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Agriculture Semester Program

Laura Tan is a New Colombo Plan mobility grant recipient from the University of Western Australia. Laura undertook the Agriculture Semester Program at Bogor Agricultural University in Semester 2, 2018.

Q: Why did you decide to undertake ACICIS’ Agriculture Semester Program (ASP)?

I first found out about the program when I got an email from an ACICIS representative saying that there was an opportunity to study abroad with the support of a grant. I was interested in the internship component, and learning from the perspective of a different country. It was really a spur of the moment decision to apply, and when I got in I just went with the flow and ended up in Indonesia a couple of months later!

Q: What classes/units are you currently enrolled in?

I enrolled in 4 units:

  • Tropical Biodiversity Conservation
  • Integrated Pest and Disease Management
  • Rural and Urban Biodiversity
  • International Business

Three of these units are related to my majors in my home university (Conservation Biology and Environmental Science), and I decided to also take International Business to broaden my knowledge, as I’d never studied anything related to business before.

Q: How has your study in Indonesia influenced your understanding of Agriculture or Food Security in the region?

The units I took weren’t focused on Agriculture or Food Security, but I did learn a little about traditional approaches to agricultural systems and new approaches such as hydroponic farming and aquaculture. I was lucky enough to go on a field trip to visit each type of farm.

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

In Bogor, one of the first places I visited was the Botanical Gardens – which is huge! If you go, remember to bring sunscreen, mozzie repellent and a hat. It’s also a lovely place for a picnic if you have a mat and snacks. My parents came to visit for a week and we went to Puncak – we saw a waterfall, went to a tea plantation, went to another botanical garden, and ate sweet potatoes which are a specialty over there. We also climbed Kawah Ratu which is a volcano on Mount Salak. However, the majority of my spare time was spent finding good restaurants, or at Botani Square Mall at the movies.

Q: Are you undertaking an internship while in Indonesia?

Yes, with Reef Check Indonesia. They’re a non-profit organisation based in Bali and their main objectives are community education and empowerment of locals to help both the community and the environment – the marine environment in particular.

While there I did a combination of office work and fieldwork. I made and conducted surveys to help Reef Check get data to help them develop protocols for the community, and did some graphic design making infographics for tourists and locals. I also got to tag along on a technical dive to survey an artificial reef made by the locals with the help of Reef Check, where I tried my hand at underwater photography for the first time.

Q: What is your favourite Indonesian food? Where is your favourite place to eat?

My favourite dish is Nasi Goreng Telor.

In Jalan Bara there is a warung with green walls (I don’t know the name of the place) and they do an amazing nasi goreng, ayam goreng telor, and kangkung. Street stalls selling gulung telor and mango juice shops are also at the top of my list.

Q: What is your favourite Indonesian word or phrase?

“Jam karet” (rubber time). Time in Indonesia is never set – you learn quickly to not expect things to start on time.

Another one: “tidak pedas” means not spicy which I used a lot because my tolerance for spiciness is very, very weak.

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

Outside of Bogor, I have been to Bandung, Medan, Samosir Island, Bukit Lawang, Yogyakarta and Bali.

Bandung was a weekend trip, only 4 hours by bus from Bogor. We visited an art museum and a national forest park where we saw heaps of monkeys. Because I wasn’t going home for Christmas, I went to North Sumatra with my friend where we did a jungle trek in Bukit Lawang, then climbed Mount Sinabung to see the sunrise and volcanic craters, then went to Samosir Island in Lake Toba. I was back just in time to catch a train to Yogyakarta for New Years with another friend. We had very little time so we visited Prambanan and spent the rest of the time finding delicious foods to eat. My internship was in Bali so I didn’t have much time to explore a lot, but the beaches there are beautiful (besides all the rubbish floating around). My time there was split between Sanur, Tejakula and Tulamben.