Icelandonesia or Indoniceland?

There are not many Indonesian people living in Iceland. I’ve known about 30 of them, I think, even though data from the Indonesian Embassy in Oslo shows that there are over 60 of us currently living here.

Those 30 Indonesian people that I know, we meet regularly. Most of the times we just have informal gatherings where we stuff delicious Indonesian food into our mouth. Recently, we decided to make a formal organisation for us.

We registered our group through RSK (Directorate of Internal Revenue), set up a website, and voted board members. It was all very formal and I have been enjoying the whole process so far.

In the beginning

When I moved to Iceland in 2008, I was told not to be like most foreigners who live in Iceland, who would just hang out with people from the same country, not speaking Icelandic, not integrating to the community, and so on.

It was hard to move to a new country located thousands of kilometers away from my home, and to top it off I was instantly greeted by warnings on what NOT to do.

So, in the early days, I tried my best to integrate into the Icelandic society. I joined a short course on Icelandic language, met several new friends from different countries, ended up taking a full time study at the university, and got myself a part time job.

All the while I kept thinking, have I integrated into the Icelandic society? Am I still considered a foreigner? Can I hang out more with my Indonesian friends? Will society judge me for not integrating enough if I spend time with Indonesian people here?

After a few years

Even now I still wonder, am I a part of the Icelandic society? The only difference is, I care less about what other people think of me in terms of who I hang out with, and who my friends are.

I have children who go to Icelandic schools, speak Icelandic with everybody, and are exposed to everything that is Icelandic around them, i.e. custom, culture, and holidays.

On a daily basis, the only Indonesian exposure they get is when I speak or read to them. Occasionally, my parents would talk to them in Indonesian through Skype. Once a year we visit them and the boys will get their yearly dose of cultural immersion in Indonesia, by staying at their grandparents for 1 month and being surrounded by their relatives who speak mainly Indonesian and Javanese.

For the other 11 months of the year, it is up to me to make sure my children are not losing their Indonesian heritage. I take my children whenever I meet up with my Indonesian friends;

  • So they would hear other people speaking their mother tongue.
  • So they can see that their mum is not the only one in Iceland who speaks Indonesian.
  • So they can improve their skills in listening and speaking Indonesian.
  • So they can see that sometimes, we are not the minority.
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Kindergarten

When my kids were born, I contemplated whether to put them in kindergarten or not. The kindergartens in Iceland operate during weekdays and working hours, i.e. Monday to Friday, 8 AM to 5 PM. This is a tad different from the kindergarten I went to when I grew up in Indonesia.

In Indonesia, children from the age of 4 to 6 years will attend kindergarten that opens on weekdays, from 8 to 10 in the morning. Usually they alternate between days, i.e. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

In Iceland, children as young as 12 months old can be admitted to kindergarten. They can stay there all 5 days of the week, all day.

My mum suggested that I hire a full-time live-in nanny to take care of my sons at home, instead of sending them off to kindergarten. It is a pretty common practice in Jakarta to hire a full-time nanny who lives at your home. In contrast, it is not common at all here in Iceland.

With such opposing common practices between my two home countries, it took me quite a while to find out what fits our family best.

Why I love kindergarten

However, based on my experiences with the kindergarten here since 2013, I love sending my kids there, because:

  1. There is no way that I could keep them off TV/iPads/computers from 8 AM to 5 PM.
  2. I am really bad at keeping up daily routines.
  3. Sometimes, I need a break from the kids. I love them, but being in constant interaction with them really takes a toll on me.
  4. I will not be able to focus on them 100% all day, there will always be laundry, cooking, and sticky floors that distract me.
  5. I am not creative at all in arts, crafts or other kids’ stuffs.
  6. I believe it takes a village in raising kids. In this case, it takes a whole kindergarten and other relevant parties in raising mine:
  • Great highly qualified teachers that my kids absolutely adore.
  • Super talented chef and kitchen assistants who cook varieties of healthy food for the children every day.
  • Around 90 children ranging from 12 months to 6 year olds who provide social skills and be best friends to my sons.
  • Regulated environment that adheres to state’s rules, county’s rules, and Department of Education’s rules.

Why I DON’T love kindergarten

As soon as my kids start kindergarten, they get sick, and it happens so often! There were times when they would go to kindergarten for 1 day, then got sick for two weeks.

Be it common flu, RS virus, chicken pox, hand and mouth disease, stomach bug, tapeworm, and lice, my kids have got them at one time or another.

