Public Health Study Tour (PHST)

Danial Shamsuddin is a New Colombo Plan mobility grant recipient from The University of Western Australia. Danial undertook the Public Health Study Tour, hosted by Universitas Indonesia in July 2018.

Q: Why did you decide to undertake ACICIS’ Public Health Study Tour?

Ever since starting university, I have always wanted to undertake an overseas program and experience the culture of another country. My professor advertised the ACICIS program and I researched what the program was all about. The way the program was designed and the topics that were covered intrigued me enough to try applying for the program.

Q: What do you find to be the most challenging about the PHST?

The most challenging aspect of this program was language and cultural barriers. Especially since both the language and culture are entirely different from Australia’s, it was difficult to fit in with the locals at the start. However, ACICIS helped us overcome this by providing language classes and booklets, which explained the basic aspects of the culture in Indonesia. ACICIS staff were also very friendly to approach and helped me improve my conversational skills. They also showed me some interesting places around Yogyakarta and Jakarta during my free time!

Q: Did you receive a New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant? If so, how did this contribute to your experience in Indonesia?

Yes, I did receive one. The grant was a great help, as I would not have gone to Indonesia without it. The grant also contributed to my experience in Indonesia as I was not financially burdened and I was able to use my expenses to explore areas away from the major cities we were staying at.

Q: What public health issues in Indonesia have you become more interested in/aware of as a result of this tour?

Before coming to Indonesia, I did not know that the country struggles with issues such as abortion and the lack of awareness of mental health in Indonesia. After going to the field trips and seminars, I became more aware of these issues and it really put me into perspective of how many families struggle with these problems—especially since rural areas have to travel further to reach a hospital.

Q: What was your favourite field trip?

My favourite part of the program was travelling to the Eliminate Dengue Project site. Compared to other field trips, I felt like this was more hands on which was my favourite part of the trip. For example, they showed us how they feed the mosquitoes by having a human volunteer to physically feed blood to them by allowing the mosquitoes to bite their arm. Another interesting aspect of the trip was that we discussed how they studied mosquito populations and how they planned on combating Dengue Fever. The highlight of the trip for me was looking through microscopes to identify what the species of the mosquito was and discovering what they look like when they are at their larvae stage.

Q: How do you think the Public Health Study Tour will influence your future career or studies?

One of my goals during the program was to see if public health was a possible career pathway for me and I always knew that I would want a profession in the health sector. After coming back from the program, it really strengthened my aspirations of obtaining a profession in the health sector. This program has also made me really interested in public health as learning the public health issues that Indonesians were suffering from, I really wanted to be a part of the organisations trying to tackle these issues.

Q: What did you most enjoy about the seminar series?

The aspect that I enjoyed most of the seminars was being able to interact with professionals who are experts in public health. After they were done with their seminar, it was very interesting to have a conversation with them and learn about their experiences of tackling public health issues in Indonesia. For example, the most interesting conversation I had was with the speaker who talked about abortion. After her seminar, we were discussing about her own experiences with the abortion laws and how she strives to tackle the problem of abortion in Indonesia.

Q: What was your favourite aspect about visiting Indonesia?

My favourite aspect of the program was going to Indonesia to actually learn about its history, culture and public health issues. As I have been to Indonesia before, my perspective was entirely different from back then as I was on a holiday. As I came here to study, I found it way more interesting to understand the culture, language and public health issues of Indonesia than coming here to enjoy a weekend in Bali. I also had a blast visiting the ancient monuments around Yogyakarta and Jakarta with my friends when we had free time.