Sumatra: An Emigrant Reports Life in Indonesia


     They have terminated their leases, sold or given away their belongings, said goodbye to friends and parents, and plunged into adventure – in Indonesia, Peru, or the US. For years, the KarriereSPIEGEL has reported on emigrants. But what happened to her dreams? We asked.


The evening that Annette Horschmann fell in love was her first on the island. Sumatra had not been on her travel list at all. But then, on a beach in Thailand, she had told other backpackers from the world's largest crater lake, and she spontaneously flew to Indonesia. For the man who met the then 26 -year-old on the island of Samosir, she sacrificed her planned career as a lawyer.


Horschmann had just passed the first state examination in law. The trip should be a breather before the second part of the study. But back in Germany, she packed only a stack of CDs and set off again, back to Samosir.


"My parents were very worried at the time, they were afraid that I would become a narrow-gauge lawyer because I only had the first state examination," says Horschmann. "But they said to me at 18, 'You're on your own feet now.' And that's what I reminded her of. "


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Emigrated to Sumatra:
"We live here in paradise"


She herself had not doubted her decision for a second, she says. And many seconds have passed since then. More than 800 million, to be exact. Annette Horschmann has lived on Samosir for 26 years.


She married the man she fell in love with as a young traveler. The two run a small hotel with 36 rooms and have three children. Two are currently living in Germany; the daughter is studying, the son is training with a star chef. Horschmann is convinced that they will come back to Samosir. "They know in which paradise they live here."


The hotel is located directly on Lake Toba, surrounded by green hills, rice fields and plantations. The guest rooms are spread over several houses with pointed roofs reminiscent of pointed caps. It is the traditional construction of the region – and part of the recipe for success of Horschmann, as she says. "We deliberately bought these traditional houses because sustainability and authenticity are important to us."


Never taken a loan


She sees herself as the pioneer of an eco-tourism movement. Grow slowly, operate sustainably, that's their maxim. "We have never taken a loan, but have grown bit by bit."


Your start into self-employment was a vegetarian restaurant. With the first profits, she bought her first pointy cape cottage, she offered two guest rooms. Gradually more houses were added. Today she says her income can easily compete with that of a German lawyer.


To be self-employed in Indonesia is much easier than in Germany, if only because wages and construction costs are much cheaper. The bureaucracy is sometimes even more annoying. It is currently fighting for licenses for the disposal of supposedly hazardous waste – which is ultimately burned at the local dumps.


"I'm already known as a critical co-mixer here," says Horschmann. "There are always meetings, licenses and logos are being drafted, but no-one is looking for concrete solutions, so I can not shut up!"


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culture shock:
Working in alien worlds


She speaks fluent Indonesian and enjoys mixing in regional politics. The fact that the region around the crater lake was declared a Geopark by Unesco is partly due to her, she says. "I'm proud of that."


Your newest project: It marks hiking trails. She wants to offer several-day hikes with overnight stays in other villages, she has already found the first partners.


SPIEGEL reported about Horschmann for the first time five years ago. Much has happened since then, she says. The Indonesian government has recognized the potential of the region. It was "built without end", a highway to the lake is planned, in the foreseeable future would probably open the first five-star hotels and an international hospital. And the first direct flight from Amsterdam will start soon.


"Indonesia is developing in a great direction, and the whole country has become much more social, safer and more environmentally conscious," says Horschmann. "For entrepreneurs, the chances here are endless."


For the love of your holidays, throw it all away? These considerations help in the decision

How flexible are you?

Annette Horschmann had already dissolved her student apartment before the trip, on which she met her future husband, to save rent. Her car had been placed in the care of her brother, the furniture placed with the parents. In case of doubt, she would have been able to build on her old life in Germany at any time.

Take the practice test!

"The first six months you can see everything through the pink glasses anyway," says Horschmann. "Whether you really fit together is only evident in everyday life."

Do you have a business idea?

Starting your own business abroad can be easier than finding a permanent position. Annette Horschmann started with a vegetarian restaurant. "That would work in most countries," she says. "And selling homemade bread is as close as German."

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