It is infuriating at times, especially when they catch something that is contagious and it ends up infecting everyone at our house.

Is kindergarten the right choice?

Once my kids got older, the sickness became less frequent. Though I still get emails every now and then whenever there is a lice breakout. I am seriously considering shaving their head bald now.

Bottom line is, both my kids love their kindergarten. I love their kindergarten and all the people there. Even though my kids will definitely get their share of the sniffles when the flu season starts, they learn so much from their kindergarten and its environment that I will never be able to replicate if they are just to stay home with me all day. So, in our family, kindergarten was the right choice.

Going to the cinemas.

I miss the movie theaters in Indonesia!

The movie theaters in Iceland are fine, but the ones in Indonesia are just oh-so-beautiful. Not to mention the much cheaper tickets!

A normal ticket to a movie in Reykjavík would be 6 to 10 EUR, while it costs merely 3 to 5 EUR in Jakarta.

For the luxury movie theater (where they have reclining chairs), it would cost you around 17 EUR in Reykjavík, and only 8 EUR in Jakarta.

The Premiere at Cinema 21 beats the luxury cinema in Iceland by a long shot, because there are blankets on every chair and waiters and waitresses catering to all your snacking needs! (after all, what’s a movie without snack, eh? :D)

 

Even better, CGV cinemas in Indonesia also provides theaters that are fitted with beds!

 

So, any movie-goers who are up for a visit to Indonesia, I’d definitely recommend giving these gorgeous theaters a try.

Car seat.

When I was growing up, I never sat on a car seat (mind you, I don’t think my parents’ car even had any safety belts on it at that time). When our son was born, we wouldn’t be allowed to go home with him from the hospital if we didn’t have a proper infant seat installed in our car.

The regulations clearly state that children under 150 cm tall and 15 years old who are travelling in cars/lorries fitted with safety devices, must use an approved device for their size.

When the baby and I went to Jakarta in 2011, my husband was fussing a lot about how the safety of our baby (off course!), since it was his first long-trip across continents. He was fussing about the baby might get too hot in the heat, be bitten by bugs, catch an incurable tropical disease.. the list was endless. One issue that stood out the most was that none of the cars in my parents’ house in Jakarta was fitted with infant car seat. When asked whether I was going to bring a seat from Iceland or getting one in Jakarta, I said neither, as I was going to have him in my lap all the time, because that’s what most people do there (I think it is not even regulated to use one)… and oh, the horror look on my husband’s face when he heard that!

After a lengthy discussion on how car seats are compulsory, and how we have to put safety first when it comes to the baby, I decided to bring one from Iceland. I rented an iZi Sleep ISOfix from an insurance company, because I didn’t want our own car seat to be damaged from baggage handling during transport.

Once we arrived in Jakarta, I installed the seat straight away to my parents’ car when my mum picked us up at the airport. Halfway to my parents’ house, the baby started crying and my mum forced me to take him out of his seat. But I got so scared of having him out of the seat, I ended up asking the driver to stop the car while I soothed the baby.

However, it was really hard to stand my ground of keeping the baby strapped to his seat during car trips when he started to scream and cry, because my mum would see it as some kind of torture to the baby. I try to always respond almost immediately when the baby starts crying, but taking him out of his seat and endangering his life is not one of the responses I’m willing to do. But I find it so hard to get my mum to understand this because she doesn’t even wear seat belts when she’s in the car.

Now that we’re only a week away from leaving Iceland to visit Jakarta, again I am faced with a car seat problem. Our son is now using a Kidzofix seat, which I really like but weighs 20 kilograms, so pretty much impractical to bring it with us to Jakarta and having to take it back to Iceland at the end of our trip (hufff!).

So now I’m thinking about buying a seat to be kept in Jakarta, so we won’t need to carry one every time we go there. I like the looks of Maxi Cosi Mobi and Britax Multi Tech 2, because I’d like to keep the baby rear-facing as long as possible, but the thing is, these car seats aren’t exactly cheap. After spending EUR 380 for our seat, I don’t think we can spare an extra 300 EUR for another seat.

My mum and dad have offered to buy us a seat for the baby, but I’m afraid they may get a seat that is too big, or too small, or too recalled (I found a person commenting how some shops actually selling recalled baby items).

Maybe I should just wait until our son turns 15 years old and 150 cm tall before taking him to Jakarta…

Travelling between Iceland and Indonesia.

