Feel free to post your questions about Indonesia or studying abroad!
Well this is my final blog post before I come home. Only 3 more days left in Indonesia. Looking back on the trip we have seen many interesting things, met many interesting people and tried many new things. Now these things are only in our memories and it’s time to come home. I’m curious to see how we reenter the U.S. because many people encounter reverse cultural shock. I guess we’ll find out in 4 days.
A few days ago we went to Yogyakarta, Indonesia which is also located on the island of Java. I must say it was the highlight of my trip. The people were super friendly, the culture was amazing, the history was interesting and the sights were unbelievable. If we ever return to Indonesia this is the place I want to be.
In Yogya we had many first time experiences! We rode on a becak(similar to a rickshaw) to the Sultan’s palace and Watercastle. Interestingly, the province of Yogya is a unique province run by a Sultan and the president of Indonesia. How neat is that they both govern the same area!
We tried many new foods such as rujak (dengan buah), kelapa muda (enak) and rendang.
Riding on the back of the motorbike was a bit intimidating at first but after a while we got used to the feel of it. If the locals can do it we can too. Maybe in the future we’ll move back and own one. Who knows!
While in Yogya we also had the opportunity to see some interesting sites such as Borobudur, nearby mountains, beaches, Batik history and even the local life. All unforgettable! My special thanks to Sinta and her friend from Universitas Utma Jaya. I highly recommend this university for study abroad. They were super helpful and made me feel at home in Yogya!
Juga, makasih semua yang membantu saya di Indonesia. Makasih untuk semua teman-teman baru di kelas-kelas saya di Petra. Mungkin kalau semua pergi ke Amerkia saya akan membantu dengan belajar budaya dan bahasa anda! Dan juga saya rencana ambil foto-foto dari macam-macam unik di Amerika untuk teman-teman di Indonesia. Saya akan rindu semua! Semoga sukses di masa depan, ya! : )
Wow…it’s hard to believe that it’s already June 2nd!
Only 19 days until we leave for the USA.
Since I last posted I’ve seen and experienced more new aspects of Indonesia and Malaysia. We had the opportunity to see some more of Surabaya. A few weeks ago one of the professors at the university and his student took us around Surabaya to see some new things. My favorite experiences were just getting the opportunity to ask him questions about his culture and life in Indonesia. It was a unique experience because they both are not originally from Java. So, it was nice getting to hear other stories of life in other parts of Indonesia.
During this time, we had the chance to try coconut beef sate with peanut sauce. This is officially my favorite food so far in Indonesia. : ) Also, while we were exploring the city we saw the symbol of Surabaya which consists of the shark and the alligator, a Russian Submarine and an art show.
From May 19-22 we needed to exit the country to renew our visas. So, back to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia we went and wow was it great! In Malaysia we went to Batu Caves. The entrance to the caves was magnificent consisting of at least 200 steps. In the front of the caves there was a large statue of one of the Hindu gods. Part of the cave consisted of Hindu statues, rituals being performed and a beautiful view. The other part of the cave is in a more natural state and is being preserved very nicely.
While in KL we also got to see a Malaysian Jungle area. Surprisingly, it seemed very similar to a forest in Ohio only supersized. The views from the forest/jungle were amazing! The waterfalls were spectacular and impressive in size.
After returning from KL it was time to begin working on final projects and homework. The semester is almost finished and the workload is increasing in some classes. However, in others I am officially done.
