Check out this feature on the Indonesia Study Abroad program in the Martlet:
Soon it will be time to start packing my bags and to move on from this place I’ve called home for the last five months. The exams, the essays are all done. Some friends have already left. And it’s all becoming real.
It’s going to be hard to say goodbye to all the friends I’ve made here and to say goodbye to this carefree life. University life is more relaxed then back home. I don’t cook here, because eating out is cheaper than buying groceries. Weekends are spent either with good friends in Yogya or somewhere else in Java that I haven’t yet explored. And I even find that I’ve started to reminisce about the people I come across in day to day life. The friendly laundry lady, my constantly laughing pak kos, the people that work at circle K, the pak who makes tea in the tea room at school, and even my eccentric professors.
Over the weekend I hiked Gunung Merapi the 5,600 ft tall active volcano north of Yogyakarta. Watching the sunrise behind the moon and over the clouds was a reward that made the strenuous 6 hour hike more than worthwhile. I stayed behind on the last leg, because the very tip of the volcano is a dangerous hike through ash. At that point I was grateful for my language skills because of the interesting chats I had with fellow hikers. When there was moments of silence I looked out on Gunung Lawu, Merbabu, Sumbing, and Sindoro breathed in the fresh air and was completely content with, my time in Indonesia and life in general.
There endless things to see and experience here, but not enough time! Now that this chapter has ended, I’ll be off to Cambodia for a family visit and then back to Canada and reality. I hope I can make it back to this beautiful country in the future. Actually, I know I will make it back in the future, so….sampai jumpa!
For anyone intending to go on exchange to Indonesia, I thought I would write a reflection just on the INCULS (The Indonesian Language and Culture Learning Service) program at UGM.
My semester at UGM started with a placement test, where I was placed in the menengah (intermediate) group. At first I accepted it and did not request to be moved up because I hadn’t studied Indonesian for two years. Now a part of me regrets that decision. After a week of being in the menengah class I realized that it was far too easy but at that point it was a too late to switch classes.
Intermediate and advanced students are encouraged to classes outside of INCULS. I ended up taking two classes in the Political Science department: Indonesian Political Thought and Corruption and Anti-corruption. I loved my Corruption and Anti-corruption class my professor was engaging and encouraged student dialogue. It was taught in English but for presentations the other exchange students and I used Indonesian. My other class was the polar opposite. It was a first year class filled with rowdy students often talking loudly throughout the entire class. Sometimes the class broke out in synchronized cheer or laughter. And the professor spoke entirely in Indonesian which was hard to comprehend. At the end of semester I ended up enjoying the class because we were able to do our own research but the best part of the class was making friends with classmates.
One major difference between university here and university back home is group work. Most assignments seem to be done in groups like presentations and even research essays. This can be frustrating, especially when you’re used to working alone and being solely responsible for finishing an assignment. In my experience my group partners are always very last minute, up until the very hour before class your assignment might not be finished, but somehow it always pulls together.
Another thing that some students have had to deal with (but not me) is kelas kosong (empty class). This is when the lecturer just doesn’t show up to class and the class is cancelled. Apparently this happens quite a lot.
I’m glad I took classes outside of INCULS mostly for the fact that you make Indonesian friends and it gets you talking and practising Indonesian with locals. As cliché as it sounds most learning has occurred outside of the classroom, it really isn’t about the coursework or quality of teaching that will improve your Indonesian, at the end of the day it is your desire to immerse yourself. I’d have to say that my Indonesian has improved drastically from the point that I was at when I began, however, I still don’t have full comprehension and conversations I can hold are limited by vocabulary.
Lunch with friends from my political thought class in the FISIPOL (political science) canteen
It’s hard to put into my recent experiences into words, I have relaxed in Karimunjawa, enjoyed cool weather in Dieng and witnessed 1000 lanterns float into the sky on Waisak day to celebrate the birth, life and death of Buddha. Here are some photo’s which I hope will show the beauty and diversity of Indonesia.
