New Colombo Plan - Connect to Australia’s future - study in the region.

Flexible Language Immersion Program

Leo Barry is a 2022 New Colombo Plan mobility grant recipient from The University of Sydney. He is studying Bachelor of Arts/Advanced Studies (Languages). Leo undertook the Flexible Language Immersion Program for one semester at Gadjah Mada University from August until December 2022.

Q: Why did you decide to undertake ACICIS’ Flexible Language Immersion Program (FLIP) ?

I chose to undertake ACICIS’ FLIP program because it perfectly suited my degree and desire to study in Indonesia. I am majoring in Indonesian Studies at the University of Sydney, focusing mainly on Indonesian language. FLIP seemed like a perfect fit, a semester-long program focused on improving Indonesian language skills at one of Indonesia’s best universities in one of Indonesia’s most liveable cities. Choosing to go with ACICIS also took a lot of stress over pursuing alternate programs by myself. Most other programs offered by my university in Indonesia had very little information, and would obviously have had to be organised by myself.
I had also heard from my Indonesian teachers that ACICIS was the best and most accessible exchange program in Indonesia, and that Yogyakarta was one of the best cities to live in for someone who had never been to the country before.

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

I received a total of $7,000 AUD towards my study in Indonesia. This helped me immensely, and covered a significant portion of my total exchange costs. I received $6,000 for the initial semester of study, and then another $1,000 for the month long internship I completed after my semester. This scholarship took a lot of financial pressure of me, and allowed me to live without worrying too much about money, while also going on a few holidays within Indonesia during my time there.

Q: What classes/units are you currently enrolled in? (List and brief description)

I was in the advanced level for the program, meaning I only had to take 3 Indonesian language classes and the rest could be normal university subjects. For the language subjects I took Indonesian History, Translation, and Research. For the university subjects I took Gamelan, Javanese, and an English language social science subject. I enjoyed all my subjects, but particularly Gamelan and Javanese, which were both taught in Indonesian so still contributed towards improving my Indonesian.

Q: Are you involved in any clubs/societies at the universities? (List and brief description)

I played soccer for the university team. It was lots of fun and a great way to make friends.

Q: How will your proficiency in the Indonesian language gained through the Flexible Language Immersion Program influence your future career or study?

My Indonesian is so much better than before I went on exchange. I truly believe you can’t learn a language properly until you’ve lived in the country. Being immersed in it every day and being forced to engage in a wide variety of social occasions makes you progress a lot faster than just in a classroom. I definitely want to keep improving my Indonesian and will definitely come back to the country to study/research.

Q: How different is in-country Indonesian language learning to your previous experiences in an Australian classroom environment?

The classrooms are a good place to learn Indonesian, and overall university life at UGM is a lot more relaxed than in Australia. But honestly the best place to learn is to just talk to people yourself and to really try and connect with people about topics that extend beyond “dari mana?” “belajar apa?” etc. The amazing hospitality of people in Indonesia means that if you speak even a little bit of Indonesia, everyone is up for a chat. As I mentioned earlier you are also forced to deal with a whole range of situations in day to day life that requires the learning of new vocabulary you otherwise wouldn’t learn in a classroom. In country is undoubtedly the best way
to learn a language.

Q: Are you undertaking an internship or volunteering while in Indonesia? (If yes, please provide a brief description on what organisation you are interning with, and what tasks you are undertaking and overall, how you are finding the internship).

I did an internship in a tourism village outside of Yogyakarta called Nglanggeran. It was a great experience and one of the highlights of my trip. There frankly wasn’t a whole lot of work to be done but the experience of living rurally in Indonesia where no one else can speak English in a beautiful village was really quite special.

Q: What do you like to do in your spare time in Yogyakarta?

In my spare time my friends and I loved to travel around Java, hike volcanoes, try new food, ride motorbikes around, and just hangout with whoever was around. Yogyakarta is a really laid back palace and its really nice to get into the rhythm of it. There is also a big arts and music scene in Yogyakarta that is really cool if you get to see a bit of it.

Q: Favourite Indonesian food/ favourite place to eat:

Special Sambal or SS. Hands down the most consistent best warung in Yogyakarta. We ate there at least once a week for our whole semester.

Q: Favourite Indonesian word/phrase:

Monggo,” Javanese equivalent of “mari,” more or less used to acknowledge someone’s presence when they pass by. In my opinion this word is the epitome of “kesopanan warga Yogyakarta,” the politeness of the people of Yogyakarta.

Q: What places in Indonesia have you visited during your Semester so far?

Karimunjawa, Dieng, Gunung Kidul, Surabaya, Bromo. My favourite area in Java was definitely the uplands and volcanoes of Central Java. The landscape there is amazing and something you will never see in Australia.