Flexible Language Immersion Program

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

Mira is a 2017 New Colombo Plan Scholar.

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

I chose to undertake ACICIS for personal and professional reasons in equal parts. Although one of my parents is Javanese I’m lacking in language abilities and I had never before lived in Indonesia for longer than a few weeks. However, since I began learning Indonesian formally in late high school and then at Flinders University it became clear to me I would always want to work in the region and build stronger connections with my family and friends here. I selected ACICIS as they alone are experienced in providing deeply immersive study opportunities in wide range of fields for both short and long-term stays.

Q: What classes are you currently enrolled in?

Human Rights Studies – A class in the Faculty of International Relations where I just happened to meet nearly 10 Indonesian students soon to commence their own exchange in lil’ old Adelaide.

Psikologi kognitif (Cognitive Psychology) – As homage to my home degree I took this class to meet students also hoping to work in this field and to gather the technical vocabulary from Psychology in Indonesian that I wouldn’t otherwise encounter day-to-day.

Menulis (Writing) – We read and then we write!

Tata Bahasa (Grammar) – I chose grammar class because I love the rules of languages (admittedly they’re rarely obeyed in spoken language) and because I’m terrible at it.

Terjemahan (Translation) – We read and then we translate!

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

I’m currently on the committee of the Australia Indonesia Youth Association – Yogyakarta Chapter. We host events that promote inter-cultural engagement through language exchanges, competitions, promotion of study and scholarship opportunities and networking events.

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

Enormously! Both my future study and career will be Indonesia-focused so to have proficiency, and hopefully fluency, in Bahasa Indonesia will mean I am well-equipped to chase those dreams. Aside from that, Indonesia is a strung-together nation built of so many various islands and differing cultures, yet Bahasa Indonesia is something they all share. With language ability it will be all the more rewarding to travel and learn.

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

In-country learning is monumentally better. Each and every day I am able to directly apply what I’ve been taught in authentic situations which simply aren’t accessible in Australia. The daily improvements which we all experience, occasionally without realising, is incredibly rewarding. It also helps that I have a low-key passion for Bahasa gaul (slang) and I haven’t yet encountered teachers in Australia that can master this half as excellently as Indo youngsters do day-to-day.

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

Lately when I’m not in class or out eating or ngopi-ing with friends I pulang kampung and go to my father’s home in a village towards the base of Mount Merapi to spend time with my neighbours practicing my Indonesian, watching Mbak Saminem cook, steadily picking up some Javanese phrases, and occasionally running hastily-put-together English lessons with her children and their hilarious (but nakal) friends.

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

Aside from my rogue English lessons in my kampong I do plan to undertake a number of internships during my 18 months in the region. My interest lies in healthcare, mental healthcare, and the many related facets. In my 12 months after ACICIS I aim to intern with research centres, NGOs and government agencies alike.

Q: Favourite Indonesian food/ Favourite place to eat?

I was worried about how I would possibly answer this question (the options are endless) until I remembered klepon: Sweet little green pancake balls filled with coconut sugar and lightly coated in shredded coconut. Honestly so good.

Q: Favourite Indonesian word/phrase?

It changes every week but at the moment my favourite Indonesian slang word is cekidot. Check it out.

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

Apart from the stopover in Denpasar I recently spent a weekend in Jakarta to see go to an international jazz festival: Java Jazz. While that was impressive, exploring the ins and outs of the ‘Big Durian’ concrete-jungle was far more exciting than the festival itself. While on previous trips I’ve visited a number of cities around Java including Semarang, Bandung, Surabaya and Solo my mission for this semester is to leave Java for the many neighbouring islands.