10 March 2015

Life in Indonesia

Young Joo Lee is a current student at the University of Sydney Business School and recent participant in the Australian Consortium for ‘In-Country’ Indonesian Studies (ACICIS) Business Professional Practicum in Indonesia.

I have made it back to Australia after working as an intern for 6 weeks in Jakarta, and then a short trip to Korea to celebrate lunar New Year. Unfortunately, as I write this I seem to have come down with a cold. My body has finally given up on trying to adjust to the severe temperature differences in the countries that I’ve visited during last 2 months (30C in Indonesia, -5C in Korea and 30C in Australia again!). But fortunately, I can say that a cold is not the only thing that I’ve gotten from the past couple months. I can swear that the experience and impressions that I gained in Indonesia have actually changed my perspective on life.

My 6-week internship in Indonesia officially ended on 13 February, as I received my result from the ‘Bahasa Indonesia’ course (Indonesian language). Time flies, and now, as I return to university in Australia, I already miss everything in Indonesia – the fried rice from the street food market right next to my accommodation and, yes, even the sound of the Muslim call to prayer that occurred 5 times a day from early morning until late in the evening.

I participated in the ACICIS (Australian Consortium for ‘In-Country’ Indonesian Studies) Business Professional Practicum. It is coordinated by a secretariat based at Murdoch University in Perth. ACICIS runs various study options in Indonesia for students who study at Australian universities. The program that I undertook consisted of 2 parts. The first 2 weeks was made up of Indonesian language classes in the morning, and seminars or field trips in the afternoon.

Later I spent 4 weeks completing an internship in an assigned placement. The program was very well sturctured. For example, in the first 2 weeks, I’d learnt essential pieces of Indonesian needed to survive in Indonesia (for example, words for counting and asking prices). Every day in the afternoon during those two weeks, I attended seminars or field trips which really helped me understand general culture, politics, history and the economy in Indonesia.

Field trip to the Indonesia Stock Exchange

After the intense but helpful beginning, I was luckily assigned to one of the biggest property developing companies in Indonesia, called Sinar Mas Land, to work in the New Business Venture department. That department helps companies to enter into partnerships with new clients. Most clients are big foreign companies who want to penetrate the Indonesian market, so the working environment was mainly done in English. This was very beneficial for me, as I was able to participate in the company projects by suggesting new ideas during our team meetings.

My role was primarily focused on basic research to find general insight of certain property developments, and find an ideal location for certain property types. As the internship was only for 1 month, I concentrated on specific projects, and one of them was planning the new logistics park. Even though I don’t have a deep understanding of the logistics industry, I could actually apply the basic concepts and theories of logistics that I learnt from my Business Information Systems units.

From the moment I got the offer from ACICIS, I was unsure about working with my placement company, as it is not matched with my majors and is located quite far away from the Jakarta CBD. However, in hindsight, it was really good to live outside of Jakarta. I didn’t experience severe traffic jams every time when I commuted to work, unlike other students on the same program who were working in Jakarta. As well, I was able to save money because the cost of living in my area was much cheaper than Jakarta.

Severe traffic jam in Jakarta CBD

Part of the program involved writing daily reflective journals once a week. The program officer read through them to see how we were adjusting in the placements, as well as to offer feedback. The program officer was highly enthusiastic and helped to motivate us in our work.

Pictures taken during our Bandung trip

As an International student, I used to follow the routine that I had set when I first came to Australia (study; hang out with Asian friends; home). It is true that I had less extracurricular activities compared to local students, because I was afraid to get out of my comfort zone. But now I feel that I’ve changed a lot. During the 6 weeks in the internship in Indonesia, I gained valuable working experience, but also great new friends. I learned that I don’t need to be afraid to try something new.

I am now motivated to completely get out of my comfort zone. I feel ready to deal with the new challenges that I will face at university and as I begin my career.

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