Murray - Universitas Indonesia

B. Arts/Laws
Semester 1 & 2, 2018
I have come home a changed person, and now have a transformed outlook on the type of life I want to live and work I want to do after I graduate.

Academic experience

I undertook a semester of study in the law faculty of Universitas Indonesia in their English stream. The subjects I undertook were Islamic Law, Adat Law (a form of Indonesian customary law), Indonesian Business Competition Law and Maritime Law. The administrative processes (including enrollment) were done after I arrived and were very straightforward, and if I had any questions I could easily ask my assigned buddy. Cancelled classes or late lecturers were definitely a problem, but for 3/4 of my subjects it wasn't too common. However, for one subject (Business Competition Law) the lecturer only ever came to one lecture; all the other lectures were either cancelled or 'run' by his assistant. This was quite frustrating, but something I eventually accepted and got used to (though it certainly wasn't ideal).

Personal experience

I spent a year in Indonesia with a New Colombo Plan scholarship, doing a semester of study and half-year of an internship My time in Indonesia was one of the most beneficial experiences in my life, personally, professionally and academically. From a personal perspective I made many new friends, built a great deal of resilience and gained a lot of perspective on my life in Australia. From an academic perspective I gained a deep insight into Indonesian politics, culture and society and had the opportunity to conduct a research project for the Indonesian national Ombudsman. From a professional perspective, I had the opportunity to intern at Indonesian government agencies and more generally have gained skills and built a niche that, I believe, makes me much more employable. Other worthwhile experiences include taking language lessons for most of the year, extensive travelling and volunteering with the Australia Indonesia Youth Association.

Accommodation

Universitas Indonesia recommends that exchange students live in certain apartment buildings near the university. However, I lived in a studio apartment in South Jakarta about a 40 minute train ride away from Universitas Indonesia (which the university is actually situated in Bogor, a separate local government area to the south of Jakarta). I am very glad I stayed there (South Jakarta) because whilst the university's campus is very nice, Bogor itself lacks many facilities present in Jakarta such as restaurants, events, cares, tourist destinations etc. Even accounting the transit time and slightly higher rent, I would definitely recommend future students stay in South Jakarta so that they have the opportunity to experience more of Indonesian life/culture and then transit to campus every day by train.

Budget

$1000 a month would likely be sufficient to live reasonably comfortably, including rent, food and daily travel.

Challenge

The biggest challenge for me was probably adjusting to living in Jakarta. It is definitely a touch city to live in and, when the novelty of the situation had worn off after a couple of months, I became quite down in the dumps. I think the best way to deal with it is to be prepared for the situation and make sure that you have the comforts of home available to you before it happens. This includes having a nice place to live, having comfort food available, skyping with your friends and family etc.

Professional development and employability

Speaking to a DFAT-funded women's group.

As I mentioned above, my professional development was one of the most significant benefits of my time in Indonesia. I developed resilience, learned about Indonesia, built language skills  and made connections with a range of government and professional individuals. Perhaps most significantly, my experience in Indonesia has allowed me to develop a niche which, I believe, will make me far more employable.

Highlight

It is difficult to select a single highlight, but one of my most notable experiences was having the opportunity to spend a week in a traditional Dayak longhouse in West Kalimantan. The community was not connected to mains electricity and still lived with the traditional local customs and culture. It was extraordinary to see a part of Indonesian society which in some ways has been very influential, and in other has been marginalised and ignored. It definitely gave me a lot of insight into an extremely different way of living and also into the diversity/complexity of Indonesia more broadly.

Top tips

I would recommend that:

  • Stay in South Jakarta rather than the university recommended accomodation in Bogor
  • Make every effort to engage in extracurriculars, include volunteering (e.g. with AIYA) or interning
  • Take language lessons whilst in Indonesia
Murray - Universitas Indonesia