Change of plans

So… Things went a little differently than expected. Some things happened that a lot of people may see as a setback, but I just view it as more experiences and I always trust that everything will turn out the way it is supposed to.

Bottom line, I left my current internship and will start another, and I moved to a completely different part of the city.

I will keep this short and sweet, because it is late and tomorrow I have to be at the office at 8am. The new office, that is (and it is in a skyscraper, just thought I should add that). The hotel where I was supposed to do my internship was at a point where they did not organize a lot of events that needed marketing and there was not much to do there for me. They offered me other opportunities, but it went in a direction I didn’t want to take so I contacted the agency that helped me find an internship here and asked if they had any alternatives. They did, they even offered me three. I was really happy with the way they jumped in on such short notice (thank you Kim!) and two days after I decided I wanted to leave, I had an interview at another office. I was supposed to look at two other companies as well, but I had a really good feeling about the first so I decided to go for it.

So today, on Sunday, I walked around the area near my work to find a new house. It is very easy here in Jakarta to get a room. You just look for the big buildings (the ones that are too big to house just one family) and you knock on the door, asking if they have a room. We passed some expensive ones (and by that, I mean 3 million rupiah… or should I say 200 euros. Super expensive, right?) and then we arrived in the area where the prices were more reasonable (again, everything is relative). After looking at some rooms, I ended up at a really nice residence. I will take some pictures or make a video later, to show you where I ended up.

Added bonus: I now have a double bed.

I was very sad to leave my previous residence though. The family running the place was really nice and I met a sweet young girl there that always helped me if I needed anything. Thank you so much Ulfa! I hope we meet again soon.

I’m a sucker for documenting everything, so of course when I was about to leave, it was time to take a picture with all the people from the residence.

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They all helped me with my bags (of which there were way too many. How I gathered this much stuff in such a short period, I have no clue. But I will get rid of all of it before actually starting the traveling part of this experience) and waved goodbye as I drove away.

So now I’m settled in the new place, and tomorrow I will start a new adventure, all over again.

How I became an instant millionaire by traveling

So this post has the potential to be very deep and motivational. It can be about how traveling makes you richer because of the magical experiences and not poorer because you spend money. The value of traveling is in the people you meet, the places you see and the cultures you’ll experience. But in fact, this post will not be about this kind of value. I am referring to something far more practical.

Currency exchange.

Every time I travel to a country that does not have euros, in the beginning of the trip I constantly calculate the rates. “How much is it in euros?” becomes a frequently asked question. Normally the amounts are still somewhere in the same area. Maybe you need to multiply or divide by two, or two and a half. But here in Indonesia, things are not so easy.

One euro is approximately 16.000 rupiah. So everything I see, I have to divide by 16.000. This may seem a lot harder than it actually is. Usually I just divide by 15.000 and the thousands are kind of redundant. Everything behind the dot can just as easily be cents. But it does feel weird to take a million out of an ATM or to pay an amount of 15.000 to a taxi driver. But then when I calculate it back to euros… Well, all I can really do in those situations is smile. With the money I made at the ING in one hour, I can now eat dinner for two weeks. Sure, there are the occasional days where I want to eat something that costs more than a euro, but I could do it if I wanted to and that is just amazing.

In Indonesia, you can also be a millionaire! All you need is 65 euros and you are classified as a millionaire. So if you ever need to feel rich, buy a plane ticket and get those extreme amounts out of the ATM. Then all that is left to do is to take a selfie.

Office life in Jakarta

Wow. It is different from The Netherlands, let me start by saying that. Every morning between 8.30 and 9, people start coming in, looking like they just got out of bed. The first hour is dedicated to brushing and curling hair, applying make-up and changing clothes. When everybody looks presentable, it is time to check Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, e-mail and if there is time left (and there is always time left) we will watch some Youtube videos. By then it is time for breakfast or a snack. And maybe at that point, somebody will start working. But other times that is the time to create some Dubsmash videos, or for me to learn some Bahasa Indonesia.

