New Colombo Plan - Connect to Australia’s future - study in the region.

Indonesian Language Short Course

Tomas Cooling is a student from the The University of Melbourne. Tomas undertook the Indonesian Language Short Course at Satya Wacana University in Salatiga with the assistance of a $3,000 New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant in 2023. Tomas is studying Bachelor of Science and Diploma of Languages (Indonesia).

Q: Why did you decide to undertake ACICIS’ Indonesian Language Short Course?

ILSC was the perfect frontier as I continue to develop my Indonesian language skills towards an advanced level. Although I had studied the language for multiple years , I truly believe that nothing is more important than the connection between language and culture. Spending a few weeks in Indonesia while completing an immersive program seemed the perfect way to challenge myself, allowing for opportunities to interact with fellow students, experts and locals alike.

Q: Did you receive a New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant? If yes, why do you think the NCP is an important initiative?

I was lucky enough to be awarded a NCP Mobility Grant, which enabled me to embrace so many opportunities experienced throughout the course without the extreme financial pressures that often come with overseas study.

Q: What did you find to be the most rewarding part of this in-country experience?

I found that having a larger cohort of Australian students made it extremely easy to bounce ideas off each other. Unlike at my home university, where language classes are relatively small in size, the ILSC cohort comprised a diverse group of like-minded students in the same place, all with a common goal being to better our language skills. This enhanced my self-confidence, especially in understanding that making mistakes is an inevitable component of learning a foreign language, as we were all able to learn from each other’s experiences and in turn, feel engaged and empowered to continue interacting with locals and each other.

Q: What do you find to be the most challenging about the ILSC?

Spending multiple weeks in a smaller city, away from home, is challenging at the best of times. However, being in an environment where English is rarely spoken presented an added dimension, often forcing me to rely on speaking Indonesian on a 24-7 basis, even if feeling tired and exhausted after a content-heavy day at uni! Though, learning a language is a challenge in itself, and I firmly believe my experiences throughout the ILSC – intensive both by name and nature – allowed me to step outside my comfort zone and embrace opportunities for self-growth and cultural immersion that were ever-present.

Q: Have you had previous experience learning Indonesian in Australia? If yes, how different was the in-country ILSC to your previous experiences?

Prior to the ILSC, I had been enrolled in Indonesian classes in both secondary school and university. These classes occurred alongside other students in approximately similar levels and capabilities. This course presented a new opportunity for me to interact with other students of different standards, from total beginners to those who have even lived and spoken Indonesian with their families previously. This allowed for discussions with friends and other students which often encouraged me to step back from higher-level Indonesian concepts and reconsider many fundamental aspects of the language itself, as well as strategies to go about learning such.

Q: Were you able to learn about the Indonesian culture from this in-country program? If yes, how was this achieved?

Throughout the ILSC, we were able to engage with both Indonesian students and local families. I was luckily enough to stay to a local family, which meant I could experience traditional Indonesian delicacies on a daily basis, as well as attend events including a traditional Javanese wedding! During the course, we attended a seminar detailing how religious ceremonies often run, engaged with local students and citizens by conducting interviews, interacted with UKSW students by discussing Australian festivals during culture-sharing, and were able to explore Salatiga during the ‘Amazing Race’, all of which were extremely fun! However, perhaps the most worthwhile experience was experiencing the everyday lifestyle of Salatiga, from eating lunch at a local ‘warung’ or riding a motorbike to uni in the morning!

Q: What have you enjoyed most about the course?

Undoubtedly, meeting so many other like-minded Indonesian students from a range of different backgrounds was my favourite part of the course. We were able to have fun both in class as well as while relaxing outside of our daily commitments. Some of my personal highlights included weekend trips to bigger cities Yogyakarta and Semarang, where we were able to relax and experience life in a bigger city, as opposed to the relatively simple way of life in Salatiga. I am grateful to say that I have new friends from so many different regions of Australia and Indonesia, including from Canberra, Sydney, Perth, Salatiga, Yogyakarta and Semarang!

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

With a more capable language skillset, I now have a greater ability to engage in critical analysis of news and current affairs as they relate to Indonesian society. I can continue developing an eye for more specific research topics and themes including diversity and translational studies, which I endeavour to build upon during future courses.I hope to continue to find links between my passion for the health sciences as well as Indonesian society, which becomes much easier with a higher speaking and interpretative capability in Indonesian.

Q: Would you recommend this program to your friends?

Of course! ILSC allowed me to develop my language skills in an immersive setting, while making many local and international friends in the process!

Q: Describe your experience of the in-country ILSC in three words!

Immersive, Comprehensive, Eye-opening

Q: What is your favourite Indonesian phrase?

Keanekaragaman – diversity!.