Tuesday, 6 September 2011

A year in Port Vila: Honeymoon from a different point of view

As soon as we tied the knot in April last year, we spent the first three months living on our own in Jakarta, almost two months on vacation here and there, and about a year ago, we arrived in Vanuatu, a faraway archipelago, somewhere in the South Pacific Ocean. He was occupied at work since day one, while I was still figuring out what I could do during the year. I managed to get some small projects to do for the first month thanks to my BFF, but that was it! I do not have my own network of friends yet. Most of the people I know were those from his office, until I met some friendly ladies in one of the functions we attended who later became my good friends.

Indeed, life is much challenging when you have to take care of your own household. To name a few, dealing with various problems in the house, maintaining relations with the landlords and neighbours, sharing domestic chores between the two of us, and hosting guests from time to time. We have a helper who comes twice a week doing the chores but I still manage to do some of the work myself considering the fact that I might be spoiled with the situation in the long term. Living an expatriate life means we may not always get this kind of privilege all the time, subject to which country we live in. After a couple of months living here, life was getting difficult for me as I used to do nothing almost the whole day and I became super duper lazy. I think I was the laziest person on earth!

When we were in Jakarta, I was already unemployed, but there were plenty of things to do so that I never got bored. Fortunately, on this critical period, I was given the opportunity to volunteer at one of the government office for about three months thanks to him, and thankfully I found another interest that has helped me spending my pastime.

There is not much difference between our life in Jakarta and in Port Vila. In both cities, we are used to take public transportation in the absence of the office car or office driver since we don’t have our personal vehicle. Some people may associate the fact of being an expatriate to a glamorous life. However this doesn’t apply to ours as we also don’t do expensive shopping on branded items, we go to cheap hairdresser to have a haircut, and we don’t occupy business class seats whenever we travel.

Particularly for the accompanying spouse like me, living this kind of life may be exciting for certain time, but when it prolongs, then it is no longer as thrilling as it may look. Some friends say that I am living such a perfect life everyone would want, but honestly, I am not comfortable with the fact that I have no job therefore I have no means to satisfy my self-existence as well as self-confidence needs and at the same time, I become financially dependent. Despite our agreement that the terms ‘yours’ and ‘mine’ have merged into ‘ours’ since we got married, in the beginning it was not easy for me to deal with. Moreover, being among a bunch of our guests talking about their work to some point has made me lose my confidence. It took me sometime to compromise with the current situation and I finally managed to put my negative thinking out of sight. Later, instead of complaining about the things I don’t have, I used my time learning new skills, reading more books, making more friends, immersing myself into new culture, and realizing my postponed plans.

As they say that honeymoon is as sweet as honey but soon it fades away like the moon, this also applies to my first time experience as an expatriate’s wife. It is still a long way to go but I do learn that independence, perseverance, self-adaptation, tolerance, conviviality, patience, modesty, and willingness to learn are some of the characters I personally need to strengthen in order to equip myself for our next journey in the near future. Being a good and supportive spouse, whether an expatriate’s or not, surely a long-life learning, and I am working on my way to get there, insya Allah.

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