The truth about living in another country

This thought start tickling my brain after I failed on my driving theory exam (while all of my friends can pass it easily).

I drive since I was 17 years old. I drove every day when I was in Indonesia. I loved driving (in Indonesia) but I can not drive here.

I still have to take driving lesson and pass 2 exams : theory and practice here in my new country and I even can not pass the theory exam. I felt sad.

I have to pass this exam otherwise I only can bike or take public transportations. Well, I just want to drive.

 

Since I moved, there are some tests that I have to pass.

On the first year, I had to pass integration exam. I passed. 

On the second year, I delivered my second son and I am a mother of two in a new country. (I see this as another life test), I hope I will pass. 

On the second year (still), I learn driving. I don’t pass (yet!). 

In order to live in a new country, I have to be ready to learn again about myself and get adjusted with the new life.

 

Learning a new culture will influence your soul, your emotion and your view about yourself. 

Adjusting with a new life will give a deep impact in your mind and your soul.

Moving to a new country is mostly about digging your soul to the core and taking the best of it and shaping it. It is about you, yourself, how to be a better you in a new country. 

 

Is there any other truth other than we will shape ourselve into a better person when we live in a new country? 

I have read in http://www.exchange.state.gov that there are 4 stages on adjusting in a new culture :

1. Everything is Just Great

This is the wonderful “honeymoon phase” when everything looks wonderful and the newness of the new country is exciting and pleasant. I feel excited about being here, and the new opportunities that are waiting for you. When I go to the stores and visit, I impressed by how different is, and by how things are done here.

The truth is I didn’t feel this when I moved here with my family 2 years ago. But indeed I felt this when I studied here back in 2005 and 2007. So I skip this part. I jumped right away to the stage 2. 

2. Hostility

Problems may start occurring because of language and communication difficulties, or because of differences between the native culture and the new culture. At this point, usually people may start to feel impatient, irritable, frustrated, anxious, sad, or discontent, and to think that this new country may not be so wonderful after all.

Yes. I felt this right away.

Have 9 months old baby boy with me, moved to another country then soon I was pregnant.

It was very easy to feel irritated by everything surround me. It lasted for about a year. 

First thing first was learning dutch and was looking for a broaden social network. I went out with my son every single time I had chance (: when it was not raining). I contacted many people as I could and made an appointment to meet up. I joined a lot of activities. Yes, I brought my son everywhere with me. 

I even contacted my good friend  (she is Dutch) “Do you know someone who has a small boy like my son? I would like to meet her.” I contacted her friends and had a meet up and we become friends. Yes, I am that active. 

Most friends I have are Dutch and I need to meet a lot of Dutch people. That’s the way how I learn about this country and that’s how I start a new life. 

After 7 months since we moved, my son goes to the daycare for 2 times a week. I can have more time to study and for my self. That was a good decision ever! 

3. Understanding

At this stage, you will begin to feel more “at home” and able to get around, both physically, with the language, and emotionally. Things are starting to make sense now, and I don’t feel as lost or bewildered by the way things are done here.

I start to find myself again. I start to regain my own power. Thanks to Margreet (she is the owner of the daycare) because knowing that my kids are in a good hand, 2 times a week during the day, makes me feel good. 

I understand the fact that this is not an easy process. I surrender. 

It feels like a process of dating someone new. It takes a lot of meeting, a lot of talking, a lot of understanding and also seeing the true skin of each other. 

I understand that I have to start a new life. 

4. Acceptance

At this point, I have a better understanding of the new culture and realize that it is neither all good or all bad. I start to feel that (maybe) I “belong here”.

That’s the reason I start “Sekar Catering”. 

I love eating. I love cooking. I love working. 

I need to work for myself. My soul needs to grow as a mother, a woman and a wife. 

A lot of ideas in my mind and I need that to be done. Thanks to my family and friends who always support me. 

 

Moving to a new country gives a deeper understanding about myself.

I never thought that I am an ambitious person but I am and I accept that.

Felt lost, felt frustrated and even had burned out in the first year, didn’t stop me to learn, to develop myself, “I can do this!”.

It is a learning process every single day, as a mother, a wife, a woman, a friend, a daughter, a daughter-in-law, a sister-in-law, a neighbour, a caterer, an acquaintance, so on so fort.

My eldest son is in playgroup – peuterspeelzaal now. I am also in the parents committee- ouders commisie in the school. I feel honoured to be chosen. It makes me feel “being accepted”. It is very important part for me, as Sekar.

And also there are two major decision that gives myself back to the core.

I’m working again.

My husband said “Don’t waste your time applying a job. I know you. You only want to work under a company if you get inspired by its vision or get inspired by the leader. Other than that you are much better if you start your own company like you did in Indonesia”.

He is right.

….and I’m doing sport in the gym again. I feel better and I feel more relax even when I don’t pass the driving exam.

 

 

So.. 

Is there any other truth other than we will shape ourselves when we live in a new country?

You will have a new you but still you, yourself. 

 

For those who will move, this is my advice:

Go out. 

Get lost.

Get “a date” with your new country.

Find yourself back. 

Have yourself back. 

 

I can do it. 

You can do it. 

 

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Thank you so much for all my family and my friends !!

I feel sooooo happy to have you guys.

I feel like home here.

Love. Xx

Living together, having kids, but not married

Two weeks ago I asked my driving instructor “You have two kids, why you are not married?”

He replied “why should I? why you are married?”

and the first thing that came up in my head was “because that’s what the right thing to do, right?”

He replied again “what is the right thing to do here?”.

…………………………………………………………………..

Exactly!

Those statement intrigued me.

A lot of couples here in The Netherlands do “samen women’ or “samen leven” or… living together without marriage.

Living together without marriage and then having kids together until they are old and having grandchildren.. and they are still not in a marriage.

Can you imagine that?

I can imagine that.

 

First. 

In my home country, Indonesia, has “in complicated relationship” status with the government, including “don’t trust”, “dislike”, “not taking care of each other”.

This country, The Netherlands, has a “in a relationship” status with its government. It is like a very strong bond relationship, mostly including “trust” or “at least we trust that the government has a good will to take care of us”.

Based on that belief…

We live here by rules.

Every single things have its rules and it is in the system and connected to each other.

