By Che Che (Semester 31/Aug 2010)
Charles Darwin University/University of the Sunshine Coast

My daily routine began with a lovely little breakfast at the local warung where the boys would tease me and try to talk to me in Javanese and trick me into paying a lot more for my breakfast …it was a daily joke! I would have nasih putih with vegetables and tofu.

I would then venture off to my University which was in the north of Jogyakarta. I would walk through our little kampung where the children would walk up to me and ask me where I was going, and would grab my hand and place it on their foreheads. When I first met the children of the kampung, they would hide in the bushes and yell out ‘BULE’ ‘BULE’ ‘BULE’! And then jump out and try to scare me! It was so funny watching them chase the roosters around the kampung trying to catch them.

I would make my way to Jalan Kaliurang which is a contrast to the little Kampung I lived in. Kaliurang is a hive of activity and you have to watch your step in case you fall into any large pot holes in the footpath. I would catch a bus up to the top of Kaliurang and then get off to catch a transjogya bus all the way along to my University.

At this stage I certainly felt like a foreigner with my jilbab on. There were many Indonesians who would ask me why I had an interest in Islamic Economics. A lot of them were surprised. A lot of them couldn’t understand my interest, saying that they had no interest as it was too difficult! I said that I did find it difficult, but reading how they incorporated the Qur’an into daily business dealings was really interesting.

I would arrive at the bus stop near the University and would walk along the main road up an alley way. There were always children running around and playing and yelling out ‘BULE’ ‘BULE’ ‘BULE’ to me as I walked into the University. They, too, would grab my hand and put it to their foreheads.

I would attend my lectures and sit in classes where we would begin with a Islam prayer. I had no idea what the lecturer was saying in Arabic, but it was a very different way for me to start the academic day.

My subjects were:

Islamic Philosophy and Religious Practice
I was fortunate to have the opportunity to study this subject one on one with a lovely lecturer. Mohammed Roy was a lecturer who had studied in Melbourne and had experienced living in Australia. My major assignment for this subject was the early Islamic settlers of Australia. I had no idea that the Muslims had arrived in Australia and had been involved in farming sea cucumber and had been travellers across arid parts of Australia and had worked for transport companies. I also learnt about Suffism and that they have a philosophy that it is important to love the world. This includes trees, animals, other humans and all that surrounds you.

Indonesian Language
I was challenged every week by my fabulous linguist: ‘Yono’. He put me through a challenging routine every week. More than anything, we made each other laugh hysterically. Especially when there were severe lightening storms and I would hide under the conference table at the University.

Islamic Business Ethics
In this class, I learnt about elements of the Qur’an and how it is incorporated into everyday business dealings. This class in particular, was useful and transferable to elements of what I needed to know for attending the meetings at the Bank. It was beneficial to have a basic knowledge of Qur’an verses as times I was viewing how they were included into banking contracts.

Bank Shariah Mandiri
Every day I attended the Bank Syariah Mandiri for 3 – 4 hours a day. I covered topics to do with Islamic banking transactions, and the variety of products Bank Syariah Mandiri offered the Islamic community.

Once my classes had finished, I began the trek home in my jilbab answering questions from people on the bus of where I came from, who I was, was I Christian, or Muslim?

I would walk through my little Kampung in my jilbab greeted by the children and asked how my day at University was. On occasions, there would be a Christian Church choir singing in my landlord’s living room. Around that same time, the local mosque would start with the azan. The church group would be singing concurrently with the azan. A dichotomy of worlds.

It was some of these diverse experiences that made me enjoy Indonesia. Every day was different and interesting.