This Expat Life: Month 10

Wait, what? Has it really been 10 months?

Wow, I’ve now been living in Jakarta for almost an entire year.  And in exactly one month I will be leaving this city for good.  My how time does fly.

Here’s what I was up to last month:

Prepping for My Big Move

In case you missed my big announcement last month, I’ll be doing some traveling this summer and then I’ll be moving to Cambodia!  Saying that never gets old.

Ever since I found out that I’ll be staying in Southeast Asia for another couple of years, I’ve been working on making some changes to this site…see my pretty new theme?  I’ve also decided to write monthly wrap ups about my life as an expat and all the nitty gritty that goes on behind the scenes (because I know all of you are just so fascinated with my life!).

In a nutshell, the month of May was a good one.  I went from having no idea what I was going to do after my year in Jakarta to committing to two more years in Southeast Asia.  Last month Aaron and I nailed down plans to move to Phnom Penh.  Aaron’s contract with his new university has now been signed and plane tickets have been bought.  It’s all coming together.  And guys, I’m really excited!

Not knowing what we were going to do or where we were going to go after Jakarta has been a huge source of stress for me during the past six months.  I am stoked to be moving to Phnom Penh, a city that I love, but I’m also enormously relieved to have some sort of plan for life after Jakarta.

Both Aaron and I went through a series of emotional mood swings last month, going from being sad and nostalgic about leaving Jakarta right when we were starting to like it, to being just plain ready to get the hell out of here.  Certain things, like our unbelievably obnoxious upstairs neighbors, have both of us incredibly eager to move on.

In the past few weeks we’ve started prepping for our big move.  I’m relieved that we’ve now been through the process of moving abroad before because I feel so much more prepared this time around.

We only had three weeks’ notice before we moved to Jakarta and when I got here there were so many random, hard-to-find things I wish I would have packed.  But I suppose every expat has this experience.  So this month I’ve been ordering all sorts of fun things online.  I plan to arrive in Phnom Penh prepared with items like good bath towels, top sheets and a crate of mac & cheese – necessary items that apparently don’t exist in Asia.

As someone who has an unhealthy obsession with House Hunters International, I’ve also spent a disturbing amount of time looking at places online.  Whenever I’m sitting in my apartment, listening to my upstairs neighbors pound on the floor for no apparent reason, I open my laptop and swoon at Phnom Penh’s houses and daydream of living in a swank rooftop apartment on the river (a girl can wish!).  At the very least I’m just hoping not to have upstairs neighbors this time around.


Aaron and I had one last hoorah in Bali a couple of weeks ago.  It was our last trip in Indonesia before we move, which made me a little sad.  We were so thrilled to visit with some friends, old and new, and had a blast traipsing around Bali’s rice terraces, beaches and traditional markets during what was a pretty much sleepless 48 hours (more Bali posts will be coming your way soon!).

beach (1 of 1)

market flowers (1 of 1)


Most of my days have been spent in my apartment, which doubles as my office, writing and editing articles.  At this point, I feel like I have senioritis and am having an increasingly hard time focusing on work.  I’m also counting down the days until I don’t have to look at this view all day, every day.

The view from my balcony.  Can we say depressing?

That being said I am grateful to be working, doing what I love most: writing and editing.  I’m also in the process of looking for more freelance opportunities once I leave Jakarta.  Unfortunately for me, I’ve been so busy lately that I haven’t even been able to think about what’s coming next.  Hopefully I’ll make a lot more progress on this front in June.


I’ve been thinking about taking this blog to the next level for some time.  And seeing as I’ll be abroad for the foreseeable future, I figured it’s time to put thought into action.  I’m sure you noticed that the site looks a lot different (hopefully better!).

Every time I looked at my old site I would cringe.  After spending over a year plugging away at this blog it was about time for a little makeover.  I still have a lot of tweaking to do but as of now I’m very excited about the new look of my site.

The month of May was clearly a big month for me; it has been chock full of new and exciting life changes and opportunities.  I even made firm plans to attend my first ever travel blogging conference!  That’s right, I purchased a ticket to TBEX Bangkok, which will take place in October.  I’m so excited to attend my first-ever travel blogging conference and to learn more about the biz.  But if I’m going to be perfectly honest I’m a super introvert.  So I’m kind of nervous and not entirely sure about what to expect.

But that’s what life and travel is all about right?  Stepping into the unknown, no matter how uncomfortable it makes you.  No matter how anxious I am about all of these crazy life changes, I am really excited about the possibilities and the future.

Did you make any exciting plans last month?

