Indonesia - what's it like to live and work there?
Today, we talk to Tiara, a teacher who has worked and lived in Jakarta, Indonesia. From her interview, it sounds like it is a perfect location to explore Southeast Asia, so possibly a destination for all your travel lovers out there!
How long have you been teaching abroad?
I just began my 6th year abroad.
What made you decide to move overseas to work?
A tough job market in my state of residence, plus a good push from a friend to pursue my dream of traveling the world.
How did you find your current job?
I have used Teach Away.
Why did you choose that location?
I was interested in living in Southeast Asia, and the travel in Indonesia interested me.
What is it like living there as a single female?
Not bad at all. I wouldn’t go out alone at night, but in general I felt very safe. There is a good number of expats, and the locals are very kind and warm-hearted. If you are interested in dating there is a large expat scene.
What are its advantages?
For me the number one advantage was location. Jakarta is a central hub to visit the rest of Indonesia and other Southeast Asian cities. The pay was also very nice. I was able to pay off a good chunk of my student loans each month, while living a very nice lifestyle of leisure and travel.
Are there any negatives?
The biggest negative is the traffic and pollution. It can take hours to get to the other side of the city, and this can isolate you from your friends, and makes it hard to be motivated to go out, especially during the week. The pollution led to frequent throat infections, and when I tried to run in the city I was appalled by what I would cough up from my lungs. Additionally I dealt with my fair share of 3rd world stomach bugs.
How did you deal with the negatives/ homesickness?
I had to force myself up and out of my bed into a social life. I’d try to plan weekends away on islands or in smaller villages. I also spent a considerable time at the gym. As far as sickness goes I had a good local friend who assisted me with doctor visits.
What has been the best part of your experience?
The best part was the families at the school I worked at, and the local staff at the school. They were all so supportive, and I really grew to love the students because I was at a small, new school. I learned a lot about the culture of the students I taught, and Indonesia in general. Traveling around the country was also an amazing experience.
What are the biggest differences with teaching at home?
Curriculum and parent expectations. I was using International Primary Curriculum, which I grew to love, but at first it was a big challenge. Families expected certain results, especially when it came to Math. They didn’t understand the new ways of teaching. Originally I was met with a lot of confusion, as they wanted their students to complete rote memorization of Math facts. Eventually they appreciated my efforts to inform them about the new ways of teaching Math.
What is normally included in a good teaching package in your location?
Flights to and from home each year, a one-bedroom apartment (my apartment had a small gym and pool) basic medical insurance, and visa costs. My contract also included 1 extra piece of luggage at the start of the contract. You could look for shipping or settling in allowance.
Is there tax on your salary?
No, the school paid my taxes for me.
How did you find your accommodation?
The school provided the accommodation for me, near the school building. The apartment was very modern with nice furniture and decent kitchen appliances.
What is the social life like there?
Very good. Lots of nightlife and activities on the weekends, though it can be hard to force yourself to spend an hour in a cab to get places.
Any insider tips? E.g. when applying for jobs, renting, living and working there?
Make friends with the locals. They know how to get the best deals on trips, and can help with any problems you have. When I left they were just enforcing new rules about age, and work experience so you may need to look into this. Also note that Indonesia is a Muslim country. They aren’t super strict, but you do need to be dressed modestly and abide by some religious rules. For example alcohol was very difficult to find during Ramadan, and eating in public was frowned upon.
My name is Sorcha Coyle and I’ve been teaching in the Gulf (Qatar and Dubai) for the past 9 years. I also run Empowering Expat Teachers, whose mission is to empower future and current expat teachers to lead personally, professionally, and financially rewarding lives. If you haven’t already, join the supportive EET FB group here and follow me on IG @sorchacoyle_eet for lots of research, CV, and cover letter tips! Last but not least, I also provide CV and cover letter support to future and current expat teachers with my range of services in Teach Abroad Academy- check them out here!