Jade - Universitas Gadjah Mada

B. International Studies
Semester 1, 2016

Academic experience

Whilst studying at UGM, you have an option of studying both university subjects and also Indonesian language classes. I did a mixture of both and studied 3 immersion subjects - Korupsi dan Anti-Korupsi (Corruption and Anti-corruption), Konflik: Analis dan Transformasi (Conflict Analysis and Transformation) and Terjemahan (Translation) and then 2 language classes, namely Menulis (Writing) and Percakapan (Conversation). I found this was a fantastic mix because I was able to expand my Indonesian knowledge through the immersion subjects and then build my confidence within the language classes. I really enjoyed being taught about corruption and peace and conflict studies from an Indonesian perspective and also learnt a lot about their history and their culture.

Partaking in both methods of teaching is also a fantastic way to make wonderful friends from around the world. In our language classes we had people from Japan, Africa, Korea, China, Australia and France and yet we could still all communicate with each other because we all spoke Indonesian. It was fantastic.

One of the main challenges was the difference in organisation and systems within UGM compared to UQ. Whilst still an incredible experience, it took some time to adjust to the somewhat ‘impromptu' assessment schedule and the lack of information about course content. Despite the difficulties of feeling you are often ‘chasing your tail’, this challenge was actually a blessing in disguise because as a result I have a newfound confidence in my own abilities - it has taught me to think on my feet a little more. I’ve also developed the ability to take each day as it comes and I have learnt that sometimes the best opportunities for personal growth cannot be planned.    

Personal experience

I did not know what to expect when I left for this exchange and I have come back absolutely amazed by all the wonderful people that I met, the astounding places I visited and all that I learnt. I have made lifelong friends with people from all around the world, visited some truly breathtaking places, have learnt so much about Indonesia, myself and have also learnt how to adapt to different cultures and traditions. It was a life-changing and unforgettable experience. 

Accommodation

My partner and I lived in a homestay called Embe Enem which was about a 5-minute drive and 10-15 minute walk from the university. We absolutely loved it! It was in a wonderful location with an abundance of both local and western food options, close to all the best cafes and we had laundry services, printing shops and all other necessary services quite close by. I was also only a 2 minute walk from one of the best Indonesian Language Schools in Yogyakarta (Wisma Bahasa).

We loved that not only were we in a good location but we also had a kitchen. A few of our friends lived at a Kos and whilst this was much closer to Uni, they did not have any kitchen facilities.

ACICIS is fantastic at helping you find the perfect accommodation and when you arrive in Yogya you receive a booklet with information on an array of options. My advice is to choose your top 3-5 options and then visit them all and make your decision after visiting the sites. Never make a decision without visiting the option first - check the location and how close it is to busy places such as schools, check to see if there are any places where mosquitos could build up (ponds, etc.) and always check all the facilities work. You will be amazed at how many options you have in Yogyakarta. 

Budget

Indonesia is an extremely cheap and affordable place to live. In regards to a budget, it just entirely depends on where you end up living, what your daily expenses are and also how much travel you intend to do.

There is an abundance of food options. You can just eat at Warungs (local food stalls) and live on about $5 a day for food (breakfast, lunch and dinner) or you can go to Western restaurants and still have a decent meal for about $10-$15. I generally ate breakfast at home and then had lunch and dinner out and spent about $10 a day - as I bought a coffee every morning from our favourite local cafe. Yogyakarta has a bunch of epic coffee spots - so there is no need to worry about a lack of good caffeine. There are also lots of places to eat the university and you can usually have a large meal there for about 80 cents.

Accommodation ranges in price but I lived at a wonderful homestay and paid $180.00AUD a month and this included all my electricity, wifi, water and use of a kitchen.

Transport is extremely cheap and there are a wide range of options. I highly recommend downloading the 'SayTaxi' app and the 'Gojek' app. 'SayTaxi' is exactly like uber but for taxi's and is super safe and reliable. 'Gojek' is exactly the same but for mopeds and is incredible - not only can you order a ride from it but you can order food from any restaurant to be delivered, shopping bought and delivered and so on.

In regards to travel, you can do bigs trips on a relatively small budget. We would take the train to Solo for the day and it would only cost us $2.00. Yet, my experience in regards to airfares is that they can be quite expensive. We would try to only book with Garuda because they are the most reliable, thus you have to pay a bit extra but it is worth it. Definitely try and travel as much as you can whilst there because it is still quite affordable. 

Professional development and employability

I believe that my semester abroad has helped me to develop various new skills and attributes that will contribute to my professional development. Whilst living in Indonesia my Bahasa improved significantly and I had the opportunity to work with and gain contacts from an abundance of fantastic Indonesian lecturers and teachers. I also had the opportunity to volunteer for some local NGO's and Orphanages and thus was able to develop my skills for roles in similar environments. I also learnt how to think globally and how to learn and work in a way that is culturally adaptable to wherever you are based. I honestly believe that this experience provided me with an opportunity to both sharpen and expand my skills for my future profession. 

Highlight

Personally, the whole entire experience was a highlight. Every single day I learnt something new about Indonesia, its culture and also about myself. I was constantly pushed outside of my comfort zone and challenged to try new things and for me, this was a highlight. Another highlight was being able to spend a lot of time volunteering for NGO's and being able to partake in the wonderful Indonesian community. 

Top tips

Be open to new opportunities and to step outside of your comfort zone. All of my fondest memories arose from experiences in which I could not have planned - it was from word of mouth or from saying yes to outings with locals and so on.