a student. I took a master degree at the Leeds University. I had an absolute great time studying, living in a tiny student flat with other postgrad students, partying with fellow international students and having hands-on experience in understanding the real British culture of binge drinking (this is a really serious problem, people!)

After I handed in my dissertation, I knew that it isn’t easy for international students to get a job in the UK after graduation, unless your background study is either transport engineering, medicine or other specific areas in which the UK is lack of specialists. Not to mention the tight competition with local (UK students) and those who come from the EU countries.

Within a couple months awaiting for my graduation, I experienced a change of goal-setting from wanting to work in the UK so badly to thinking, “Oh well, prolly going back to Indonesia isn’t that bad.”
Fortunately the lady luck was on my side. I was offered a job exactly the day before my graduation ceremony and my (then) future employer was willing to sponsor me the work permit!

So here I am now… 4.5 years after I landed at Leeds/Bradford International Airport as a student, now living in the West Midlands, still working with the same employer, enjoying what I do and my life here (which I personally think it’s the most important thing to be sure about when you decide to live abroad), still getting amused every single time when people call me an expat! LOL.

Since I used to live in Leeds and I quite often travel to Birmingham and London, anyone who wants/needs to know some info about the aforementioned places, you’re welcome to contact me. Also, my British mates have frequently told me that I travel on the UK trains more than anyone they know, so I can give some tips or two on travelling in the UK by trains 🙂

I can’t say much about the period when I lived in France because I was only 5 that time. LOL.
I’ve been back to the country a few times when I got older, but apart from asking for directions and buying metro tickets, I’m afraid my French speaking skill is just deadly embarrassing!

6. santi d - September 14, 2008

Current Location:
Munich, Germany

Other Countries Lived In:
The Netherlands, Syria, USA, Indonesia

Stories to tell:
As a daughter of a diplomat, I grew up in Wassenaar (NL), Damascus (Syria) and Jakarta (Indonesia).

I spent the last year of my elementary school, junior and senior high schools and my college years in Jakarta. In my early 20s, I was following some English and Law courses in New Orleans for 6 months. During my univ years in Jakarta, I worked part-time as a piano and English teacher, and was elected None Jakarta 1997 (hard to believe … as I was and still am very ‘tomboy’, LOL). After I got my bachelor, I worked for awhile in a law firm in Jakarta before winning a scholarship to get a master in law in Amsterdam, NL. I met my husband (a Frenchman) over there, got married in Jakarta and returned living in Amsterdam.

While my husband was finishing his PhD, I worked as a legal adviser in a bank for 4 years. Our eldest son was born in Holland, three months before my husband’s career relocated us to Chicago, USA. I decided to become a stay-home-mom and began my research on multilingualism, multiculturalism and global nomadism. Chicago was also the place where my daughter was born. After 4 years living in the US, we moved again. This time to Munich, Germany, the city we are now living.

I guess I’ve been spending most of my life outside Indonesia. What I feel is, the longer I live abroad, the more I love my country.

7. Fida Abbott - Oktober 13, 2008

Being Expatriate who lives in USA was never in my desire. But this is a life that we never know what is happened in our future life especially if we talk about our soulmate.

Having many friends from abroad were always excited. Many new things I could learn from them, but having a serious relationship with someone from different country was more excited and the most challenging.

After many things to do to propose the fiancee visa, from many immunitations that took around one year, medical check up and interview, I was sure my fiancee was the one person who would be my husband soon.

I felt my tears when the airplane took off from Surabaya Airport, Juanda. At that time I realized that I would be so far with my family dan my best friends. But I had one giant faith, that HE would never leave me alone. If He gave me him to be my future husband, then I would never has a doubt at all to give my whole life in His hands to live and share my life with my soulmate.

When the first time I stepped my feet on the USA earth, I knew there were many challenges I would face. I had been ready since I started knowing that my fiance (my husband) told me that he had sent all the fiance visa application to INS in USA and had been approved and they sent them to US Embassy in Jakarta.

What the first impression I had at my arrival was the rule how to get on the line when I had to report at the non US citizen arrival centre and should to meet an INS officer to give a big envelope of my private informations from US Embassy in Jakarta to her. I felt really nervous but everything was just fine.

The second impression was the weather. Although at that time was in August (summer) but it was still chilly for me when the evening came.

On the 3rd month, exactly on October 5th, 2002 we had simple wedding ceremony at our apartement and just some close friends and members of family attended. There were no family and friends from my site. I wish someday if God permits I will have a special traditional wedding ceremony in Indonesia. The special thing from this wedding was most of the food for our wedding celebration was the food that I cooked myself. Everybody loved them. Batik was our theme for our wedding dress although I had prepared a special modern-traditional weeding gown for myself that I brought from Indonesia. Sonny Raji was my designer I put my trust on him to design my wedding gown. It was so beautiful. One day I’m sure I’ll wear it with our second vote in front of the the Priest as God representative on the earth.

Enjoying in playing on the snow was my 3rd impression. One thing I ever remembered, every Christmas came in Indonesia, I heard or I sang ‘I am dreaming of a white Christmas’ was trully happened. What a funny things I heard from my husband. He said, “How can Indoensian sing that song while they never have snow in their country?” I replied him, “It means the white christmas, white snow from their heart.” (he, he….just a joke).

What is other impressions things?? Many. From the kind of food they eat, the way how they pay the bills, the body posture they have are much bigger and fatter than mine. That is why most of the people think I am still a tenager. I think because of how younger I look, slim and small body I have.

Being expatriate for more than 6 years in USA till right now, I still learn many new things. Life is learning, so I will never stop to learn many things in the new earth I life. I enjoy every different staff I face, like and dislike. My life is colorful, that is why there are many different and opposite things I always face and experience. Being expatriate in a super power country can be a great challanging in my whole life. Happy? Yes, because I am with my lovely family. Sad? Yes, because I am thousands miles away from my family and my best friends. Enjoy? Yes, everything I do, I always enjoy it. Life is to be enjoyed, bad or good, sad or happy.

8. Fida Abbott - Oktober 13, 2008

Hi Anita,
Just an additional comment that the final editing for my writing/comment above I have posted at my recent posting at http://fidaabbott.blogspot.com/2008/10/giveaway-of-year-being-expatriate.html

Just in case if you would like to forward this comment/writting for new upcoming Indonesian Expatriates Forum’s Blog.

Have nice day!

9. Andy - Januari 12, 2010

I wish I could go abroad. Im fully indonesian and want to study abroad, anywhere. Im working on it. Can anyone give me suggestion for that matter, i mean for the country i should come. Oya, check whether my blog needs more improvements…visit http://www.indotraveltips.blogspot.com. Thank you..

10. Stesreorb - Maret 4, 2010

GrEeTiNgS, indonesianexpat.wordpress.com!

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