By Thomas Coghlan (Semester 27/Aug 2008)
Private student, Victoria

It’s been great so far. Lots of fun living in Yogya and travelling around, and things are going well at Universitas Islam Indonesia (UII). In terms of the university, they have been fantastic. They are very well organised, all the lecturers are very good and very reliable (I haven’t had any kosong [empty] classes….a bit different to the UGM experience from what I’ve heard!), there is a syllabus and clear outlines for every subject, and all the staff on the international program are lovely and happy to help with anything that comes up. I’m doing 4 subjects:

Islamic Thought and Civilization
This is a relevant, well-taught subject with interesting readings and a competent lecturer.

Indonesian Language and Culture
This has been great. It is a one-on-one language subject with two 90 minute sessions per week. It is also tailored to your language ability. For example, I have been able to bring ongoing vocabulary or grammatical issues to my lecturer and discuss them with reference to the weekly readings. It has allowed me to practice listening and speaking Indonesian, and to discuss issues in an open and honest environment.

Management Communication
This one seems like a subject that is very important for Indonesians going into business environments in the future, but when taught in English it can be quite slow going and covers a lot of things that I’ve been through plenty of times in Australia. An Australian AVI volunteer teaches it at present, and does a great job, but this does mean that you tend to miss the Indonesian perspective on some of these issues, which would probably make it a bit more interesting.

This has also been wonderful so far. I am doing my internship at Lembaga Konsultasi dan Bantuan Hukum (LKBH), which is a legal aid institution formed by alumni of the UII law faculty. It’s a fantastic organisation and they are getting me involved in lots of things, such as consultations with clients, court hearings, radio programs and other legal training programs, as well as some introductory sessions for me about Indonesian law. During my time there so far I have been able to witness trials, develop my Indonesian legal language skills, and gain an understanding of Islamic Law alongside secular law. Unfortunately I’ve missed the last couple of weeks due to illness, but there is plenty happening now that I’m back into it.

Definitely the best aspects for me have been Indonesian Language and Culture and the Internship, both of which have been terrific and really valuable experiences. In terms of language practice, having the Indonesian language and culture subject combined with the internship, a tutor through ACICIS and being in my kos and generally in Indonesia has obviously meant I’ve had lots of language exposure. It probably needs to be emphasised that while there are lots of chances to learn and practice Indonesian, a large part of the program is in English. As such, it probably suits people with priorities of getting other things out of the program – not just language practice.