Life as an ex-International Student


Moving overseas to study was hard. When we first packed our bags and moved halfway across the world, we ended up trying to adjust to a whole new life altogether. And living a new life wasn’t easy.

Over time, though, we learned to enjoy it. We learned to laugh, make friends, and pull countless all-nighters for the sake of finishing those assignments. But suddenly it was graduation time, and we had to say goodbye to everything we’ve built for the past three years.

Like many other international students, perhaps you have chosen to go back home to Indonesia as well. You are about to continue to live a life you have left years ago. Then you realise that now you have parents to answer to, curfew to follow, and no friends to hang out with.

Sometimes, moving back home was harder.

Here are three tips to once again call your hometown ‘home’.

1. Back to making friends

Remember your first year of university on which you know no one and live in the middle of nowhere? Well, you’re there again. At this moment your old friends have had their own circles of friends, and your new friends are scattered in five different continents. Odds are you have one or two other university classmate who went home for good with you, but odds are you are not going to hang out with them that often either.

It’s time to make new friends and discover new communities. When one of your old friends asks you to go out with their new friends, go. When one of your new friends asks you to have lunch, go. If you keep declining those invitations because of: a) “I’m so tired all the time,” or b) “Adjusting to working life is hard,” or c) “I just don’t feel like going back to that square one once again,” well, one year later you’ll find yourself friendless in your own hometown. True story.

2. Negotiation is the best way to win the war

A life overseas pretty much equals to freedom. You are free to set your own schedule to sleep, eat, do assignments, study, go home, or go out. If you’re back once again at the house of your parents, odds are the rules before you went overseas are applied once again. Now at your 20s, you have curfews to be home before 11 pm. You are not supposed to watch TV on the couch for three consecutive hours anymore. And most of all, you are not supposed to leave dishes unwashed on the sink. Oh yes, there is no such thing as a dishwasher.

If that’s the case, a life back home can feel like being in prison.

Talk to your parents about parents-children life balance. Have lunch with them on Sundays but get your Saturdays free to go out with your friends. Be responsible about what you’re doing and they’ll start treating you as adults.

3. Remember: It’s okay to make mistakes

Many graduates feel like they are not living the lives they are supposed to live. Perhaps they feel disappointed of not being able to secure better jobs. Others feel a little bit depressed as they have become so attached to the lives they have built overseas. If you are one of them, I just want to tell you that it’s okay to make mistakes. Moving back home may or may not be the right decision, but despite all, it will become an experience on which you’ll learn new things.

Remember, the best learning always comes when you are outside your comfort zone.


Returning to a life back home may not be your first choice, but it can be a great one if you choose to believe it.


Photo by Thrillseekr

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Marcella Purnama is a blogger and author of What I Wish I Had Known: And Other Lessons Learned in Your Twenties. Despite excelling in all things science, she went to study Arts and stumbled into writing. After graduating from her Bachelor’s degree, Marcella worked as a content writer at both nonprofit and corporate settings before throwing in the towel to get a Master’s in Publishing and Communications. She was a former IndonesiaMengglobal editor from 2013–2015. Read her thoughts at


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