Year — Fall 2020
Indonesia, the world’s largest archipelago, is home to more than 300 ethnic groups and 700 languages and dialects. By attending a local school and living with a host family, you’ll be in a unique position to experience this fascinating and complex society, and will soon come to know why their national motto is “unity in diversity”. In the Indonesian culture where friendliness and hospitality are of the utmost priority, you’ll have the chance to make lots of new friends, learn the language, and become part of the community. By immersing yourself in a totally new environment, you can gain a new perspective on life and the world around you.
Indonesia is made up of 17,000 islands and its culture is a rich mixture of European, Middle Eastern, and Asian influences. The vast majority of Indonesians are Muslim but there are also Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, and other religions. You might have a hard time as a vegetarian in Indonesia but less so if you’re willing to eat fish, one of the cornerstones of Indonesian cuisine. Because it’s so important to Indonesians to not cause anyone embarrassment or shame, they often speak pretty indirectly; in fact, there’s twelve different ways of saying “no” in the Bahasa Indonesian language! You’ll also find that the volume of their voice while in conversation tends to be lower than many other cultures – don’t expect a whole lot of rowdy, rambunctious conversation.
Your program will begin in Los Angeles, where you’ll meet your fellow AFSers from the United States and attend an overnight orientation, likely with time to hear from a student who has recently spent time studying abroad there themself. Then you’ll be off! You’ll travel together with your group to Jakarta, where you’ll be welcomed by AFS staff and volunteers.
On your way to your host community you’ll get to experience some of the dramatic Indonesian landscape. You might see majestic volcanoes or lush rainforests populated by tigers, elephants, monkeys, Komodo dragons, and countless tropical birds. You’ll also get to see some of Indonesia’s signature clothing styles, including brightly-colored sarongs and batik shirts. As you drive through cities, keep an eye out for school kids zipping around on motor scooters, and lots of food vendors filling the streets with smells of coconut milk and hot chilies from their carts.
Every family is different but one thing AFS host families have in common is their desire to open their hearts and share their culture with others. You should expect to be treated like a member of the family, and you’ll find that family in Indonesia is extremely important. Family members tend to be very close you might have some host siblings living with you even if they’re married. On the weekends and during holidays, you’ll find that lots of Indonesian families travel to the beach or to a theme park.
Plan to spend a lot of your free time meeting new people and socializing. Teenagers in Indonesia share many of the same interests as teens all over the world; you might spend your time hanging out at cafes, going to the movies, or shopping. Sports are popular in Indonesia, especially soccer and badminton. You might also check out pencak silat, a tradition Indonesian form of martial arts. Another popular Indonesian hobby is constructing and flying kites!
Indonesia’s cuisine is incredibly diverse and reflects influences from India, the Middle East, China, and Europe. You’ll find curries, kabobs, and stir-fries, all served up with a little Indonesian twist. The food in some parts of Indonesia is very spicy, especially in the South. Rice is served with almost every meal and fish, coconuts, and chilies are considered key Indonesian ingredients. Lunch is the main meal of the day and families usually try to eat it together. Prepare to taste fresh fruits that you may have never seen or heard of before!
You’ll likely attend a public high school, where classes are taught in Bahasa Indonesia. But don’t worry - you’ll have the opportunity to get extra language help and plenty of time to practice your language skills at school or home. All Indonesian students wear school uniforms. School in Indonesia runs from 7AM to 1:30PM, Monday through Saturday. After school you could have the chance to learn traditional Indonesian music and dance, as well as pencak silat.
"Life-changing" is hard to describe, yet it’s nearly always the first thing that AFSers say when asked about their experience abroad.
"Transformed" is another one. When you return home, if you’re like most AFSers, you’ll bring with you a sense of accomplishment unlike any other. You’ll have gained maturity and independence, discovered new passions, and feel like you can do anything you set your mind to. That transformation isn’t visible only to you, though - others see it as well. AFSers gain critical skills for college and careers, ranging from language fluency to intercultural competence and critical reasoning. "Life-changing" means it’s only the beginning.
Please Note: Travel date ranges are meant to help with general scheduling and are subject to change; please don’t book any travel based on these dates until you’ve received confirmation from AFS. All programs, prices, and travel dates are subject to change without notice.