Really. The government even have a rules on how you throw the garbage into 5 containers, on how you drive, on how you smoke, on how you bike, on how you buy things, on where you live, with whom you live, aha!

Even when you are living together in the same address, the government knows that!..and automatically you are registered in the city council as “samen leven”…living together!

So, living together here, in my opinion, is actually almost the same as “a marriage” because it is registered.

You even can have a contract agreement of living together or fiscal partnership. You have the same rights with subsidies, allowance for the kids, etc.

Why should people married then if they have the same rights as people who are married?

Second.

In my home country, a marriage is seen as a family celebration that the kids are finally having their own life and living outside the house (finally..).

The structure of a living is first you graduate from university then working then having a marriage.

A marriage is a tool for some people to live outside the house or at least people see them as a grown up people. For some girls even will skip the “working” part and want right away to get marriage…

So then when you attend an Indonesian wedding, you will feel that it is a (big) family celebration..It is not only for the couple but mostly it is for the parents. The guests who attend the party are minimal 500-1000 people, range from the colleague of the parents, the friends of the parents, the old friends of the parents, the big extended family of the parents, and the rest are friends and colleague from the children (the couple). Who pay the wedding? Mostly the parents because it is their celebration, yes! finally my children are an adult.

In here, children are expected to live outside the house at age 18 and are expected to do self-finance of their own study. By that, means that people will see them as a fully grown up person by age 18. Parents are very excited when they live outside the house and have their own adventure of life…meaning working, falling in love, failing, standing up and trying new things… The parents will not interfere your life…

So… in here, a marriage is not like a schema that you have to do it. Not at all.

A marriage is not even a tool to hold your partner to stay faithful to you. Not at all.

A marriage is not a sign that you are an adult. Not at all.

A marriage is probably not even priority in people’s life here.

Because people are seen as an adult not only from the marital status….

and.. remember.. the government knows all.

People are getting married to celebrate their love. They are not getting married or having a wedding party to start a new life. So there are many cases that they are getting married when the kids are grown up already, or even when they are old already.

Third.

What if you have kids?

Remember again… if you are not married, but you have already contract of living together or fiscal partner contract then you both agree to have children together and it is easy to registered your children. Yes, you have to declare yourself as a parent (mother and father) of the child but in this case, the mother and the father already have a bond together as a family (by the contract that has been signed in front of the notaris).

In my opinion, if you already have the contract of living together that means two people are willingly to live together under the law and if you have to declare your children… it is not an issue. It is just a matter of a paper. The parents will get also subsidies en allowance.

My friend @misskania said “So, samenwonen and marriage here in NL is basically the same: the union of people living together and documents to be signed and submitted and paid.”

I don’t want to go into very details with the rights and what is the difference between marriage and samenleven and fiscal partner.

I just want to give perspective that there are another contract of living together in here in Holland. If there are two people live together, having kids, without married, it can be (and mostly) they have a contract of living together.. and that’s legal.

It is different if you don’t have any contract, you are single mother, and the father of the child doesn’t want to declare the baby… that’s another issue…like everywhere in the world.

Fourth.

When people agree to live together, it means they (really) live together, they pay tax of the house together, they raised the children together, they manage the house together… the same as a marriage life.

When they decide to get married (after having children) is because they want to throw a wedding party, and they want to celebrate it with friends and they have money!

Yes, getting married here is so expensive…also getting divorced is so damn expensive here.

When your wedding is on the weekend and you asked the people from city council to come to the party, it costs fortune.

It was cost more than 1200 euro on Saturday, in my wedding day, only to be registered and the city council people were coming to the wedding location. Can you imagine that?

…plus the church (if you want to do it in the church), plus the gala party in the night, the dinner… It is very costly..more than you can imagine.

But there is always 1-2 days in a month that’s free of charge. Usually people will have their wedding day on that day, in the city council.🙂

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(To be able to do this witness signing in the party location on Saturday, it was costly…super expensive… but yet it was once in a lifetime!)

The Last….

So, I hope I can give a little bit of perspective that “samen leven” in The Netherlands is not because of sex. It is not, it is never like that.

I think, being in a marriage and getting married are two different term.

For me, samen leven is the same as being in a marriage but without getting married (having a wedding day).

The rights in front of the government can be slightly different but.. still samen leven required a lot of documents and being signed and paid.

The united of two people, living together and having kids together are requiring a lot of responsibilities..

Some countries needs the official wedding-marriage paper to start those phase of life, some countries doesn’t need that. But for me, when you want to understand a culture of another country, you must see the whole bigger picture of that country. Try not using our own culture to see another culture. That will lead a judgement.

But there is one thing…one thing.. that’s why.. deepest in my heart, I still love the fact that I’m married to someone I love..

There is one thing that “marriage” can’t be compared as “samen leven”…

I can call my partner as “MY HUSBAND” and he can call me “MY WIFE” officially.

Yes.

Those 2 terms, are only can be done when you are married.

So, you want to get married or not?

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(This photo was taken in front of the church! Yes, he is my husband!)

 

 

Greetings from Zwolle,

Sekar Steenwelle-Nareswari

 

 

 

 

My blog through my eyes

Today I get my first assignment from #blogging101 that is conducted by The Happiness Engineers from wordpress @michelleweber @simplysaru and @chrissiepollock. The assignment is actually consist of 2 simple questions : “Who I am” and “Why I’m here?”.

I read this after convincing myself that my sons won’t wake up in 10 minutes because you need stay focus while reading an important assignment. After reading it, my sons woke up and had to bring them to school… and surprisingly my mind still stay focus in this assignment… I keep thinking “Why I’m blogging?” when doing grocery shopping, playing with the youngest, preparing the lunch… and now I’m sitting here and writing and wondering..

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I’m a reader. I’m a thinker.

I think about everything. I read about everything. I combine both of them and most of the time I find a new explosion in my head… Eureka!! A new perspective of life….

…and that perspective has to be written. If I don’t write it.. I feel so irritated. I will think about it over and over, days by days, weeks by weeks. I have to write. But, where I have to write? In a blog? Really?

It is scare me a little when I start my blog in 2012. I will publish my thought… How scary is that? People will see me, my brain, my opinion, my thought. There will be no barrier between my opinion and my readers’ opinion… I can’t lie, I can’t hide.

