When moving to the Netherlands and studying at BUAS, you leave a lot behind. Your family, your friends, everything you were used to. Elizabeth also went through this when she moved from Indonesia to the Netherlands more than a year ago. She studies Creative Business and is in her second year. Her biggest dream is to make music on a professional level, both in English as well as Indonesian. I was curious to learn more about her life and cultural background and therefore cooked a delicious Indonesian meal with her to find out.

About her family

Elizabeth’s family is half Chinese, half Indonesian, and they all live in Bekasi, near Jakarta, Indonesia. Here is where her family grew up, and so did Elizabeth. In Bekasi, her mother owns a restaurant where they cook specialty dishes from close to the area. She still goes back once a year during the summer holidays to see her friends and family.

The cultural background of Jakarta and Indonesia

According to Elizabeth, Jakarta is such a big place, her neighbourhood is a 30 minutes’ drive away from the city centre. It is called “Bekasi”, and is known by the inhabitants of Jakarta as “out of space”, as a joke. They say it is out of space, because even though it is still Jakarta, it is so far away from the city centre.

While doing some research, I found out that Bekasi is one of the oldest cities of Indonesia, with its oldest documentation of existence from the 5th century [source 1]. Bekasi was also part of the conquests made by the VOC, a company run by the Netherlands in the 17th century. They used to call the region “Batavia” [source 2].

Why Indonesia should be on your bucket list

Indonesia has many different sides, from shopping; to nature; to culture. If you like shopping, then go to one of the big malls from Jakarta. These are buildings with multiple levels, where each level is assigned to a different department, such as food or clothes. “It is very American.” says Elizabeth. Next to shopping, Bunakhen should definitely be on your list. This is an island of Indonesia where it is nice to go diving. If culture is more your thing, go to Candi Borobudur. Here you can take nice pictures of old temples. Or you can go to Bekasi of course and enjoy a nice meal at Pempek Palembang 13, Elizabeth's mother's restaurant.

What makes the Netherlands such a nice place to study

Elizabeth always imagined herself to study abroad, but the Netherlands was never really on her list. She wanted to study at a conservatory in Germany at first, but an agent at her senior high school advised her to check out BUas as well. Here she discovered Creative Business and learnt to like the Netherlands.

Something she had to get used to, was that there was drinkable running water in all of the houses in the Netherlands. Elizabeth was used to buying gallons of water in the supermarket, but now she can easily tap her water from the sink. This was not the only place she did not expect water to come from. Elizabeth expected the weather in the Netherlands to be much nicer too, probably because of the nice sunny pictures that most tourists take in the tulip fields. Reality is, in the Netherlands, the water comes down from the air 180 days per year.

The only thing Elizabeth regrets not doing upfront, is to learn the Dutch language. You don’t need to bring many clothes and stuff, because you can buy those in the Netherlands as well, but some food can only be found in your home country, so it is nice to bring lots of the food.

Indonesian food

The biggest difference between Indonesian and Dutch food is the taste. Indonesians tend to have a sensitive tongue that is in need of a lot of spices. I myself am not used to cooking with so many spices, but I was curious on how to do so. Together we cooked Tempe Orak-Arik. This is a typical dish of the region of Jakarta, very cheap to make and doesn’t take much effort. According to Elizabeth’s mom, this is the ideal dish for Elizabeth to make.

The dish reminds Elizabeth of home, because it is a friendly dish that almost everybody likes. You can find it in most restaurants in Jakarta and it is nice to eat with rice. It is especially nice when you go to a “Warung”: a store like restaurant where you can get a lot of food for a small price.

We have made Tempe Orak-Arik for two, with a budget of 10 euros. In my next article you can find the recipe and photos of the dish.

Source 1: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bekasi

Source 2: https://jhna.org/articles/dutch-batavia-exposing-hierarchy-dutch-colonial-city/