Jakarta Culture Shock

Well, “culture shock” is perhaps a bit overblown, but moving to Jakarta to start my internship, I immediately started to notice little things that were markedly different from my calm life in Central Java. Let me present them to you in a small list.

Obviously Jakarta is a melting pot and moreover isn’t a place where people would have spoken Javanese anyway. Still, it feels funny not to be able to fall back on my Javanese pleasantries when I want to butter someone up.

Bahasa Betawi
Basically, people really do say lu and gue here for you and me, which is weird because I’ve only ever seen that on TV. Fun fact: These pronouns are actually borrowed from Hokkien.

Food prices are so high! A meal that would have cost me less than Rp 10,000 now costs almost Rp 20,000. Ouch.

No driving
I’m only here for a short time, so I decided that it’s just easier to not rent a motorbike, though I think I would if I stayed here longer. Without a motorbike, I have to rely on buses and trains, walking, or Go-Jek. And I will say that Go-Jek has been amazing. No more bargaining with strange men over every single ride!

The first thing anybody every mentions about Jakarta is the traffic. And they’re right. Jakarta is full of bad traffic and traffic jams. What people usually fail to mention is that all the traffic causes a lot of pollution. Now, I won’t try to say that this is anything like China levels of pollution. That said, now that I spend more time walking around outside, I find that I wear a face mask a lot. When I don’t, I end of significantly more sneezey for hours afterward.

Water dispensers
For some reason, most of the water dispensers I’ve seen here have the water jug hidden somewhere inside the dispenser instead of perched on top of the dispenser. This is a little thing, but it’s still so strange. If the water jug is inside, you can’t see when it’s about to run out.

Already-brewed tea at a small eating establishment is apparently not a thing in Jakarta. Most of the time when I eat out and want my standard iced tea, I’m either handed a bottled tea or a glass with its own tea bag. If I’m lucky. One time I got a strange glass filled half with tea and half with a mysterious, clear liquid that didn’t seem like it was sugar.


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