I always feel that writing is all about being naked.

You are who you are when you write.

You can not lie.

You become the true you when you write.

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That’s how I see myself… I need to write, I need to share my thought.. It’s scary but it is also beautiful because I can be honest about my life, my perspective and how I see life.

I gain happiness after writing. I feel empowered. It gives me energy…

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It feels good to share what is in my mind….

Especially when my readers said that my writing gives them new idea, new perspective about life. That makes me happy. Sharing is celebrating. I share about my life because I celebrate life. My blog is my own celebration of life.

Regards,

Sekar Nareswari

Typical Indonesian gathering (in The Netherlands)

Last weekend I was in Den Haag for having a lunch together with my Indonesian friends. There were 16 of us. We had lunch in Kee Lun restaurant in chinatown. It was super gezelling (fun and great).

At the end of the day, when I was home, my husband asked “so, what you guys talked about during the gathering?”. I was like “hah… hmmm.. what we were talking about actually..hhmmm..you mean.. is it like what kind of discussion we had during lunch?”. He said “yes.”… and I was like again “I don’t think we have any discussion…”. Then.. I was in silent and then replied “We have a typical Indonesian gathering anyway… it is called makan-makan!”

What is typical Indonesian gathering :

1. Food 

We love food. The best people is people who love food. We are adventurous with taste. So we don’t mind to order new food that we never eat before. Let’s say we never “play safe” with taste. Last weekend we didn’t think too long when we ordered the food… The discussion we had is “We order 2 or 3?” and the rest replied “threeee just three….. we will finish it anyway!!” or ‘We order this one or this one?” and the rest replied “both! ordered both! both are delicious!”.

We gave our order list to the waitress and the waitress reacted “Are you sure? You order three for this veggies menu, this is too much”… Of course we ordered three!! She was surprised and said that the particular dish is served in big portion. So we changed, we just order 1 but we added 2 new dishes. So basically it was the same size and amount.🙂

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All of those dishes were served for 7 women.🙂 We ate all of them in less than an hour. After that… we still ordered some dishes…

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When there are at least 2 Indonesian, there will be a very good food served! When my Indonesian friend will visit me, I will cook a lot and we will enjoy our food while having a good conversation… including talking about food.🙂

2. The Talk

Basically when we have a gathering with many people, we only want to have a good laugh together. Laughing out loud is a typical Indonesian ambient when we meet up together. It doesn’t matter only 2 or 3 people. We don’t discuss heavy stuff, we even don’t talk about our daily life like “how’s your children?”, “how’s your holiday?”… We just make a joke almost about everything.. have a very light conversation that will be twisted and turned into a joke and everybody will laugh (out loud).

Almost there is no pause moment without laughing. We are talking and also we are eating… and we are also talking about the food that is served “Hmmm.. this is delicious!”, “wow!! how this is cooked anyway? it is so soft.”, “ahhh this is delicious but this dish is more delicious in the other restaurant.”, “you can find this ingredient in that shop.”… so on and so fort. The talk is always light, easy and everybody can follow the conversation…it doesn’t matter where you come from. We are good at building a conversation.

When we meet up with people from another country or from another community, it is not difficult to build a casual conversation that makes them feel in inner circle. Even between a very close friends, when we are going out… we won’t talk too much about our daily life. We prefer to have a light conversation that is lead to “LOL” (Laugh Out Loud). A good meeting up, a good atmosphere have to have a lot of LOL.

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This us, before the food is coming.

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…and that is me, when the food is coming! :-)))

So, what is typical Indonesian gathering? There are only 2 important ingredient…

A good food and a good laugh!🙂 guarantee!

Especially when we live so far away from our home country. When we meet up, we just want to have a good laugh… It re-charges our soul.🙂

*For the all my friends in the pictures !!

  Thank you guys!! It was super fun meeting up!! 

  Always fun, always happy to see you guys. Xxx

 

Cheers from the upper-side town of The Netherlands,

Sekar Nareswari

What we do when travelling with toddler and baby

We are not a globetrotter but we do love traveling. We don’t travel around the world as many as we want but every year we always have at least 1 trip that involves at least 16 hours trip in the plane. Yes, that trip is going to Indonesia, my hometown. The other trip is just a trip surrounding The Netherlands, which we quite often do it… usually during weekend.

We are not a super cool family traveler who can write a blog about our traveling but maybe I can share some tips about how we do traveling across the continent, more than 16 hours flight with a toddler and a baby.

Here are the tips:

1. A few weeks before going with a plane

We flew with a plane, across the continent, as a family with kids, since our first son was 6 months old. We flew to Australia. The last time we flew with our kids, 3 y.o and 11 months old, was last month, on the way back to Holland from Indonesia.

For us, the most important preparation is explaining to them that we will go in the plane and what they will expect to see, to know, to touch, to eat, to do, to hear, to listen, basically everything…

We started it by looking at the sky when a plane fly above the sky and we started talking to our sons what is inside the plane… and continue having casual conversation when we see a plane on television or someone is going  with a plane or a book with a plane picture, etc.

…and we also said to them what we expected from them when we were in the plane.

It helps ! A lot !! They were prepared, mentally.

2. The D-day. 

Both of our sons are very extrovert. They gain energy by being in the crowd and they love making contact with everybody… and our eldest son loves having conversation with everyone. The more tired they are, the more active they can be. Unbelievable!🙂 but it’s true.

We are fully awared of that.

So, our plan was keeping them active and awake and just waiting the moment that they were very sleepy and slept by themselves.

They loved to move, to be active, to run, to crawl, to speak with strangers, to sing a song, etc.

So, the day before we were leaving, I and my husband tried to have a lot of rest and took a vitamin. We knew that we won’t sleep long in the plane which was true!

We brought a lot of toys but that didn’t really work with our sons. They are extrovert, so they needs to see the world around them ! Let it be. If that is the case with your children… Let them walking around and go to the stewardess place in the back of the plane.. usually there are some spaces for the baby and kids to stretch their feet.. Have fun with your baby. Be  ready to be tired and not sleeping.

It works that way!

My eldest son slept almost 11 hours in the plane after watching frozen and toy story. So we could focus on taking care of our baby.

