Who are you?
My name is Luke, I am 43 from England. I am now living in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Where, when and why did you move abroad?
I left England in 2007 to work in Indonesia for a year to gain new experiences and challenges, but after a few weeks decided that I want to stay and carry on living here which ultimately finds me married with a child.What challenges did you face during the move?
I never really faced any major challenges except what to pack before I left. My employer provided my with housing and visas and transportation so there was nothing I needed to be concerned about. On arrival, language barriers and trying to buy electronics were a challenge but those challenges never lasted long.
Are there many other expats in your area?
Where I live now, I don’t think so. I am not far from expat communities and apartment blocks but the area I live in, is in my opinion, a true reflection of real life in Jakarta. I have lived in expat areas and find that they are not really connected to life outside the gate and for me I came here to experience something more than living a western lifestyle in a different country.
What do you like about life where you are?
My home, well, the noise, the bustle, I am surrounded by food stalls and shops and everything I need to buy is close and I am also near the tollway and major roads. Jakarta for me is an amazing city to explore and experience and then outside of Jakarta the whole of Indonesia has so many different and wonderful things to offer and see. It truly is an amazing place. With rainforests, volcanoes, tigers, beautiful islands and beaches and mountains there is something here for everyone. And if you are patient and determined you can visit so many of them.
What do you dislike about your expat life?
Being disconnected from my family in England and travelling to work as the traffic is frustrating. My house can’t be connected to the internet which is somedays a good thing but others a bad. Apart from that, nothing really.
What is the biggest cultural difference you have experienced between your new country and life back home?
England is organised, clean, efficient, quick to complain, quick to change, and always up to speed with what is happening in so many areas and you can drink the water.
Indonesia is laid back and more people seem more content with what they have and don’t worry so much about things. The amount of bureaucracy here is far too annoying. It’s almost the opposite somedays of England and I think that contrast makes it more fun to be here. You have to try harder and accept less and you find you get more personally which has to be a good thing.
What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?
Plan ahead. Know what it is you want from where you are going to live. Visit the country first so you have some idea what to expect and then really leave all your western ideals behind and clear the mind of expectations as they often can’t be met. An example of this is when I have new staff start working for me and they start to compare things, my advice to them is to find the nearest fire exit or extinguisher (there aren’t any) and then ask an Indonesian what to do in case of a fire. If they are then told ‘why would there be a fire?’ then clearly people think differently and so should the new arrival. It’s not the west.
What are your plans for the future?
That’s a great question. I guess, stay here and see how things go and where my work takes me. After 8 years I am not that eager to get back to the UK but you never know. There are so many great things happening here for me, I see no reason to head home just yet.
You can keep up to date with Luke's adventures in Indonesia on his blog, Jakarta News.