Ever since I moved to Iceland, I have visited Jakarta very few times. First time was in 2010, with my husband, our daughter, and my little brother in law.

Second time was in 2011, three months after our son was born, and it was only me and the baby who went, as my husband couldn’t leave his work. Now, I am preparing for our next trip to Jakarta, which would be from 9 July to 17 August (yay!).

In this trip too, only me and the baby who will brace yet another 3.5 hours flight from Keflavik International Airport to Heathrow, 6 hours layover, 13 hours flight to Changi Airport Singapore, 3 hours layover, and 1 hour flight to Soekarna-Hatta.

Last year, I only had to deal with a three-month-old infant, who didn’t do much, really. He practically only slept, drank breast milk, and pooped during the whole journey. This time, I doubt he will be that easy.

In 2011, he fit snugly into the bassinet provided in the plane. Now that he doubled his weight and size since then, I don’t think he’d be comfortable at all in it. So he will have to be on my lap (because I was too cheap to buy him his own seat in the plane, hehehe) all the time.

He crawls a LOT now… and he is almost walking.. so there is a HIGH possibility of me chasing him up and down the plane and around the huge waiting areas at the airport during our long layovers..

He’s not potty-trained yet and he doesn’t want to stay still during diaper change.. I can’t imagine how it would be like to change his diaper in the mini toilets in the plane while trying to hold him down from rolling over and getting away.

He’s such a messy eater…  I have to pack extra extra extra clothes for both of us, because there is no avoiding food splatter when he eats and drinks.

He likes to blow raspberry, makes a lot of high pitched noise, and much more noises of random syllables that he puts together.

Huhuhu, the whole plane is going to hate us during our trip 😦

 

Having a baby in Iceland.

As I mentioned earlier, our little family has a new member since last year. I stayed in Iceland throughout the whole pregnancy and labour, and I must say, it was a very pleasant experience.

Being a first time mummy, I didn’t have any certain expectations towards prenatal and antenatal care in Iceland, but if I did, my experience would have exceeded all of those expectations.

Once we found out we were pregnant, I contacted the local health care clinic, and I was assigned to a midwife. She is a lovely woman named Sólveig, who assured me even though we were only scheduled to meet once every month, I could call her anytime if I have any questions. She gave me a pregnancy booklets, both in Icelandic and English so I could practice my obstetrics terms in Icelandic 🙂 Aside from glucose tolerant testing and ultrasound check that were done in the hospital, all of my regular check ups during pregnancy were conducted by Sólveig.

On a Sunday morning, I went to the university to work on a group’s assignment for the last subject on MBA course that I undertook at that time. When I came home at 18.00, I started to feel mild contractions, which I thought was a false sign of labour. I ended up spending the whole evening fully awake, with contractions that got more and more intense by the minute. After speaking to the midwife on duty, calling my sister in law to come to our place to watch the puppy, we went straight to the hospital. The time was 04.00, it was dark and rainy.

After admitted, I was taken to “Hreiðrið“, which was a huge room, with a double bed, a big tub, an en-suite shower, and a changing table. The midwife was offering me various alternatives to pain alleviation, and I got to try them one by one. I had acupuncture,  which helped a bit. Then I tried going into the tub, which helped a LOT. I actually managed to fall asleep while I was in the tub. I stayed in it until the midwife told me to start pushing the baby out, then I asked to be moved on to the bed. I pushed and pushed for what felt like forever, then just when I desperately pleaded to my husband to take me home because I felt tired and that I’d like to keep the baby inside me anyway, the midwife excitedly told me, “you’re baby is born!”. The time was 06.00 in the morning, and the sun had already risen.

And there he was.. our baby, a little bit bluish in colour, covered in white stuff, very wrinkly, and was crying and screaming his little lung out… he was perfect!

The midwife instantly put him on my chest, and started rubbing him with towels. The baby was still crying, so I guessed the birth must have been more stressful for him than it was for me. After spending some time on my chest cuddling and peeing on my face twice, the baby was taken by the midwife for test and measurement at the changing table next to the bed I was on. Then my husband put a diaper and clothes on the baby, right  before the midwife helped us to start breastfeeding. Once the baby fell asleep, he was put in a bassinet, and we were all moved into a recovery room.

The room was big, though not as big as the previous one, but it had a double bed, changing table, and a sink. Both my husband and the baby were fast asleep after we came into the room. But I was still very awake, despite having very little sleep for the past 24 hours.