Last Sunday it was nice hanging out with the tourism department at the university. They put together an eco-tour that consisted of ways we can become more eco-friendly to the environment. My favorite parts of the tour consisted of getting to know some of the students in the department. They are a fun bunch of students that were very friendly to me during the tour. Also, it was fun observing aspects of Indonesian Culture. One thing that I thought was particularly interesting was they would use umbrellas while it was sun and not a rain cloud in the sky. I asked them about the umbrellas and found out white skin in their society is seen as more high class, clean and beautiful. It’s interesting because so many people in the U.S. have opposite ideals of beauty. It goes to show that some things are culturally relative. Another aspect of the tour that was interesting was the children and adults who would stare at us. A group of young girls and boys kept laughing and giggling at us. In Indonesia, white foreigners are giving the term “Bule” and sometimes are seen as unique in their society. I noticed that they kept following us so I thought I would communicate with the children. As soon as I did they all scattered because they were very shy. However, eventually they talked to us. This made my day! : )
The other aspect of the tour I also enjoyed was viewing the mangrove forest. It was great because we first entered a boat and went down the river. Then we reached the delta area that went directly into the ocean. The view was amazing! When we reached the forest we had lunch next to the ocean and then planted mangrove trees. However, for me, the sad thing was there were large amounts of trash in the forest and in the river. I hope in the future more people will take care of the environment and keep it a clean and safe place!
Well that’s all for now..
Wow… for me, April seemed to be the fastest month so far in Indonesia. However, this semester seems to be going on forever… I’m used to 10-11 weeks in a quarter than compared to 18 weeks in a semester.
The month of April consisted of mid-terms from 12th to the 20th and trip to Jakarta on 19th, 20th and 21st. The week of mid-terms consisted of mostly papers and just two exams which was nice. : ) I enjoy writing over test taking. In my cross-culture communications class my group and I needed to interview someone who isn’t originally from to Surabaya. Thus, asking them how their experience is in adapting to the Indonesian Culture. This interview was interesting because we discussed with an American Teacher about the struggles she has faced while in Indonesia. Many of her struggles seem to be similar to my own, such as dealing with indirectness in addressing situations.
My other class consisted of a paper analyzing either a film or television show applying cultural theories. Fairly simple. I also had two exams…one focusing on tourism, geography, cultural aspects and history of two islands in Indonesia, Sumatra and Java. It has been an interesting class so far, however, it is also challenging because it is conducted entirely in Indonesian. Also, my Indonesian Tourism class consists entirely of Indonesians; therefore, they typically know the geographical location and culture emphasis better than what I do. Haha…
The second exam was my most challenging which consisted of the economic competitiveness of 6 Asian countries, the exam focused on China and India. The class is geared towards IBM (International Business Majors) and economic situations. The class is interesting because we discuss the competitiveness of each country. It is based on their belief and how it influences their politics, education and economics. At times I feel like I understand the subject…but at other times it is difficult because of the emphasis and analysis of economics, but also the teaching style is different from what I’m used to in the U.S. Also, the IBMers in the class are on their 3rd year and have had prerequisite courses that I haven’t taken. So, it makes things challenging… but I have been learning a lot as well. : )
In the second week of exams I had the opportunity to go to Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia. (My exams and papers were already finished, Yeah!). So, one of the international program directors, myself, Adam and the other international student left on 3rd week in April. The trip was an interesting and difficult experience. We didn’t know the schedule of events or why we went to the places we did because our director did not inform us of many things and left us by ourselves most of the time.
