Things you should know before coming to teach in Indonesia

5 things I wish I would have known before coming to teach in Indonesia

I consider myself a blind eye traveler. Being from Florida, I am naturally a beach goer, so the thought of me teaching and having the sand between my feet overthrew all logic regarding what I really should have considered before landing in Jakarta. As we all know, hindsight is 20/20. I am approaching the end of my contract year for EF Indonesia and I will take all of the memories and lessons learned with me to mold me into a better person and a more skilled educator. What I really should have learned while in the states (before coming here).


#5 How to count the currency

Indonesian rupiah is very different from the Euro, Pound or USD. To hear that you have spent 10 thousand on two bottles of water is quite alarming at first, however, if you mentally convert it…it’s less than 2 US Dollars. Know your numbers and how to mentally convert. It will save you money in the long run.


#4 The over-apologetic nature of the Indonesian people

In America, we don’t apologize…. unless we really mean it. Most people are over-apologetic and I had to learn that its considered culturally polite to start and finish with “I’m sorry”. It made me realize that it’s an expression of politeness and should be taken as such. Perhaps we Americans are a little ruder than the rest of the world.


#3 Learn the language or at least how to respond

Yes, it’s true we are here to teach English and several people in Indonesia speak English well. However, it helps when you want to explain something in a phrase like “no chilies please” or “hold the sugar” …small phrases make a huge difference.


#2 The dress-code is MODEST in most parts of Java Island

Ok as you all may know, I am from Florida and just about anything goes in regards of how to dress. Culturally, I was aware that the town I taught in was very conservative. I try to warn the new-comers that long skirts and dresses is the way to go here. Each town is a little different, but to be on the safe side…. cover up!


#1 I wish I would have known how warm and wonderful the students, fellow teachers and staff are

I can honestly say it’s almost impossible not to get attached to the students as you watch them develop English skills and blossom into English speakers, readers and writers. Observing them progress and grow gives the heart a since of success and accomplishment. You look forward to work each day. If I would have known that teaching English abroad would give me a chance to leave my fingerprint in the hearts of so many, I would have done this a long-time ago.


Are you ready to teach in Indonesia?

Teach, travel, and train today!


Donnilah McClendon is originally from Florida, USA. Currently in her first year of teaching with EF Indonesia she is a certified school district tutor and previously served in the US Army for 14 years.

She has travelled to France, Germany, England, Iceland, Mexico, Qatar and most recently Indonesia! She plans to do as much travelling as she can while in the country and loves to write in her spare time.