A funny thing happened when the calendar flipped from 2014 to 2015: I realized that my time in Indonesia is finite.
I have eight more months here. And while some days that feels like an eternity, I know time will fly by. For the first time, I started to panic that I haven’t made the most of my time here, that I’ll leave and regret not taking full advantage of this unique opportunity. I can honestly say that I have no clue where I’ll be eight months from now but the commencement of a new year got me thinking about what I want to achieve – both personally and professionally – while living in Jakarta.
So in the spirit of the New Year (and because I feel anxious that I’m squandering my time here) here are a few things I aim do to make the most of my time in Jakarta:
More solo travel
Solo travel is something I never thought I would ever do, but I enjoyed my two first-ever solo trips to Penang and Bali so much that I really want to delve further into what many argue is a life changing experience. I currently have plans to do my third and (hopefully) final visa run to Singapore in just a few weeks’ time.
Even though I was just in Singapore a little over a month ago, I honestly didn’t see enough of the country’s highlights because I was too busy stuffing my face with Indian food. I plan to be a much better tourist this time around and I’m excited to go at my own, slow, pace and take tons of photos without driving Aaron crazy.
Work on the blog
I’m honestly not even sure what inspired me to start this blog nine long months ago. It was an amalgamation of little things, really. Regardless, I’m so happy I started doing this because it’s had more of an impact on me than I ever could have imagined.
It has connected me with amazing people around the world, completely transformed the way I travel and rekindled my love of writing. I’ve realized that it’s actually possible to make a living doing what I love the most – traveling and writing. I’m not sure where I see this blog going in the future. All I know is that I thoroughly enjoy blogging and I’d really like to commit more time to maintaining and improving this site, which also means posting more frequently.
Since I moved to Jakarta five months ago, my relationship with the city has been of the love-hate variety. I’ve said this before but the area I live in is pretty much akin to living in a mall – it’s sterile and not at all chaotic, authentic or gritty like other areas of Jakarta. And while I relish having a quiet and safe place to live, sometimes it’s less than inspiring.
I have yet to fall head-over-heels in love with this city. And that’s ok; it’s not something I can force. But I do have to admit that I haven’t given this place a real chance. When I think of what I’ve actually done since moving to Jakarta I’m embarrassed at how little I’ve actually seen and done. I literally haven’t even been to the top of the National Monument, which is the one thing every tourist does when they visit Jakarta. I need to work on exploring this city. Seriously.
Improve my photography skills
Because Aaron was a film major in college he knows a bit about photography and he passed his knowledge to me when we first met many moons ago. I know the basics like the rule of thirds, staying away from using a flash and always having a straight horizon line. I have a vague understanding of composition and I’ve recently become a master at switching my DSLR to the ‘closeup’ or ‘portrait’ setting when photographing food to make the background blur. Impressive, huh?
Obviously I have a lot to learn. So, while I’m living in this crazy city my goal is to take my camera out more often and photograph the city…hopefully I won’t get my camera stolen in the process. I also plan to start toying with f-stops and apertures, both of which fully baffle me. (On a side note, if anyone has any recommendations for websites, books or tutorials on photography feel free to let me know!)
Travel around Java
Because the whole finding a job thing didn’t go according to plan, at all, I’ve had to scratch the whole teaching English thing. And honestly, that’s okay with me. I’m managing to make ends meet and the benefit of not working a 9-5 is that my schedule is super flexible.
I’ve been meaning to do more traveling around Indonesia but I honestly have so little money left in my bank account that I prefer to be really careful about how I spend my precious few dollars. However, since I am living on the enormous island of Java, I figure an affordable way to do some travel is by exploring all of the amazing places that are in my own backyard. I’ve only seen a couple of the highlights on Java, namely Mt. Bromo and the temples of Borobudur. But because of Java’s rail system, travel around the island is relatively easy and cheap and I plan to take advantage.
I was a literature major in college and I went back to school and earned another degree in journalism (clearly I know how to pick degrees that are real money makers). Throughout my sporadic career writing for magazines and newspapers, I’ve always made a point of reading books, magazine and news articles to study up on writing. I firmly believe that reading drastically helps to improve writing. But since I gave up on the whole writing-for-a-living thing a couple of years ago, I fell out of the habit. Now that I’m writing again I plan to start studying up.
Since I know my time in Indonesia is not going to last forever, I really want to have a solid plan for what comes next. Last year I found myself in a really tough situation. After traveling for a solid year I only had a few thousand dollars left in my bank account. And I’m ashamed to admit that I was that backpacker who had zero plan of what to do next.
I was contemplating teaching English in Colombia (the country I was traveling in at the time) or going back to the US and starting over – but neither option sounded appealing. Thankfully Aaron landed a job in Jakarta and things are working out for the time being. But in the future I really don’t want to be in the same situation I was in last year. It was stressful and scary and honestly it’s ridiculous that I got myself into that situation. This time I plan to be prepared. So my goal is to use my time in Jakarta wisely and work feverishly to figure out the logistics of our next big move.
Am I the only one who felt a tinge of panic when 2014 ended? What are your goals for the New Year?