Sixteen weeks, 112 days, this is the time I have spent in Indonesia until now. Sixteen weeks is short, too short to discover the country’s entirety, but long enough to have many experiences. This newsletter will explain how I felt during these five months abroad, what I experienced, and the core memories I created. If you are interested in reading what Indonesia looks like through my French eyes, let us continue!
When I summarize my experience in Indonesia, the first thing I want to talk about is people. I feel like Indonesian people are fundamentally kind and welcoming. I met amazing people in every single experience I had during the semester. First, at the airport and during the first weeks, the ITS welcoming team and my buddies were always there if I needed anything, always ready to show me new places, new food. Most lecturers have been very comprehensive and patient during my courses. I also had many group projects, which were not always a pleasure to manage but an excellent way to meet new people. I was shocked by how easily people said hi to me in the streets, in shops, and in daily life.
One of the things I started doing in Indonesia is traveling alone. The first time, I felt unsafe and lost, but I felt comfortable and enjoyed it very quickly. I was alone but never lonely. I met local people from all over the world and people from Australia, Denmark, Switzerland, Germany, Japan, France, and Belgium. Some were just small talks and smiles, but others became real friends. I am incredibly grateful for the precious moment I shared with them. Sharing adventures, laughs, or talks with strangers impacted my way of considering and connecting with others.
The second significant part of my semester has been traveling. Thanks to my schedule and holidays, I could travel quite a lot. ITS Surabaya is a good place; it is well situated to take transport and travel around Indonesia. I traveled to many places (all linked to core memories).
Indonesia is a beautiful country with breathtaking landscapes, diverse cultures, and animals. I went from the sea to the mountains, passing by the jungle. We hear a lot about Bali as the center of Indonesian tourism, but there are dozens of places as beautiful (even more, in my opinion). My favorite ones (because I cannot choose just one) were Gili T (for its amazing sunsets and snorkeling spots), Lombok Rinjani (for its waterfalls and small pathways in the jungle), Ubud (for its cultural heritage, smells, and dances) or Nusa Penida (for its snorkeling spots and beaches)
I cannot write about my experience in Indonesia without mentioning food! My first experience with Indonesian food was during my quarantine in Jakarta (easy to say that it was not the best one). After arriving in Surabaya, I tried my first warungs and loved them. It took time for my stomach to get used to spice (and, to be honest, I am still not fully able to handle it), but it was worth it because Indonesian food is delicious. I started eating Nasi Goreng, Mie Goreng, Nasi campur, I discovered Nasi Pecel in Malang, Gado-Gado in Lombok.
Whenever I could try something new, I did. I fell in love with tempe and got used to eating in J1 for most of my lunches. I will miss this habit of taking rice and adding everything you want to make on your plate. I also tried eating with my hands for the first time, and I appreciated it. I love the way Indonesian food culture is all about sharing and enjoying.
During my entire semester, I was often asked why I had left France for Indonesia. I had no precise reason, and I just wanted something different. I wanted to explore, discover, and be out of my comfort zone. I could not do it better! Indonesia has nothing in common with my country, not the same language, not the same culture, not the same weather, not the same food, not the same people. That is why I will never regret my choice; Indonesia gave me everything I was expecting (and even more).
It has been the place of a lot of first experiences, first time traveling alone, first time surfing, first time swimming with turtles and manta rays, first time driving a motorbike in the traffic, first time sleeping in hostels, first time getting tattooed. I have so many more things I could have mentioned, but five months cannot be summarized in 2 pages without deleting some parts. My final word would be: If you are hesitating in joining ITS Surabaya and coming to Indonesia, do not. Just come and see!
ITS Global Engagement, Global Kampong Building,
Kampus Institut Teknologi Sepuluh Nopember Surabaya
Phone: +62-31-5994251 ext. 1224
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