What is it Like to Study in Indonesia?
Roberta Matarazzo from Italy was about to finish her bachelor degree but she didn't have the slighest idea what to do after she graduated.
After spending her whole life living and travelling in Europe Roberta was keen to go abroad and do something challenging whilst also enhancing her education. After researching several options she took the big step of applying for a scholarship to study abroad in Indonesia.
Here Roberta shares her experience including what it is like to study and live in Indonesia as a foreign student...
Why Did I Study in Indonesia
Why did I decide to move to Indonesia to study the Indonesian language? To be honest I don't really know and I'm still not sure 100% why I made this decision. I was craving something different and when I found out about the opportunity to go to Indonesia and made my application I knew I had made the right decision.
Starting My Application
Going back to the start: one day I was exploring different opportunities on the internet and I found out about Darmasiswa; a study abroad program that allows people from all over the world to study language, arts and culture in Indonesia.
The main purpose of the program is to promote Indonesian culture around the world and allow international students to live and study in Indonesia. In the academic year of 2017/18, over 700 students from more than 110 countries joined the program.
When I applied I could chose two destinations from 66 - most of the universities that join the program are located in Jawa and Bali, the rest are in Sulawesi, Kalimantan and Sumatra.
Three months after I started my application and once I had had an interview with the Indonesian embassy I got a positive response that I had been accepted onto the program.
Arrival in Indonesia
At the end of August I took a flight to Jakarta for the welcoming ceremony for international students. The Darmasiswa committee provides all students the transport from the airport, the hotel, 1 million rupiah (as a welcome), all the merchandising and tourist brochures.
Darmasiswa committee really look after international students, they also pay the ticket for your destination city too. In the two days of opening ceremony I got a sample of what my year ahead in Indonesia would include: dance, music, formal speeches and, last but not least, a lot of food.
On the first day of September I arrived in Manado, the city where I got accepted to study and this is where my new adventure began.
After one week of familiarisation with the city, people, teachers and all the zeros printed on the banknotes, we started the lessons : 3 per week of 2 hours each, plus one extra day of ‘observasi’ that is to say some time to get around and discover the customs and tradition of the Indonesia.
Scholarship & Cost of Living
The monthly scholarship is 2.500.000 or 2.900.000 rupiah depending on the city chosen, it is enough for rent, eat and transport but not for extras such as travel or anything personal.
Eating in a local warung costs from 10.000 to 20.000 rupiah (1 and 2$ respectively) a ride in public transport costs 4.000 (40 cent.) a bottle of water 3.000 rupiah (30cent.) the monthly cost for a room in a guesthouse dipend on the facilities (AC, area, toilette ecc…) but the average price is from 800.000 to 1.200.000 rupiah.
Depending on your lifestyle the scholarships money can be a lot or nothing, for me it was enough.
I didn’t need to buy international insurance because my university provided one for me but I know other students felt more confortable with one from their own country.
For anything I needed I had a sponsor from the international office, based in the campus, that worked together with the languages center of the university.
When I first arrived in Indonesia I found it to be a huge culture shock compared to studying in Italy. Sometimes it was frustrating to try to understand the ’Indonesian way of life, language and traditions which are very different to Western countries. This will be something you will need to adapt to especially if you have never lived in Asia before.
The main religion people practise in Indonesia is Islam so it is advisable to dress propetly with shoulders and knees covered, also in the university is mandatory a dress code.
In popular tourist destinations like Bali and Jakarta it is more relaxed in terms of clothing and going out in Western clothing is not a problem. Sometimes there would be extremely hot weather and when wearing shorts you usually get starred at so wearing trousers is recommended even though the weather can be around 30 degrees.
I will never forget my year studying in Indonesia. I learnt so much about myself, I got to travel in Indonesia and also learned more about people from different backgrounds. I really loved my experience and if you ever get the chance to study abroad in Indonesia to join a similar program, go for it!
By Roberta Matarazzo