Positive Attitudes We Can Learn from Bule (Foreigners)

Travel brings you to meet so many different kind of people. That’s true. Since I started to travel abroad from my own comfort zone aka Jakarta, I start to meet different kind of people from different nationalities. Some of it can bring me such a shock (probably called culture shock) but indeed that’s also fill me with some different idea about another human and how they live their way of life in a positive way.


The opportunity to meet so many international people along my journey – or in my daily life, bring me to a conclusion, that I can learn some of positive behavior they have. True, basically we all just human. All the races, land where we live, the figures we have, just an attribute that might make us look different, but in general we all just simply human. We have same part of body, ears, eyes, legs, hands, fingers etc etc. But, that’s not my point. My point is, we can exactly saying that’s many different opinion between Bule (how Indonesian call white people – and it’s not a bad word) and Asian (since I am born as Asian). And I am thinking it lately, what make Asian different than Bule, and the most important thing, what we can learn from them in positive way?


Here is what I can summary from my relation with bule – read it with open mind, this is not an article based on judgmental that Bule is better than Asian *no way, but my principle when I meet people, that I always can learn from them 🙂


  1. Optimistic

One of my friend had a motorbike accident in Dieng, Java. She has injuries in knee, legs and most important thing, her teeth. When I asked about it, she only said one time, “Oh, my biggest concern is about my teeth. I don’t really care about my knee.” Only that one time. After that, she didn’t brag about it over and over again, like she is the most unhappiest “traveler” in Indonesia. Otherwise, she enjoyed Indonesia till she has to leave this country. What an optimistic behavior. Many times I heard some of my Asian friends who had a bad luck in their travel and brag about it over and over again. So her simple act reminds me how to accept the bad luck doesn’t mean you have to cry over it all the time.

Positive-Attitude-From-Bule (1)Me with Karina and Marketa. Marketa is 20 y’old and first time solo travel to Indonesia (Asia, actually). A brave woman!


  1. Use Logic rather than Feeling

Well, this is pretty common behavior that we will find in bule. I also got a bit distress to understand this side of them in beginning. I was thinking, why they can’t be more sensitive and use feeling than their logic. Asians mostly have been raised by the culture of “being nice rather than being in war” that we sometimes apply it in every aspect of life. For instance, I ever hiked with bule and she didn’t want to use guide because she is pretty sure it was a easy track to walk. But rather than use logic that probably she is right, I feel so bashful to reject the guy who offered us his service. But honestly, we should do what we want to do, not doing something based on reticent feeling.


  1. Put all effort to what they like to do

This is I recognized when I attend lots of art performances. So many people that really put their effort to do what they like until they really capable on it. Let say, I see a guy played flute sooooo well. He can play any different kind of flutes. In Indonesia, if you say to your parents that you wanna be a flute piper, they will laugh at you and say, “How can you earn money from that kind of job?” So then people chose to do “normal” job rather than really pursuing their passion.


  1. Being different is OK for them

Not all people that look different than you, in their appearance should be a bad person or definitely people who you need to stay away. Some people who look so weird with their hippies style, tattoo in all their body, piercing here or piercing there, can be ones of good person you know. One’s appearance is nothing to do with his personality. Don’t judge a book by it’s only cover. As I could see how the way they treat people also more relax, you can be whatever you want to be ; a hippie, a vegetarian, a gay, a musician, a traveler, a party goers, an atheist, a theist. Relax, different doesn’t mean you can’t be friend.


  1. If you want to wear it, wear it

I wanna shout about this part to all women I know. Or maybe people. There are so many body judgement issue recently between women. Mostly influenced by advertising, fashion TV, social media, etc. The only female who able to wear bikini, only them who have good shape body, flat stomach and big boobs. Oh c’mon, if you are in the beach, use beachwear. Then, if you are not comfortable to wear it, do it not because you are shy with your body!

Positive-Attitude-From-Bule (5)Me and Mariela, she left all behind in Argentina to travel to Australia. And she is still so young!