In the afternoon there is time for lunch. It is for free in the cafeteria, but for me as a vegetarian/vegan there is not always something to eat. Luckily, my colleagues also like to eat out, so we go to the Wartuk, a place nearby, where we eat. Some would say, isn’t it expensive to eat out to lunch every day? My answer would be no. It is not even a euro, so I can afford it. It is even cheaper than bringing my lunch to work in The Netherlands, because then I would spend even more money in the supermarket.

There is a lot of time for socializing, and I think this is good. It creates a team spirit and a good atmosphere. Everybody is ready to help each other. Also, the social media activity is good for a marketing department. They should keep up to date about current events.

At the end of the day, after there is a lot of time spent relaxing and socializing, it is time for a meeting. Then, after the meeting, when it is 17.30, a lot of people get motivated to immediately get to work on their tasks, which causes them to work later.

A lot of time, afterwards, it is time to eat something together. There is a foodcourt that is part of the hotel and we eat there. I have eaten Martabak, which is delicious. It is a sort of cake/pancake. It’s hard to explain, at some point there will be a picture of this deliciousness. But the truth is, there is not one piece of food I ate here that I didn’t like.

Now that my first week is almost through and I handed in some of my school assignments, this weekend it is time to explore Jakarta again!

Disclaimer: It is not like this everywhere. This was just one day and after I changed internships it also became clear that this is not necessarily the common way of working.

A week of firsts

There are still so many things in life I have not done. And this week I was able to cross some of those events off my list. Which is to be expected, of course, when you go abroad for a longer period of time. I didn’t pick Jakarta because I thought it would be easy and because I wanted it to be like home. I picked it because it was different: a little crazy even!

So now, after I have been here for a week (sidebar: it feels more like a month), I can say I crossed some very important things off my list of firsts (mind you, this is not a written list. Although I, as any other, love a practical list, this is not one I actually made).

  • I have traveled to another continent (sure, I have been to Morocco, but it was with Ryanair, so does it really count…?)
  • I have traveled with a backpack
  • I have crossed a very busy street without using a zebra crossing (they are there, but it is more of a suggestion. One that the people in Jakarta really don’t care about much)
  • I have hailed a taxi (I know… If you are a New Yorker reading this, you will probably laugh at me a little, or a lot. But then again, if you are a New Yorker and you are reading my blog, please leave a message! It will mean my blog has turned into something amazingly international)
  • I have taken a semi-cold shower and liked it!
  • I have been attacked by a toilet (the toilet situations can get a little tricky sometimes)
  • I have been to a hospital abroad (don’t worry. It was for a regular check-up that is apparently obligitory when working in Indonesia. 
  • I have gotten a bloodtest and xray for under 15 euros
  • I have eaten all kinds of traditional Indonesian foods, so that are a lot of firsts all rolled into one. 

I wonder how many firsts I will have crossed off after five months here. I guess I’ll never know (because this is not a list I am keeping).

    Let’s talk about the traffic

    So I have been settled in Jakarta for a few days. In these days I realized that eating a vegetarian meal here is harder than I thought, the neighborhood that I live in turns out to have an exclusive red-light district (so I’m thinking about moving) and I started to be a little less self conscious with everybody staring at me (but I still notice and feel somewhat uncomfortable).

    What I want to discuss is what was one of my biggest fears when I came to Jakarta. The traffic. I have to say it was better than I expected, because I only read the horror stories. So to get around Jakarta, you have several options.