So, the tips are… we have to know what is the character of our kids. What is the thing that can keep them entertain… don’t worry if they cry in the plane. Be ready for that and distract them as necessary as possible but let it be if they just want to cry.. other passengers will understand that.. trust me. Especially when we seat in economy class… some people might get irritated but let it be… they won’t see us again.. what matter is your family and your emotion, so manage it well.🙂

My tips, I always say to people who sit next to us that my baby will cry and I apology if that bother her/him. Smile, heads up, be a parents who take care of their baby, and people will see your effort and understand your battle.

In our experience, children or baby will cry once a while but they will stop anyway when they sleep or get distraction. Let be honest, as an adult, we also feel super tired and get bored with 16-18 hours flight, up in the air… if we can cry, we will.. but we know that we are not allowed, we are adult!. So let the baby cry once a while.. they feel bored as well and crying is the only thing they can do to express their super boredom feeling.

We also used baby carrier in the plane (see the picture at the bottom, my hubby used it), the boba carrier that we borrowed from our good friend. Our baby slept easily in the carrier. Whenever he felt sleepy, he just slept right away there.🙂

I always see myself that I will be in the battle when I fly with my kids. So, I prepare my energy, my mood and my emotions. That’s my only strategy. The rest is the same like everybody else: bring a lot of toys, bring a lot of spare clothes for the kids and for the adults, bring water in a good bottle (they will allow it), a lot of cookies, wear a very comfortable yet warm clothes and shoes, bring everything that makes you feel ready to be in the battle!🙂

Don’t worry about the stewardess, they are all very helpful !

I don’t know why but in every trip, every single time we were landed and about to leave the seat, the stewardess always, always hug or just touch my shoulder and they said “you are doing good, mom!”… one or two times I really cried in front of them.. felt so relief that I was doing great as a mother with kids in the plane. I think that is quite an achievement, isn’t it.

3. The Kids’ jetlag

Trust me, there is no other tips then Let it Flow !🙂 The first few days when we were in Indonesia, they woke up around 2-3am and stayed awake until 5am Indonesia time (that is around midnight in Holland). We just followed our natural-biology rhythm. But we tried always put them in bed the same time as we put them in bed while we are in Holland, 8pm. After a week, their body could follow the Indonesia time.

The same as when we arrived back in Holland. We just keep on with the routine we usually do when we are here. When they woke up in the middle of the night, just let it be.. but let them know that was still midnight and everybody should sleep. Be consistent with the rhythm and enjoy the lack of sleeping.🙂

As a parent, we just have to be prepared not having a long rest, that’s all. Drink a lot, eat healthy, take vitamin, are the tips.

4. The hotel 

Our eldest son never has difficulty sleeping on the same bed with us, while our youngest has difficulty doing that. He wanted to sleep on his own crib, and preferably in his own room (but that can’t during traveling). So, he had some times struggling to sleep with another people in the same room although he slept in his own crib. If that’s the case, always order the baby box in advance. It is also very handy to keep them safe, playing in the box while we take shower.

5. The program 

We love meeting people so our agenda always full with meeting up people. My suggestion is… try to meet 1 people/group of people per day. The rest, try to spend time with family/kids.

My eldest son had some moments that felt so confused because everyone spoke different than him and he couldn’t understand everyone, although his grandparents speak dutch. But he loves talking to everyone, that made him sad for 1-2 weeks and didn’t feel so secure with the environment. I will feel the same if I’m in a new country that I don’t understand the language… like the first time I was in Holland, it was stressful.

But.. sooner he understood that people can speak many languages and he tried to catch up.. and willing to learn some words and sentences.

We should put our kids needs in priority.. we should make them feel secure that the new world they enter isn’t scary. We are there for them.

At the end, we had a fabulous holiday!🙂 The children met their grandparents and I met my family and my hubby met his in-laws.🙂

We will not do trip to Indonesia this year because we want to have a trip to France and do camping in this summer holiday🙂 So, wait for our adventure.. a camping trip! A true dutch summer holiday trip.

For parents who want to have a long haul trip with their kids: Good luck and Have fun !!🙂

 

Greetings,

Sekar

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Here was when we were about to leave Holland🙂

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Here was when we arrived in Schiphol !🙂

 

 

5 things I miss about Holland and 5 things I love about my holiday in Indonesia

Last month we just came back from our family holiday to Indonesia. We had 5 weeks holiday. Het was super leuk vakantie! (It was super great holiday!). We stayed in my brother’s house which just in front of our parents’. Het was gezellig ! (cozy, nice, great!). My soul is recharged.

My mission to eat many variations of Indonesian food was accomplished! I’m happy, my belly is happy.

My ambitions to visit a lot of extended families was achieved! My soul is happy.

Everything runs as its plan except we missed our flight because our taxi driver didn’t have a good instinct to know where was the worst traffic jam (that was another story). We ended up in the worsts one.

I love our holiday but I do miss some things from The Netherlands…I remember the first 3 days I arrived in Semarang, I texted my dutchie friends about things I miss most from Holland.

1. Biking

I went around Semarang with a car, a big family car with the driver of my parents. It was super cozy and easy but still I miss biking with my kids.

When I was there, it took at least 30 mts to go from one point to another, with a lot of traffics. I felt tired already being on the road so long. I can imagine for people who are living in Jakarta… fyuihhh… in a traffic jam every.single.day.

It takes a lot of your energy to deal with a fully packed traffics everywhere. That’s why I miss biking in a quiet street…like in my city now.🙂

2. Talking non-sense with a stranger

Ik mis praten over koetjes en kalfjes!🙂

That’s the term to describe about talking non-sense with the stranger. Dutch people love to have conversations with each other..

When I’m waiting in the cashier line, someone can start a conversation with me about.. the weather. Yes. Dutch people loves talking about the weather. A very simple one like “it is really dutch weather today, he!” (meaning : gloomy and dark with a rain) or “Wow, it is sunshine now” or “Oh, gezzz.. it is cold, isn’t it.”. Whatever the weather is, talking about weather is always a great opening conversation with a stranger and it is always fun.

….or when I bike over the city and my neighbour almost pass me by with his bike, he will bike slowly and bike next to me and we talk about our daily life, which is always start with “Hoe gaat het?” (How are you?) or “Gaat goed met jou?” (is goed with you?)…and the conversation begins.