Day 1: It was interesting because we missed our original flight. I’m still not sure why this happened but perhaps it has something to do with “jam karet”… However, we were soon scheduled for a new flight that left a few hours later. Upon arrival in Jakarta we soon began to noticed the immense size of Jakarta, -/+10,000,000 people. We found a taxi and began our trip to the hotel. However, in Jakarta there are many traffic jams and they normally last for hours. For example, we were in a traffic jam for 3 hours, from the airport to hotel. So, we played traditional games from Germany, America and Indonesia. It was fun! : ) As time went by, we started to become nervous because our taxi driver was falling asleep. Personally, I found this sad because he had probably been working all day for maybe a few dollars. :( After arriving at our destination we met professors from other universities, watched traditional ceremonies from foreign students who danced, read poetry and sang. However, we were not given much time here and soon were on a bus to our next destination. We arrived at our sleeping destination but were soon all separated and ended up in separate rooms consisting of approximately 20 bunk-beds, mosquitoes and people we didn’t know. It was a little intimidating at first because we were not expecting this type of situation because no one told us before hand, so we didn’t prepare accordingly such as having mosquito repellent or bottled water for drinking or brushing teeth, or clothing that would be ok in this type of situation (with mosquitoes). This soon changed when we asked our director about the situation. She found us a different room but didn’t tell us anything while we were waiting for our new room… other things happened that I don’t want to blog about…
Day2: Upon waking we ate our breakfast. Then we were left to ourselves most of the day, because our coordinator wanted to be with other people. The three of us then met a guy from the U.S. who better explained what the program was about and showed us a brochure of the events for that day. The second day was much better than the first because we had the opportunity to see and play with traditional music and instruments, such as the gamelan. Then we also had the opportunity to watch a man from Papua make traditional woodcarvings and a few groups from Java and Sumatra make Wayang Kulit, Batik and traditional types of rugs. Others did different dances portraying the Indonesian culture. :) All of these things we interesting opportunities that we plan to post videos, pictures and footage! After this we visited a museum that consisted of replicas of traditional dress, houses, instruments and other interesting artifacts. Later that day we then went to the closing ceremony that consisted of more dances, traditional instruments and gamelan playing. At this ceremony there were many people and they represented more than 60 countries! How cool!!!
Day 3: Our day started very early because we needed to be on the taxi by 4:30 a.m. to prepare for our flight that was to leave at 8:10 a.m. On the way to our hotel it took us 3 hours, however, on the way back it only took us 45 minutes to arrive at the airport. No traffic jams! When were arrived back in Surabaya I needed to be ready for my class that started at 1:45. So, I was pretty tired during that class…
Well…..that’s all for now…I plan to blog more soon and post pictures, videos, etc!
A lot has been happening here that needs to be blogged about…
A few weeks ago we had the opportunity to see other parts of Southeast-Asia and also more of Indonesia.
On March 26th we went to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in order to renew our visas.
Malaysia is also a predominantly Islamic nation like Indonesia. Hence the 1st photo of the Mosque.
The two of the bottom pictures consist of the Petronas Towers which are the largest twin towers in the world. It was absolutely amazing to see the gigantic size of the towers. And the photo in the bottom left is of Menara tower. It was truly breathtaking to go up into the observation tower and being able to see the mountains and other scenery.
We really enjoyed Kuala Lumpur because we could easily navigate around the city because of the well organized infrastructure. The people were friendly and the scenery in and around the city was beautiful. Plus while going to Malaysia I could practice my Indonesian on them. In Malaysia they speak Bahasa Melayu. Thankfully, the Indonesian and Malaysian languages are very similar.
Last weekend, March 31, we went to the island of Bali, in Indonesia.
It was soooo nice to be able to do things, see nature and interact with some of the people (both locals and internationals).
Pictured below are nice photos of the beaches, rock faces and crystal clear water of Bali.
Pictured below is a traditional Balinese dance called Kecak. The dance/story is taken from a Hindu epic, the Ramayana. Later on YouTube, I plan to post footage of this dance so that you get a better idea about what’s going on in these pictures. For me, it was interesting to see this story portrayed in this form. Prior to going to Indonesia, I took a Hinduism class at OU that discussed about this epic. However, reading about the story and actually seeing it in person are totally different.
A must see, while in Indonesia, is a art form called Batik.
It’s a tedious process that starts with white material, such as a purse or sheet. Next there is the process of applying wax to the material then it is dyed. After the first dying process the painter will then apply more layers of wax. This process is then repeated several times until the work is finshed.
For more info check out: http://www.expat.or.id/info/batik.html
In Bali we also had the opportunity to go to traditional villages, temples, a bird zoo, scuba diving and see terraced rice fields.
Until next time……. sampai jumpa!
Hey everyone… It has been about a little over one month since we first arrived in Indonesia. So I thought I would update you about what is currently going on here. We have had a few newer experiences…
But first I thought I would say the cultural shock is finally beginning to diminish and we are better assimilating into the culture. : ) We are beginning to better understand how Indonesians think about the world around them.
