Americans are very individualistic, informal, treat everybody equally regardless of age or position, are future-based thinkers and are devoted to competition.
Indonesian culture is quite different. Indonesians give great respect to older people and consider competition appropriate for athletics. The only thing that the two cultures have in common is that they do not really care about the past, but look forward to the future.
American parents educate their children to be self-sufficient from an early age. As soon as they graduate from high school, young adults are expected to live apart from their parents, otherwise they are considered immature.
Like Americans, Indonesian parents also educate their children to be self-sufficient. Instead of tidying up their bedrooms, parents have their children do so. This also applies to study time, washing clothes and dishes, housework, and so on. In fact, spoiling children is a big mistake. What makes things different is that Indonesian young adults still have the option to live with their parents. Most choose to live separately.
Americans are informal. They talk in a comfortable body position without caring about politeness. They talk in the same manner with anyone regardless of their age and position. They call older people by their first names.
This could not happen in Indonesia. Respecting someone older is a must, as well as speaking in a politely to someone younger. Politeness is valued, such as not speaking loudly, sitting in an
appropriate manner, etc.
Indonesia has three levels of language. The first is casual language. Youngsters, among themselves, speak in casual language. It sounds like American slang. The second is polite language. This is spoken to someone older than you, and someone you respect.
The third is official language. This language is only spoken in formal occasions, even among people of the same age. Following this rule of language is important; otherwise you can be viewed as rude or weird.
One aspect of American lifestyle is an orientation toward competition. They see others as their competitors. They compare themselves to others to see who is the fastest, smartest or most creative. They have been accustomed to this at school.
However, Indonesians have a different view of competition. They see it as a medium to have fun. They say that the purpose of life is not to compete but to complete. Parents advise their children not to place strong emphasis on competition.
They worry that the desire to beat others may threaten relationships. Instead, parents advise children to try to help each other without regarding who is better or worse. In fact, Indonesians’ very first moral lessons are in helping to each other.
When it comes to common norms, both Americans and Indonesians do not care about their pasts. They do not mind who they were; they only care about what they will be.
Their thoughts are aimed at the future. Although Indonesia once saw the giant kingdoms of Majapahit and Sriwijaya, whose reign covered vast parts of Southeast Asia, I have never heard an Indonesian citizen speak about it in a proud manner. They only talk about the development and the future of their country.