My semester abroad in Indonesia was amazing in every way. I made new friends, I became more fluent in Indonesian, I gained a stronger sense of independence and I got to eat all the food.
Whilst studying in Bandung, I joined Universitas Katolik Parahyangan’s futsal team. This was a great way to make friends with local students, and we got to spend many nights out eating local food together after training. We also entered a futsal competition and came second! The girls on my team were friendly and welcoming from the beginning and will remain friends for life.
The best thing about Bandung compared to Jakarta is that it’s surrounded by forests and greenery. I just had to walk up the road from my kost (boarding house) to get away from the traffic and chaos to be surrounded by greenery and birds. There’s also so many nice places to visit on Bandung’s outskirts!
As part of my studies, I had the opportunity to really push myself and write a thesis in Indonesian. I undertook field work at a tea plantation and conducted interviews using Indonesian language. This really demonstrated how much my language ability had progressed over the five months. But- don’t worry if you don’t yet know Indonesian. Many students on campus as well as locals love to practice their English with you. I even found it hard sometimes to use Indonesian as they are very fluent in English!
When I found the time around my studies, I often travelled with other exchange students from Australia, or with my new Indonesian friends. I got to visit Kawah Putih (a lake in a volcano with bright blue water) and Pantai Pangandaran ( a beach a few hours out of Bandung). However, the highlight of my exchange was when I visited Flores with a friend at the end of my studies. Here, we visited Mount Kelimutu which has three different coloured lakes within a volcano crater. We also got to visit Padar Island and Komodo Island, where we saw Komodo dragons, snorkelled at pink beach, and got to swim with Manta rays!
The best thing about Indonesia is its diversity and its friendly people. Each city is so remarkably different, with different local foods and languages. I try to visit a new city each time I go to Indonesia. Indonesians are also so helpful and friendly. I had barely even heard about Indonesia until I went on a two week exchange with Flinders in 2014. From then, my life had changed. I began learning Indonesian and have been back for multiple study and holiday visits. I hope to be working over there in the future.
Ashleigh Cook, Bachelor of Arts-Enhanced Program for High Achievers/Bachelor of Letters (Indonesian) student, Semester 1 2017 participated in ACICIS West Java Field Study program, Indonesia