  1. Love your tan skin, why use Whitening products?

I had to laugh first time one of my bule friend told me, “Why I can’t find a lotion or soap here without whitening? I already so white, do they want me to be more pale???” – Yeah, having white skin such an obsession here in Indonesia. I don’t know since when, media manipulated us with the idea that pretty girl should have white skin. In opposite, so many bule jealous with tan exotic skin we have as we are born as Asian. They even want to do sun bathing in the middle of day when the sun brights so high, while Asian choose to be under umbrella not in the rainy day, but even in normal days.


  1. Why do you kill your legs only to dance?

When time to going out to the club coming, women in Jakarta always need to dress up so well. Make up on, heels on, best sexy clothes on. Geee… and with that heels, which usually more than 5 cm, we need to dance in the club hours! I can say, women are really strong creature! We do our best to kill our legs but still look fine. And why so? Because in some club in Jakarta, they are not allowed us to enter if we don’t dress well. But wait, what about bule? I have noticed that bule I see go to the club, they don’t really care that much to wear heels or put thick make up on. Why do we have to kill our legs for dancing in a place that we need to pay to enter?


  1. Speak directly

Asian can be consider as rude person if she speaks what in their mind directly. But it suppose to be not that. I learn, by speak directly make us able to minimize all the miscommunication or a swirling conversation. This is what I learn from bule, they will say no over no, and yes over yes. If they don’t like something, they will tell it. If they like something, they will tell it. Don’t you wish your friend speaks honestly to you like that?


  1. Travel since young

Every time I meet a traveler from abroad, I always asked curiosly, ‘How old they are?’ ‘Since when do they travel?’ – the answer can probably shocked me. Most of them travel since their young. Like in the beginning of their 20, they already have courage to go to see the world. Being away thousand kilometers from their home to see different culture and landscape from their home. That’s really awesome!


  1. Being outdoor as a lifestyle

This is what I admire from bule. They like being outdoor. For them, walking is really normal thing to do, while people in Jakarta is not used to walking (yeah, the reason can be because no proper pedestrian – but if we admit, walking from place to another place really not come in our mind cause we prefer to take angkot (public car), ojek (motorbike ride) or taxi). When the agenda from Indonesian couple can be going to mall, enjoying coffee in mall, for bule, they prefer to spend time with you outdoor. Going to the forest, swimming in the ocean or hike the mountain can be their agenda to enjoy life and their partner more.

Positive-Attitude-From-Bule (4)Enjoying to plant the rices – who scare with mud? We are dancing on it 😀

Positive-Attitude-From-Bule (2)Trust me, Indonesian will think he is crazy. But he just enjoying his feet touched the fresh and cold water 😉


  1. Appreciate face to face communication than your smartphone

This phenomenon that probably can be said as decreasing behavior in human relationship. Lately people more care talking with their smartphones than real people in front of their face. Having a smartphone maybe nice when we have to kill our time from traffic in Jakarta. But many still choose to talk with their smartphones compare to have a real conversation with their friends. That’s what I didn’t see in bule’s attitude. Mostly they appreciate real people, they will keep their phone away from them or not checking it in every each minutes, and more involving themselves with people around them. If you like your smartphone more, why you need to go out from your home to meet real people? That’s a good question.


  1. Learning the lives of local people

There is no terms to stop learning. I don’t know whether Indonesian is too easy to learn or another reason, but I found so many bule that visit Indonesia or staying here for work and able to speak Indonesian – even probably not so fluent, but their effort to able to speak our local language is a way how they respect the place they are living. I also see many times, that bule is more interesting with the culture we have. They put lots of attention when attending traditional party or when watching traditional dance. They are curious to seek the behind story of every legend in Indonesia, while the local itself pay no attention to the cultures they have and prefer to think themselves cool when they can follow the culture of Hollywood. That’s so weird, isn’t it?


