Catherine Johnson, Bachelor of Business
Short-term program: ACICIS – Business Professional Practicum (BPP) 2017, Indonesia
I started my trip excited yet apprehensive about what would await me in Indonesia, as it was my first time in Indonesia also my first time traveling to Asia. I undertook the Business Professional Practicum (BPP), which is a six-week program consisting of a two-week intensive Indonesian language course and business seminars at Atma Jaya University, followed by a four-week internship. The Australian Consortium runs the program for ‘In-Country’ Indonesian Studies (ACICIS) and you receive 12 credit points if you successfully complete the assessment.
When I arrived in Indonesia, I was definitely aware of the cultural difference and I found it exciting, not at all overwhelming. The first main difference I noticed was that the buildings in Jakarta are huge and it is a very busy and chaotic city, however, this is expected since it is a mega-city with a population of 15 million by day and 11 million by night. Because of the enormous population, the traffic did not even come close to Brisbane’s “traffic”. I found an app called Go-Jek – a cheap motorcycle taxi service which was great for when I was in a rush and wanted to weave through the traffic and reach my destination faster!
Something else I noticed about Jakarta is that at all hours of the day, there are locals on the streets, just chatting to each other or having food at a “warung” (street stall). I think it is great that locals can just walk outside and have someone to talk to. I also believe this is one of the reasons the crime and violence rate in Indonesia is so low and why Indonesians are some of the happiest people in the world – there are stats on it!
Another aspect about Jakarta, and Indonesia in general, is that it’s very rare for local Indonesians to come across foreigners, so as a result locals often tried to talk to me or in more touristy areas, I had people come up and ask for photos. However, it was harmless and generally people were just being friendly so it is nothing to be worried about if you consider going to Indonesia.
The field trips were a great part of the program as we were given the chance to visit the Indonesia Stock Exchange (IDX) and Google. These field trips gave me a real insight into Indonesian workplaces and we were able to ask questions and discuss certain topics. For example, what staff at the stock exchange do on a day-to-day basis and what strategies they are implementing to increase foreign investment and foreign listings at the IDX. Similarly, at Google had the opportunity to speak with the Strategic Partner Manager about the work that Google focuses on in Indonesia specifically.
Atma Jaya University, where the language course and industry-led seminars are held, is based in Central Jakarta and has 14 000 students. During the two weeks of my studies at Atma Jaya the local students were on holiday so the campus was relatively quiet. The facilities were less modern and the campus was smaller than QUT Gardens Point, despite that, it didn’t fail to impress me as it was clean, in the heart of the city and the students were all very approachable and friendly. The language course was helpful as I learned basic Indonesian to help with catching taxis, ordering and paying for food etc, and the classes only had about 7-10 students each so it accommodated a very interactive learning environment. I also had a lovely student volunteer from Atma Jaya, who was my buddy throughout my time in Indonesia in case I needed help with anything. She helped me set up my SIM card, find accommodation, recommend places to visit and she even went out of her way and took me and a few other Australians around Jakarta for the day. The support of Atma Jaya students was great and made the transition to living in Jakarta much easier than it otherwise would have been.
The cost of living in Jakarta is much cheaper than in Brisbane. For example, I was able to get lunch from the canteen at Atma Jaya for 10,000 rupiah which equates to about $1 in Australia. The accommodation was also a lot cheaper, for 1 month in Jakarta it cost the equivalent to 1.5 or 2 weeks rent in Brisbane. The clothes and food that were sold in shopping centres (and there’s a lot of shopping centres in Jakarta!) was slightly cheaper than in Brisbane, but not nearly as cheap compared with eating street food or when buying clothes from a market. Water is very cheap in Indonesia and it is a necessity to buy as the tap water is unsafe to drink.
I managed to go and explore Indonesia on 4 different weekends. Firstly, I went to Bogor which is 60km south of Jakarta. I caught a train with some other Australians and 2 local Atma Jaya students from Jakarta to Bogor so it was a very cheap day-trip. I also went to Yogyakarta one weekend. I had to book a plane ticket to get there but it was definitely worth it as there was lots to do and see. On another weekend, a colleague from the IDX kindly drove me and the other Australian IDX interns to Bandung and showed us around. On my last full day in Indonesia, my IDX colleagues organised for me and the other interns to go white water rafting!
The internship at the Indonesia Stock Exchange would definitely be the highlight of my trip. I interned with 3 other Australians that were undertaking the same program as me and it was always great to have familiar faces around the office. I had a mentor who was very helpful and provided work that related to my accounting degree while also gaining an understanding of different areas of the IDX. It was great to be shown around the IDX facilities, including the IDX TV studio, the library and the main hall where the “opening bell” sounds each day at 9am for when stocks begin trading.
The colleagues within the team I worked were very inclusive and always willing to help with any questions I had. I noticed that food is a big part of the work culture in Indonesia, so there was always new food I’d never eaten before, so that was an added bonus! If you undertake this program you will find that interning in a new workplace, especially a country other than Australia, allows you to appreciate and be aware of the differences in work cultures, therefore become more adaptable and flexible to future jobs.
All in all, I’ve come back to Australia with an incredible appreciation for Indonesia, as well as life-long friends from Australia and Indonesia. My trip to Indonesia exceeded all of my expectations – the amazing people encompassed by the multitude of places to explore made it an enriching and rewarding experience, and is now a country that I will definitely come back to. I highly recommend the ACICIS programs that are offered, especially the Business Professional Practicum, as it provides a unique opportunity to travel abroad with financial support from the New Colombo Plan, meet likeminded people, experience an overseas workplace that aligns with your studies, all while gaining credit points towards your QUT degree.