    • The busway. It only costs like 30 euro cents to do a trip on the bus, no matter the distance. Honestly, I really like the bus, and not to be discriminating at all, but it is mostly because the women and the men sit on opposite sides of the bus. It give me a level of comfort I don’t feel in the streets of my neighborhood. It has its own lane, so it takes you from A to B pretty fast.
    • The taxi. It is cheap, but it is still a car. And Jakarta is famous for its traffic jams, so if you get stuck in one, better sit back and relax because it can take a while. I haven’t been in a taxi yet, although I will go hail one right after I finished this post. It seems like the best transportation in the evening/night.
    • Walking. It seems logical, but here in Jakarta, people don’t like to walk. I am used to walking a lot (especially if my bike was broken) but here people seem to think walking is kind of weird. Also, they walk extremely slow. Sure, it is warm, but still… I like this way of going around because it gives me a chance to see everything and to stop if I want to. But it does include staring people. Staring people everywhere.

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    • A motor bike. It is like the bicycles in Groningen. They are everywhere. Everywhere. It seems like the easiest way to get around, because you can easily pass cars etc. on the street. I would never, ever, drive one myself, but there is this service called Go-jek, which is basically drivers picking you up on a motor bike and it is even cheaper than a taxi.
    • A car. So this is one of the most confusing things ever. Jakarta has a lot of traffic. There are always traffic jams and it is hard to get around. But then the cars here are the hugest cars I have ever seen! Even if just one person drives, it is a big Land Rover sized car, always. The parking lots are full of them. It seems so impractical to me! Why not get a freaking Smart, so at least you can fit everywhere. Honestly, of all the traffic related subjects, this is the one that gets to me. I do not get it.

    So my days usually consists of walking a lot, even if it does include YOLO-style crossing of the streets. It is still the cheapest way to get around and I just do not see the point in getting a vehicle to get me to somewhere nearby.

    What also amazes me is that there are no rules. None. Nobody gives way and everyone drives like they own the roads. Amazing.

    But for now, it is time for me to hail a blue bird taxi to go to a pool party.

    Blog to you later!

    First impressions

    So I have arrived in Jakarta. I am settled in my room (and my bed) and after a quick update for all of you who are interested to know how I am adjusting so far, I will sleep. I left Tuesday morning, very early. The night before I got almost no sleep and when I got to the plane, I had these wild plans of sleeping the entire 13 hours I was on the flight… I am sad to report that I failed. And not because I had stimulating conversations with my neighbors. Oh no. I was next to a row of Dutch students who wanted nothing to do with me, the guy in the seat in front of me flashed the entire airplane every time he got up and by the time an old lady in a seat on my other side decided to strike up conversation (in broken Dutch) I was already a walking zombie who herself wasn’t capable of coherent sentences.

    So, no sleep. A lot of reading, watching tv-shows and listening to music. To my delight the in-flight entertainment provided a little language course, so I taught myself some Bahasa Indonesia while I was flying across the world. I now know how to recognize most of the numbers (mind you, I cannot actually count. But if I see a number I will know what it is). This skill proved exceptionally useful when I got here and everybody seems to write the way people write numbers. In numbers, not in letters.

    Anyway, on my connecting flight from Kuala Lumpur to Jakarta, I did manage to get some shut-eye. I slept for an entire hour. I was okay, I figured that after my contact picked me up from the airport, he would bring me to my residence and I would sleep until I couldn’t sleep anymore (and I didn’t care if that was the middle of the night). But after an hour long car ride (not because it is far, but because of the traffic) he was so helpful and after we got money for the rent and he translated the entire contract for me, he took me to get an Indonesian number, showed me the way around my neighborhood, took me to the nearby mall. It was so very useful and I was so very tired. I don’t know how I stayed functioning but I did.

    So when I had all the necessities and I was left alone in my room, I slept. No, let me correct that. I went on the wi-fi, texted my brother some of those before-mentioned incoherent sentences, let my mother know I was safe and liked practically everything on Facebook. And then I slept.

    I did set an alarm however, because the bed I slept on had no pillows or covers and I had no food, if I were to wake up in the middle of the night. So I limited myself to three hours of sleep and when I got up, I went back to the mall. It was very strange, walking around here by myself. I felt a little uncomfortable and people were looking at me (and not because I looked like I hadn’t slept in two days, although I’m sure that was part of it). But because I am a Bule. It makes me a bit self conscious, but we’ll see how I manage in the next couple of days.

