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Joining Expatriate Community Organizations

Challenges of relocating

Relocating overseas can be a very unsettling experience. Your family faces the big tasks of finding a new home, getting it furnished, getting the kids settled in school and adjusting to a new job. But to make it even more difficult, you are trying to accomplish all of these tasks without the usual support of family and close friends.

While you may have been through a relocation in the past within your own country, you find the many simple tasks of relocation very different in an overseas posting. Each step in the process may become a bewildering mystery to unravel as you try to understand new ways of accomplishing things ... and in a foreign language to boot!

Expats come in all varieties - diplomats, business people, students, aid workers and teachers. The commonality of our experience as expats is that we've left our home country and come to a new country. Besides that, our needs, likes, wants and problems differ widely.

New support groups

One of the most essential needs of an expatriate is to quickly establish new support groups to replace those that they left behind at home or in the last overseas posting. The children will make friends at school and the working spouse will make friends at work. The task of getting the whole family settled in, and creating a new home that all the members in the family can feel comfortable in, falls to the "trailing" or "dependent spouse" (usually the wife).

Every member of the family can benefit greatly by quickly joining community organizations. There are a wide variety already in existence to choose from. Some are formed around nationality, others around special interests ranging from quilt making to a particular sport to an interest in Indonesian culture.

Consult our listing of Community Organizations for contact information for various organizations in Jakarta, and some outside Jakarta. Members of these organizations are accustomed to the constant inflow of newcomers and you will be made to feel welcome very quickly.

Getting involved

Once you've had a chance to visit several organizations of interest and attend a few of their meetings, it will become apparent to you which organization you will want to get further involved in. All of these organizations are run by volunteers; your talents and the donation of your valuable time will be warmly welcomed.

The spirit of volunteerism and the willingness to devote free time to the community is one of the strengths of western culture. You can see this value transplanted in Indonesia with all the dedicated volunteers that run the many expatriate community organizations.

Your stay in Indonesia may be the perfect time for you to develop new talents. If there is an appeal for someone to take on a project, even if it's something you haven't done before, get involved. Many trailing spouses take the opportunity to develop new skills while they're here, develop a hobby further or explore new interests. Working men, who usually spent their weekends in yard work and repairs in their home country, will now find themselves with more free time to perfect their tennis or golf or become involved in other sports, hobbies, business associations or community organizations.

The trailing spouses will soon find a lot of free time on their hands as they may not be working and have household staff to do all the daily housekeeping chores. Use that free time well by getting involved in community organizations, you'll be glad you did!

The benefits of belonging

Those who get involved quickly and meet lots of people will find that they soon have a number of people who they can call upon for answers to their many questions. There is only so much that the formalities staff from your sponsoring company can do to assist you in getting settled in your new home. This staff is usually Indonesian and, while extremely helpful, they will never truly understand the trials and challenges of being an expat in Indonesia. Only another expat will understand your concerns.

Advice often given to newcomers is, "Don't be shy!" Ask questions of everyone you meet. You will hear contrasting answers based on the different experiences other expats have had. You can benefit from listening to their advice and stories.

Create your own group

If your special interest isn't represented in the groups that already exist, form your own informal group. For example, this web site's forum is a good place to test the waters for interest in a new group. If you share an interest with others, they will welcome your leadership in forming a new group. You will also be contributing to the richness of the expat experience in Indonesia through the generous donation of your time.

As a newcomer to Jakarta, you will be warmly welcomed by others in community organizations. We have all been through the same transition you are facing and don't find your questions at all strange!