Four weeks ago I left my family, chicken salt and Vegemite to live in Yogyakarta Indonesia with no friends, no Indonesian language skills, nor any idea of where I would reside for the next 6 months of my life. Today I realise that that leap of faith (AKA my yolo move) was the best decision I could have ever made. From the incredible food, friendly locals and loud sounds of the cities, Indonesia continues to amaze me every day.
Every exchange opportunity is profoundly different in many ways and is undoubtedly shaped by the aims of each student. Personally, the goals I aimed to achieve through an exchange to Indonesia with the ACICIS ‘Indonesian Business, Law and Society’ (IBLS) program included having as much fun as possible whilst interning, networking and learning as much as I could about Australia’s largest neighbour. To those with similar aims, here are some of my experiences in terms of settling in, finding accommodation, cultural differences and exchange adventures incase you also want to make the best decision of your life through an exchange to Indonesia!
Pre-Departure and Settling In
It is integral to initially note that an exchange to Indonesia is particularly special due to the organisation of the exchange programs by ACICIS – The Australian Consortium for In-Country Indonesian Studies of which UTS is a member university. Prior to arriving in Indonesia ACICIS settled all my student visa matters, provided many pre-departure guides and organised accommodation for the first week in the UGM Club Hotel. It was in this hotel where I along with approximately 45 other Australian students from all over the country were introduced to each other during orientation, crafting friendships and providing many networking activities. The staff from ACICIS are with us every step of the way, eliminating any doubt or fear one usually has going into a foreign country with no language skills, cultural knowledge, family or friends.
Arriving in Yogyakarta not knowing exactly where I will be living for the majority of my exchange was undoubtedly a little stressful, however ACICIS had organised for each Australian student to have a ‘pendumping’, a local student helper to aid in finding accommodation. Due to Yogyakarta being very much a student city, accommodation options are abundant, usually in the form of a ‘kost’ building with numerous rooms housing students dormitory style, homestay options are also available in both the traditional sense as well as modern homestays (which are essentially serviced townhouses), you can also rent a complete home without much trouble. I chose to live in a 3-bedroom modern homestay with two other Australian students. However traditional homestays which may involve living with an Indonesian family or staying in a kost building with local students are often recommended in order to practice Bahasa skills and for more active cultural immersion. Indonesian accommodation options are very cheap and it took only a couple of hours to search through and find the perfect accommodation close to my university.
Indonesians are not only very friendly but also incredibly polite people. In comparison to Australia it is necessary to note that the majority of people across Indonesia adhere to a specific religion and can be formal if the situation calls for it, so always be observant and respectful as to not offend the lovely locals! University dress codes usually require collared shirts and closed shoes and 2-piece bathing suits are very uncommon in most places, but although observing surroundings in most cases can be beneficial, life is in no way made difficult by the cultural differences!
Favourite trip experiences in four weeks!
In under a month I have experienced a plethora of exciting adventures that I’m sure I’ll remember for a lifetime, from spectacular sunsets above rice fields next door to my home, to mind-blowing sunrises viewed after sleeps on the beach and weekend adventures to unknown destinations guided by trustworthy personal drivers. My exchange experience has just begun and I’m extremely excited to continue experiencing all that Indonesia has to offer, with an active volcano less than an hour away from my home, one of the seven wonders of the world, the Borobudur temple nearby and tickets to Bali for weekend trips around $40 AUD, incredible adventures are inevitable on an Indonesian exchange.
Aylin Nazim, Bachelor of Global Studies, 9809 1857
Australian Consortium for in Country Indonesian Studies (ACICIS)