Dependency and independency
At least in Surabaya, we are discovering how dependent we need to become on others. Many of you reading this post are from the U.S. or are currently in the U.S. So, you most likely own your own car and do not take public transportation. However, this is not the norm here. Typically, people depend on public transportation and they don’t always own their own car.
So, let me explain how we go to the supermarket or to my classes. To go to the supermarket we usually need to stand outside our apartment and wait for a taxi. When a taxi arrives we usually say: “halo pak, minta kami pergi ke….” After this our taxi driver drops us off at the supermarket and the cost is usually RP 20,000 ($2.00). After buying our things we usually go back home because it is difficult to carry multiple things with you wherever you go. This is different for us because in the U.S. we typically would go to different stores all at once (such as going to Aldi, Kroger, Walmart and then doing other needed errands). Here you have to plan and schedule where you want to go before you go into the taxi. I am usually spontaneous person when going into town…haha
Next I will explain how we get to school every day… Typically we use a hired driving service that comes to pick us up every day. This service is scheduled every day at a certain time which is very nice. However, if a class is cancelled or if I want to go to a supermarket before going home I need to plan this ahead of time. This is where the dependency is very important. Rather than being independent and owning a car we need to rely on others. However, in some ways this is nice because we feel that we can help others by paying for their service.
Dependency is not only in driving…. I’m sure many of you do your own laundry… however, here many people pay by the kilogram to have someone else do your laundry. This is also very new to us.
Interesting Surabayan Food
While in Indonesia we have discovered that Indonesians like some interesting types of foods. A famous dish from Surabaya is called Rujak Cingur (Cow/Ox nose)………………….…While at the supermarket we discovered that they sell ox tail, cow tongue, pig brain and chicken feet… Personally, these things do not sound appetizing but the people here love it. : ) Also a notable fruit natively grown in SE-Asia is Durian. This fruit is greenish in color, consisting of spikes and has an interesting smell. Actually the smell is comparable to sewage and is banned from most places because of the stench. I have not tried the fruit but I did try a donut that consisted of Durian filling……..and yes even the filling smelled.
I have enjoyed other types of food such as Ayam Sate (Sautéed chicken with peanut sauce), Nasi Goreng Udang and Nasi Goreng Sosis (fried rice with shrimp, sausage).
First Experience Outside of the City (Batu zoo)
Last weekend we had the opportunity to visit a city that was 2-3 hours from Surabaya called Batu. On the way there we have the opportunity to see many interesting sites. For example, there were some terraced rice fields, mountains/volcanoes and while I was looking up into the trees I noticed an interesting animal. To my surprise I saw a monkey : ) which for me was very exciting…
When we arrived in Batu we saw some very interesting animals at the Zoo. Many of them are native in Indonesia. Check out the pictures… currently, they are on the Facebook page and hopefully will be added to this website very soon.
However, I’d say that the most interesting experience at the zoo wasn’t the animals. It was the fact that most of the Indonesians wanted to pose with us for pictures. We would have random people come up to us saying that they wanted their son or daughter to be pictured with us. Hmmmm……
A few weeks ago I made a purchase of a purse to carry my books and personal items. I picked out the purse because I liked the colors, pattern and design. Little did I know I purchased a traditional batik purse…… I am finding out Batik is only worn during certain occasions and I’m hoping to better understand this…
Jam karet (Rubber time…..meaning time can stretch or it’s flexible)
Typically in the U.S. people attempt to show up early for jobs, interviews or classes. Actually, I recall in middle and high school the teachers would give a student detention or punishments for arriving even a minute late to class. However, in Indonesia being late is considered more customary and normal. Most of my teachers arrive to class 10 or 15 minutes after the class was suppose to start.
Well that’s all for now….
(Oh and btw) If you have any questions about life here, the pictures or the videos feel free to post them on this blog or on facebook…
Halo semua dan selamat malam (atau selamat pagi di Amerika haha)!
It has been about 2 weeks since I last updated about the trip to Indonesia. So I believe it is time to share some more experiences and information about our trip.
