Flexible Language Immersion Program

Matthew Shaw is a University of Adelaide student undertaking ACICIS’ Flexible Language Immersion Program (FLIP) at Gadjah Mada University.

Matthew Shaw is studying in Indonesia with the support of a $5,000 New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant.

Q: Why did you decide to undertake a ACICIS program?

Primarily to continue to learn and improve my Bahasa Indonesia and complete a Diploma in Language. I also have a general interest in Indonesian culture in all its diversity, and have visited for some time on two previous occasions. ACICIS was the perfect way to make these things happen.

Q: What classes are you currently enrolled in?

I am currently taking two INCULS classes in the kelas lanjut (advanced) stream. I have enrolled in Tata Bahasa (grammar) and Percakapan (Conversation). I selected these classes instead of doing all Immersion classes because I identified them as the weakest aspects of my Bahasa Indonesia. Thus, I stand to learn a great deal due to the specific language focus of each class.

I am also taking three classes in FISIPOL. These immersion classes are in the regular stream, meaning they are taken in Bahasa Indonesia. I’m taking ‘Hukum Internasional’, which I chose due to my interest in learning about how Indonesia perceives international law and its place in the international community. I also chose ‘Politik Luar Negeri Australia’ to learn about my own country and its foreign policy is analysed by another country. Finally, for the sake of diversity, I chose Multikulturalisme dan Kekerasan, a sociology class, which I think is really topical at the moment in Indonesia, given the current events surrounding the governor’s election in Jakarta (which is still on-going).

In the end, the content and quality of these FISIPOL subjects does not really matter too much to me as I my overall goal is to improve the proficiency and fluency of my Bahasa Indonesia through my immersion into the regular Indonesian university stream.

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

My involvement at the university has been limited to the classes. I have only attended a few events for International students. But I do plan to get involved with one or two clubs/societies during my second month here, possibly the swimming or table tennis club.

 Q: How will your proficiency in Indonesian Language gained through the Flexible Language Immersion Program influence your future career or study?

I hope that in one way or another I can use my Bahasa Indonesia stills in my future career. As I see myself having an ongoing interest in Indonesia, they will certainly be invaluable for travelling purposes. I am still very unsure how they will fit into any future jobs but it is possible I could build my career around my Bahasa. Aside from language, ACICIS has also been invaluable for building connections with other like-minded students both from Australia and Indonesia. I highly doubt that the end of this semester will be the last time I meet many of these students as many of our interests and goals are streamlined.

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

The first difference that I noticed is that the all the classes I am taking are taught 100% in Bahasa Indonesia. This of course, has been beneficial for my learning. There is a lot of emphasis on attendance in Indonesian universities, with many faculties employing fingerprint scanners. Also, you will find that hardly any lectures are recorded. The classes are quite interactive, even the lectures, with many turning into a large group discussion. Unfortunately, many of the old-school lecturers do not teach their classes effectively and are often described by the local students as ‘bosan’ (boring). These lecturers somehow manage to stand in front of the class for two hours and drone on about no specific topic without any visual aids or presentation. Luckily, it seems there is also a new generation of younger teachers emerging with a far more engaging and stimulating teaching style.

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

All my spare time is spent socialising and hanging out with friends. While this may range from playing pool, shopping or watching films, this mostly involves copious amounts of eating. Luckily this has allowed to me develop an ever-advancing knowledge of the best eating and drinking spots in Jogja after just one month. There is still so many places to check out and I doubt I will know every good place to eat by the end of my stay. I might get close though. To compensate, I have also joined a local gym and bought a bicycle to keep in shape.

Q: Are you undertaking an internship or volunteering while in Indonesia?

The main organisation that I have been volunteering with so far is the Australia-Indonesia Youth Association. I was selected for the Design/Documentation Officer role. This means I have to help create posters for the events and take photos of the proceedings. This organisation, which exists across Australia and Indonesia is a valuable asset and experience to get on my resume and will be beneficial for a career surrounding Australia-Indonesia relations. I also plan to get involved with other organisations when I have spare time.

Q: Favourite Indonesian food/ Favourite place to eat?

My favourite traditional Indonesian food is probably either Nasi Kuning, Lotek or Gado-gado. I also really like the Jogja specialty, Gudeg. With all of these meals, you have to get them from the right place for them to taste good.

My favourite area to eat in Jogja is certainly around Jalan Moses. This street has a really nice selection of Indonesian and Western foods so you can get whatever fix you are looking for. The most exciting place on this street to eat at is Blue Hotplate. This is the best of the three Hotplate places simply because of the extremely intense flames that blast out of the kitchen area where the chefs are preparing the food. The actual sizzling hotplates taste pretty good too.

Q: Favourite Indonesian word/phrase?

I really dislike speed bumps in Indonesia, they are very protruding and inconsistent and sometimes knock you right off your seat on a motorbike travelling at a slow speed. Luckily they have been given the extremely hilarious name of ‘polisi tidur’ which is cleverly appropriate.

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

So far, outside of Yogyakarta, I have visited Lombok and the Gili Islands with friends from the ACICIS program as well as Ngandong beach on first the ACICIS field trip. Closer to the city, I have visited Blue Lagoon and the Jogja Bay Waterpark. I hope to visit many more places across Indonesia before the end of the semester.