I miss that kind conversations while I was in Indonesia.

3. The breads

When I stayed in the hotel in The Netherlands, I missed nasi goreng was being served in their breakfast buffet.

When I stayed in some hotels in Indonesia, I always missed a good breads were being served in their breakfast buffet. Some hotels do have a good one and that is great.

4. A very routine schedule

This is really depending on the traffic.

I bike everyday and there is no traffic jam in biking line. That’s why it is not difficult to have a very routine schedule and being on time.

It was traffic jam almost everywhere in my hometown and… you just can not be on time.

Especially in Jakarta. You just can do 1 thing per day, meeting up with a client or doing grocery shopping or going to ikea… you can’t do all of that in 1 day.

That’s why there are a lot of malls that offer many kinds of comforts.. It is a mall, also a office building, also family recreation with supermarkt, also there is a church inside the malls…salon, spa, kids playground, apartment, etc.

When people say that Indonesian people tend to be always late. It is true because with the traffic jam everywhere, you just can’t predict how long you are in the traffic….and with that situation, people also expect that their friends will come late anyway.. usually people will come 30 mts-1 hour late than the appointment schedule. Even with my cousins, they were 5 hours late because of the traffic jam… which was without traffic jam, they could arrive within 1 hour. It is in the same city and you can be trapped in traffic jam for 5 hours. It is amazingly tiring.

5. Nederlands praten (Speaking dutch)

Call me crazy but I did missing that part.

I missed speaking dutch in my daily life. That’s all.🙂

 

But.. but…

I do love love love our holiday in Indonesia. There are 5 things that I know I will miss it when I’m in Holland.

1. The jokes

Every culture, every country has its jokes. When I’m in Holland, most of the time, I have to adjust myself to its culture and have a good laugh about the jokes that commons here. Every jokes is funny, it is just different kind of jokes.

In Indonesia, I don’t have to think what kind of conversation I have to start, what kind of jokes that I have to say. It goes natural for me and it is FUN !🙂

2. My eldest son knows that his mother speaks not only dutch

At first he was confused why I spoke differently than in Holland. I speak Indonesian to him but he rarely heard me speaking Indonesian every.single.time and everybody speak Indonesian and so fast. At first he said “mama, speak dutch, please, I don’t understand” but by the time… he understands that people can speak so many languages and he starts speaking Indonesian as well (not so much but he understand some sentences now, not only words). It was such a great experience for us as a multilingual family.

3. Children playing together outside in the housing complex

Around 4pm, some children will go outside their house and play together in one of their friends frontyard. It was super nice to experience that. Parents will feed their kids or just having conversations.

Some people really against the culture feeding their kids while they are playing. For me, if they enjoy, why we against that. At the end, as teenager they will eat and sit on the chair during diner time.

It was soooo nice to see children playing together and parents can mingle together !

4. A city that never sleeps

My city is the 5th biggest city in Indonesia and with 1,5 million populations. It is also describes as “city that never sleeps”. Jakarta is even more active, “city that never sleeps, never tired”.

I love the ambient of the trendy, ambitious, modern city. It stimulates my energy, my brain, my soul…

It gave me a lot of tickling in my ambition “what can I do for my future?”.

I saw a lot of hip, trend, ambitious young people. I went to a lot of new high-end restaurant. I met a lot of inspiring young businessman.

The world goes round faster, moving faster…

The trend, the fashion, the marketing strategy, the career plot… are moving fast.

I’m just a big city girl. A big city life always amaze my soul. It likes kicking my ass and say “Bring it on, girl!”.

It was the same vibe when I went to Rotterdam, Utrecht, Den Haag or Amsterdam!

5. Indonesian food.

Do I have to say more about this?

Indonesian food is the best!

It never dull! and Indonesian people love food.

People who love food is the best people… and food is the best way to get you in happiness mood. So.. I’m happy to be Indonesian and I was happy in my holiday!🙂

Last but not least,

Thank you for all of you that I’ve met in Indonesia… It was such a great great holiday because I met you, guys. The greatest gift that people can give is their time, and you guys really gave that to us. Thank you so much… Xxx

 

Greetings,

Sekar Nareswari

 

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Friendship between woman in The Netherlands and Indonesia. Aha !!

This morning I had a conversation group. Today’s topic is “Friendship between woman”.

One of the lady in the class has brought up this topic. She presented an article from Kelly Valen, a writer from US. Kelly wrote that jealousy and competition are always the obstacle in finding a true friendship between woman. Aha!

Do you think the same as well?

At the end of the discussion, our facilitator said that she didn’t have any of that problems with her female friends whom also to be her colleagues as well. When they work, they focus on work.

So.. I begin to think what is the difference in friendship between woman in The Netherlands and in Indonesia.

Aha ! Interesting. Don’t get mad, I don’t judge (yet!) hehehe.. I try not to… promise. I won’t talk about the jealousy and competition.

This will be super sensitive topic but I would like to share my opinion…

Ok.

Almost every foreigner who just move to The Netherlands have the same complain, it is super difficult to make a friendship with the local.

I have to say, it is.

The degree of friendship in here is a lot. You have a friend, good friend, best friend, colleague, and acquaintances.

In the country where I was born, you can call your acquaintance as a friend, or a good friend, you can call your colleague as a friend also. So…everybody is your friends… you have friends everywhere… although maybe it is just an acquaintance!

You meet a lady in your yoga class for the first time, you smile to each other, laugh together, you guys can exchange a phone number and you can tell to your husband “I make a new friend!”…which is it is ! It is a friendly culture.

But that’s rarely happened in Holland.

My son joined a music dance class for toddler. Every time I went to the class, I met some mothers who also brought up their son. We chatted but we didn’t exchange phone number at the first time we met.. not also at the second time.. not even the third time..

Until now I even didn’t have any of their phone number and neither do they with another mothers. Aha !

But when accidentally  we bumped each other in the city.. we can talk a lottttt about our children, a glimpse of our lives… but no.. we are not friends to each other.

Confusing? Don’t be. It is just a culture.

In here, people really respect on other private life, people respect on other decision in life..

