About

Hi, I’m Kate.  Welcome to my blog. I hope you’ll find the stories and photos that I’ll be sharing with you useful and/or enjoyable.

My Story

I’m an American from Chicago, but I’ve been living in Indonesia for most of the time since I arrived in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Christmas Eve 1982.

Kate Benzin at Asia-Europe border

Kate at Asia-Europe border 2004

I came to Indonesia on a whim.  It was a time in my life when I had started feeling very restless.  I was in grad school studying to be a psychologist, and it seemed that a noose was slowly tightening around my neck.  You see, I had always wanted to live and work overseas, but had not done it.  And I figured that as a psychologist, I’d set up a practice and have to stay in one place the rest of my life.  It seemed that my dream would never come true.

And then one day I saw a newspaper ad to train people in Indonesia on word processing equipment.  Well, I was sure I could do that, so I sent in my resumé – never thinking that I’d get an interview, let alone a job offer.  But I got both an interview and a job offer for a 3-month contract. I accepted immediately. My love affair with Indonesia was about to begin.

After the end of that 3-month contract training Indonesians on the ancient word processing equipment that was being used at that time, I had to figure out how I could stay. I wasn’t ready to leave, but what could I do?

I’d been a Spanish teacher in Los Angeles, so I thought that I could transfer my skills of teaching Spanish to teach English, my native language. I was lucky to be a native English speaker. I didn’t realize it at the time, but we can get jobs all over the world – even without training in teaching language.

I easily found a 6-week contract to teach English on a special project. Lucky again. I was happy to have just a short commitment to see if I could actually do it. I found that I liked it and seemed to do a good job, so I began signing contracts for a year at a time.

I then spent several years teaching academic English to government employees who were going to an English-speaking country for a Master’s degree – the United States, Australia, the UK, or Canada.

I lived in the capital Jakarta for the first 8 years. But then I was offered a job teaching English on a Canadian project in Yogyakarta, Central Java. I took that job offer, and that’s where I live to this day – actually just north of Yogyakarta on the slope of Mt. Merapi, a volcano that was in the news a lot in November 2010.

Peru, Bolivia

At Lake Titicaca

Eventually, I’d had enough of teaching. I didn’t want to leave Indonesia, the first place I’d really felt at home, so I found the perfect job.  I became a tour director for an upmarket American tour operator. It worked out great because the tour director job meant I could live pretty much anywhere in the world that I wanted because the tour operator flew me to the beginning city of my tours.

For the next 15 years, I worked around 6 months a year and then had the other 6 months at home in Indonesia.  That’s kind of like being semi-retired.  During the 6 months that I was at home in Indonesia, I had the freedom to choose whatever I wanted to do.

So now I’ve chosen to spend a good part of my time writing. So far, I’ve published books that you probably saw on Kate’s Books page of this blog. In addition, I work online building websites and writing content for those sites.

Thanks for joining me on my internet adventure!