Flexible Language Immersion Program (FLIP)

Michelle Wu is a 2019 New Colombo Plan mobility grant recipient from the Australian National University. Michelle undertook the Flexible Language Immersion Program at Gadjah Mada University from January to June 2019.

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

I’m studying an Indonesian language major as part of my university degree and thought this would be a great way to learn language in-country in an intensive way. A bonus about learning in-country also means being immersed in opportunities to put the language in practise as well as picking up informal language which is rarely taught through textbooks.

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

I was fortunate enough to receive a New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant. Through this grant, I was able to undertake private language training at Wisma Bahasa on top of university courses, as well as travel to other islands of Indonesia and learn about other ethnic groups and their traditions, practises and ways of life.

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

Tata Bahasa: Grammar class with new grammar techniques taught each week.

Membaca: Reading Comprehension class that provided exposure to texts of various contemporary issues and common topics relevant to Indonesian society.

Menulis: Writing class focused on writing one in-class essay per week on topics relevant to current affairs and daily life in Indonesia.

Percakapan: Conversation class with the opportunity to learn vocabulary that is abstract and informal.

Kosa Kata: Vocabulary class with opportunity to expand vocabulary in specific fields such as language related to farming.

Australian-Indonesian Relations: Immersion class taught in English taken alongside a majority of domestic students, involved exploring different aspects of Australian-Indonesian relations such as socio-cultural, economic, trade and security relations.

Q: Are you involved in any clubs/societies at the university? 

SAKA UGM, who are a traditional dance group from Aceh Province, Indonesia. The tari saman dance involves kneeling in a line and conducting arm and head movements with rapidly increasing intensity and speed. Joining this group was highly accessible as rehearsals occurred twice a week and required minimal costumes and materials.

Q: How will your proficiency in Indonesian, gained through FLIP, influence your future career or study pathway?

Through FLIP, I have been presented with many opportunities for me to put my language skills to practise and have subsequently gained greater confidence in using the language outside of the classroom in both formal settings and informal settings. The exposure to different topics each week through FLIP classes has also broadened my vocabulary and knowledge regarding Indonesian society, giving me a more-rounded and broader set of vocabulary and cultural knowledge, which I can then utilise in future Indonesian language studies back at my home university.

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

In-country learning not only offers classroom language practise which is formalised and standardised, but also allows for outside of classroom language learning, whether it be making friends with Indonesian locals, conversing in Indonesian at cafes and shops or watching Indonesian television and so forth. In-country learning definitely allowed me to pick up informal, trendy slang that a textbook could never provide!

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

I like visiting new cafes, eating at different restaurants, going to swimming pools, visiting local tourist spots such as Borobudur Temple and Prambanan Temple and Goa Pindul Caves, etc.

Q: Favourite Indonesian food and place to eat: 

Gado-Gado at Loving Hut or Gado-Gado with a side of Bakwan Jagung from the Faculty of Cultural Science’s (FIB) canteen!

Q: Favourite Indonesian word/phrase: 

Jam karet and santai aja!

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

Jakarta, Bali, Salatiga, Surabaya, Makassar, Mt Bromo & Ijen Crater, Tanah Toraja

Q: What is the most special thing that you will miss about Indonesia, specifically Yogyakarta?

I will miss the sounds of Indonesia- the call to prayer, the kaki lima clanging his bell, the sound of motorbikes zooming down the street, the sound of the traffic man outside my kos, the sound of laughter coming from the café outside my kos late at night, etc. In terms of Yogya, aside from missing my Australian and Indonesian friends, I will definitely miss the cafes and how accessible they are.