  1. Do you really need to buy that?

Jakarta is city with lots of mall. Too much. This idea to build such of lots of shopping mall probably because the basic habit of consumerism from Jakarta’s people itself. It’s such a general secret that people always buy things if they put the mark “Discount” in it. No matter whether they really need that stuff or not. I also realized that Asian care too much with fashion trend ; but when I was travel to Europe – I was thinking that probably in that countries, people will care that much about fashion because well, they are such a wealthy country compare to Indonesia. But no. What I see, many people wear things that are modest and simple. And they still look ok, btw.


  1. Environmental care

This is what I see a huge different between Asian and Bule. Especially in touristic places. When some Asian people just carelessly throw rubbish everywhere, they will bring their own rubbish until they find trash bin. Honestly, this behavior makes me feeling so shy every time I bring my international friends to touristic places in Indonesia and they see so many rubbish around the place.


  1. Being independent


As I heard from my friends, they usually already leave their parent home at the age of 17+. That’s because they raise to be independent since young age. It’s kind of different with Indonesian that usually even already 20+ or 30+ they still live with their parents. Being independent has a good side cause it teaches you how to take care of yourself without depending on anyone. But Asian are people who tend to be close with family – which is also good. But to be able to grow mature, we suppose to be independent and try to live our life under our own responsibility.

Positive-Attitude-From-Bule (3)Me and Anna, a young traveler from Netherlands but already been to so many places on the globe. One of my travel inspiration.


My point is the same. No matter what race you have, but if you are a positive person, you can be such example for another human being that meet you along the way. But it is also a good thing, to learn from others to make you become a better person. If you are already think that you like that points above, congratulations 😉


Dea Sihotang




  1. Nice article and also funny! It is very interesting! I think also that there are differences from the common people and the travellers. To travel open your mind. Thank you to this article now I can learn about some aspects of the Asian people. But really Asian people use whitening product? I love the suntan! 😀


    • Weh kak Hanum.. lagi baik banget hari ini kayanya 😀 Selain mampir, dia juga meninggalkan jejak hahahaa… Kita musti bangga deh sebagai orang Indonesia walau musti tetap banyak-banyak belajar juga dari orang-orang sekitar kita, terutama yang dari jauh-jauh sana, seru merhatiin cara mereka “hidup” 🙂 Makasih yaaa


  2. I don’t use whitening very often. Actually I already give up. I am still dark and getting darker because too much traveling. Maybe some Indonesians see me as a ‘dekil’ girl. But I love snorkeling, hiking, walking under the sun than stay at home. I don’t trash the environment. I am independent woman. We should make a survey about this topic hehehhe…. but yeah…. every culture has its positive sides. Travel makes you have better mind and attitude. Thanks for this post and nice to share it dea. You always have nice topic to read dear 😉


    • Hihihiii, it’s not dekil, it’s authentic 😀 White girls are jealous with our tan skin. No need to use whitening product. Too bad, I can’t be so tan, because I always go under the sun and in few days, my skin back as white (or yellow) again, but it’s not a big matter. Good that you are already an independent woman and environmental carer, but many that so careless with environmental. The purpose of this writing is to open some people’s mind. Perhaps it’s inspired people to be more accepting the way we are as Asian, and minimize the unnecessary point of view for being a better person. Ciao Karina – thank you for reading! 🙂


  3. Appreciate face to face communication than your smartphone. very true. ini yang paling nggak aku suka, ketika travelling teman seperjalanan hanya melototin hape. Hellooo …..ini orang. hehehe


    • Makkk, kok panjang umur banget sih? Siang ini aku sengaja buka laptop buat hub kamu loh. Mau buka blog mu and stalking, udah nulis kemana lagi hahaa.. Kayanya skrg musti serius lagi nyoba2 jadi kontributor tulisan *buat tambahan 😀


  4. Hi Dea! I found your article as I was searching for blogs about NTT. Great article! Beta dari Amerika, dan tinggal di Kupang untuk satu tahun karena beta guru bahasa inggris. I’m loving your articles and this one gives great insight into how Indonesians view bule 🙂


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