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).

    Taman Mini

    Last Sunday I went to Taman Mini in Jakarta. Everybody said it was ‘miniature’ Jakarta, so I expected Madurodam. That was not what I got. It is a place where you can drive around and they replicated different areas of Indonesia. And in the middle was a lake, with little Islands so that it looked like Indonesia from the sky.

    So the joke of the day was that I did not have to travel anymore, because I have already seen it all.

    There were a lot of children dancing and making music, which was awesome. I filmed some of this, and will edit it later. It made me really happy. Jane, one of the people from couchsurfing that took me there, said that maybe we could take dance classes to learn the traditional Balinese dance (because it is the easiest). I would love that, so I hope that will be in my near future!

    I took some pictures but honestly I forgot what picture was what kind of area. I guess I will need to travel to all of them after all =)

    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.

    How I already gained 11 friends in Jakarta before I even got there

    So there is this thing called couchsurfing

    For those of you who don’t know it: where have you been? Surely it wasn’t planet earth.

    I posted a message there with my plans for the next five months and it was nice to see all kinds of people sending me messages in response. Some were expats wanting to make friends, others were locals wanting to show me the city and I even have some offers to travel together already.

    The hospitality is overwhelming. It’s good to know I won’t have to be lonely while I’m in Jakarta.

    On the other hand, how am I gonna make time to meet everyone?

    I really like that there is this kind of medium where you can just post a random message and people respond and want to meet up. It makes traveling to a completely new city much easier, just knowing that there are likeminded people out there (and that there is apparantly internet in Indonesia – just kidding ;) )

    I’m curious about the culture and I read everywhere that people in Indonesia are also very curious about Westeners. I read on someones blog that he felt like a total celebrity because everyone was staring at him on the streets. I guess this will make it easier to connect to locals and get to know them.

    I hope I will learn some Bahasa Indonesia soon, and I am working on it. I actually found this site, where you can sign up and get more than a hundred actual digital lessons for free! I have finished lesson 1, so now I know: Selamat pagi! Apa kabar? Baik-baik saja. Apa nama anda? Saya Sanne. Terima kasih. And… Some other things I have already forgotten. But I will learn and eventually I’ll remember. And if there is one thing my travel experienced have taught me, it is that hand gestures go a long way.

    Fears and excitement

    I find it rather weird that all I feel when approaching the date on which I will fly more than 11.000 kilometers to another part of the world is excitement. Shouldn’t I be the slightest bit nervous?

    The truth is that I am ready to leave Groningen behind and start over somewhere else. I have lived here for a long time and I have really enjoyed my student years, but I can’t wait to discover new parts of the world.

    In these days of preparation I spend a lot of time Googling. I try to figure out all the sights to see in Jakarta, I want to know what to wear, what to bring, what to leave behind. I have looked up cinemas in Jakarta (just because I can), I have researched phone plans (even though I will just pick something in a store there) and I have even looked up the Asian toilet system (I found this link extremely useful and will think of this as the biggest trial of all. Barney said it best: Challenge accepted).

    This pre-fun is great. I have found all kinds of awesome places to visit and knowing I will be able to do most of it, increases the fun exponentially.

    But Google also brings up some horror stories about traveling abroad, especially alone and especially as a woman alone. Of course, some of these results are caused by the search terms I enter into the machine that knows all.

    You hear a lot about people being scammed, robbed, harassed and I even read the most horrible story about someone being poisoned, only so they could bring them to a “doctor” around the corner with the miraculeus cure, which led to ginormous bills afterwards. All of this information has led me to fear two things.

    1. Having something stolen.
    2. The traffic.

    Because I will be abroad for more than six months at a time, I will bring my laptop. I will also bring my fancy camera, to provide you (and future me) with idyllic pictures of landscapes (and selfies). I will bring my iPhone so I can Google map stuff, and yes, I do realize I sound like a complete Westerner (sue me). But with bringing my most prized possessions comes the risk of them being stolen.

    I have taken some precautions. I will keep them out of sight most of the time, I will upload all of my photos regularly (because the pictures will be more valuable to me than the camera probably. However, this won’t stop me from crying if something were to happen to it). And I will keep my laptop at home or at hostels in safety lockers whenever possible.

    The second point is something I am not looking forward to yet. Luckily, the place where I will do my internship is at walking distance of my house, but for other locations I will probably not be able to do it all with the walking bus. So I will have to take an actual bus, or a train, or a taxi. And I am slightly dreading this. But hey, it’s all part of the great experience, right? So I will suck it up and do it. After all, cycling through the Folkingestraat in Groningen has already thought me a great deal in that department.

    So there it is, my two biggest fears, written and thereby virtually eternalized. But I do have to say, other than these two points…