Things We Learn

There was a story when my parents came to visit me last September. This was their second holiday outside Indonesia, well…if you can call “umroh” as a holiday :p . I left Indonesia when I was young..well, Not that young but I was cute enough and I would be asked for my ID if I wanted to buy liquor at the supermarket :p ..  I do not see my parents much not only after I live abroad, but far before that I also already used to live by myself. When I was just 17, I left home for the first time and got to taste the sweet of freedom. I had to live in an all-girl boarding house nearby the college. And when I was 19 I came back moving in again to my parents’ house for about a year or so before I flew to Germany. So, I have been away from home like almost 11 years in total :O

Thus, they arrived in Holland. Stayed at our place, and as débutant tourists they were really amazed on how clean Amsterdam was and how many cows were scattered in outskirt areas (I hadn’t taken them anywhere in their first days because we were busy preparing the wedding). During their stay, they sometimes made comments that made me smile and I didn’t really realize it before. For instance; they noticed that I could cook traditional and healthy dishes they loved and took care of the household chores aptly. For me, it was really normal because I cooked almost every day. Besides that, they said that I was active and really independent. I giggled, because I thought they were joking 😀 my parents never made compliments before! But they really meant it. I then realized, of course..we had been apart so long and now it was the first time for them to see how and where I lived, and experienced the daily life with me again.

That made me thinking about things I have been learning along the way since I live here, things that can be seen like how my cooking skill has improved and how I “master” in household chores, but also about things that cannot be seen like my ideas and how I perceive myself and world around me. There are so many things have changed but not necessarily changed me, if you get my point? I do not want to sound too American, but all I wanna say is that the things that happen to me it makes me a better person so far. For instance, I was a very spontaneous kid and I made decisions in the past that were not really wise and always rushed myself into something. I learn to slow things down a bit and think better before I decide to do something. Another example, I was quite outspoken as an Indonesian but that level of outspokenness was not as the same as Western outspoken level (if there was ever a level for that?…) Before, I could just be grumpy because someone did some annoying thing to me. The other day, my Indonesian friends and I we were hanging out and chatting about stuff. One of the girlfriends said, she was really annoyed by a receptionist at the hospital that did not give a clear information to her. And my friend was really displeased by that receptionist’s service skill. Not to mention that she was frustrated because she could not show how much she was annoyed by her, so what she did was making a face and took the customer card harshly from the receptionist’s hand. That would work in Indonesia. That receptionist, if we were now in Indonesia, she would feel guilty to have made a customer angry like that … But in Holland, that statement does not mean shit! That receptionist would just think, what a freak. In a bigger world, my dear friend should have just said to the receptionist calmly, the service is given by the receptionist is displeasing and would be much appreciated if she can be more helpful toward a customer. No one gets hurt, the receptionist would learn from her mistake and everyone is satisfied, no? That night, my friends and I  were chatting all night over meatball soup and rujak about small things we have learned since we live in Holland. Was really interesting and funny to hear…:)


Pic is from here


I am not saying that I am a wise woman now but, all I wanna say is that sometimes by living far from home (for me, home means the country I was born in..Holland is my home too) makes you stronger, makes you wiser because you have to adapt to local customary. It makes you more flexible, I reckon. So, I am curious what are the new things you learn when you live outside your country?


10 thoughts on “Things We Learn

  1. For me, it’s been the same thing! Not getting offended by people’s blunt comments that they’re displeased about something, and learning to undo my very Sunda habit of beating around the bush when I have to say no to a request. Oof, it’s hard!

    • oh my dearest, what a combination you pick! I can feel you. darn our humble indonesian traits! I believe it will take us years to accept forthrightness of the dutchies 🙂

    • Iya 😀 personally aku udah biasa dari dulu sendiri (kecuali pas masih abege masih tinggal di rumah ortu ada yg nyetrikain baju & masakin hihi) dan kayaknya malah ga bs bayangin klo harus balik pake jasa asisten? Ya ga sih?Kagok euy..udah gak biasa :p

    • Kl baru pertama tinggal sendiri memang shock be’ dengan chores, tp lama-lama biasa kok malah nikmat (apa siih?). Hihihi kl punya baby sooo pasti emang tambah ribet, tp kan dikerjain berdua sama si bubu jd team work gt. Kl ngeliat temen2 disini yg pny baby mereka perkasa-perkasa deh, if they can do it pastinya semua orang bisa, toh?

  2. Een goede les: blijf rustig en zeg wat je ervan vindt, schep een leer-leer situatie. Maar ik, Nederlands van geboorte en aardig op leeftijd, vind dat nog steeds moeilijk. Ik weet achteraf perfect wat ik had moeten doen en zeggen. Volgens mij ben ik geen uitzondering, mensen reageren nou eenmaal vaak niet allen verstandig, of is het alleen conflictvermijdend gedrag?

    • Het kan beide, denk ik. Soms vermijden we conflicten onbewust, toch? en soms reageren we acteraf want het is zo eenmaal. We kunnen niet altijd scherp zijn hehehe, ik tenminste. Het is mooi dat we van elkaar kunnen leren hoe we met dingen omgaan, ondanks onze leeftijd en afkomst/achtergrond 🙂

  3. I totally can relate to this. Reading this post is like hearing myself talking in the reflection, unless yours sound wiser. 😉 You’re one hell of a great woman, Oppie. I enjoy reading your thoughts. =)

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