4 Stages of Culture Shock

Waiting for the GP/Dr to see me and I thought I’d re visit the site below to see how I am travelling (pardon the pun) on our adjustment to returning to Australia.

Having sailed smoothly through the honeymoon phase, I recognise I am now in the depths of the frustration phase. Everything is frustrating – misplacing items, finding a carpark, not having pasta in the cupboard when making spaghetti bolognaise, loved ones.. Everything and everyone. 

On top of this are life usual annoyances and these seem to compound the feeling of frustration. As well as trying to keep oneself in check as being blunt, abrupt and rude is quite easy at this stage for me. Because I’m ‘over it’s and by ‘it’ I mean everything. It’s work, being back in Australia, it’s adjusting to a different lifestyle and city and the way things are done here. My normal and familiar are back there and I need to establish a new normal and familiar here. 

I’m homesick. I’m numb. I’m trying to be resilient. I’m trying to be patient and kind, mostly to myself. And I thank my loved ones and colleagues for their understanding and support during this time. It’s bloody hard!  

https://medium.com/global-perspectives/the-4-stages-of-culture-shock-a79957726164#.6bcxh0r4n

Mental Health & Kids

Last night, a friend confided that his daughter is experiencing difficulty maintaining a social life outside of school now that she has repatriated to the UK.  Another has a daughter who is finding it a challenge to settle in at school within the adopted country.  Both families need support clearly and perhaps organisations have under estimated the challenges and frustrations our children face before, during and after their time abroad?

Resilience and mental health are key to maintaining a happy and healthy life. Today I stumbled across a (new to me) section of BeyondBlue, a section devoted to developing and sustaining resilience within the family unit.  Applicable to all families, especially applicable to those posted/living overseas or those who have recently repatriated.  Of particular note were the sections relating to identifying and seeking support for children suffering from mental illness; here parents are provided with advice, information and links to gain further information.  

So in support of friends, colleagues and fellow expats here is the link to beyondblue beyondblue.org.au an organisation committed to “increasing understanding and reducing the impact of anxiety and depression”.  You may wish to share this information with your own family, friends, school community in the hopes of supporting others.  

@aubergine_jelly 

 

Kopi!

“Is it too much to find a place with decent coffee?”  a friend asked on many occasions early on in our posting.

Catch ups would be scheduled at new cafes each month or so and secretly we would both hope that this cafe would be the one!  We were desperately seeking a place to call our “regular”, you know the one place we would always frequent for these much needed catch up sessions.  This went on for a good 18 months.  Where is all the good kopi?!

Over the past 12 months a few new cafes  have opened across the city here and there, and some even close to work and home.    Here are a few recommendations for sourcing a “secangkir kopi yang baik” in South Jakarta that are not Starbucks.

Blumchen Cafe, SCBD. 

A cafe situated close to Gran Lucky supermarket and to Pacif Placa Mall which is handy if you need to pick up a few groceries or treat yourself to some new threads.  The staff are friendly and the cafe offers muffins or a spot of lunch if you’re keen for food too.

Crematology, Kunungan. 

Agro Plaza is my pick as it is a lot quieter than the sister cafe in Senopati and offers more parking.  You may purchase something sweet to accompany your cuppa as well as indulge in a savoury dish for lunch. 

St Ali, Setiabudi. 

An Australian styled cafe that offers coffee to an Australian standard (very good) and a tasty breakfast and lunch menu.  Close to a small IGA type supermarket also. 

Anomali, Setiabudi.

Plenty of comfy chairs and lounges to sit on while enjoying a coffee in the place.  The staff are friendly and the cafe offers a small range of tasty treats to sample along with your order.  Close to a small IGA type supermarket. 

D’Journal, Grand Indonesia Mall. 

A busy cafe with a range of beverages including a delicious nutella shake.  The coffee is good as are the sweet offerings available to complement your coffee.  Friendly staff and a great people watching spot if you can secure a table out the front. 

There are so many cafes about the place, however these suggestions should be enough to get your started 🙂

@aubergine_jelly

The Return To Work

Now that we have returned to Australia as repats, I must face the daunting realisation that I soon return to full-time employment.  After being out of the education game for 3 years, the prospect conjures mixed thoughts feelings ..particularly ‘am i up to this?’

Researching for this post, I found that there is nothing to support expat spouses to make the transition from homemaker/part-time employee to full-time career gal/guy.  The only resources I could locate were about returning to work after maternity leave.  Not terribly applicable.

Returning to work while adjusting to our new normal will be challenging.  We will be grappling with a new lifestyle, routines, relationship pressures, culture shock in addition to  transitioning back into work.  Maintaining mental health and wellbeing will be key I predict.  Below are a few of my thoughts of how to best support myself to make the leap back into the demanding and rewarding world of educational leadership while still grappling with the repatriation process.