About Justine

Justine Lopez is a California native who always seems to take the unconventional route in life. She also suffers from a serious case of wanderlust. In 2013, she set out on a yearlong round-the-world journey and never looked back. Since then she's lived the expat life in both Jakarta and Phnom Penh. She's now living and working as a freelance writer in Beijing. As she meanders her way through Asia she's always seeking out great vegetarian food, budget travel deals and amazing new travel destinations.

20 thoughts on “This Expat Life: Month 10

  1. Countdown! Haha, I can see that you cannot wait to explore Cambodia but glad to see that you feel more prepared for the move. The website looks good! Although I didn’t think of you as a pink kinda person..haha…(I like pink!) Oh and TBEX! I was just thinking whether I should or not…cos well, I’m not really doing up a professional travel website but I was thinking of getting some experience anyway and the fact that it is so much closer than having to travel to the US makes it really tempting…should I? Hmm….
    Sha recently posted…Entertaining Myself with a Pelican’s Help

    1. Haha, you are right on about the pink thing. I actually like the way it looks but I am totally not a pink person. I much prefer black 🙂 The color scheme is definitely something I plan to tinker with. I still can’t believe I bought a ticket to TBEX. I’m so nervous! But I figured since it’s literally an hour’s flight away from Phnom Penh I should really take advantage. It would be nice to have a familiar face there. Keep me posted on your decision.

      1. Hahaha! You are not making my decision any easier. …the thought of having a familiar face is also something to think about…I’m hopeless in an actual social setting…I end up either talking too much and too fast because I’m nervous or I just keep silent. The distance was also one of the plus points…I’ve been reading about TBEX all the time so when I saw that it would be so close, it did make me think about attending…and I have not been to Bangkok before too! So that would be a bonus….would they happen to announce the closing date for registration, you think? Don’t think I can afford it this month if I do decide to go…
        Sha recently posted…Entertaining Myself with a Pelican’s Help

        1. I don’t think there is a cutoff for getting tickets. I realize I bought mine absurdly early, so I wouldn’t worry too much about making the decision right away!

    1. Thanks Ashley! Haha, well I was exaggerating a little about the crate of mac & cheese. My real plan is to take a bunch of the powder packets though! I seriously have issues…

      You should attend TBEX! We can be introverted and nervous together 😉

  2. Justine! You’re going to TBEX!! I’m sooo excited for you! You’re seriously going to love it, introvert or no. They will load you up with booze anyway so hopefully that’ll take the edge off of any nervousness. And I can’t wait to see how you like living in Cambodia. The new theme looks great, by the way! Good things all around 🙂
    Leah recently posted…Month in Review: May 2015

    1. I am!! It seems like you had SUCH a great time. I still can’t wait to hear all about your experience. It definitely seems like they ply people with booze the entire time. Perhaps I’ll be just fine then 😉

  3. Your new design looks great!! I’ve been playing with the idea of updating too, but I’m still hosting on, and the whole move to self-hosting makes me a wee bit nervous. Gotta be done soon though, if I’m gonna do it, since I’m now 4 months pregnant (lol, yes, still have to write a post about THAT on my blog, just haven’t quite figured out how…) 😉

    Wondering if you’ve heard of It saves our life (and that of many expats), here in Korea, with regards to getting products we can’t access otherwise. I’m not sure how it works for Cambodia, but here, we get free shipping and the products are not more expensive than normal. They even have Annie’s homegrown Mac and Cheese on there…. 😀
    Shelley recently posted…It’s Panda-monium! 1600 Pandas+ Occupy Korea

    1. First of all…CONGRATULATIONS!!!! That is amazing news Shelley 🙂

      You should totally transfer to I’m the least tech savvy person and I had no problems. Plus, it gives you so much more freedom to use cool plugins and really customize your site. I guarantee you it’s worth the effort.

      I havn’t heard of iherb but I just went to their website. Thanks for the tip! Hopefully it works in Cambodia. I’ll have to do more research…

    1. Oh my gosh Joella. How did I get the same theme as you? I remember seeing your new design and loving it but when I picked this one I had no clue it was your design too! I wonder if the way I found Angie Makes was through your site…

      I really love Angie Makes too! She has been so helpful. I am planning on changing my color scheme and making some other design changes so hopefully our sites won’t be completely identical. I’m so sorry about that!!

    1. Come to TBEX with me! We would have so much fun 😉 You’re going to be missing Asia by that point. I think TBEX is the perfect excuse for a trip to Bangkok!

  4. The count down begins it is always exciting to move somewhere new think for me it’s the adventure. Last month, I left my job bought tickets to New Zealand, Bali, and back to the USA. Going to travel around the world and see what city I decide to stay in for a while. I’m excited about what’s to come with your blog and relocation.
    De’Jav recently posted…Wildness versus the Wild

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