I’ve been traveling the world on and off for 10 years, but before I moved to Jakarta I’d never actually lived outside of California before. Clearly living abroad is way different than traveling. Having the chance to live in Jakarta has enabled me to fully immerse myself in the culture and get up close and personal with all of this city’s cultural quirks. Things that were weird and foreign to me when I moved here nine long months ago have become routine and almost normal. And at this point I find myself doing all sorts of weird things I never did before I moved here.
11 Weird Habits I’ve Picked in Indonesia:
1. Walking while browsing the internet
Jakartans are obsessed with social media and as a consequence they constantly have their noses in their cell phones and tablets. According to this article, Indonesians spend an average of nine hours a day looking at their phones, tablets and laptops.
Think this sounds unrealistic? Spend a day wondering around a mall in Jakarta and you’ll get the gist of how true this actually is. Whenever I’m at my local mall I’m always taken aback by how everyone – from kids to grandparents – is on their cell phones. Whether they’re dining with their families, standing in line at the store or just walking through the mall, people are staring at their phones.
When I first got here I found this behavior disturbing. And I was thoroughly annoyed by how everyone would walk around with their eyes glued to their cell phones. But after being here for almost a year, I’m now one of those people who walks around while browsing the internet on her cell phone. And, yes, I have had many near-collisions with people and walls…
2. Taking jamu at the first sign of sickness
Jamu is a traditional herbal medicine and Indonesians swear by it. Aaron’s co-workers and students turned him onto it. Actually they forced it upon him the first time he got a cold. He then forced it upon me when I caught his cold. Ever since then we simply can’t live without it. There is absolutely no scientific evidence that jamu does anything. But it’s kind of like taking Emergen-C in the US before getting on a plane. It’s just what you do.
3. Living without a microwave
Going nine whole months without a microwave was never part of the plan. I always intended buy one, but every time I went on a mission to purchase a microwave I was shocked at how much they cost. Literally I haven’t found a microwave here that isn’t more than $150 for something so small it won’t even fit a plate. Considering most things that are made in Indonesia either don’t work or break shortly after purchase, shelling out hundreds of dollars on a microwave was a gamble I wasn’t willing to take.
Then months went by and I learned to toast bread and heat up leftovers on the stove. And I realized, sure it would be nice, but I don’t really need a microwave.