Studying culture in Indonesia

I chose to do an Education Abroad trip to study culture and tourism in Indonesia. We spent time in Jakarta, Bali and Yogyakarta and we got to experience the many different types of tourism. While we primarily studied cultural tourism, we also got to learn about recreational tourism and ecotourism. We also got to spend time at several colleges in Indonesia and got to know the students there.


My trip to Indonesia taught me to be more willing to try new things and to accept different customs that I would not have experienced in the United States. I have traveled to other countries before but I have never been as far away as Asia, so there was a huge culture shock upon arrival and each time we went to a new area of Indonesia the culture seemed to change. One thing that was different was the food we got to eat while we were there. A lot of the things they eat in Indonesia are very spicy and they eat a lot of seafood. This was an adjustment for the whole group because we weren’t used to eating these types of food back home at OSU.  This trip also has taught me to be even more grateful for what I have and has taught me to be more generous. Many of the people in Indonesia only make $300/month to live off of so this really put into perspective how lucky many Americans are. During this trip I also learned that college students in Indonesia are just like us. Since Indonesia is so far away from the United States I expected them to be really different but it turned out that we had a lot in common. Through meeting these students I found that I am very patient with people whose first language is not English. Many of the students we met could speak English but sometimes had trouble understanding us but we ended up getting along great and taking lots of awesome pictures!


A majority of Indonesia’s population are Muslims except in Bali they primarily practice Hinduism. Both of these religions are minorities in the United States so getting to experience them was a unique and wonderful experience. We were there during the month of Ramadan, during this time Muslims will fast from sunrise to sunset, this sometimes made it challenging to find food during the day but it was cool to see everyone come out at night. Some of the students we met took us to a traditional Indonesian style mosque which was something that I never would have thought to go do here in the United States. As a group we also visited multiple Hindu temples and we got to see the story of Ramayana, a Hindu epic poem, in a ballet at one of the temples. During our time in Indonesia, we had to dress more conservatively than we would in the United States, especially when meeting with the other university students. Students there have to wear uniforms when they go to class which is a major difference compared to universities in the United States.  


While we were in Bali it seemed like locals were always trying to sell us things on the beach or while we walked down the streets. At first this felt really odd because this is not something that commonly happens in the United States, however once I realized that this was how many people made their living it did not feel as unusual. The highest average salary per month is $300, while a majority of the nation makes about $150/month. The cost of living in Indonesia is low, but that still is not a lot of money. This made me more willing to buy things on the street or to tip a little extra when eating out even though the tip is included in the bill.


Throughout Indonesia traffic is particularly bad, but in Bali they do not have many accidents and this is attributed to the friendlier Hindu culture. They do not get angry or drive aggressively so in turn there are fewer accidents. This idea helped me develop more individually because I am more likely to let go of little things whereas before this trip I would get caught up on stupid stuff. For example, when I get frustrated with my coworkers I find it easier to let go of my irritation and to turn it into something positive. Going to Indonesia challenged me in many ways, one way I was challenged was when we went on a hike through the mountains. It was really hot and I’m just not in great shape so the hike was really difficult but I did it and it felt really proud of myself after.


This was the trip of a lifetime where I learned so many things about myself and other cultures. I look forward to future opportunities to travel and I hope that someday I am able to go back and explore the rest of Indonesia. My trip to Indonesia helped me reach my personal goal of experiencing many different cultures and I believe I can only grow more from here.