more than a third of my life, i spent it outside of my home country. when i decided to go back to jakarta after spending almost a decade in the US, i was always getting comments that i must made a good money abroad and praises for being able to live and work abroad for so long. i cringe to those comments. mostly because i don’t feel that way and somehow it’s hard to explain that to people who have never been in my position.
i went to the US because i wanted to study. my parents are not those who have abundance of money and made plans to send me abroad for study. i believe, it never crossed their mind that they would raise two kids who ended up studying abroad. up until i was sent to the US for study, my feet only step foot as far as singapore. there was never a trip all over the countries during our childhood, like many my friends did. i know nothing about disneyland or universal studios. i only stepped foot in those places when i was about 25 years old, with my own money! so, being able to go and study in the US was like something of a dream for me. a dream i made come true because i worked hard for it. i was willing to sacrifice for everything less while living abroad as long as i can get the taste of it.
just imagine, if i were going to bandung for college, i would have good food with my parents always there to help me. i’d be living by myself but i’d probably have someone to help out clean the place or probably cook, even doing laundry. anyway, life would probably much better than living all by myself, have to take care the finances and grocery shopping and cooking and cleaning and laundry.. on top of my study! plus i have to be thousands and thousands miles away from my parents and my comfort zone. oh yes, at least i was living in america, you’d say. but going to school in america, in a state in the middle of nowhere, means.. you have no life! the malls are pretty terrible, the city is very small and the highest building in that town is probably the building stands in your campus. sounds like america you know?
people get confused sometimes. america that people see on the news and on the movies are not the same with the real life. many rural towns in america (especially those made as a college town) are basically boring and empty places. so it’s not really a pretty sight and a step up from my life in jakarta. but i was determined that i want to finish school with my hardwork.
it took me almost 4 years with 4 jobs, 2 universities, 2 degrees in 2 cities to finally able to graduate with a degree. my parents couldn’t even come to the graduation ceremony! in the last year of college, i worked 3 jobs so i can support myself through my senior year. therefore, my parents’ money was only used towards my school tuition and i can have some left to support me while i’m looking for jobs after i graduated.
thank God, it took me less than a month to secure a permanent position in NY, moved to an apartment and become roommates with 2 other girls. it’s so funny to remember our sleeping arrangements. all 3 of us in one room, with 3 single beds next to each other like we’re in a camp or something. but i didn’t mind, we didn’t mind. i wanted the experience and i craved for finding my own independence and identity.
after a while i moved to my own place, went back to school for my master’s degree (which also took quite a strain on my finances, cuz i had to pay it myself with a small jump start from my parents). it was not a vacation!
so when i went home to jakarta after all those times, i was somewhat relieved and afraid. relieved because now i can enjoy all the luxuries of life in jakarta (malls, maids, drivers) but afraid because i may not used to that anymore since i’ve been doing a lot of my things, myself. it was quite an adjustment, but what it hardest the most was not adjustment back to my parents’ house, but to answer what people assumed me to be.
as someone who has spent a number of years living and working abroad, i was assumed to be in a different level than those who’ve only worked in indonesia. or worse, that i made more money because i was paid in dollars. guess what? i also spent in dollars. i think i saved more money when i was paid in rupiah then i was in dollars. so does that mean, working abroad is better? not necessarily.
i spent only 2.5 years in jakarta before i finally packed my bags and moved to singapore again. this time because i had to follow my husband who was already working in singapore. we plan to live and make a life here in singapore. and that decision somehow taken differently with others because it’s as if i don’t like living in indonesia… or that i was more of a value to be working abroad instead in my own country.
that is an assumption made of those who apparently don’t know shit about anything. because for me, i was valued more if i work in my own country. until now, i’m still adjusting my work life because of the strain of competition that’s far more futile than those in jakarta. life is much better for my family if i live in my own country because my parents and families are there. so why do both hubby and i punish ourselves by living in different country? because we love the independence we’re in.
both of us agree that one can go to work at other countries not because that one person has better requirements or smarter than those who works in their own country. it’s a matter of choice. if you choose that you want to pack up your things and willing to raise your family in other country, then you do it! if you don’t, then stay.
so assuming that us, who live abroad, have a better life, higher level of living, better salary, is totally WRONG! i know people who has much better life than us, higher level of living and far far more better salary and still live in indonesia. we live in singapore, because we choose to do so. we work here as a result of that choice. and that doesn’t make us different than anyone who live and work in indonesia.
if people in indonesia (and haven’t been living abroad) thinks that living in other country is better living, then do you know that we also think the same for you? living in indonesia would be a bless with all the good food and strong family support system. so why don’t we move back to indonesia? then, let me ask you the same.. why don’t you move to live abroad if you think that living abroad is far much better?
until you can answer that question, then i can give you mine.