How & Why I Moved to Indonesia: My Story (VIDEO)

Can you believe it’s already been 6 months since I moved to Indonesia? Life has been so crazy I have not even been able to blog about it. But FINALLY! I can tell you a bit about the How and why I moved to Indonesia, getting you up to speed with my fans following my life here on Facebook.

There are many nuances about my life in Malang, Indonesia. However, the following video, recorded prior my departure, will tell you a bit more about myself and how I ended on this magical country. If you have any tips or enchanting places I should visit Indonesia, please leave a comment below!

How and Why I Moved to Indonesia VIDEO and transcript

Hola! My name is Maria Alexandra Laborde, and I’m a 27-year-old translator and travel blogger from Caguas, Puerto Rico.

You can kind of say I’ve become a serial expat, as this is not my first move abroad. I actually moved from Puerto Rico to Tampa, Florida to go to college back in 2005. during college, I also studied abroad in Egypt and Morocco for about a year and a half. I traveled all over the Middle East, Europe and I loved it, so I vowed to myself that once I got back graduated I would become a nomadic translator and hit the road indefinitely.

But then life happened…

Before I even graduated, on my last semester, I got a translation job. Once I got my 2 degrees, I earned a quick promotion to manager of 2 departments. So there was this war between my adventurous spirit and all this newfound success and money at an early age so I was confused. Unfortunately, at the time, the latter suffocated the former.

Things changed very quickly in early 2013 though, as I suffered of an on-the-job injury and had to move back to my parents in Puerto Rico because I lost my job. Things were tough.

It was during one of those “I have no idea where my life is going” moments that I realized “hey! I’ve always wanted to go to Indonesia!” Ever since I was little kid, I was fascinated by its biodiversity and the mix of Buddhist/Muslim/Portuguese/Arab…all these cultures. So then, I went through that my files and I remembered there’s a full-ride scholarship that would allow me to study in-country, all-expenses-paid, the Bahasa Indonesia language and also their culture.

So I was like WOW, let’s apply…so I applied, crossed my fingers very tightly and…BOOM! Just in June (2014) I found out that I WAS SELECTED!

This move came with some great SACRIFICES though, of course.

I was in a 3-year relationship and had to take an indefinite break due to the great distance. Also, I have a 2-year-old nephew back in Puerto Rico and he’s growing up so fast. I’m afraid he’s not going remember me when I come back…

As for the city I’m moving into, I can honestly say that I did not choose Malang: Malang chose me. It was nowhere in my application for the scholarship. However, the committee felt that since one of my goals was to delve deeper into the culture that Malang fit the bill. And, after reading more about it and finding out that it is known as “the Paris of East Java,” I was pretty convinced.

how and why I moved to Indonesia, Malang city

Malang, Indonesia city view by Deshi Yin, Flickr

Now on to the house hunting experience which was, very surprisingly, the easiest part of this entire process! Right after I got the scholarship, I went online and searched in the Indonesian language for boarding houses in Malang. Given my budget, there was no way I was going to find something the boarding house while searching in English.

BUT! Just 2 days in I found a boarding house I liked, I haggled the price down in Indonesian via email, finalized everything through Skype, put my deposit in, and that was that!

It’s pretty crazy that because of an injury is that I’m actually moving to Malang, Indonesia. Even crazier is the fact that I’m moving there without ever stepping foot on that country. Or town. EVER. But that seems to be my life and my motto. There’s a famous quote that sums it all up very nicely: “It is only in adventure that some people finally find themselves, get to know themselves.”

More details about how and why I moved to Indonesia coming soon!

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About Maria Alexandra

Maria Laborde, aka latinAbroad, is an open-minded, highly-energetic woman with the spirit of a child. A world citizen, Puerto Rican at heart, carrier of an American passport. A passionate translator and writer, sprinkling Latin spice around the world!

10 thoughts on “How & Why I Moved to Indonesia: My Story (VIDEO)

  1. Hola Maria,
    Me encantó leer tu historia aqui, y me interesa mucho porque he estado pensando en mudarme a Malang tambien. Yo ya he viajado a Indonesia unas cuantas veces y me enamoré con ese pais…Segun yo, Malang es la ciudad mas hermosa que yo he visto en Java…las otras son demasiada grande, llena, y sucia…pero todavia interesante tambien. Apa kamu masih bisa berbicara bahasa Indonesia? PAstinya kamu menjadi jago bahasa di sana ya? Ok, kalau saya jadi pindah ke Malang suatu saat, saya mau menghubungi kamu.
    Hope all is well and that you’ve got some new adventures planned soon 🙂

    • look at your trilingual comment! Love it! Yes I’m pretty good at Indonesian now, but unfortunately I’m not in Malang anymore. I need to write more about it! Probably will after I finish my Thailand series 😉 what are you planning to do Malang? (sorry my comment had to be in English, I am using voice recognition software right now!)

  2. Wow! What a wonderful story! Have you ever been to Borneo? I am from South Kalimantan, where floating markets are genuine farmers market which disappear before 6am and diamonds are mined with traditional ways. Nature lovers will love the neighboring Central Kalimantan and its orangutan sanctuary. But since you love beaches and islands so much, you should go to North/East Kalimantan to dive around Derawan Islands and swim among stingless jellyfish in Kakaban! 🙂

    • unfortunately, I couldn’t make it to Kalimantan! I did visit Borneo though in Malaysia and loved it. Amazing diving! The reasons you mentioned are great incentives for me to go back to my beloved Indonesia though 😉 🙂

  3. hola!
    this is so weird, but i was googling siesta key in florida (someone i know just went there) and found your blog entry about it. i trawled a bit more as you seem to be an interesting person, and found that you are in indonesia! if you ever make it to jakarta or surrounding area, i would love to meet with you. hablo un poco espanol. 😀

    • aww haha! did he really spent much time in Jakarta, but if you’re around the United States again, let me know! I’m now back to Florida 🙂 hope you still follow along!

  4. You haven’t posted much on your adventures in Malang Indonesia. Is it that boring there? I lived in Indonesia for 2 years and have plenty of stories to tell.

    • I’ve been so busy *living* my life in Indonesia, learning the language, going on adventures that I’ve barely blogged about them! If you’ve been following me on Facebook and Instagram, you know what I’m up to. Finally though, I got some time to share the details 😉 😀 Today I wrote about the secret gem Clungup and well-known Goa Cina: two Malang Beaches I visited last February. Here’s blog post:

      I have a huge backlog of posts, they’ll be slowly coming out so stay tuned! 😉

  5. Hi Maria,

    How cool is that?! And fascinating!

    We’re in Jimbaran, Bali now for 4 months. Seeing the image above made me think Indonesia because the buildings are similar throughout the country. I applaud you for your freeing and brave move, for it can be fun, but challenging, to move abroad.

    We dig doing the digital nomad bit and love working online but in the end, we know that it takes some big time releasing to make this dream come true.

    Keep on inspiring Maria!


    • thanks a lot Ryan! I haven’t hit up Jimbaran yet: do you accept couchsurfers? 😉 Haha! (although I’m kind of serious :P)

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