Friends Abroad

Last night I found out that Bugilsnews displays Indonesian Expatriates Forum (IEF) link and its widget on their site. With a few thousands of subscribers (I was told they had 10,000 readers a couple of years a go and it was when Bugils Group hasn’t been crazily expanding – to how many bars now, five, six? – like nowadays, so the number might be bigger now), having the link there will hopefully spread the news about IEF.

Despite what people think – especially our Indonesian friends and family back home – that life is glorious, the future is bright, and everything is nothing but sweet love if we live abroad, being away from home is always a lonely (and most of the times, shocking) journey. Only people who are in our shoes, or have experienced the same thing would understand what we are going through. Like eating live squid in Korea, for example. Or wondering why they invent a very cold fridge in Norway that freezes the veggies right away. Or finding new friends.

Andrea Martins, the lady behind ExpatWomen sent me email, congratulating me for having my story “On Life, Being Busy and Moving On” chosen as the story of the month. Reading my entry again today, I realize that back then I wasn’t ready to loose my friends back home and to accept the reality that I am not there anymore, and everybody has moved on. And perhaps a little bit upset because no one seems to miss me – which is actually untrue, some genuinely do. Sure we are still close, but we’re not a part of each other’s life on daily basis like we used to. I should dedicate my energy to enjoy new friendships with new friends in here. And once I shifted my paradigm, the gray could above my head has slowly disappeared.

I am grateful that I am entitled to a service that helps people settling smoothly and – hopefully – quickly into a new location. They conduct a settlement course which covers basic things like school, bank, shopping, hospitals, employment, and so on. They have an extensive library of resources on cross-cultural experiences, information on the local area and overseas location. They have staffs ready for one-to-one meeting should we feel the need to address a specific subject. They host a weekly coffee morning for partners – which provides not only coffee, tea, and juice, but as well as scones in many flavours. The event is held at its own coffee room in a plush, castle-like, building. The building functions as a hotel, and the restaurant is rumoured to serve a nice Sunday brunch. Gym is located on the separated wing, for employees and their families. It widens my network and help me to find new friends. I am lucky because not all workplace provides such thing.

Since we experience a culture shock together, my friends will turn to me and ask about local food or surrounding restaurants. And I to them when I need to know where to find a good hairdresser or buy particular things. Everyday we learn about new things about each other.

So, who’s up for trying the original Sticky Toffee Pudding?




  1. Andie Summerkiss says:

    I can’t really say that I understand how you feel. I am preparing myself to leave too, but the thought of not being here with my parents are too devastating that the easier thing to do is to be in denial.

  2. We still have the last Sticky Toffee pudding you brought me and still taste good hee hee.

    Our friendship has grown to a different level Nit, yes maybe you are not in our daily basis life any more but somehow we still manage to strengthen this friendship by utilise other medium to be connected to each other; blog, YM, long email (just like one you wrote and I replied), and also we still manage to exchange text message in daily basis, even though we’re 7 hours difference :)).

  3. You right, lonely is hard to cope despite what people says in our home country. During my long travel, regardless how glamorous the hotel I stayed, the sensation when my plane touched down is unbeatable.

  4. Emigrants usually are and actually have to be, small time heroes/heroines.It’s hard to leave part of your identity back home.

    But then, there are some rewards also. Aren’t there?

  5. :) Anita..
    don’t know what to say. But completely agree with you and know how you feel.

    Perhaps it’s even more chalenging situation in your case, as you have married to a foreigner.

    and i really like what Ecky said. here i really make good friends with other internationals too, as we are wearing the same shoes. but my best friends back home, or in other part of the world..they will always be in my heart. and like Ecky said, the friendship has grown to a different level.

    Congratulation for the best post of the month!

  6. Finally Woken says:

    @Andie: you’ll be fine. After 3 months you’d start to like it, believe me!

    @Ecky: *gasp!* it should have been expired for several months by now. Throw it away!! Agree with our friendship has moved to a different level, but it’s easy because both of us are actively keeping in touch, up to the point our boys wondering what and whom we’re fiercely texting to. Not the same case with others, sometimes I’m tired to be the one who always has to initiate the contact first.

    @Toni: exactly. Maybe the first months when we got the job and must travel around, we were delighted. When we have to travel too many times for business, it becomes boring to pack and unpack, leave & arrive in odd hours like 4 AM or 12 PM, wait for 2 hours in airports which look the same, spend time in a hotel alone, don’t know where to go, nobody to talks to (if lucky our colleagues will throw us a dinner or take us out). Who says it’s glamorous? I never use gym or spa facility in the hotel, always too tired and can’t be bothered!

    @Colson: You’re very sweet. I don’t see myself as being heroine though *lol. But yes the experience of living abroad gives me a tremendous opportunity to know other people from other nations, and in turn, broaden my knowledge and make me to be more tolerant, even to my own people!

    @M: ah, my husband is more Indonesian and Asian than me so nothing’s challenging, really. It’s finding good friends and establishing new contacts are intriguing. The first one is difficult, the latter is easier. And yes, even we live in different continents my friends are still and always in my heart.

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