It’s weird. I thought leaving Jakarta would be hard. I thought that I would miss it, my routine, my home, my life. At this point I’ve been gone from Jakarta for a little over three weeks, and so far I don’t really miss it. In fact, I’ve barely given it a second thought.
I suppose this is mainly due to the fact that the past few weeks have been a whirlwind. I’ve spent 75 hours in transit, traveled to seven cities, taken six flights, slept in five different beds and hopped two continents. The past three weeks have been an insane combination of traveling, spending time with family, packing for Cambodia and freelancing. I’ve literally not had a moment to digest just how big my move from Jakarta was.
Perhaps once I settle down and have a moment alone with my thoughts, it will hit me that I no longer live there.
But then again, maybe not.
During my final two months in Jakarta I started to get a little bit sad about my imminent move. Nearly every day I would experience little pangs of sadness about a person I’d miss, a local food that had become a staple, or the fact that I’d be leaving my gig at The Jakarta Post. But despite these moments of nostalgia I was always quickly reminded of just how ready I was to move on. Every time I got stuck in macet (one of the city’s notorious traffic jams), or was woken up at 5am by my upstairs neighbors, or had to deal with the hassle and cost of renewing my visa I realized that there were a lot of things about Jakarta that I wouldn’t miss.
When it came down to it I was ready to move on from Jakarta. And now that I’m three weeks removed, I am just really looking forward to what’s coming next.
Jakarta was a tough city to adjust to. And if you’ve been reading along for a while, you know that adjusting to expat life in Jakarta was a struggle for me. I do feel like I hit a groove somewhere around the four-month mark. I got a job, I developed a routine, I met people, I started to figure Jakarta out.
Each month I began to like Jakarta more and more. By month four I started to be able to navigate the city like a local (and by local I mean I was no longer a complete spaz). By month six I started to get a better understanding of Jakarta’s history and culture. By month seven I discovered some amazing Indonesian foods and uncovered some truly cool things to do in Jakarta.
I started to understand just how underrated and misunderstood Jakarta is by travelers. I realized too that Jakarta is actually pretty fascinating. During my last month in Indonesia I had a blast seeing the sights and eating street food like a true tourist. And by month 11, I started to actually like Jakarta.
But that’s a long time to go to like a city.
While I did learn to like Jakarta, the truth is that I never really fell in love with it…no matter how much I wanted to. I think, for me personally, Jakarta is a city I would enjoy traveling in, but living there was a different story.
Jakarta was a city I was not at all prepared to live in. It’s huge, it’s polluted, it’s a hot mess. Literally it’s really hot.
And if I’m going to be perfectly honest, I never actually wanted to move there…am I supposed to admit that?
But seriously, of all the cities in the world there are to live in I can’t say Jakarta would be at the top of my list. It would actually be somewhere toward the bottom (sorry Jakarta!). The reason for our move was out of necessity, opportunity and a desire to live abroad. But it wasn’t out of a desire to live in Jakarta.
Jakarta was a difficult city to be a first-time expat in. But now that my year there is up, now that I’m gone, I’m grateful for the experience. I’m proud of myself for giving it a chance, for making a life there, for learning to like it when I could have easily spent those entire 11 months complaining and pouting the days away. Living there made me stronger, made me more independent, made me more open…
When it comes to living somewhere new, I kind of feel like I can conquer any place now – well, no warzones please. I’m really not that hardcore.
But that’s the thing about living abroad. It’s not always going to be easy, but it is going to be a learning experience, it is going to be rewarding, and there’s always going to be a positive takeaway.
For me, living in Jakarta opened my eyes to the outside world in a way that traveling never did and probably never could. And while Jakarta wasn’t the easiest place to live, in the end I genuinely started to like living there. And now that I’m gone, I know that it will always, always have a special place in my heart.
Have you ever lived in a city you couldn’t quite fall in love with?