Shimshim: A Modern Nomad
Being half Iraqi and half British and having tried out living in both worlds, our restless blogger Shimshim picked one of the most flexible careers there is – teaching English as a foreign language – and visiting as many new and exciting places as possible. Or, as she put it, living the life of A Modern Nomad. Currently, she resides in Indonesia.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Indonesia, etc.
I am a modern nomad, I love travelling and I love the excitement that comes with it. The thrill of meeting new people and learning something new and fascinating about our human race always intrigues me. I love the English language and I try to pick up as many new words from other languages. Before moving to Indonesia I was working out in Budapest, Hungary for five months as an English teacher. I have been living in Indonesia for 2 months.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I started after I had moved to Budapest, as I had finally managed to buy a good camera and there is nothing I enjoy more than taking pictures of scenery around me that grabs my attention. After that it was a case of putting the ideas I had on to paper, or online so to speak. I also had started to read another blog called “Blue Abaya” which I found inspiring.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
Tell us about the ways your new life in Indonesia differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
I think it goes without saying that I am still experiencing culture shock; it comes in waves and goes in waves. I don’t think it suddenly starts or stops. Life is very different to the UK, but I do feel lucky that I lived in Iraq for many years and can see a lot of similarities. On the other hand, I am one of these people who adapt to their surroundings very quickly.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Indonesia? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
I am sure I could have prepared better, no harm would have come of it! If I could I would have bought some top sheets for my bed with me, I have since discovered I can’t buy them here. Also, it’s very difficult to buy tampons (ladies be warned, stock up before coming here!)
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
Well it didn’t happen to me but my friend, we had travelled to Bandung for the weekend and she wanted to get highlights for her hair. How complicated could it be? It turns out that after 3 hours of sitting in the chair, two attempts at doing the highlights – nothing changed! For some bizarre reason her hair color hadn’t changed one single bit. Nothing.
The salon assistants buzzed around her scratched their heads and just couldn’t figure out why it hadn’t worked. Thankfully it hadn’t gone orange or a horrid shade of green! I guess they are just not used to working with light hair!
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Indonesia?
Do your research, ask people, and join lots of networks. Information is difficult to come by here.
How is the expat community in Indonesia? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
Well, yes! I know there is only a handful of expats living in Cirebon (where I am now) and they all work with me in the same school. It would be lovely to find more; I know they are hiding somewhere!
How would you summarize your expat life in Indonesia in a single, catchy sentence?
Everyday feels like I am on holiday – I don’t want that feeling to end!