    One more thing to add before I go to bed. I have really been dreading the rainy season that is coming up in Jakarta, usually starting from October. But this year, it seems, they predicted it will be dry until January. And when I say dry, I mean dry! There will not be rain. And although I realize this is bad for the crops and perhaps the economy, I am secretly (well, not so much now anymore) happy about this. No rain. Until January. Amazeballs.

    So, to sum up:

    • So happy to have cheap fruit.
    • Relieved that the traffic is not as bad as I imagined, although it’s still pretty chaotic.
    • Glad that my temporary home looks good and my bed is comfy.
    • Looking forward to meet people and to not walk the streets alone.
    • I feel like (and in fact, am) a freaking millionaire.

    I think I will be able to absorb it all more after I have gotten some sleep (I know, in this post I seem obsessed with sleep. I’m sorry. But hey, if a crack addict is not getting his next fix, crack is all they will be able to talk about. So actually, we should all be content that I didn’t just write about sleep).

    So proud of myself for all of these legible sentences I just produced. Goodnight.

    p.s. if you haven’t clicked on the link of the mall, you are seriously missing out on my funny side.

    The end of an era

    The adventure starts tomorrow. Tomorrow! My plane will take off at 11.45 and after that there is no going back. Not that I want to go back, but still. The plans I have been making for years (and years…) will be final. Today is all about doing laundry, packing my bag and charging all my technology to keep me entertained during my 16 hour flight. Apparently I even have time to write a blog (or do I?)

    The past week was all about saying goodbye, finishing up the preparations and getting ready to leave. I had a goodbye party where we ended the night with Gras van het Noorderplantsoen, as we should. I am ashamed to say that I still don’t know all of the lyrics. I also updated my entire music library, which makes me excited to sit on a plane for 16 hours and just listen to all the beautiful tunes I have gathered. I bought some souvenirs for foreign friends I have yet to meet (although, actually, I will be the foreign friend, but that’s semantics). I won’t bore you with the rest of the items on my now checked off to do list, but I did a lot (and still found time to completely relax before leaving).

    So now the time has come… It all sounds so dramatic, but it kind of feels that way. A lot of people keep saying that at first it is only for six months, and after that I will be back for a little while. But the thing is, of course I will be back in The Netherlands, however, it is the end of my life in Groningen as I have known it. When I will be back, I won’t be a student there anymore, I won’t have a house there and some of my friends will have moved away as well. So it really is the end of an era, especially given the fact that I have been studying in Groningen since 2008. It seems like a lifetime ago that I started my studies, and now I only have to do two more internships (and get those damned 5 ECTS from Psychology) and then I will be done.

    Whatever is coming after all of this, I don’t know yet. But until I do, I have more than enough adventures to keep myself busy.

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    My top 10 sites/apps to use while traveling

    I know there are so many lists of travel websites out there. Everybody loves lists. I love lists. While researching my own list I even came across one that claimed they had the top 50 best travel websites. That doesn’t seem practical. At all. Anyway, I don’t care about other peoples’ lists. I made my own. And you don’t have to care about my list, but if you do (or need inspiration for your own list), keep on reading. There is no particular order, the numbers are just there to make a clear distinction.

    1. Skyscanner

    The best website to get your plane tickets out there is by far Skyscanner
    . It allows you to search, not only on a specific date, but also in a week, month or even the entire year. This way you are able to see at what time the tic68331440fcdb3136f7c63373ac158cbckets will be the cheapest (which is, after
    all, the most important quality of plane tickets). My very favorite option of Skyscanner however, is the option to travel to: “anywhere”. It is literally in an option not to choose where to go. You don’t have to choose a destination, you can just decide you want to go away for a weekend, from an airport near you. And then you check out what the cheapest destination is for that weekend. An excellent option for adventurous travelers that don’t need a specific plan and want to be spontaneous. Although, this can also be planned months in advance.

