Get off the beaten path and create an unforgettable experience for yourself with a full academic year in Indonesia. Through living with a host family and attending a local high school, you’ll experience the country the way any Indonesian teenager your age would. See Indonesia’s fiery volcanoes and peaceful seas, crowded cities and distant plantations, modern high-rises and crumbling temples. With a cup of their world-famous coffee in hand, boiled with raw sugar or fresh ginger, Indonesians of any culture or religion will greet you with a smile and open arms.
Family is an integral part of Indonesian society. The relationship between each member of the family is close, although you would seldom see each member showing their feelings and affection openly. Parents, especially fathers, have a very dominant role in the family. To ask for the parents’ opinion and permission is not viewed as a form of dependency, but more as a form of respects toward them, as they are considered to have more experience in life. It is very common in Indonesia for children to live with their parents even after they are married.
Host families in Indonesia, like all AFS host families worldwide, are volunteers and are not paid. They open their homes to students in order to share their community and culture as well as to enrich their own family lives.
Indonesia is a mosaic of more than 300 ethnic groups and cultures, with dozens of languages and social and cultural backgrounds. As in most other multi-ethnic nations, it is difficult to describe a “typical” Indonesian. As the country with the larger populations of Muslims, most Indonesians feel a strong tie to their mosque, as well as the greater community.
Teens in Indonesia share many of the same interests as teens around the world. They enjoy social media, going to cafes, movies and shopping malls, reading and spending time with friends. Social life for Indonesian teenagers usually means mixing in groups rather than going on individual dates.
Indonesia is well known for its cuisine, which combines indigenous techniques and ingredients with influences from India (curries), the Middle East (kabobs known as sates), China (stir-frying) and Europe, including products brought by Spanish and Portuguese traders before the Dutch colonized the islands. Cooking varies widely by region. The Minangkabau region in West Sumatra, for instance, is represented by Padang-style food, which is particularly spicy. However, most Indonesian food shares the culinary trinity of fish, coconut and chilies served most often with rice.
Although there are over 583 ethnic-languages and dialects used daily in the country, the official language is Bahasa Indonesia.
As an AFSer, you will likely be placed in a public high school in the first or second year. The language of instruction is Bahasa Indonesia, and you will will have the opportunity for extra language lessons. All Indonesian students wear school uniforms, and extracurricular activities include lessons in traditional Indonesia dance and music as well as Pencak Silat, a martial art.
School days are Monday through Saturday. Classes start at 7.00 a.m. until 1.30 p.m. with a 20-minute break. On Friday, the schedule is from 7.00 a.m. until 11.00 a.m. because of Friday Prayer at noon for Muslims. With full school attendance, you may obtain a Certificate of Attendance, but diplomas are not guaranteed.
Orientations & Activities
In addition to the online and in-person orientations that you will participate in before you depart, you and your fellow AFSers will have several orientations while abroad. These are intended to help you maximize your AFS experience, prevent culture shock and gain knowledge, skills and a global understanding. Topics covered will include Indonesian society, culture, family, school, religion, festivals, safety and health issues. Each orientation will be tailored to your group and your group’s needs. All orientations are several days in length, and will occur upon arrival, at roughly the halfway-point of your time abroad, and just prior to your return.
In addition to orientations, many local volunteer chapters organize activities for students and host families throughout the year. These will vary from chapter to chapter but may include get-togethers or trips to other cities or regions in Indonesia. Unlike the orientations, these activities are optional and are not included in tuition.
Your program will begin in Los Angeles, where you will meet your fellow AFSers from the US, attend an overnight orientation, then travel together to Jakarta where you will be met by AFS Staff and Volunteers. International airfare is included as part of the tuition, but it will be your responsibility to arrange your travel from your hometown to Los Angeles. Details will be provided after you start your application.
A travel visa may be required for travel to Indonesia. For more details, see the Indonesia Year Program Visa Overview.
To participate in this program, you must:
- Be within the age range upon departure
- Have a minimum 2.8 cumulative GPA on a 4.0 scale
- Be mentally, physically, and emotionally healthy in accordance with AFS Medical Evaluation Policies
- Have a U.S. passport at the time of application. Passport must be valid for at least 6 months beyond the program end date
- Have an open mind, willingness to be flexible, and the ability to adapt to new a culture, school, and environment
Vegetarians can be accommodated.
High school graduates may be considered for program participation if they meet the eligibility requirements. Graduates must be motivated to participate actively in school and extra-curricular activities and comply with the expectations of Indonesian high schools.
There is no language requirement
It is possible to have a non-smoking placement.