The value is independency and respect. We value friendship as a treasure. It is really true. It is typical dutch people that they have at least 2-3 best best friends from kindergarten ! well.. ok elementary school.. until now..

or maybe that’s the only best friends they have for the entire life.

Even between neighbours… I don’t have to make a good friendship with all of them.. only just a few and that’s ok.

People value what most precious for them and other people respect that.

Not the other way around…

People should value what I value and that’s respect. Understand the difference?

In Indonesia,

We value “social bond”… relationship with others is very important, doing things the same as others, doing things together is very important. We go with the flow. We are depending on what others think, on what others do, on what others opinion. I called it… a very friendly culture…means everyone is a friend to everybody.

It is very social that it is very easy to make a friendship.

It is a very communal tradition. We do everything together, we decide everything together, we think together.

But when you eat alone in the restaurant… people will think, how come? Don’t you have any friend?

The worst is when you are single, no boyfriend yet for a long time… people will really tease you, every single time.

Why? because it is a very social country. When you are single, there is must be something wrong with you.

So, in The Netherlands….

On the first year, I found it very difficult to make a friendship with a dutch woman.

So I push myself to join a lot of (I mean..really a lot) activities and really making a good contacts… and continue to prove to them that I’m a countable person.

Now.. I can say that I have a lot of social contacts and I have good dutch female friends, een echte vriendinen.

Dutch woman is not easy to say “you are my friend”… It requires a lot of meetings and occasions and dinner together with family… and then.. a birthday invitation. If you get a birthday invitation, it means they see you as a good friend. It is. Real friend stay, because we have a real bond. If it doesn’t have a real bond, I won’t call her “friend”.

Indonesian woman is easier to make contact among them. It is easier to say “you are my friend” and it doesn’t require a lot of meetings… even just a lot of whats-app already regards as a good friends. I find it more comfortable, because less effort. It is more friendly environment. People laugh together, make a jokes, even with another whom they just meet in Facebook. But the bond is also different.. not every “friends” is really a friend… maybe it is just a contacts, maybe it is just a acquaintances. Friends come and go, real friends stay.

In here,

We only invited a very good friends to come to our wedding party. People whom didn’t get invitation, they weren’t angry.

In Indonesia,

That won’t be happened, at least in a traditional communal society. We have to invite everyone we know, physically and literally. So maybe you won’t have a real connection with people whom you invite to your wedding party. The average invitation for wedding party is 1000 invitations. Aha!

What is the difference in friendship between woman in The Netherlands and Indonesia?

It is less messy here. It is a clear relationship. We are friend because we choose it to be like that.

If the bond isn’t exist… no one gets hurt. Life moves on.

It is less “games”. I find it more effort to make a friend but it is a real deal at the end.

in Indonesia,

It is more challenging.

There is a grey spot between friends and acquaintances, contacts, good friends… and we are friends because…. you are a friend of my friend, so you are my friend also. We are friends because… we are in the same sport community. We are friends..because… it is good to have a lot of friends, right? We have to be friendly.

If the bond isn’t exist? We still continue this friendship in the grey spot… but you still my friend.

It is too many “games”. I find it less effort to make a friend but it is exhausted to maintain the one whom in the grey spot.

That’s my very honest opinion.

Friendship is one of the most important relationship after family ties and children ties.

A real friend is a treasure. I learn that in here.

I really appreciate the meaning of a real friend when I move here.

People can have only 3-5 real friends in their whole life and that’s fine. The rest is only a contacts.

People can have a very small wedding party.

People can know each other for more than 6 months and still they don’t call each other as a friend and no one gets hurt if one doesn’t get a birthday invitation.

People can work together for 7 years and still they call each other colleague and don’t invite each other on their special occasion.

I love both culture.

Both have their benefit.

I live in both culture.

One is less messy. The other is more friendly.

….

and I’m happened to be a person who has a lot of friends…. nope, they are not in a grey spot. They are a real deal to me.

Love,

Sekar

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Thank you Aljona for drawing me this picture.

and.. Mariet was one of my teacher in my previous class. She drew a tree and put 3 character of me : Grappig (funny), Pittig (strong willed) and Sprankelend (friendly).

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I really really value my friendship with her. She is my best friend. She is the one who come to my house and make her own tea and even make a tea for me ! That’s a real deal.🙂

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I am among a very great Indonesian people whom I adore their spirit and knowledge ! They are smart, single, knowledgeable, witty and funny !

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Love them both ! Adore them both !

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treasure my relationship with her. I know her from my very best friend. I asked my best friend “can you introduce me to your friend who has a son ?”. Voila ! now we become a good friend.

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They came to my house when I just delivered my son… They came with a food !! It was super super sweet of them. I never forget that. She even changed the diaper of my son.

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The longest friendship I have so far, since 1992. She lives also in The Netherlands. We have contact almost every single day. We share our thought, our worry, our happiness, our anger toward someone or something.

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Always feel warm when I’m hanging out with them..🙂

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Three handsome Indonesian man ! Always feels like home when meet them up.

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Thank you for the friendship ! Thank you for the lovely bond…. Xx.

Having a baby in The Netherlands

My second son was just born 4 months ago in here, The Netherlands. My first was born in Indonesia.

I had a vaginal birth with my second son, the first one was a caesarean delivery.

Maybe people are right… the second time was easier.

Maybe they are right… I can handle the pain better.

Maybe my parents are right… I have more experience thus I can see things brightly.

The truth is I had baby blues when my first was born. I had it for almost 3 months. Trust me… It was purely hormonal (at least that was what I felt). You have it or you don’t have it. I have to say… purely luck.

I was struggling to cope with my emotion. It was like going on roller coaster in every single hour. Exhausted.

At the end, it was gone. The melancholic feeling was gone.

We moved to The Netherlands and 6 months after… I was pregnant (again!).

Was it different?

I have to tell you this…

It is really possible to have a very light pregnancy while still taking care of my toddler son, still biking every single day, cleaning the house, studying, and socialising.

I was amazed with that miracle. I felt so easy.

Also.. the delivery process wasn’t that bad. The contraction was fast and I only needed 10 minutes to push my second one out and see the world for the first time.

I felt so blessed… I even wanted to jump to say “huuraaayyy!!” to express my feeling.

