Q: Why did you decide to undertake the ACICIS program?
I decided to undertake this program for a number of different reasons: university, opportunity and family. Throughout my degree I have studied the Indonesian language and culture and began to see that I had reached a point where I was struggling to pull it all together, especially without the environment that is provided by living in another country. Without spending time in the country that my studies were about I just don’t think that I could have progressed any further. The opportunities that can be found in Indonesia are amazing: the way in which you meet new and different people, the way in which you can come to understand the experiences that other people are shaped by and the opportunity to develop yourself in a completely different academic environment are powerful and exciting experiences. Finally, my parents traveled all through South East Asia when they were my age and they continue to share stories about how they loved their journeys and the role it played in them becoming the people that they are today. These stories motivated me to go out, understand and see a world that was different to my own. Also let’s be honest, study abroad looks really good on a resume and can be an exceptional means of getting that dream job especially at a time when everyone is flying off to Europe.
Q: Did you receive a New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant? If so, how did this contribute to your experience in Indonesia?
I did receive a New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant for my studies in Indonesia and it was pivotal to me having the amazing experience that I did have in Indonesia. I will freely say that without the grant I would not have been able to go to Indonesia. Even whilst I was there the money that was provided by the grant was invaluable in allowing me to have all kinds of experiences that would not have been available if I had not received my grant.
Q: What classes are you currently enrolled in?
Through my studies at Parahyangan Catholic University I took six units. Firstly, I took Security Studies a unit that I found to be deeply engaging due to its unique Indonesian perspective on foreign policy engagement. I had never studied something that was so based upon the theory of security and its implications. The second unit that I chose was Non-Governmental Organisations, Civil Society Organisations and Empowerment. This unit is really good as it provides a non-traditional perspective for your course but also as an experience, this is a unit that will force you out of your comfort zone and into the realities of life in Indonesia, I would highly recommend it. The third unit that I studied was Diplomacy; this unit is an intriguing dive into the Indonesian perspective of the role that civil servants should play in the international relations process. These next two units I will admit are quite different from previous ones: Foreign Policy Analysis and Global Issues are pure theory courses that are useful in reinforcing the knowledge that you might have gained at an earlier date or in creating and supporting your projects throughout the semester. Finally, my last unit was my Internship where, at the end of my semester, I was allowed to present all that I had learned. It was a powerful tool for understanding my time during the IRP.
Q: Are you involved in any clubs/societies at the university?
I will admit that I did not join any on-campus groups, which was not from a lack of availability but my own desire to keep a manageable life and work balance. Some of my friends who I saw throughout the semester did join groups and had great fun however!
Q: How will the International Relations Program influence your future career or study?
The International Relations Program was influential in allowing me to gain experiences that I just could not have gotten in Australia. This was especially because of the availability of internships that were high caliber and also in the education and connections that I gained whilst I was in Indonesia. It was truly a life changing experience that will live with me forever.
Q: How does studying International Relations from an Indonesian perspective differ to International Relations from an Australian perspective?
The International Relations perspectives of Indonesia and Australia differ in their priorities, issues that are pertinent to Indonesia and vice versa. I would have to say that similar issues are addressed with differing emphasis. This is reflected around the issue of sovereignty and how in Indonesia ideas and challenges around Indonesia’s sovereignty are shaped by its maritime borders and the emphasis that the government places upon that. On the flip-side, in Australia the emphasis is non-interference by foreign governments in the political structures of government.
Q: Are you undertaking an internship while in Indonesia (brief description)?
I undertook an internship at Akatiga, an organisation dedicated to providing support and services to communities that face structural disadvantage and through the methods of research, advocacy, monitor and evaluation seek to changes these situations. Whilst there I participated in the Let’s Be Young Farmers program that sought to change and overcome the issues facing young people’s access into the agriculture sector, the largest industry in Indonesia. I did this through observation and engagement with the participants of the program but also through a supporting role through translation, writing social media posts and reports on the program. I found the experience to be amazing as I met so many engaging people and have expanded my knowledge in a way that I had not anticipated.
Q: What do you like to do in your spare time in Bandung?
In my spare time in Bandung my friends and I went shopping at Paris Van Java or the little boutiques throughout the city. We also joined the amazing local branch of the Australian Indonesia Youth Association, a great group that connects young people from both countries and creates great events of fun and exchange. We visited museums and forest and other natural wonders such as Kawah Putith. There were numerous cafes in Bandung which are to die for! I also participated in the Hash House Harriers, a local hiking group run by expats from all over the world.
Q: What is your favourite Indonesian food and place to eat?
It is a true crime in my opinion to ask someone to pick just one place or food to eat from Indonesia because everything is just so good that I guarantee that you will definitely miss it when you go back home. While Rendang can be truly mind blowing in its flavour, it’s not what I will miss the most, nor is Soto Betawi (a soup made up of coconut, meat and mixed vegetables) which acts as the ultimate comfort food, nor even Bola Bola Ubi (sweet potato deep fried and shaped a ball) or Bubur Kacang Hijau (sweet rice, coconut, mung beans). What I will miss the most is Tempe; it is so indescribably good that even the most ardent meat eater will fall in love with it!
Q: What is your favourite Indonesian word/phrase:
I didn’t necessarily have a favourite Indonesian word or phrase that I will always remember, but I will to my dying days always remember my Australian friends repeating the words “Belok Kiri” (turn left) and Belok Kanan” (turn right) for almost a whole two weeks!
Q: What places in Indonesia have you visited during your semester so far?
I was able to travel all over West Java. I travelled around both Jakarta and Bandung. They are both very different cities that provide great opportunities to experience new things. I was able to get out of the city and see rural places and different places within Indonesia. I strongly believe that you have to get out of the cities to be able to understand the complexity of life in Indonesia. We also went on a holiday to Bali for a couple of days. It was a completely different cultural experience and I was not prepared for how different it would feel from the rest of Indonesia. In such a large and diverse country, with great train systems, there is a lot to see everywhere you go.