Surprisingly, the cultural shock we began to experience during the first week has not gone away. As a matter of fact it is quite common for it to last for a while. The other day I came across a webpage on OU’s website that discusses the stages of cultural shock. Before going abroad, and after being in the host country, I believe one should read about these stages and realize that they are normal. Also, different people enter and exit these stages at different time periods. If you would like to read more about these phases of shock check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Culture_shock
While in Indonesia we have been learning about different cultural norms. For example it is considered VERY offensive to take or receive something with your left hand (i.e. money, books, handshakes, eating). I found this out later because I handed someone something with my left hand…oops… In Indonesia, and in many other countries, this hand is only used for cleaning and cleansing purposes.
Bathroom usage tips… (I know this is personal but it is helpful to know so you are not shocked the first time you experience this…)
In the United States the usage of toilet paper is very common. In some areas people also use a bidet. However, this is not as common or widespread (as you may think) in other countries. As a matter of fact the first time you enter a foreign toilet it may seem very different and confusing. For example, Indonesian toilets are usually level with the floor, toilet paper is not always available and there is a spigot, bucket and scooping spoon in the stall. My advice is to carry toilet paper with you if this is what you normally use…
In Indonesia before eating a meal it is customary to say selamat makan (or happy eating) before starting your meal.
Also, you may wonder if Indonesians eat with chopsticks or a fork/knife/spoon. Well typically it is common to be given a spoon and a fork. From observing Indonesians it seems that it is common to eat with the fork in the left hand and the spoon in the right. The fork is used for getting the food onto the spoon. The spoon in the right hand is used for putting it towards your mouth. But interestingly, if something is very delicious Indonesians will indicate this by eating with their hand, and it seems only that the right hand is used. After this they sometimes will lick their fingers to show even more enthusiasm.
After finishing your meal in some cultures it is common to place your eating utensils in a certain way. I did not know this prior to coming to Indonesia. Actually, I learned this after I was eating my nasi udang (shrimp and rice). I had a little leftover rice and shrimp on my plate but I was finished eating. However, my utensils were not turned upside down to indicate I was finished. Thankfully, someone told me about this neat and common Indonesian custom.
Being stared and laughed at by Indonesians:
I do not think it is common for foreigners to come to Surabaya. Therefore, they enjoy watching and staring at us. This was a new experience that I am not totally used to yet.
Also, Indonesians seem to be people who are happy and enjoy laughing… I’m not totally sure why this is, it’s only an observation.
Last Wednesday my classes began (Monday’s classes were cancelled and Tuesday was a holiday)
My classes consist of Pop culture, Cross Cultural Communications, Asian Studies, Language studies and Indonesian tourism. Surprisingly, in most of my classes I am the only foreign student. I think there are only 2 or 3 international students including me.
One of my classes is taught fully in English. All the others are a mix of both Indonesian and English. However, my first day in my Cross Cultural Com. class the class was completely taught in the Indonesian Language. It was very difficult for me to understand everything. While I was translating one sentence the teacher would be on the next topic and a new thought. Thankfully, my adviser is going to talk to the professor about having the class in blended format.
My Indonesian Language skills are still a work in progress.
In some of my classes I felt accept and welcomed by the other students. However, in other classes I feel more isolated. Hopefully as time goes by I will make some Indonesian friends.
Questioning my accent, nationality and language: (I found out that I am either the 1st or 2nd American to study at Petra)
Three notable humorous experiences happened last week at my university in Surabaya. Since there are only a few international students I believe there is a lot of talk about us on the campus. For example one day an Indonesian student came up to Adam and me and wanted to practice his English on us. We of course answered yes. The next thing he said to us is that he could tell we were from Ohio because of our Ohioan accent. Haha…umm…
Today my Indonesian teacher was working on my pronunciation of the Indonesian “r” because it is trilled. However, I have not mastered this skill yet… and I have tried many times. The funny thing happened next when he wrote a phrase on the dry erase board in English that consisted of many “r”s. After he listened to my pronunciation of the “r” he concluded that I had an accent from New York………
Many foreigners who come to Indonesian are typically from either Europe or Asia. Therefore when I am in class or walking around the campus people ask me if I am orang Belanda (Dutch). I figured coming to Indonesia people would automatically associate me as an American. This is not the case… actually once someone told us that our ability to speak English was excellent (they thought we were Dutch or German). One Indonesian spoke up and said, “Umm…of course they do. They are from the United States.” Haha…
Well I believe that is all for now…soon we will be uploading pictures onto the website and more videos.