I still feel amazed that I could have a very beautiful pregnancy and delivery process. It felt like a dream came true. But… the surprise wasn’t ended yet…

…and when I was home… 10 minutes later… someone rang the bell.

She said “good morning! I’m your kraamzorg for 7 days!”.

Aha! This is it. This is the moment that I will experience that I didn’t experience in Indonesia…

Kraamzorg is an institution that provides help and service for mothers who just delivered the baby, once she comes back home.

Kraamzorg will send a nurse to work in a mother’s house for 44 hours or more. We, as parents, will divide those hours into days. I decided to have her for 7 days.

Her job is taking care of me and my baby.

She said “what you have to do is 100% rest, because when your husband is back to work, you have to do everything by yourself.”

I looked at her like… “really? I can rest?”

She replied “I will take care of the baby and your house.”

“Meaning?” I asked.

“Other than take care of you and your baby and also your first son, you can ask me anything about how to deal with a new life and I will give advices in anything you need, I will prepare your food, take care of your laundry and clean the house.”

……we’ll see what is the impact she will bring to me…..

I didn’t give order to her. We have an equal position. It is not like between boss and employee. Not at all.

When she came to our house… it means she was the one who manage the house. I rest my case.

I slept, I ate, I took shower and I gave breastfeeding.

Luckily I had a very sweet and very skilful and knowledgeable kraamzorg lady.

She gave us a lot of good advices how to take care a newborn. We learned a lot from her.

We learned how to deal if the baby cried for so long, how to cope with the new life. how to take care of our first son, and how to manage with the busy life we have. She was more like an advisor who helped us with the household chores also.

That was actually what we missed in Indonesia.

…..

I trusted her with my heart. My husband trusted her also.

My midwife said that my stitches, down there, were very beautiful, but it didn’t decrease the pain. It was hell painful.

Luckily… it was gone within a week.

With all the helps from my kraamzorg lady, I was able to lift up my strength and ready to do parenting of a toddler and a baby after she was gone. She boosted my confident. She believes in me.

I always felt that actually she is an angel.

Without her help, I wouldn’t be able to gain confidence to take care of my children after she had finished her work.

Of course my husband and my family had influence too.

But in this case… it gives me really different feeling.

When my first son was born… I felt like my world was upside down, I didn’t feel like myself. Suddenly got struck by baby blues.

With my second one… I even didn’t cry for postpartum syndrome. I felt joyful, also felt a lot of pain, but still I felt so so light.

Maybe my husband is right, she helped me but the fact that I’m alone here.. no family who can come everyday to help, no driver, no maid, gave me a boost or gave me a push that I had to be confident, I had to gain strength to take care of our children while he was working.

Maybe my husband is right… It is not merely because of the kraamzorg lady but it’s me who has different mindset.

… I only partly agree.

I still believe that I was lucky. I was lucky that it was her who came to us.

Some people complained about their kraamzorg.

Mine was a blessing.

Yes… you were a blessing..I know you are reading this, Marjan.

Thank you so much for coming to our life, even only for 7 days.

I feel so blessed.

I hope we can meet up again… one day.

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He loves playing with his little brother. Sometimes he is so excited that he couldn’t control his own power. I have to teach him “your brother is still so so small…be gentle”.

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My men !🙂

Having a family is merely about one thing, it is about love.

Greetings from a mother who can’t sleep….

and hoping both kids sleep through the night.🙂

Sekar.

A letter for you, my eldest son.

I remember the first time I heard your cry, I couldn’t describe how I felt. I have a baby boy in my arms.

When you were home at the first time, I felt overwhelmed.

When you had your first smile that was the time that I had a chronic sleep deprived. Suddenly my pain was gone.

Your big, bright eyes, always capture everybody’s heart.

You let me believe that I have a strength to face the puzzle of parenthood.

You make me stand up and chin up on how I raise you.

You give me strength that I am able to face the cultural differences when we moved to The Netherlands.

then..

I was pregnant for your brother.

While I was pregnant, I had a feeling that I’m going to miss the time that I play with you all day…

So, I really managed a time to really enjoy every single moment with you before the baby was born.

When I came back from the hospital, you were excited but also sad, because that was the first time you saw me very sick… I even couldn’t walk properly and carried you.

My heart was sad also.

The time passed by and I recovered. You were happy again seeing me alive and active.

You try to understand that everything is new and it is no longer papa mama and you… but also there is a baby boy around you also.

You are always very sweet with your brother.

The first time you kiss your brother, my heart smiles.

The first time you said “Mama, you cook now. I will take care of the baby”, I cried for happiness without you know it.

The first time I cried in front of you after we had a fight over a napping time, and you cried while saying “ssttt… mama don’t cry”… It still makes me cry until now when I remember that moment.

You are always giving me “the first time” moment…

You are always be my first love.

The love that stays forever in my life.

Thank you for the lesson, thank you for the encouragement, thank you for everyday experiences, thank you for the sincere laughing, joy, crying, everything that we share together.

You believe in me without a doubt, thus I believe in you, my son.

I believe in us.

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Love,

Mama. Xx

5 Wrong Things about Indonesia or Indonesian

Recently I realised that many books, about Indonesia around 1940 when The Netherlands colonialized Indonesia, are sold here. These kind of books usually written by people who lived in that time in Indonesia. I find these kind of books are good if you have ever been to Indonesia for living, not only holiday, because you can understand more about the history. But if you never been to Indonesia, reading this book will misguide you toward Indonesia situation in this moment, current moment.

Why ?

Because I met several people who never go to Indonesia or just have very short holiday then they read this books and dragged a conclusion that Indonesia people have still the same attitude like based on the book. That’s why now I understand the reason my neighbour thinks that I have low confident because I was quiet in the party, because of the book ! She said “I love Indonesia, I read many books about Indonesia…”. I asked what kind of books, she replied “the books during the war”. Aha ! No, I’m not shy or having low-confident mam, I just have to bring this big pregnant belly and I just want to sit down and have a quiet moment.

Then after that, I begin to realised some opinions about Indonesia or Indonesian are not correct. But that’s normal if you never lived in Indonesia. I’m totally understand about that… just sometimes it is a bit irritating when people still think that Indonesian people is not educated or is not developed because the country was in the war. Therefore I write this article, based only from my opinion and based only from where I live now.

