Since moving back to Indonesia, I’ve been confronted with survival guides. Of course, upon hiring me, my company sent me their guide, which was compiled by others before me full of tips on how to not only survive, but also make the most out of my experience.
I didn’t read it. I grew up here.
I’m sure there was still some information which would have been handy, but while I wouldn’t say I hit the ground running upon arrival, I did manage a decent jog. I was lucky that I already had friends here, was familiar with the language, and knew the city a little bit. it struck me even then that if I came straight from Bumfuck, Kentucky that I would have a lot more problems.
I previously had volunteered at a hostel, and a lot of my work there was to be the cool person welcoming them to the location. Before that, I was rather proud of my skills as a tour guide, which included being a cool person welcoming people to the location.
So of course, I was committed to the prospect of welcoming future expat teachers as a cool person welcoming them to the location.
I also discovered that this is far more difficult than it seems, because a lot of it isn’t up to me.
For a start, the person has to want to be here.
More importantly, what I discovered as well is that it depends a lot on where they are in their lives.
It’s an interesting parallel between old school coloninalism and the neo-colonial area that we’re living in that the people who are compelled to leave their homes to go somewhere new can be rather a mixed bag. Some are invited as experts and famous people, but a larger majority have some reason to not stay, and can only see a benefit in leaving.
Upon arrival, the socio-economic disparities in life also influence power dynamics. I’m told by many people that being a white guy here is amazing for your casual dating life, even if you would have been a loser back home.
All this is saying that people who move away from home aren’t necessarily at their best. I wasn’t.
Even so, you can make a guide for moving to Indonesia, but you can’t easily make a guide for surviving the difficulties of early adulthood.
I feel like there’s an underrepresented time of difficulty for people when they adjust from the studying life of university to the working life after it. Indeed, everything that studying has been teaching you about how to live your lifestyle is very different from how you end up living for much of the rest of your life.
Student life is pretty intense. First of all, it has structure, where you apply your effort towards specific goals within a pretedetermined schedule. There are mostly clearly defined standards of success or failure, and many resources to consult if you’re not sure. You’re also surrounded by a social environment to take advantage of, and it makes an active social life very easy to achieve.
When you go out and work, often changing cities to do so, you end up in a new place where you usually don’t know anyone or how things work, with few people to tell you how to help yourself. In addition, the work you do is now endless, without clear achievements or deadlines and very few metrics for success.
All that is difficult even without changing countries.
i feel like maybe I should write a self-help book for this. It would be a lot of setup like this, and explain in long winded terms, basically: you have to make choices for yourself, and they often won’t seem like the best ones but you still have to live with them, but you could probably start by lowering your expectations.
And then go have your Quarter Life Crisis. You could even be like me, and arguably still be living it 10 years later.