You know You’ve Lived in Indonesia for 18 months When…

-You forget America has four seasons, that is until you open Pinterest…

-Your weekend uniform consists of cut-off shorts and flip flops on Saturday, bathing suit on Sunday… And it’s November.

-You’ve finally mastered a complete dinner in a rice cooker. Last week consisted of red rice with steamed fish and asparagus (a delicacy found in Jakarta last weekend).

-Amusement parks are no longer thought of as expensive and with long lines. They are cheap, quick, but hellishly hot.

-You’re finally starting to get a hang of Bahasa, yet only have a month left living in the country.

-Your English is starting to sound like your Bahasa. Short. To the point. And with a bit more surprise. Whaa?! Weeeh!

-Walking around a mall with a grocery cart is totally normal.

-Sweating from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm is totally normal.

-Bug Bites. Every day. Normal.

-You reach some sort of milestone when you can call the grocery down the road and in Bahasa, ask them to deliver Bintang to your house as you host a party.

-You realize you hate Bintang at this point and decide to nurse the bottle of rum you bought at Duty-Free 6 months ago.

-A quick 20 km drive to a restaurant or park takes over 2 hours because of traffic and you come prepared with bottles of water and snacks… Because duh… It’s Indonesia.

-You no longer stress over wearing suntan lotion.

-You realize you haven’t had 100% hearing in your left ear for over 3 weeks and you still refuse to see a local doctor about it.

-You begin to realize what makes you truly homesick: certain rights, comforts, and expectations that mean nothing here.

-You begin to mark an X on each completed day on the calendar. One month left.

-You look at Air Asia prices daily. $100 for a weekend trip to Bali. Worth it?

-You try to remember what you packed away before you moved to Indonesia and can’t remember a single item.

-You go to bed at 8:00 pm because staying up any later than that on a week day is too painfully lonely.

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Repatriation

A friend shared this article with my husband recently and I have just had the time to read it. It really spoke to me and helped me visualize what I’ve been feeling recently. One part in particular stood out to me:

If you’re from a circle culture and live temporarily in a square society, “You are no longer 100% Circle, but you’ll never again be 100% Square. You are left — almost hanging — somewhere in the middle.” This is such a great visual for me to express how I’ve felt these past 18 months. I have felt like a guest for so long, living and working the best I can in a culture so very different from what I know. To return home will be familiar, but a huge change as I’ve had to adapt so much in this time.

And Eliana?

Interestingly enough, there is a fourth shape that enters this discussion. If a child (in their developmental years such as our two youngest were), follows his or her parents from Circle Country to Square Society, he or she will become — not a Triangle Tenant, like the adult parent, but a Star. They will be a Star with multiple points of reference when considering where they are from, what they believe in, what foods they like, and how they see the world.

They will always be Stars.” To be honest? I love this.

You see I’m in a very precarious situation right now. I’m preparing myself and my daughter to repatriate soon while watching my husband repatriate already. He has done well, but has voiced a few struggles in the past couple of weeks.

I don’t think there is much that we can do to prepare for reverse culture shock. We will return as different people, which I’m pleased with. However these changes will most likely be long-term challenges we will endure for years.

I always wanted to know what it would be like to be one of my students, who are so often refugees or immigrants from other countries. But the thing is I will never know. I’m not moving to another country and staying there. I’ve adapted to a new culture and will be moving home, changed, and I have no idea how much.

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*Special thanks to Jessie for sharing the article and Christie for the picture!

Back and Forth

In Indonesia, we can’t afford to do anything ourselves: It’s cheaper to buy a meal on the street than cook from scratch, to be driven by an ojek than to buy a car, to employ a maid than to spend the time cooking, cleaning and doing laundry.

In America, we can’t afford to have anything done for us. We get the control to do what we want, when we want, but we have to do everything ourselves.

The challenge is when we want a little of both.

To be honest, I can’t imagine having to do my laundry again. Having my clothes perfectly ironed and folded like the Gap, waiting for me in my bedroom each evening is a delight and I love my maid for it. But there is a lack of control with it all. Not knowing where anything is, how supplies are being used, and for god sakes, can we not eat rice tonight?!

It’s a compromise. One we are still grappling with. We miss having a car. We miss gardening. We miss walking down the street without the stares.

However, we don’t miss feeling rushed to get everything done. One of the benefits is that life slowed down just enough for us to catch our breath or to even notice.