Until next time…Sampai Jumpa!
Today (well, today in Indonesian time) we finally set up our internet. Now we are able to share our experience with you…
Our adventure began on the 1st of February in the United States. As many of you already know our flight was cancelled to New York, delayed in Germany, missed in Singapore and finally we arrived in Surabaya February 4th at 7:30 in the evening (Indonesia is 12 hours ahead of the United States).
After arriving in Surabaya we were required to go through security/customs. This was an interesting experience for us because they questioned our visas. Thankfully, my study of the Indonesian language was put to good use. They understood our situation and finally let us into the country. We both were a little nervous with this experience, but both we and our baggage safely arrived in Surabaya.
When we stepped outside of the airport there was a student from Petra who accompanied us to our apartment. She was extremely friendly, helpful and took us out to dinner at an Indonesian restaurant.
After dinner on our way to our apartment I believe the jet lag and cultural shock began to occur. The method of driving is definitely unique in comparison to the United States. In Surabaya, Indonesia it is common to travel by motorbike, bemo (public bus transportation) or taxi. By motorbike travel can be accomplished quickly in the large city. My first impression of travel by motorbike is that it seems very confusing for a new first time foreigner. Those who are more experienced with the culture and navigation seem to have the method figured out and very few accidents occur. : )
When on a motorbike (or any vehicle) travel is on the left side rather than the right. However, the culturally shocking aspect is passing. Motorbikes may pass on the left side, right side, middle or wherever there is an opening in the road. This is hard to explain so we will post video/pictures later.
The size of the city was/is still a shock to both of us. We both are originally from a smaller town that is more rural (population 13,000) in contrast Surabaya is more compact, large and urban (population is 3,000,000). We have been adjusting to this new urban atmosphere.
We are currently working on posting more videos and I will update you more later!
Oh and btw if you would like to view videos there is a youtube link on the right side of the page!
Wow…that was an interesting day.
First I want to thank both of our parents for accompanying us to the Pittsburgh Airport for our scheduled departure day, February 1st. However, the recent winter weather has caused our flight from Pittsburgh to be cancelled. Thankfully, we have been rescheduled to depart from Pittsburgh tomorrow around 10:30 in the morning. We hope that the weather tomorrow will turn out to be better for flying conditions. My advice for booking winter flights is to purchase flight insurance, become optimistic and be very flexible.
As of right now, our rescheduled flight will be similar to the flight that was originally scheduled for today. This is comforting to hear. Hopefully, by this time tomorrow we will be in New York scheduled to begin our journey to Germany.
Thank you all for the prayers, love and support!
Selamat datang semua!!!
Adam and I are currently working on getting this site up and running before we leave in February.
Hopefully it will be completed very soon.
Until then we prepare last minute things and are getting things into order prior to the trip. My advise is to start preparing as soon as possible if you plan to study abroad. Also look into funding and expenses. Studying abroad can be very expensive but with proper preparation and funding it can makes your experience much smoother.
In February, I will be using this site to blog about my experience living and studying in Indonesia as a student. I will be living in Surabaya, Indonesia home to approx. 3 million people. While I am there I will be attending Petra Christian University studying aspects of Indonesian culture and the language.
This will be my first experience outside of North America, as it is also for my husband. We are both very excited to have this opportunity to see a different country that most people find unfamiliar. We hope to be able to also share our experience with you by posting bi-weekly experiences including photos. However, photos only show so much and as they say a picture is only worth a thousand words. We also plan to film a documentary film that gives a more personal and real-life encounter.
Until next time… Sampai Jumpa!