To fully enjoy living in a country like Indonesia
you need the ability to quickly adapt. On their first visit to
Asia many will experience a cultural shock, absolutely everything
is different. A cultural shock is not just a way of speech, but
can be quite real for most of us living in a new country. It will
not appear right after the move as many may believe, for the first
1-2 months everything will seem new, exciting and charming. In the
next phase all that used to be charming turns into a source of
irritation. An absolute low will often occur after 4-5 months,
when stress, frustration and irritation may create a big problem.
However this will in most cases improve when you learn to know the
local conditions, language and culture, you will most likely adapt
a more realistic and harmonic relation to your new surroundings
after a year. By learning about the language, culture and society
in advance you can shorten the duration of this period
considerably, or even totally eliminate it.
In Indonesia you will often meet a different logic and sense of
time, the Indonesians themselves have an expression called 'jam
karet', which can be translated into 'rubber time'. An agreed time
for an appointment or delivery can be stretched into the future
like a rubber string. On the other hand this doesn't mean that
people don't care, the job will be done, it's just a matter of
time and patience. Religion plays a major part in this country,
about 90 percent of the inhabitants are Muslims and take their
prayer and religious ceremonies seriously, you can forget to make
an appointment between 11 and 13 on a Friday! Whatever religious
belief a person has you just don't make jokes about religion here.
Even if the large majority are Muslims there is full freedom of
religion, this means in practical life a lot of religious
holidays. Compared to many Arabic countries this is a liberal
Muslim state. Alcohol, at least beer, can easily be found in shops
and cafe's, but to see a drunk Indonesian is very rare. Women are
active outside the home, both at work and in organizations, some
also in politics.
¨To learn at least a minimum of the Indonesian language will make
life dramatically simpler. Even if some understand a little bit of
English most don't. Some may give the impression that they
understand you and say 'yes' to your questions, even if they don't
have a clue of what you are talking about. The Javanese culture
doesn't like confrontations, and the word 'no' is almost totally
absent from their language. Supposedly there are 21 ways to say
'no' in Javanese, 19 of them are 'yes'. In a country with hundreds
of totally different languages almost all Indonesians can speak
Bahasa Indonesia as a common tool of communication in public or
with people from other regions. For daily use many speak their
local language. Bahasa is not so difficult, the vocabulary is
quite different but the grammatical is relatively easy. One
example is plural which is almost totally absent, the word is
simply repeated twice, one child is called 'anak, many children is
called 'anak anak'.
As a foreigner you have to get used to a lot of attention here,
usually this is only fun, but sometimes very annoying. At first
some will get angry or even scared, but the attention the locals
show you is almost always friendly. You cannot move far before you
hear 'where are you going mister' or 'hello boss', just reply with
a 'hello' and you will have a friend. Remember to be polite,
especially on Java where politeness is an important part of the
language. You address adult men with 'Pak' and women with 'Ibu',
if somebody calls you 'Pak' (or 'Ibu') it is a sign of respect.
The Indonesians are very open and direct, if they call you skinny
or fat is not meant as an offense here.
It is important to meet with and talk to the locals in daily life,
if you only meet with other expatriates you can quickly adapt a
negative view of the local conditions, the influence will be only
one sided. A good relationship with other foreigners is on the
other hand also useful, you will learn from the experiences of
other people in the same situation as yourself.
To travel to Indonesia as a tourist will from most western
countries not require any visa, and you can then stay there for
two months at a time. If you intend to work here you will need a
Business Visa, later you will have to apply for a stay permit and
work permit, the stay permit will normally last for a year at a
time. Each time you then leave the country you will need an
entry/re-entry permit, if you are employed this will in most cases
be arranged by your company.
You will need some vaccinations before you travel, it is best to
do this in your home country. Malaria is not a problem on Java or
Bali, but in more remote areas of the country you should take
malaria tablets. If you use common sense there is minimal risk to
get any tropical diseases, the most common problem is diarrhea.
Only eat food that is properly cooked or fried or fresh fruit,
don't drink tap water, to be safe you shouldn't even brush your
teeth in tap water. The papaya fruit is a good remedy against
stomach problems, it is also very tasty. Fruit of all kinds grow
in abundance here, don't be afraid to try, most of them are very
good (even durian).
Above all, enjoy your time here, the success of your stay is all
up to you!
as well - Work in Indonesia
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