Indonesian Abroad During the Pandemic— Why Choose to Stay?

Anastasia Kathleen Chung
4 min readAug 23, 2021

A lot of people seem to share their upside when it comes to living abroad, but what goes behind the scene of all that especially during the pandemic? It has been a hard and unending roller coaster ride for us back home, let alone those that are living in other countries.

Pic: Unsplash, Anete Lusina

As the world went into lockdown, the new school year has started. What would be a better way to ask Indonesian students that live abroad to have a deeper look at their personal life. I e-interviewed two of my friends to ask them how they are holding up all this time. One is a fresh graduate from a notable university in Canada and currently working for an inventory company striving for success and a permanent resident card namely Bee. Another interviewee, named Carlo, is currently a new student in Economics at Singapore Management University.

“My plan is still 50/50 but more towards staying here for good” explained Bee. Carlo who has stayed in Singapore for 4 years said that he still have to stay for several more years after he graduated.

“I actually need to work in Singaporean company after I graduated for at least 3 years, as my university tuition now is granted by the government.” added him.

If we talk about Indonesia itself, the government actually continues to encourage the improvement of the quality of human resources (HR) with various educational programs. One of them is through the Education Fund Management Institute (LPDP) scholarship. In this program, tens of thousands of young Indonesians can get higher education at the best universities in the world. This will also open up a new window and chances for the citizens to get higher education even though they do not have financial capabilities.

Of course, there are a lot of other scholarships the government and other universities in the world have to offer. While there are many others, better education is not all that the Indonesian student wants to have. So what makes them want to stay with all the hardships they have been through living in another person’s country and leaving their family behind?

“Here in Canada, we have free healthcare, and cleaner air too compared to Indonesia. Other than that, the government also provides a temporary benefit for us who have lost our job in the midst of a pandemic, so that is a plus for me as my type of work is a field job, sometimes you get fewer hours working during the lockdown,” said Bee.

“As for me, I experience benefits as a student more than I could get back home. A simple example could be, here with just your student card, you can get a lot of discounts anywhere you go, with no complicated terms, that is something you get less back in Indonesia. Also, I can go around by myself with well-managed public transportation,” said Carlo.

Pic: Unsplash, Raj Rana

Of course, being away from your family is not easy, and I can not imagine having to go through it all alone. But in fact, seeing them explaining the privilege they get abroad makes me want to leave this country for good too.

“Of course there is a feeling of missing my family and such, and some other days you feel quite lonely and bored because you can’t really go anywhere,” Bee added.

Thankfully in the era of modern technology, it is easier to catch up with some friends online through video calls or instant messaging. “In Singapore, you have to pay thousands of dollars just to do quarantine for 2 to 3 weeks, so going back home though I miss it, is not really worth it, plus I have my siblings here,” said Carlo.

Bee also expressed his mixed emotions about not coming home and how the best scenario now is to stay where he is instead of catching the virus and infecting his family later on.

Pic: Unsplash, Ross Sneddon

I guess the phrase “distance makes the heart grow fonder” is true after all. Now that we are more restricted to meet our friends or family, we value more the time we spend with them such as catching up through video calls, or even just to stream online games together.

As for Carlo, he is working on a new personal project with his friends from Indonesia and the Philippines to produce some music that will be coming soon.

In this season that seems like an endless dark tunnel, it is also important for us to stay connected, make new friends,or join communities online, in order to fill the void that we may have during the time of isolation and who knows that in the near future you become more equipped and can have more time in pursuing your dream and happiness.

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Instagram: @kathleenanastasiaa