It’s mid-semester and I’ve just finished midterm exams! Time has flown by, and I am still learning, and experiencing new things every day and enjoying every minute of it. There are days when the heat and the occasional bumps in the road get to me but all of it is just a part of living in a foreign country. I’d have to say that I feel either confused or embarrassed by some sort of miscommunication just about every day and I think at this point it’s best to do as the Indonesian’s do, laugh and smile! One of the general cultural traits given to Indonesians is that smiles and laughter are common expressions of their embarrassment, which I think is a great attitude. Although, if you almost get hit by a motorbike on the road the last thing you would want to see is a cheeky smirk. But anyways, the point is sometimes you just have to take yourself less seriously and laugh it off and look on the brighter side of things. I am in Indonesia studying, I’ve met amazing people, I’ve done amazing things, I’ve eaten great food, I got to miss some of the Canadian winter and I now am basking in tropical heat, what is there not to smile about?
Speaking of things that make me smile, over the past month I have enjoyed a trip to a village to teach children and have performed in a play. UGM students from the geography faculty brought me and my friend Viv along on a visit to a community called Gunung Gaja to help with their “geography on vacation” program. The purpose of the trip was to educate elementary school students about respecting the environment. We basically just took the kids on a hike and played educational games. The kids were all very sweet and I hope they learned something because I’ve seen too many parks and beaches littered with garbage.
I have also been busy practising for a play about beach safety which I performed about two weeks ago, I played Sinta. It was a lot of fun and I got to meet great people!
A few weeks ago after dinner one night a few friends and I ventured to Alun Alun Kidul also called the “South Square” which lies in behind the Sultan’s palace. Food and drink sellers line the exterior of the square. Parked on the sides of the street are dozens of carts and tandem bikes adorned with glowing lights for visitors to peddle along the road that encircles the main attraction.
After peddling around in our “Doraemon” themed cart we ventured into the middle of the square. Two large banyan trees stood before us as we prepared our blindfolds to engage in the ritual that attracts most visitors to the location. The belief is that those who successfully walk through the two trees blindfolded will get unlimited blessings. After assessing the situation, it seemed as though it would be a breeze. Undoubtedly it was for some, but not for me…..
Attempt number one: I went far right parallel to the trees, my friends told me to stop because I had gone too far off course.
Attempt number two: This time people thought it was funnier to see where I’d end up. Well apparently again I had gone far right then decided to take a turn. I had made a strange loop around in front of the two trees but again nowhere near them or near the middle. I kept going for awhile but something told me I wasn’t going in the right direction….perhaps it was the laughter of every person around me? I had in that attempt almost crashed into a kaki lima (food vender), a cyclist and a group of men several times.
Attempt number three: I made it! Does that still count?
After looking it up on the internet, apparently it should be done with a black blindfold. I had used a green scarf the first two times and a black blindfold the last time. I’m going to blame it on that….
Another interesting fact about this ritual is that if you sneak a peek while blindfolded you will enter another world and you might not come back! I may have not received unlimited blessing but I’m still in this world so I would say the night was a success .
Last weekend’s adventure began with a warning: don’t wear green to the beach. This piece of advice stems from the myth surrounding Nyai Loro Kidul. Now it may sound silly to the western ear but folklore and mythology in Indonesia and especially Yogyakarta is for the most part considered truth. And there’s evidence to prove it!
During orientation upon my first few days in Indonesia we were told the story of the Queen of the Sea. If memory serves me correctly Nyai Loro Kidul is the legendary spirit-queen of the Southern Sea. This Queen is also the mysterious queen that all the Sultans of Yogya worship and become spiritual husbands of. By “marrying” the queen, these sultans are guaranteed ruling power over the land.
Nyai Roro Kidul is said to have a fondness for the colour green, especially when worn by men. Therefore if you are seen wearing green on the beaches of the South Sea, Nyai Roro Kidul will lure you into the sea by engulfing you in crashing waves as you are taken to become her slave for eternity.
Believe it or not, people who have worn green to Parangtritis have been reported missing! My friend swears that she was engulfed by a wave and the wave took her green skechers at Parangtritis. A few other items went missing this weekend as well. Even if you don’t believe it it’s best to be on the safe side and leave your green wardrobe at home when heading to the beach!
Besides the short beach trip to Ngandong just about 2-2.5 hours outside of Yogya, I haven’t done much in this last month. So far I’ve visited Jakarta and have mostly been hanging around Yogya shopping and listening to jazz and reggae. We are in our 4th or 5th week of school and so far so good. I ended up dropping an immersion course and picking up another on Indonesian political thought, the class is taught in bahasa. It can be tiring because your mind is working harder comprehend what is being said. I’ve heard that if you can understand 30% of what is being said you’re still at an advanced level, so I guess my Indonesian isn’t as horrible as I thought.
