Anjaly Tessa Saji is a New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant recipient from Macquarie University. Anjaly completed the Indonesian Business, Law and Society Program at the Islamic University of Indonesia in Semester 2, 2018.
Q: Why did you decide to undertake ACICIS’ Indonesian Business, Law and Society Program?
The program appealed to be because it offered a supportive platform to study and intern in Indonesia. This made the idea of studying in a foreign country a little less daunting. I also wanted to do exchange in a country where I could experience a different lifestyle, culture and opportunities. The huge cultural, ethnic, religious and linguistic diversity that exists within the 17,508 islands that make up Indonesia guarantees this experience.
Q: What classes/units are you currently enrolled in?
I am currently enrolled in 3 units:
- Bahasa Indonesia (4 weeks)
- Islamic International law
- Economic Criminal
- Crime and Victimology
I studied Bahasa for a month at CILACS prior to starting my semester at UII. The 3 units I currently undertake are extremely interesting and thought provoking. Studying legal issues and concepts in such a rich and diverse environment has taught me the value of taking into consideration traditions, values and cultural norms when considering issues from an international perspective.
Q: How would you describe your in-country study experience so far, particularly studying at UII?
It has been a very interesting experience so far. I knew I would face challenges along the way because of the language barrier and cultural norms, but little did I know how much it would affect how I perceive my identity. One of the questions I encounter almost every day while living here is ‘Dari mana?’ (Where are you from?). My reply is usually met with confusion as I don’t look like the conventional Australian that Indonesians are used to. It was a struggle trying to explain to people the difference between nationality and ethnicity. Most local people I dealt with on a daily basis identified me as Indian and some even sang Bollywood songs while I awkwardly stood there. It took a while for me to comprehend and accept the reality that my ethnicity will always play a key role in how my identity is perceived and that this observation is not made with negative connotations. Now I have developed enough patience to chit-chat with enthusiastic Indonesians about how awesome Bollywood movies are using a mix of broken Bahasa and English.
In terms of my study experience, UII is an extremely accommodating university. The IBLS group was assigned two buddies by the university who were more than happy to assist us with any queries we had. One thing I was warned about prior to starting my semester in Indonesia is the dreaded act of ‘kelas kosong’. This term essentially means that the class has been cancelled last minute. Compared to my peers from other universities, I thankfully did not experience this much at UII. The university had a group on WhatsApp and LINE to inform students about any events and kelas kosong. Most lecturers are well organised and will inform you in advance if they are to cancel a class. Overall, I enjoyed studying at UII.
Q: Are you involved in any clubs/societies at the university?
Unfortunately, between university classes, my internship, volunteering and travel, I have not had any spare time to participate in extracurricular activities – other than a few activities organised by Australia-Indonesia Youth Association (AIYA) in Yogyakarta. The university itself has organised a few events and seminars where ACICIS students are invited and encouraged to participate.
Q: Are you participating in a seminar, symposium or conference in Indonesia?
I recently attended the International Students Summit 2018 in Malang. This symposium was organised by the Ministry of Research, Technology and Higher Education in collaboration with Universitas Negeri Malang. I had a blast meeting and networking with the other international students studying and working in Indonesia. I also participated in an international workshop of Jogya International Batik Biennale where I got to study and observe the use of natural dyes in batik for environmental sustainability.
Q: How will the knowledge and experience of Indonesian business, law, or society gained through this program influence your future career or study?
Indonesia is Australia’s closest neighbour in Asia and therefore the bilateral relationship between the two countries is very important. Studying in Indonesia has allowed me to observe and understand the cultural, traditional and religious norms embedded into the legal system here, allowing me to view issues from a different perspective. This knowledge would help me immensely in the future when I seek to work in a field that deals with international relations.
Q: How has your understanding of business, law or society changed as a result of your experience on the Indonesian Business, Law and Society Program?
The Australian legal system follows a secular system while Indonesia follows non-secular legal pluralism. Most of my knowledge comes from a secular perspective and therefore it has been an interesting journey learning about a legal system where religious and cultural values are so deeply embedded into the legal system. Unlike Australia, Indonesian law incorporates different aspects of religious law, Dutch law and even the cultural practices of the Indigenous Indonesians. IBLS program has helped me understand the advantages and disadvantages of such a diverse legal system.
Q: Are you undertaking an internship or volunteering while in Indonesia?
I am undertaking an internship at Lembaga Bantuan Hukum Yogyakarta (Legal Aid Yogyakarta). I work with a team that provides legal advice, services and education to women involved in domestic violence and sexual violence. This is in addition to contributing to the daily operations of Legal Aid Yogyakarta.
I am also volunteering with PSKE (Economic Crime Research Centre) at UII where my tasks mainly involve researching about asset recovery in various countries for an upcoming international conference.
Q: What do you like to do in your spare time in Yogyakarta?
Yogyakarta is a foodie’s paradise. There are so many amazing and affordable warungs, cafes and restaurants in the area. I spend most of my spare time exploring these local food spots. I also love travelling and photography, so if I have a few days off I usually just travel.
Q: What places in Indonesia have you visited during your semester so far?
There are so many beautiful places to visit in Indonesia. In the time I have been here I have mainly explored Yogyakarta, spend a week exploring Bali and Ubud, and visited Banyuwangi Regency for a few days to hike Kawah Ijen.
In Bali and Ubud I explored the city centre, visited a few temples, the Bali Pulina coffee plantation and Jatiluwih rice terraces. I recommend visiting the rice terrace for sunrise as the view was amazing and there were no tourists there that early. You have 300-hectares of luscious green rice paddy fields all to yourself. If you love food like I do, make sure to check out Johnny Tacos and Naughty Nuri’s Warung.
I spent 3 days in Banyuwangi to hike kawah Ijen. It’s one of the best places I have visited in Indonesia so far. You can also hike up Mount Bromo while you are in Banyuwangi.
In Yogyakarta I have visited Borobudur and Prambanan temples along with the main tourist attractions like Kraton, Vredeburg Fort, Goa Jomblong and Goa Pindul. I have also visited the Dieng Plateu and hiked up Gunung Prau and Gunung Andong.
Q: What is your favourite Indonesian food? Where is your favourite place to eat?
FAVOURITE FOOD (This list is very long but these are my top 5):
- Beef Rendang
- Tempe Bakar
- Jamur Crispy
- Ayam Bakar
FAVOURITE PLACES TO EAT:
- Waroeng SS – Affordable and delicious local food
- Iconic Gelato & Bistro – On days I want to spoil myself with fancy milkshakes and fan-girl over their amazing figurine collection
- Calzone Express – On days I feel lazy and end up ordering Go-Food
- Svarga Coffee – Their banana-cinnamon pancake does wonders when you feel a bit home sick.
- Nanamia Pizzeria – Delicious Italian food and their chocolate-almond cake is a must try.
Q: What is your favourite Indonesian word/phrase?
- Mager: Translates to ‘lazy to move’ because someone is really comfortable where he or she is’. You can use the word ‘mager’ to get out of plans if you feel a bit lousy and want to stay in bed.
- Ngemil: The art of eating snacks when you are not supposed to. Most people are guilty of doing this and I love how Bahasa actually has a word for this action.