While it was always my intention to live for an extended period of time in another, completely alien country, I never thought it would be in Jakarta, Indonesia. I thought I was quite well-versed in Geography, yet until a few years ago would have struggled to identify it on a map, let alone provide another with a brief outline of the culture and environment. Upon completing University three years ago, where I admittedly had a very good time, I was very apprehensive about dedicating myself to a particular career straight from graduation, a route which so many of my friends have courageously attempted and more-often-than-not, succeeded at. I, however, lacking a certain self-confidence and only a vague identification of a chosen career, knew it was approaching an approachable time where I could finally cut off and accept my own full responsibility and safety, something which had been introduced at University but with the umbilical cord of living in the same country. English had also always been my academic strong-point and travelling, like most, a developing passion over the past few years. Originally applying for South Korea, I was eventually alerted to Indonesia.
The exact reason I cannot recall, but I remember there was an early morning advert for the country on a now obsolete English travel channel I managed to catch upon returning from a late-night shift at a bar I was working at the time. I had completed an intensive TEFL course alongside my studies in my final year of University, pre-empting the possibility of teaching abroad. I had the philosophy that even if I didn’t use it immediately at least I had an additional skill under my belt. The process to apply to Indonesia was a lot simpler than the one I had encountered with South Korea, but I think this was mainly to do with their desperation for English-speaking teachers and a lack of comparative stature. I was informed I had to provide my TEFL certification, Drug and Health checks, and a couple of references. The Education First organisation was quickly introduced to me and I was contacted by the head of the franchise group based around Jakarta. I was determined to reside in Jakarta more than any other city after being informed of the diverse and fairly immersive social life and its upsurge in economic and political standing, as well as a vibrant expat community that would allow me the freedom to become as familiar with local people but also have a foundation of similiarity from like-minded people.
I was contacted pretty soon after submitting my documents with an early morning phonecall (6 to 7 hours time difference between Jakarta and England at different points of the year) and after initial questioning about both personal and academic questions was offered a position in the North part of Jakarta, in a more Indo-Chinese residing community. I was provided with the basis of my contract which would be signed in Jakarta. I was to be paid approximately 10million Rupiah a month, taking away 1million for the housing that I was to share with other teachers. That amount of money equated to around £600-£700 when I first started 2 years ago but has now increased which the exchange rate. After 2 years my wage has increased by 2million with the potential to increase further with various promotions offered. There are also bonuses for travel time to the schools I might be placed in around the city, as well as expositions and events that appear on the calendar, and now bonuses for working Saturdays if you choose to. The usual working hours are between 20-30, depending on the amount of teachers available at any given time, with around a month’s worth of holiday time to organise the various holidays in the Indonesia calendar (it’s worth looking at the Ramadan holiday in particular to attach onto), with full reimbursement for my flight over every year and a contract break of 1 month (negotiable). I have now moved further away from Education First with a school they deployed me in over a year ago, working between the hours of 8-1 every other day. Working in a city school provides great satisfaction; the students are appreciative, attentive, and receptive and I’ve built great connections with the principal and the other local teachers. I have been privileged to experience an inner-city school, improve my teaching, and notably my English-teaching understanding, and have a healthy social, adventurous life as well.