I just did a presentation in bahasa on corruption and democracy for my korupsi dan anti-korupsi class, I think went smoothly. I had a few Indonesian friends check it over and it turns out there were only a few mistakes! With some minor changes, I gave my presentation and it seemed like people understood. Sukses!
While school is useful I’m finding out that most learning occurs outside of the classroom like many people have told me. It’s quite easy to hang around foreigners and just speak English but after making friends with a few Indonesian’s I have surprised myself by how much I am able to express. I have always found grammar my strength, so it has been and will continue to be integral to my language studies to continue to put myself out there and engage in conversations using bahasa. I have to get over being malu-malu (shy)!
In other non-school related news… I have found myself extremely comfortable in Indonesia. I’m not quite sure what it is but Yogya and almost all people I have met have been nothing but welcoming. It can be frustrating at times because a simple task can take a whole day to finish, but mostly things are laid back. Getting food is convenient and cheap, transportation is convenient and cheap, and the people are friendly and curious and want to ask questions, which is good for practising language skills. Although, the questions get redundant like: where are you from? What are you doing here? How long will you stay here? Sometimes they can get a little personal like: Are you married yet? Why not? Do you have a boyfriend? What’s your religion? I have never been too taken aback by these questions, to Indonesian’s and many other people around the world these questions are just a regular part of small talk.
I have also been trying to get myself involved in some extracurricular activities. I have joined a group which is working on a play about beach safety and will be doing performances at the beach for locals and tourists. This was a random opportunity that I decided to take up but it should be fun! I was told to jump at any chance to engage with the community because it can lead to amazing things, it wouldn’t be “immersion” if you didn’t! And this weekend the same person who is organizing this play has asked me and a few friends to go to a small village to meet elementary school students her description was a bit vague but I’ll update you on how that ends up.
First of all, I apologize for my long overdue post! I have had both a lack of internet and lack of time. Internet was just installed in my kos so blogging should be a lot easier from now on.
It’s been about 3 weeks since my arrival to Indonesia. Settling in has taken up most of my time. My first few days in Yogya were spent “kos hunting” with my pendamping (a student volunteer “helper” from UGM). After my third day I have settled in an area called Gang Keruk. I live in the second floor of a home with 4 other female students. My room has its own washroom with western toilet, it includes electricity, cable, internet and does not have a jam malam (curfew). I also live above a pastry shop owned by our lovely Ibu and Bapak Kos (mother and father of our kos). They sell amazing little pastries called pia pia.The only downside is that my room doesn’t have A/C but I’m dealing with that just fine! Here’s a few photos:
My kos is only 10 minutes, on the bike that I bought second hand here in Yogya, to University. Although traffic is crazy I feel safe on my bike and there is actually a bicycle lane on many roads here.
After a placement test I was assessed as an intermediate student and today was the first day of class. After realizing my comprehension and conversation skills are severely inadequate I was nervous to start class again after two years of being out of practise. However, my first class went well and I understood everything the professor was saying in Indonesian! I’ve decided to take language courses on grammar, writing, and vocabulary, a course on Korupsi dan Anti- Korupsi (taught in English), and a immersion (taught in Indonesian) class called Pendidikan Kemasayaratkan (Community Education).
So far, I’ve just been exploring Yogya and the areas around. Everything I’ve seen so far I’ve loved. I cannot say enough about how pleasant Indonesians have been everyone has been incredibly friendly and hospitable. And the food is delicious!
Hello everyone and Happy New Year!
My name is Chany Chea and I will be leaving for Yogyajakarta, Indonesia in February to begin four months of bahasa immersion classes at the Universitas Gadjah Mada with the ACICIS program. I’m a fourth year student in Pacific and Asian Studies and Political Science. I took two years of bahasa at UVic and I am excited for the opportunity to continue on with my studies and get credit for it!
I know 2012 will bring a plethora new adventures and memorable moments. I can’t wait! I’ll be blogging about my experiences throughout my time in Indonesia.
I look forward to sharing with you!
Selamat Datang! This is the new blog for the UVic Study Abroad Program in Indonesia. The program offers a fabulous opportunity for University of Victoria students to learn Indonesian language and culture in lovely Yogyakarta, a vibrant court city in Central Java.