Development Studies Immersion Program

Tessa Langhans is a New Colombo Plan Mobility and Internship Grant recipient from The University of Adelaide. Tessa completed ACICIS’ Development Studies Immersion Program at Gadjah Mada University in January-June 2018.

Q: Why did you decide to undertake ACICIS’ Development Studies Immersion Program?

I decided to undertake the Development Studies Immersion Program (DSIP) with ACICIS as it allowed me to explore multiple areas of interest within one program. The DSIP has given me the opportunity to gain first-hand experience in the development field, to live in a new place amongst another culture, to learn a new language, and to combine my passion for travel with ongoing study.

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

Whilst I am not involved in any clubs or societies at the university, I still catch up with the local students that I met during ACICIS’ orientation. I have had a great time exploring Yogyakarta with these friends, trying the local food and exploring their hometowns. I also go running regularly around the UGM Campus. It is a beautiful place to exercise and I am always cheered on by the University’s security guards and my fellow runners.

Q: How will the Development Studies Immersion Program influence your future career or study?

The DSIP program has helped me to realise exactly where I want to work within the development world. I am very interested in the area of developmental public health and the course has allowed me to network with professionals in this field of study, as well as work in collaboration with a local NGO that focuses on the reproductive rights of Indonesian women.

Q: How does development in Indonesia differ to what you’ve seen before?

The situation in Indonesia is vastly different to that of other countries I have worked in. As a middle-income country, it is easy to see that significant progress has been made in numerous areas of development. However, the divide between the rich and the poor is still very evident within the nation. There are many things that need to be done before this gap can be closed. The rate of progress in Indonesia sometimes feels frustratingly slow but there is currently a great sense of determination coming from Indonesia’s youth. With further empowerment and assistance, Indonesia’s future can be bright.

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

I enjoy travelling throughout the different parts of the Yogyakarta, soaking up the varying culture, enjoying the scenery and trying all the different food. I love visiting the beaches that are south of Yogyakarta – the rugged coast line is breathtaking – and the vast array of jungles and rice paddies provide a nice break from the busy city.

Q: Are you undertaking an internship while in Indonesia?

I am currently undertaking an internship with a local NGO called Samsara. This organisation works to advocate for the sexual and reproductive rights (SRHR) of all women. Unfortunately, the laws regarding SHRH for women in Indonesia are very restrictive, this contributes to a whole range of poor health outcomes for the nation’s women. Samsara works the provide safe, reliable, and supportive services for women in need whether it be through their safe abortion hotline, their educational workshops or their social media campaigns.

Q: What is your favourite food/place to eat? 

I am a bit of a fruit-bat, so I cannot get enough of the tropical fruit in Indonesia – I have not gone a day without pineapples, mangoes, guavas, papayas, passionfruit or bananas whilst being here! I also love eating Nasi Campur at the local warungs that are all over the city. It consists of a portion of rice, and little servings of other tasty Indonesian dishes. Warungs that serve Nasi Campur will often have around thirty different local dishes to choose from including tasty veggie dishes, tofu, tempe, meat, nuts, noodles and curries!

Q: What is your favourite Indonesian word/phrase:

My favourite Indonesia word would have to be bule which is often used to refer to westerners or tourists. The word supposedly comes from the term bulai, meaning albino. It is very normal to hear children and adults excitedly calling out bule as you walk by, especially the further you head out of the city. There is nothing rude about the term, it is generally said in complete kindness, with a mix of excitement and awe!

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

I have spent quite a lot of time exploring the different regions of Yogyakarta – visiting the many waterfalls, forests, temples, mountains and beaches that the region has to offer. I have also ventured around Central Java to Salatiga, Magelang, and Dieng Plateau. During the mid-semester break, my friend and I travelled to the Kei Islands, Maluku. We had to travel for twenty-four hours to get there and take three different flights, but it was definitely worth it. The Kei Islands felt like an entirely different world – they were secluded and absolutely beautiful.