Close to our room, there is a pantry, complete with bread, cereals, fruits, juice, milk, tea and coffee. I nibbled some of the food there while trying to figure out why I couldn’t fall asleep. When I came back into the room, I decided to wake my husband up to keep me company (evil me!). Thankfully, before he got grumpy because I woke him up, a lady came into our room with plates of food! The menu was fish that day, and it was wonderful.

After eating, I couldn’t wait to get home. I wasn’t sure why, because the room we were in was really cozy (it felt more like a hotel room than a hospital room, to be honest). I was so fidgety, I asked the nurse if we could go home straight away. She kindly told me we had to stay at least for several hours to make sure both the baby and I are good to go. She came again to help us breastfeeding again, check on my tummy, and asked if I had peed yet. When I told her I didn’t feel like peeing, she said I wouldn’t be allowed to go home if I didn’t pee first 😦 A pediatrician came after awhile to check on the baby, and when everything checked out, he allowed us to go home. The time was 14.00.

When we arrived home, I felt so much better as I finally got to relax. I took a shower which felt really nice and we ordered pizza for dinner because we had not had a chance to stock up on food (the baby was born 8 days earlier than estimated, by the way). I talked to Sólveig the midwife on the phone, and she came to our house that night to check on both me and the baby. She explained about how she will be making home visits to our place for the next 8 days to check on our progress. She even helped us bathing the baby for the first time. Here are few things on why I would have another baby in Iceland again:

  • It’s FREE because I am a permanent resident in Iceland. I was actually contemplating on giving birth in Indonesia, but since I quit my job in Jakarta, I was not covered by insurance anymore, and that would mean paying for hospital and doctor’s bills out of our own pocket, which could go up to EUR 2,000 for similar service and facility that I had in Iceland. So, we had the baby in Iceland (yay!)
  • I love my midwife and everybody in the hospital because they were all super nice! They were all very gentle, patient and very supportive to all my decisions and requests during the labour, despite having me talking in mixed languages of Icelandic, English, Indonesian, and even frantic hand signals that happened occasionally 🙂
  • The baby stayed with me all the time. I remember when my youngest brother was born in Jakarta, he was brought to the nursery straight away, and I only got to see him through a glass wall. But then again, this was 17 years ago, so things might have changed by now.
  • The home visits were very convenient. At first, I was a bit nervous of having the midwife visiting us everyday for the first week, because I thought I would have to get the house cleaned and myself showered before accepting any guests. But the first thing she said to me when she visited us was, to put the baby and myself first before everything else. Oh, how glad I was to hear that. So, most of the time during those visits, I was usually in my pajamas, under the duvets (bliss!), in a very messy house 🙂

There you have it, my fantastic experience of having a baby in Iceland. So tell me, wouldn’t YOU have your baby here if given a chance? 🙂

Back on the net!

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I have been a lazy blogger for the past year, and I have no excuse for it! Recently, a fellow Indonesian comrade in Europe happened to message me on the blog, which was left unnoticed (sorry >_<), but managed to track me down through email, and got me logging on to this blog, realizing that my last post was over a year ago (shame on me!).

But once I came across the lovely comments made to this blog, I had a sudden urge to share more of my bits of “living in Iceland, missing my Indonesia” adventure 🙂

Let’s start with what I had been doing in the past year… Our first child was born in May 2011 (yay!), and in August the two of us went to visit my parents in Jakarta, and we just moved into a new house in February 2012… So, it was a busy and exciting year for our little Icelandonesia (or Indoniceland?) family, really.

Still, that’s no excuse for my absence in the blogosphere. Truth is, every time I manage to sit in front of the computer, I always end up doing this, this, or this.

But I have to admit, this is one of the things that I love about Iceland, the internet connection here is significantly faster than the one in Indonesia. So, I blame all of my gaming addiction to Iceland’s fiber optics! (joke :p)

Not only that, almost everybody in Iceland has internet access, which I find amazing, because I can’t even get my mum back in Indonesia to understand how Facebook works. Even the people in the Commissions of the Indonesian’s House of People’s Representative can’t figure out their own email addresses.

So, this high internet usage in Iceland has made everything to be super-convenient for a non-mobile, stay-at-home, job-looking housewife, like me, because all is searchable in the net, and almost everything can be found, queried, and bought online. Actually, I can say the same for Jakarta, almost everybody is hooked on the web now, and online shopping is getting more and more popular.

But, I still pick Iceland for my internet needs, well, mainly because all of my gaming characters are in the European servers 🙂