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

Virtual Indonesian Language Short Course

Meg Somers is a New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant recipient from RMIT University. Meg undertook the Virtual Indonesian Language Short Course in January 2021.

Q: Why did you decide to undertake ACICIS’ Indonesian Language Short Course?

I decided to undertake the virtual ILSC as it seemed like a great way to expand my cultural awareness and understanding of the Indonesian language whilst international borders are closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The program allowed me to gain experience in an international context, whilst also earning university credit over the summer break!

Q: Did you receive a New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant? Do you think the NCP is an important initiative?

I am extremely grateful to have received a 2021 New Colombo Plan Scholarship for Indonesia. The New Colombo Scholarship program supports Australian undergraduates to undertake study, language training and internships in the Indo-Pacific region for a period of up to 19 months. Whilst my in-country program is not due to commence till August 2021, I decided to commence some of my language training early in order to maximise my experience within the program. The support from the New Colombo Plan has allowed me to reduce my working hours during this course and focus on my studies, helping me to make the most out of the program and join extra online events with fellow ILSC students. I believe this is an incredibly important initiative and I am so grateful to be a part of it.

Q: What did you find to be the most rewarding part of this virtual experience?

My favourite part of the course was our ‘Virtual Market Tour’. The Language Training Centre staff set up their own fruit and vegetable market stalls at the university with lots of fresh fruit and produce for us to pretend to buy! Each stall was a different Zoom breakout room and we were able to practice the language skills we had been learning over the last two weeks. The Language Training Centre staff were extremely enthusiastic and made the activity really enjoyable. It was great to get to see lots of different types of fruit and vegetables that I have never come across before in Australia.

Q: What did you find to be the most challenging about your experience on the Virtual ILSC?

Hearing all about Salatiga and Indonesia more broadly from the ILSC students who had participated in in-country courses before has definitely been the most challenging part of the ILSC – it just made me want to be there! However, although, it was challenging hearing about wonderful Salatiga while stuck at home, it has provided me with great motivation to stay focused on my studies and reinforced my desire to travel to Indonesia as soon as possible!

Q: Have you had previous experience learning Indonesian in Australia? If yes, how different was the Virtual ILSC to your previous experiences?

I have not studied Indonesian in-depth before. However, I have studied French and Spanish at university and have found it really interesting to compare the language classes I have undertaken at university with this intensive language training course. I have found the intensive to be extremely beneficial and am amazed at how much Indonesian we have learnt in such a short period! The ILSC places a real emphasis on ‘practical practice’ and we have participated in lots of fun activities to get us using our Indonesian language skills. Some of these included virtual markets, catch-ups with students from Indonesian universities and language and culture sharing seminars.

Q: Were you able to learn about the Indonesian culture from this virtual program? If yes, how was this achieved?

Through the extensive extra-curricular and small class sizes I found that we learnt lots about Indonesian culture. Having the opportunity to participate in ‘language and culture sharing’ sessions with students from Indonesian universities was one of the best parts of this course! It was great to chat in an informal setting and learn about each other’s lives. I also really enjoyed chatting with my teachers in between classes and chatting about cultural differences with them.

Q: How will your proficiency in Indonesian Language gained through the ILSC influence your future career or study?

As a student of International Studies (Global Security), I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in a summer intensive so well-related to my degree. I recognise the importance of the Australia-Indonesia relationship and hope to use my Indonesian language skills to contribute positively to Australian-Indonesian relations as I pursue a career in foreign policy.

Q: Would you recommend this virtual program to your friends?

Absolutely! The course was extremely well-structured and the classes were really engaging. I hope to complete another virtual intensive language program later this year and will be trying to recruit some friends to do it with me!

Q: Favourite Indonesian word/phrase:

Jam karet!

Q: Describe your experience of the Virtual ILSC in three words:

Engaging, intense, incredible!