Q: Why did you decide to undertake the ACICIS program?
I found out about ACICIS partially by accident–it wasn’t very advertised at my home university and I just sort of stumbled across it. I was initially fascinated by the opportunity because I was born in Indonesia so I already had some knowledge of the history of the country, but I left when I was too young to remember and since then knew little about Indonesia. It was only after doing more research on the program ACICIS offered as well as the “improbable nation” of Indonesia that I was sold on the idea. The offer to study for a semester in the beautiful city of Bandung with its colder climate, beautiful mountains, volcanoes, hot springs, its excellent food, delicious coffee, and beautiful culture, as well as the opportunity to gain overseas experience with an internship was one I could not pass up. Additionally, I was very interested in learning Bahasa Indonesia, which is one of the most spoken and up-and-coming (as well as easiest) languages in Asia. ACICIS made the whole opportunity just so easy and accessible with their support and organisation, and the New Colombo Plan Mobility Grants offered made it financially accessible to students such as myself who live away from home and works to support themselves. Overall, it was just too good an opportunity to pass up.
Q: What classes are you currently enrolled in?
- Foreign Policy of Indonesia – A comprehensive analysis of foreign policy and foreign policy theories, but from an Indonesian perspective, and providing context and history of Indonesia’s own foreign
- Security Studies – A course of security and security theories from a world wide perspective.
Diplomacy – course on the different types of diplomacy and how diplomatic relations have deviated from the traditional government-controlled diplomacy to new diplomacy which is conducted at a more
- International Organisations – a course on international organisations, how they are classified, what role they play in the global arena, whether as an independant actor, a tool, or a forum, and how they
have been theorised since their inception.
- International Humanitarian Law – A law course on the inception, restrictions, and merits of law governing warfare, the treatment of wounded, civilians, and prisoners of war.
- Bahasa Indonesia Class – Introductory lessons on bahasa Indonesia.
- UNPAR Management Internship – Opportunity to undertake internships with companies outside of the university.
Q: Are you involved in any clubs/societies at the University?
One of the first things I did when I got to my host university was sign up for clubs and societies. It is another of the great opportunities that being on exchange in Indonesia offered–for the first time, I was not working part-time which freed up my weekends and evenings for extracurricular activities that I would not be able to participate in otherwise. So far, I play in the UNPAR girls’ soccer/futsal team which has helped me make heaps of new friends and is a lot of fun. I’ve tried out lots of other clubs too, such as Kendo (a super cool Japanese martial art that I’d loosely describe as pseudo sword fighting with wooden swords), Pencat Silak, a traditional Indonesian martial art, as well as Mahitala, a University run outdoor and mountaineering club, although they have yet to organise group activities.
Q: What extra-curricular activities are you hoping to do while in Indonesia?
As mentioned above, living in Indonesia and not having a job has opened up a lot of my spare time for extracurricular activities. The first, no surprise, is travelling. I’m loving all the opportunities I’ve been getting to explore this beautiful country, who’s terrain is so foreign and different to Australia. So far I’ve visited the Tangkuban Perahu volcano (Meaning “upside-down boat” in Bahasa Indonesia for its shape), and got to soak my legs in the sulphurous hot springs in one of its craters. I’ve visited a mystical haunted sulphur lake in the crater of a Volcano, where the soil consistency has turned the water aquamarine blue. I’ve joined a hiking group outside of the university which allows me to explore safely lots of the countryside, the agricultural areas, waterfalls, and tea plantations. I’ve already made travel plans to visit places like Bali or Yogyakarta on the weekends or when I have free time. I’ve also joined a Muay thai club which seems to be very popular in Indonesia, and I’ve loved that so much. There’s just so many things I’ve never had the time to try out in Australia, and I’m enjoying giving everything a crack while I’m here.
Q: What is your favourite Indonesian food?
I’ve tried and loved (and cried over due to excessive chilli) so much of the food here, but my favourite is quite simply Sundanese spiced ayam bakar (“grilled chicken”). I remember being so shocked about it when ACICIS took us to this beautiful restaurant on the side of a hill overlooking the city, and they had these raw chicken thigh ready to roast on a stick, and they were bright yellow. I couldn’t help thinking they must be rotten or something because of the colour, but I ordered one just so I wouldn’t appear rude. When it came out it was the most amazing thing I’ve ever tasted. The yellow colouring is caused by some kind of spice, and when mixed with the smoky flavour of the charcoal, it tasted fantastic. Paired with coconut infused yellow rice and eaten with your hands on a plate of banana leaves, it makes the perfect rainy day tummy filler. As for dessert, typically, martabak takes the cake (quite literally). A thick pancake of sorts slathered with copious amounts of butter, condensed milk, chocolate, and cheese (yes, cheese, on a sweet dessert. And it tastes amazing), you can only ever eat a bite or two before you’re overwhelmed. But that bite or two are complete heaven.
Q: What is your favourite Indonesian word or phrase?
My favourite Indonesian phrase is “jam karet” or “rubber time” because it describes so accurately the Indonesian lifestyle and perspective. Indonesians don’t see time as a fixed thing, rather as something that stretches and shortens, like a rubber band. They are never rushed or in a hurry, and are very rarely on time. In the beginning this frustrated me so much, but after a while you adapt to the slower paced lifestyle and start to enjoy it. An Indonesian once told me on my first week in Indonesia that “You observed that Indonesians are such happy people. That is because we are never in a rush. You can’t be happy if you’re in a rush.” Another nuance I love about the Indonesian language is that they have two words for love. The first is “cinta” and it means romantic love, traditionally only between a man and a woman. The second is “mengasihi” or “kasih” and it is literally translated as “unconditional love”. This word is used to describe the love between friends, children, and family members.
Q: What is your favourite place to eat?
My favourite places to eat have so far been traditional Sundanese restaurants, a little bit out of Bandung and on a hill overlooking the city. There, you can watch the sun set and the city lights while eating all sorts of grilled meats or sates, with fresh strawberry juice from strawberry fields probably next door, and unlimited hot tea.
Q: Are you going to undertake an internship while in Indonesia?
I’ve begun an internship with Resilience Development Initiative, a global think tank and research initiative aimed at improving resilience in Indonesia. This has given me opportunity to do gain editorial experience and conduct research on agricultural practices and resilience in Indonesia. The end aim is for me to write a working paper on how to improve resilience to natural disasters for Indonesian farmers and agricultural practictioners, of which 80% of the population are. I’ve gained opportunity to go on field trips to gather data, as well as sit in and listen to international conferences on tourism and cultural heritage.