By Nicky Colbran (Semester 9/Aug 1999)
Australian National University

Walking into a classroom full of Indonesians by yourself can sometimes be a bit intimidating. Try to resist the temptation of either sitting by yourself or running to the back of the classroom or sitting with the other bule in your class. Ask someone if the seat next to them is free and sit there. Don’t sit up the back because the further you are away from the lecturer, the less you will understand either because she/he isn’t using a microphone or inevitably everyone around you will start chatting.

Go up to the lecturer if you have the chance and introduce yourself, eg your name, where you’re from, what you’re doing, and ask politely if he/she minds you sitting in on their class because you’ve heard how good/interesting it is.

If you’re here for an academic learning experience (ie classroom theory) you may be a bit disappointed by some classes. Often (especially in Sastra) lecturers will be late or not turn up. This is no problem, rather it gives you a great opportunity to start a conversation and to get to know the person sitting next to you. If the class isn’t on, see what they’re doing and if you can ‘ikut’. Or invite them to go for a drink. Remembering Indonesia is a ‘food and snack culture’, they’ll probably say yes.

Depending on the kind of experience you’re after, picking your subjects can be done either by: ·

  • Reputation of the lecturer – the quality of a lecturer makes a big difference to your class, eg is he/she reliable (turns up to class); does he/she mumble, does he/she have a monotone voice.
  • Picking subjects you’re interested in (no need to worry about prerequisites as a foreign student). But remember:
    • lectures are not always on (ie sometimes cancelled);
    • names are often deceiving;
    • an interesting name does not necessarily mean an interesting course;
    • you will be with a different group of people for each class.
  • Picking subjects so you’ll be with the same group of people for each class. This may mean doing a few subjects you’re not particularly interested in, but the advantages are numerous:
    • gives you the opportunity to really get to know the people you’re studying with on more than a superficial level;
    • gives you people to hang out with in between classes;
    • gives you something in common.

Remember that the later year subjects will more than likely have a heavier assessment load than 1st/2nd year subjects (ie probably a paper and/or a presentation as well as exams). Also the higher the SKS, the more material you’ll have to learn for exams.

In each class there is one person who knows what’s going on, eg who knows where and when the mid-test is, when the final exam is, and who has the copy of the set text and gets money from other students to make copies. Make sure you get to know that person, and get information and materials like everybody else.

If you get invited to go away or do something etc, say YES, even if the thought of it is intimidating or scares the hell out of you. Saying yes means you’ll more than likely get invited again. It also gives you a chance to meet other people (your friends’ friends), and not all your friends will be from UGM or Java.

The most important thing with immersion is to keep a good sense of humour. Things may be difficult at times. Don’t expect everything to happen the way it does in Australia. Be open-minded to differences. It would be a boring place if things were all the same. Laugh at yourself when you make a mistake (everyone else will). But most importantly relax, enjoy yourself and have fun.