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Live and work in Indonesia

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!

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