Jumat, 13 Januari 2012

Living In Another Part of World

I get a blog, a social website, and a forum to let me burn off all the thoughts running through my head. This time I'm going to write my blog in English, but doesn't mean my english is perfect^^ I still need some practice here and there, especially idioms. Good thing that I like to learn a lot of things :)

I love my home country, Indonesia. I miss my country and my family so very much, more than I can express. And it's the 2nd week of January 2012, so I've moved to the United States for about 1,5 years. I know there are so many people in Indonesia and anywhere else in the world think that moving out to another country will make their world works better. Like you have one bad day, well maybe more than just one bad day, then you spend your time thinking about this:

What if I moved to a different country? What is the hardest part about it? How long it will take to assimilate to the new culture? How long it will take to fit in? How long it will take to get settled? Why I should move? Is it because I don't like my old country, or is it my job? Do I really-really-really want to try something different, or is it because of another reason? Will the new country culturally similar to my old country or completely different? How far away is it? Is it to another country on the same continent or do I move to a different continent?

Sort of like Mimpi Jakarta Kota Metropolitan or The American Dream.

Here are some random thoughts.

Moving to another country is a lot more difficult than what I thought it would be. Someone said the first year is ALWAYS the hardest. I'm not sure if it's harder when you are out of your teens. Some say that the younger you are the more flexible and easier to fit in. But I know for sure, you need to have a burning passion to move, a positive attitude and be more than 100% well prepared. There are always people who will take shots at your decision to move, and you should try and shut them out after you have made your decision. When you get to the new country you need to do the same. Only surround yourself with likeminded people who are 100% committed to make a success of the move. You are sure to find people from your country in the new country who are unhappy or thinking of moving back. This is the time of survival when you need to turn your back on them in a nice way.

One advantage that I had was that my husband and me are both Christians and so one of first priorities was to find a church to go to. We attend a church not so far from our place, like about 2 miles, and we made some nice friends. I've heard that good friends will keep you sane. Even if you aren't a christian, I would reccomend it to everyone that you should find a church to go to... hopefully you will find loving christian people who will take you in and help you settle in! And then everything else should fall into place fairly easily after that!
There is a certain deeper psychological dimension that you cannot be prepared for, even though you can prepare as you like for about every eventuality. It is loosening yourself from a certain group dynamic and having to re-integrate yourself in a new one in the new country. Where you come from a number of people can testify who you are just by the way they interact with you. Communications are very clear and open and one does not even think about how you communicate with one another. Where you go, initially you have to be very careful to communicate correctly. Different words may mean differently in the new country. Different non-verbal body language may also mean different things. Almost as though you have to recreate yourself from scratch. But usually if you are patient and positive, you may find that you end up with the exact same kind of friends you had from where you travelled from. If you had problems with friends and family where you come from, these same problems will surface again. You are who you are wherever you travel. You may find different opportunities though and/or be more lucky. It may also test you to the extent that you become stronger in yourself. But most important you need to do your research very well before you leave. I.e. how well are people doing in the profession that you are going to practice? Etc. Do you have enough funds to support yourself until you find a new job. Do you have enough funds to survive if something should go wrong with the job that was offered to you.

I think there's a difference between going to live in a place and moving permanently. Moving permanently is a huge deal. Moving to live in a place with the intention to return to your home country is not such a big thing, comparing to moving permanently.

The hardest part of moving to another country is getting the day to do things done. At home you know how to go to the dentist and what to expect, how to get the internet connected, where to buy shoelaces, how much you can drink before you can't legally drive, how to file taxes, whether you can expect to get your rental deposit back, where you can park your car, etc, etc.. I'd imagine things might be complicated if you have kids.

Another hard part is actually pulling the trigger on the move. It's easy to plan and think about it. Lots of people say they want to try living in a foreign place, but in the end they pull out before actually doing it. It takes courage (especially the first time). In some places (perhaps most, all even?) you can never fully assimilate. Depends on the place. Perhaps a year or two to really sort out the things like I listed above. But you can become comfortable very quickly if you accept the fact that you won't know everything right away. The people who have the hardest time in foreign places are those who have strong expectations for how things should be. For example, many western people hate lateness. But many places around the world its quite normal for somebody to be 15 minutes (or more) late for an agreed meeting. Some people just can't deal with it. They'll mentally set it up as a "me vs. the whole country" and because they know they are right and people shouldn't be late. They will be bitter, judgmental, unforgiving for it. The only reasonable thing you can do is suck it up and try to enjoy yourself anyway. You have zero chance of really changing the whole country.

Fitting in doesn't seem much different to fitting in at home really. Lots of people make a big deal of cultural factors. Of course they are important and you have to learn them. But on the other hand if you show a genuine interest in people's culture then they will quickly forgive you for breaking most cultural rules. Some foreigners spend a lot of time comparing their new country with their old. It's easiest to move with work because they will take care of a lot of logistics for you and there will be people to help you when you get there. Moving by yourself is more exciting. You might develop a different perspective on your own country after you have lived in another. I think in most cases people who move because they are unhappy with their own country end up being unhappy in the next.

About being settled, I guess it depends on what you mean by settled. Normally a week or two to get a place to stay, know how to get to the supermarket, how to get around (get a car if necessary) etc. Some things take much longer. It can take ages to sort out immigration issues and things like that.

Soon after I moved here, I quickly realize how powerful and influential America is. And you learn to appreciate, accept, and even admire the cultural differences. If you are a typical American, you think you are accepting of other races, religions, ideologies, etc. Once you live in another country, you understand it on a deeper level. So while the adjustment was difficult, it was well worth it. The world becomes a much larger place. I think every person should live in another country for more than a year. It's very enriching.

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