Be organised.  This includes establishing routines at home including sleep, exercise,  household chores and so on. Professionally, meet with your boss and/or immediate colleagues (if possible) to understand your role, their role, future directions for the organisation and glean other relevant information.

Nurture health & wellbeing.  Be mindful of your work hours.  Working long hours may feel like a sound strategy to get on top of work responsibilities and tasks but this may actually be detrimental to your physical and mental health.  Maintaining a balance between work and other priorities will promote productivity.  Making time to exercise, catch up with friends or simply read for enjoyment are all ways to relax and recharge.

Say no.  Allowing yourself time to settle into life at home as well as full-time work is important.  It is okay to say no when asked to accept additional responsibilities or social invitations.   This is about knowing your limitations and how best to make a successful repatriation.  Talk to friends, family members, colleagues and your boss about how you’re coping and how they can best support you.

Say yes to professional learning.  Develop your knowledge of new initiatives and approaches, as well as increasing your self-esteem.  Remember that your skill set is not as outdated as you believe and that many of those you have developed while on eave are transferable.

There must be a myriad of effective strategies that I have not yet discovered.  How did you manage and sustain your return to work?

@aubergine_jelly

Useful apps for Expats in Jakarta

Below are just a few apps that have been useful for us during our time in Jakarta.  You’ll find many more of your own.

WhatsApp – used by most expats

XE Currency Converter – easy to use & no explanation required

Go-Jek – for all manner of deliveries, cleaning and beauty services

HappyFresh – online groceries and delivery

Uber – similar to taxi service

Eztable – online restaurant and cafe reservations

Google Maps/Waze – handy for travel times and online directions

TripAdvisior – helps to plan things to see and do, recommendations for hotels, restaurants etc

Facebook – connect with other expats and community groups

Testing Times

11755705_10153439309178433_1361961058966712893_n.jpgRelationships take a bit of a hit when you move and live abroad.  Prior to the move attention shifts to working through the uplift process and then setting up a home at post. Once things begin to settle, cracks will appear.  Suddenly both partners are dependent upon the other to fulfil emotion and social needs and this is particularly true for the stay at home spouse.  So let’s focus on them.  Oddly, I have found that this occurs at the beginning, around the midway point and again as the post draws to an end.  And these periods are tough for both individuals.

The officer does not have a easy life at post, however they do enjoy the benefits of routine, working in an environment similar to that at home, interacting with others and escaping the confines of home.  The trailing spouse has none of those things and must strive to carve out some sort of normalcy for themselves with little support.  Initially, the isolation and lack of confidence combine to make a formidable force that psychologically inhibits the spouse to  leave the house.  You know little of the language, have no clue on the layout of the city and feel scared to venture out in a taxi alone, anything could go wrong.

So what happens?  You stay within the confines of your new abode and beat yourself up because at home home you are a bubbly, independent woman with interests and hobbies. Your partner returns home from a busy day of work and asks the dreaded question – ‘what did you do with your day?’  And in that moment you feel like you are merely a shell of your true self.  This is where the pressure emerges for the working spouse to be your everything.  And it becomes tiresome very quickly.  Suffocating even.

Below are a few tips to work through these trying periods at post:

Communicate –  have honest and timely conversations with your spouse about how you’re both coping and how to best support each other moving forward.  Talk about ways to use your time at post be it through study, volunteering or work.  Make travel plans together to have something exciting to look forward to and as means to reconnect and create positive experiences and memories together.  Discuss how to give each other breathing space or time apart to recharge.

Utilise every support available to you – visit the doctor, chat with trusted confidantes at home, use the company counselling service, keep a journal.

Tough love – force yourself out of the house.  Sit in a communal area and smile at those around you, strike up a conversation at a cafe, wander through a mall.  Accept social invitations and actually attend.  Tough love remember!

Exercise – exercising releases endorphins and feeling good about yourself physically will transfer to a better frame of mind and may contribute to improved mental wellbeing. Attend gym classes, if offered, as a means to meet new people.

Join an expat group – many cities have chapters for the American Women’s Association, British Women’s Association, Australian and New Zealand Women’s Association and other groups.  Most of which accept membership from all expats and regularly host social events including seminars, excursions, morning tea and luncheons.  Check it out and remember that not all groups will be a good fit and that’s ok.

Be bold – when attending work events with your partner mingle and hand your phone number out like candy.  Some will share their contact details and get in touch, others won’t.  You’ll meet some friendly and not so friendly people but you are actually meeting people and you may meet the first person to meet out for lunch or a coffee.  And one friend leads to another..

Relationships are never easy and expat relationships have added pressures.  You will find a happy balance and create a dynamic that supports the needs of both spouses if both give 100% effort, and extend patience and love towards the other.

@aubergine_jelly