    2. Kindle

    Books are heavy. “No shit, Sherlock”, would be my brothers response to this statement. So I never bring any books with me anymore (with the occasional exception of a travel guidebook). I have recently bought a Kindle and I love it. It allows me to bring hundreds (thousands… millions…) of books with me on my trips. Even though I bought the e-reader, I also got very fond of reading books on my phone. While I’m waiting for a bus, while I’m in bed, waiting for sleep to take me away. It is possible at all times and I always have my phone handy. So it’s one of my favorite apps/websites/phenomenon.

    3. Airbnb

    Even though I have yet to make use of this excellent website, it is already one I can see myself falling back on in the foreseeable future. On this website you can book special rooms to stay in. A bed and breakfast in Austria, a villa in Spain or a cottage in England, it is all there. Just check out the location where you will be staying and see what is in store. People who have a space available can rent it out and post it on this website, where you can book it for a perfect weekend away.

    4. Couchsurfing

    If however, you don’t want to spend any money on accommodation, you can always opt to stay at the houses of generous locals who want to meet foreigners. Couchsurfing allows you to meet up with locals, to sleep there, or just to chat and hang out. You can, as the name says, crash at someones couch, but sometimes they have a guest room available. Not only is it a cheap way to stay at an exotic location, it is also an amazing chance to meet locals and let them show you around their city. Obviously, they know all the best places and you can really learn a lot about a culture by traveling this way. And even if you already have a place to stay, you can always post a message asking people to meet up, so you can still meet some fellow travelers or locals.

    5. Facebook

    resized_philosoraptor-meme-generator-if-one-doesn-t-post-travel-pictures-on-facebook-did-it-really-happen-c8bbd5I’m sorry, maybe you thought/hoped/expected me to be the kind of person that is able to not check Facebook while traveling (who am I kidding? Everyone who knows me, knows that I am the person in the group asking: is there wi-fi?). I like to keep in touch. I like to see what my friends are doing and frankly, I like them knowing what I am doing. So yeah, Facebook made the list.

    6. Google

    Everything you need to know, Google already knows. Google is the almighty oracle that can answer all your (travel) questions. What are the cultural norms, where to go for vegan food, what local cuisine should you try? You know Google, and if there are ANY questions you have about an upcoming trip… You know where to ask it.

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    7. Currency Converter 

    If you go to a country with another currency, this is a must. You’ll need to find out what your money is worth abroad. It always takes me a while to get used to the different values, and until I do, I use apps like these. Or use a calculator, if you want to be more old school (which, sometimes, I do).

    8. Instagram

    Sharing is caring. Beautiful travel pictures will not only give your friends and family an idea of all the amazing things you are seeing, but it will also give you something to look back on when you are back home. Old school alternative: Facebook. Or keeping your pictures on an sd card until you are back home and you can sort everything out.

    9. Google maps

    How will you know where to go? I am aware that Google is already in this list, but Google Maps has such extreme value that it deserves an entire number itself. It tells you where you are, where to go and even what kind of facilities are in the neighborhood. An added app that is very, very convenient is Maps to go (click here for Android). Obviously being abroad means no roaming, because it’s very expensive. So if you’re out of a wi-fi zone, you can use the maps you downloaded, and still know where to go. I only discovered this app recently (thank you Vera), but it is already in my top 10.

    10. Jetlag Rooster

    This last website is very easy to use. If you fly out of your timezone (and let’s face it, your trip is not very adventurous if you are staying in your current timezone) you can fill out all of the details of your departure and the site will give you a sleeping schedule to adjust to the time difference. I think it is better than just staying up while it is dark or sleeping in the middle of the day, and you can even click the option to start before you have even left.

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    So this is my top 10. Please let me know if there are any websites or apps I will definitely need abroad!