5 WRONG THINGS ABOUT INDONESIA or INDONESIAN :

1. Indonesia is far behind in everything. 

Actually it is not. It is far more growing than you expect because the government gives a lot of opportunities for micro-economic sector. The permit to open a business is not difficult and the tax is not high. That’s why many people can put on all of their creativity and their idea into their business, including me when I was in Indonesia. I had my own and I could live well with my income, more than the basic Dutch salary. Once my good friend who studied and already lived so long in here, said “if you want to be rich, live in Indonesia because there are so many opportunities and if you want a stable life, then live in The Netherlands because the government put effort to take care of the people”. I think that is somehow true.

2. Indonesia is a poor country.

Maybe it is, maybe it is not. I’m not so sure about it.

Yes, there are so many poor people among 250 million people in Indonesia. If you count on the average income and the basic salary in total of 250 million people…ya sure it is far less than The Netherlands. But it doesn’t mean all of Indonesian people are poor or living under the poverty line or have less salary than Dutch. That’s not true.

If you are on holiday and you see many food staal on the street… you can’t generalise it that the people are poor. In fact, most of them live quite enough or well enough, have a car, have a motorbike, can go to school, etc…. They don’t have to pay tax to open the food staal.

There are a lot of poor people but also there are a lot of people who live in middle class line and this people are usually educated and never been in the news spotlight around the world. So I can understand if some Dutch think that most of Indonesian immigrant are poor and not educated. It is understandable. So far I know, all of my Indonesian friends in The Netherlands are educated people.

3. Indonesian people are friendly. Therefore Indonesian people are more laid back and less competitive than Dutch.

Ya, we are friendly.

Are we laid back and less competitive ? I can laugh about it. We are definitely not laid back and far more competitive than the average Dutch I know. When you have ever lived more than 3 years in my land, you will feel it.

Most of the time, people make comment about Indonesia “Oh you come from Indonesia, it is a very laid back country, everything is calm and nice”. I replied ” I can say that you visit Indonesia only for holiday.”. and I was right.

Indonesia is a very competitive country. Indonesian people love to put effort to be the best, to be the first, to be the one who win the deal, etc. Being ambitious is a very common attitude. Work from 9am to 9pm or more, is a very common work attitude. It’s not a country where the government gives space or ambient that people should give more time to the family, it is not like in here. Supermarket open 24 hours, the clothes store open until 10pm everyday, the working building open 24 hours, almost everything open 24 hours. So you don’t have to be in a rush to buy things so then you can go back home at 6pm and have dinner with family. We take our family to our office and then go with them to the shopping building and do shopping together. It’s a very fast moving line everywhere.

If I meet a salesman in The Netherlands, I asked for the price, I showed enthusiasm, they explained very well… but no one call me for further bargaining. It is like, if you really like it, you will call us and buy…

In Indonesia, they will call me and ask if I’m interested or not and will do bargaining… or should I say that they will call 3x times a day.

When I had my own company, I had some competitor and always always had to move faster, to be the first, be more creative etc. I found it so exhausted sometime. I don’t feel that competitive ambient here…maybe in Amsterdam or Den Haag.

In fact, I feel that people are more laid back and less competitive here maybe because so many subsidies and help from the government. I don’t know. It can be.

4. Indonesian people are not direct. 

This can be true for some but we really can’t generalised it. It depends on the family background because most of Indonesian immigrant here are very direct, more direct than Dutch. I find it great ! I’m very direct as well… more than Dutch people in my town.

5. Indonesian people eat rice, only rice. 

Nope. We love rice but we eat from pasta to pizza, from potato to bread. We are an adventurous eater. That’s why so many restaurants open in Indonesia. We also eat together with family, but not so long like Dutch, because we love more to hang out in the family room than in the dinning room. So after 30 minutes eating, we move to family room while eating the dessert. Sometimes we eat on the floor, because we find that more “gezellig”… (nice and comfy)… not because we are uncivilised.

The Netherlands and Indonesia have different culture… it is very different that we can’t compare each one just like that.

I can’t say that Dutch are more clever than Indonesian or Indonesian are richer than Dutch. Every aspects has its own comparation and has its own level. I just want to make a statement that Indonesia is not like 69 years ago. If you want to understand about Indonesia in current time, don’t read a book about the war in 1940’s. That’s not relevant anymore. Just make a friend with us and open mind about the cultural differences.

One of neighbour were very shocked knowing that my parents will stay with us for 6 weeks after I deliver my second baby “What ! That’s not common that your parents stay for more than 3 days in your house”.

I replied “oh…your parents live in Asia as well? It is 24 hours trip.”.

“No, they live in Amsterdam but it is not common”.

Where my parents should stay then? They have to fly back to Indonesia after 3 days?

“I don’t know but that’s weird that your parents stay with you for so long”.

Hmmm… it is a very expensive ticket and I would be so happy to live with them for 6 weeks because I don’t see them for a year.

and they still don’t understand.🙂

Cultural differences. It’s funny, it’s lovely, it’s making you upset sometimes… but that make this world worth living and beautiful. I think it would be a lifetime process for me to understand the whole cultural differences between Indonesia and The Netherlands and what – how I have to present and to deliver to my son(s). It is a lifetime learning process. That’s why I write this blog, it helps me to understand more about the world I live now.

Cheers !! Xxx.

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This is my monday cursus group. We come from many different backgrounds and countries, some married with the Dutch, one was a refugee, others are student, the rest are workers. I’m the only one who come from Indonesia. We share our thoughts and spirits. I find it always “gezellig” meeting up with this group. They come from Russia, Finland, Belarus, Vietnam, Philippines, Thailand and The Netherlands itself. Wat leuk he !!

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She is my good friend who lives in Amsterdam. In fact, she is my first Dutch friend without have any relation with my parents, my husband or anyone here. We met the first time on 2005 when I flew to The Netherlands for study and she was back from holiday in Indonesia. She is mixed Indonesian-Dutch, so when we meet up, we speak in Indonesian and she understand the cultural differences. Well, you can take the girl out from her country, but you can’t take her country out of her. Inderdaad !! It’s true !!

Greetings from Zwolle,

Sekar Steenwelle-Nareswari