If you have an insatiable appetite for adventure, meeting fun people, walking through chaos, and seeing life in its most vivacious form, I urge you to satisfy this craving and book a ticket to Indonesia.

Jakarta is developing me into the person that would make my seven-year-old self-smile with satisfaction. My first month has been coloured with exciting and happy memories I will carry for the rest of my life. I owe this to the fantastic team I work with that has opened their arms, welcoming me and my amazing co-intern, Keiran.

My internship placement at the Centre for Indonesian Policy Studies (CIPS) speaks directly to my interests as a political science major. CIPS is a think tank that researches and recommends public policies that further Indonesian social and economic prosperity for its citizens. CIPS advocates for wider economic opportunities and access to open markets, increased educational opportunities and social security for its people. 

I believe it is up to us to make life interesting, pleasurable, challenging, and fun. Beyond our basic needs like food and water, it is important to make life an absolute blast along the way. I believe that to have a good time, challenging yourself is the best way. Through trials and testaments, you get to know yourself better. 

Since I have had an absolute blast in the past month, it is only fair that I share some insights I have gathered from my time so far. 

#1 Let Curiosity Guide You

Curiosity is not only a superpower but a skill to master. Asking the right questions, finding the right environment, and knowing who to ask all play a part. Curiosity requires emotional flexibility. The ability to mull over ideas that contradict your own set of beliefs affords access to different worlds and possibilities. It also necessitates an honest intention to be willing to change oneself entirely. An eagerness to understand and adapt a rubber-like perception of the world is the first step to self-improvement.

Asking where the best coffee is, where to buy cheap batik or even tips on how to stay cool in the heat with the locals creates a fundamental bond, regardless of the simpleness of the question – it’s an unspoken communication of “hi friend, we are here together, let’s connect”.

Learning new things, about the people, culture, music, systems – regardless of it being simple or complex, opens a whole new world for one to explore. Stay curious kids.

#2 Cook with Thy Neighbour

 “Sometimes, reaching out and taking someone’s hand is the beginning of a journey. At other times, it is allowing another to take yours.”― Vera Nazarian.

People are social creatures and, by nature, have an innate impulse to make connections with others. We need it, we crave it, and we are deprived of it. Creating deep and authentic relationships with new people is something COVID-19 cheated us with social distancing and virtual social bubbles. This is one of the many reasons having Lily, our neighbour here in Jakarta, has been such a joy. 

One late summer morning, Lilly knocks at our door, inviting us to have brunch on the veranda. A true Indonesian feast awaited us. Chitchat, laughter, and morning tea filled our time. A new friend, a new kindred spirit, welcoming us to our new home. From that point on, we cooked together. Learning so much about Indonesian culture through food and seeing the love for each other shown in the dishes prepared and made has been and continues to be a highlight of my time. 

#3 Dance in the Morning  

The value of having fun with anything and everything cannot be understated. That is something I am learning from my team here in Jakarta. The ease and the laughter make me look forward to coming to work. We were greeted by big smiles and waves when we walked into work this morning. My heart warmed, and I sat down with my little coffee and continued with my day. 

A moment in the day carries the potential to completely alter whether it’s good or bad. From my experience, starting off in the morning with a killer song and a self-hype dance guarantees resiliency for whatever is to come. You feel your smile deeper, and you get a calm confidence in your chest when you start the day right. So, get your Spotify playlists straight and start having a good time. 

#4 My Team 

Team Building Trip to Bandung

In the wee hours of our fun-packed trip to Bandung with the CIPS team, I cashed in to get to know the people working here a little better. I chatted with one of the head researchers and learned so much about the history of Asia’s economic developmental history as well as her personal story. I’ll never forget the sharing of passions and ideas and how my simple questions were answered with earnest answers. It made me realize how beautiful it is to share and remain curious in life. 

I am honoured to be part of this organization that upholds principles of economic liberalization, social prosperity, and freedom. But most of all, I am in awe of the team that works here. An organization is nothing without its people. Everyone here roots for each other’s success, creating a sense of belonging for all. I have witnessed kindness at considerable measures. Not only does the peoples’ generosity show through their actions, but the way the people here seek connection and understanding with others is something I will always remember.