By Kirby Taylor, (Semester 40/Feb 2015)
Private Participant

Living and studying in a bustling Indonesian city is something you cannot prepare for. As cliché as it might be, you really just have to be ready for anything, to expect the unexpected.

It’s a generalisation but … Indonesian youth are always on their phone. Any time of the day your phone will be buzzing with invites to this that and the other. Be prepared for last minute random road trips to the beach or to visit temples or just to simply go out for food at the local Warung’s (street food stalls) or to karaoke with new friends! I have never sung publicly so much in my entire life than I did during my semester in Yogyakarta with ACICIS.

Indonesian students are very open to making friends with international students. It doesn’t matter what country you come from or what your cultural or religious background is because in Indonesia and especially in Yogya its second nature for students to be from all different regions which means they might have various religions, traditions and customs and almost certainly they speak a totally different language!

One experience still stands out vividly for me.

Some friends I had made through a group project undertaken as part of one of my subjects at UGM invited me to visit an area around 30mins south of Yogya. Around 8 of us jumped on to 4 motorbikes and headed off to try what they stated was some of the best Sate around!

I can confirm it was. ACICIS students if you get the chance to head down to Imogiri are and try Sate Klathak – do it! It’s quite different to any other Sate I’ve tried before in Indonesia/Malaysia. Made with goat meat and lots of delicious spices and cooked on metal skewers rather than bamboo. You won’t regret it.

What stuck out to me about this time is that only 1 of the 8 of us could converse with the local Warung employees as she was the only one who had grown up in the area and could speak Javanese. The other friends came from Jakarta, Pekanbaru in Sumatra and Pontianak in Kalimantan just to name a few. This was the usual for students in Jogja – to have friends from across the archipelago.

Indonesia fully embraces their national motto which is Unity in Diversity.

I was incredibly privileged to make a lot of great local friends during my time in Indonesia and I truly hope that Australia can reciprocate that feeling to Indonesian students who come on exchange or study their full degree here. Australia has a long way to go to become more inclusive of international students and multiculturalism in general in society.

See here for more information about ACICIS’ Flexible Language Immersion Program.