Jack – Exchange to Yogyakarta, Indonesia

My experience took place when I was doing my Flexible Language Immersion Program (FLIP) with ACICIS (Australian Consortium for ‘In Country’ Indonesian Studies) in the wonderful special region of Yogyakarta, Indonesia which is full of its Javanese wonder (persona), culture (budaya/kebudayaan), traditions (adat istiadat/tradisi) and fantastic places to visit, especially Candi Prambanan and Candi Borobudur, the famous tourist places of Indonesia in my books to go and visit due to their majestic beauty (keindahan) that they possess as well as they are the UNESCO world heritage sites or warisan dunia.

You have probably got an impression that I speak fluent Indonesian or Bahasa Indonesia, well, you are right, so when I stayed in Yogyakarta for 6 months from July 31st, 2017 until January 13th, 2018, it was not a problem for me to adjust to Indonesian from English, my native language and I felt proud as an Australian national (Warga Nasional Australia) that spoke fluent Bahasa Indonesia just about every day of week or for the whole 6 months living over there. Despite speaking fluent Indonesian during my stay in Yogyakarta, I also have been to Yogyakarta and stayed there for 4 days before during my study program I did with Monash University in the Australia and Asia Tour for 2 weeks, so I did not really have any problems whatsoever with adapting to the way of life (cara hidup) over there since I got a taste before coming to live over there for the 6 months, other than homesickness (kerinduan), missing family and Australia (kangen keluarga dan Australia). However, I had made plenty of friends (teman) which eradicated my homesickness (still doesn’t mean I still think about my family and my homeland) from other cities in Australia and ones from Melbourne as well as local friends from UGM (Universitas Gadjah Mada) and outside of it that I still keep in contact with until this vary day which I’m proud to call my family (keluarga). I was very grateful that I got this opportunity (kesempatan) to experience (pengalaman) living in Indonesia which I’ll tell you is different to having a holiday there such as Bali, we have all heard about it before, I experienced much more in 6 months compared to 4 days over there as well as appreciate and be lucky to take it all in to explore (jelajahi) the wonderful city of Yogyakarta.

I don’t have one favourite activity (aktivitas/kegiatan) due to so many wonderful adventures (perjalanan) and excursions (tamasya) I had with the wonderful people who I’ve known, so it will be a tough decision to choose one, this is the reason why I’m naming my favourite highlights of my stay in Yogyakarta as well as my travels in Indonesia. If I had to choose my favourite activities in Indonesia, they will be of the following:

  1. Going out and visiting the most amazing places in Yogyakarta with my local friends and learning about the beautiful history (sejarah), culture and traditions the Javanese there possess. Such as the Ullen Sentalu Museum, The Sultan’s Palace (Kraton Jogja), The Water Castle (Taman Sari), Mount Merapi (Gunung Merapi) and so much more.
  2. Shopping (berbelanja), being independent (mandiri) in going to the supermarket (pasar swalayan/supermarket) and buying my own groceries as well as exploring and eating (makan) in restaurants (restoran) the shopping malls that Yogyakarta has which are bigger or lebih gede than what we have in Melbourne.
  3. The food (makanan) and drinks (minuman) over there in local small eateries (kedai/warung/burjo) as well as experiencing the local angkringan which is a movable stall with all kinds of food to choose from, similar to a bain-marie style, just not in a restaurant. With drinks, I tasted a drink called ‘Kopi Arang’ or in English, ‘Charcoal Coffee’ which has charcoal swimming in the middle, surprisingly the coffee (kopi) was tasty (enak/lezat) and I did not taste the charcoal (arang) which was nice, thank god.
  4. Ordering a go-jek to take me places whether I need to buy groceries at the supermarket in a mall or go to certain places to meet up with my friends, the go-jek never fails me. Go-jek is an app in Indonesia used to order a private car (mobil) or motorbike (sepeda motor/motor) to come to pick you up and take you anywhere you desire. The cost is cheap as, from 4,000 rupiah or 40 cents for a motorbike and from 10,000 rupiah or just a dollar for a car.
  5. Using public transport (transportasi umum/angkutan umum/kendaraan umum) for the first time in Indonesia in Yogyakarta with my local friends to Gembiraloka Zoo (kebun binatang) in December as well as the second time in Yogyakarta again to Tebing Breksi or Breksi Cliff. It was an experience of a lifetime using public transportation as I was a foreign visitor/temporary resident over there, it was enjoyable (menyenangkan) as well as it was quite exciting (seru) to go by it. Even though, it is not the most desired to go on public transportation due to its facilities (fasilitas), as well as being bumpy (becek) and late or famously ‘jam karet’, I was not deterred and wasn’t in a rush, so that’s why it was exciting.
  6. Going to Solo or Surakarta for a day with my friend to explore another city similar to Yogyakarta. I went to places like The Sultan’s Palace (Kraton Solo), Puro Manakonegoro, the Literary Museum of Surakarta (Museum Ratya Pustaka Surakarta) and other places such as Bakalembang Park or Taman Bakalembang to relax and get chased by deers before heading back to Yogyakarta.
  7. Having a short holiday (liburan) in Jakarta for 8 days which showed the difference between Jakarta and Yogyakarta as Jakarta being larger than Yogyakarta in terms of population (penduduk/populasi) and hecticness (hiruk pikuk). However, they didn’t really bother me coming from Melbourne and it being busy too, as I was busy going to different places such as Monas (Monumen Nasional) or the National Monument, Ancol and Kota Tua or the Old Town as well as to the huge malls over there, way bigger than Melbourne.
  8. Having my parents visit Yogyakarta from Malaysia (holidaying over there from Australia) for 3 weeks in October before they went back to Malaysia and eventually back to Melbourne. We visited the Sonobuduyo Museum (museum), Candi Prambanan, Candi Borobudur and so much more including watching a Ramayana Ballet (Sendratari/Balet) and going to Jalan Malioboro, a touristy area. This meant going back and forth from my boarding house (kos) to their hotel and vice versa and staying with them for a few days.
  9. Hanging out and speaking Indonesian in UGM with friends until night falls and eating over there from 9,000 rupiah or 90 cents, you’ll never get that here. As well as, taking mainstream classes in the mode of instruction, Indonesian which was difficult at first as I was getting used to the mode of instruction being in Indonesian due to coming from a university where it was in English, with my Indonesian one being in English and Indonesian as well as having fun in expanding my Indonesian in my Indonesian classes and getting to know international friends from Japan, Korea, Germany, Netherlands and plenty more. I pretty much learnt some more slang words in Indonesia from local friends such as ‘gabut’ basically meaning ‘to procrastinate’ (which we sometimes do), ‘mager’ short for ‘malas gerak’ meaning ‘lazy to move’, ‘bete’ informal word for ‘bosan’ (bored) and so much more.

I had a fantastic time studying in Yogyakarta in UGM with ACICIS and they have so many programs that are offered, not only the FLIP Program which I did and when I left Indonesia as well as a few days to my departure, I did not want to leave, I just wanted to stay there, it was the vibe I got from Yogyakarta with my warm, loving people I made friends with as well as the beautiful people such as my landlady or ‘ibu kos’ who did not speak English, but luckily I can converse with her in Indonesian about anything as well as the people near my kos, especially the couple near my kos who remember me and greeting me hello everytime they see me or back to buy something. As well as, paying only 2.2 million rupiah per month for my rent which is equivalent to approximately $220

I miss Indonesia and someday I want to go back and live and work there in the future as well as become a permanent resident after 5 years living there consecutively as a WNA (Warga Negara Asing) or Foreign Citizen.

Sampai jumpa Indonesia, semoga saya bisa ketemu sama kamu lagi dan terus memenuhi impian saya kembali ke sana untuk liburan, kuliah atau tinggal dan kerja di sana suatu hari nanti. (See you Indonesia, hope to meet you again and as well fulfil my dreams to going back there for holidays, study or residence and work there one day).

Terima kasih banyak kepada teman-teman yang aku temui sudah buat aku sangat betah dan terbiasa tinggal di Indonesia dan terus menyambutku dengan hangat dan lengan terbuka. Aku tidak tau bagaimana aku berterima kasih kepada kalian dengan cukup. Aku kangen sama kalian dan semoga ketemu kalian lagi. (Thank you so much to the friends I met that made me feel at home and used to live in Indonesia and as well, welcomed me warmly and open arms. I don’t know how to thank you enough. I long for you and hope to meet you again.