Universitas Islam Indonesia

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Another Perspective
Cross-Cultural and Interreligious Understanding PDF Bookmark and Share Print E-mail
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Thursday, 28 November 2013

Many people have asked me why I chose to do an internship in Indonesia and why at UII. Well, I love travelling, I studied Multilingual Communication in my Bachelor and I would like to study International Relations in my Master. I have been to several countries in Western Europe as well as to the United States, so it was not hard to figure out that this time I wanted to do something totally different. That is why I chose to go to Indonesia, a country I had previously shortly been to for a vacation, but wanted to learn more about. And working at an Islamic university completed the experience of learning many new things, being in situations I had never been in before and thinking about many new topics.

During the last couple of weeks, I have been invited to join the Bridging Program – the transition class for first semesters in the International Program – as a guest lecturer to talk about cross-cultural understanding, the importance of being open to everything new and maybe unexpected that passes your way while being abroad. Even though I have been here four month already, there are still situations when I notice differences, but I also realize that I am adapting more and more to the all the living and working conditions here.

In addition to that, I believe that I am very blessed with all the people that I got to know here in Indonesia and especially at UII, because they helped me a lot in the transition and adaption process. The system of having a Buddy definitely helps a lot and the longer you stay here, the more people and therefore friends you get. By now, I know what to do around the office, who to ask if I have a question and where to get all the information you need. Plus, when your Indonesian colleagues ask for more German Christmas Music while working, you know that cross-cultural and interreligious understanding are simply part of everyday life here :)

 
Every Day Feels Like Summer… PDF Bookmark and Share Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Ok, I think this might not be related to UII directly, but the weather in Indonesia is an important part of living here, so I hope that you don’t mind me writing about it today…

In Germany, fall is supposed to start around this time, but actually, there has been the first snow in some regions, something which is not supposed to happen until late November, and in the other parts it is about 5 degrees and rainy. So, whenever I am telling friends back in Europe about the great weather here, they seem a bit jealous.

Here in Indonesia, it feels like summer every day and I am enjoying the sun and the tan I am starting to get. Yes, European people actually like dark skin and there are even lotions to make your skin darker. Weird world we are living in... So when I am driving on my motorbike to work or somewhere else, I don’t wear gloves, put on sun block and try to cover every last part of my body, but I rather enjoy the sun.

And then there is the fact that there is air condition everywhere. At the beginning I had to get used to the sudden changes from pretty warm outside the cooled air inside the buildings. We don’t have many facilities in Germany with air conditioning as there are simply not so many hot days and it would not make sense to invest in air conditioning. When there is a really hot day before summer break starts, schools can even finish their days early because of the heat.

Now, however, I am used to air condition, I am almost as tanned as my Indonesian buddy from UII, even though she has relative light skin for an Indonesian, and I still enjoy the sun. Due to my “European behavior”, I often had weird conversations with people who offered me a seat in the shade, whenever I was waiting anywhere and I tried to explain to them that I do not mind the sun and that on the contrary, I am in the sun to get a tan.

Because of the fact that Indonesian people try not to get a tan, but there is sunny weather all the time, some people drive around in cars, even if it is only to go from one part of the campus to another part. This is a very strange idea for me, as I would usually just walk, but I also understand that life and culture here is different and these experiences are part of what makes these exchanges so interesting.

 
Lunch break and Snacks the Indonesian Way PDF Bookmark and Share Print E-mail
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Friday, 11 October 2013

I knew that, of course, I would be eating rice – after all, we are in Indonesia. But before I started working here, I was wondering if you usually bring food from home or if you go to the canteen or to a restaurant close by… There are many different options how one could imagine what spending the lunch break might be like if you don’t know yet.

A little background information about lunch breaks in Germany: While at the university, I usually ate in the canteen, which is relatively cheap for German standards. Typically we have either pasta or potatoes - in any way shape or form - with vegetables and meat and you can have a salad, fruit or desert with it if you want. When working in the office you usually just bring something to eat from at home, usually bread, which is, along with potatoes, a bit the “German rice” because it is simply so typical German or some companies have also canteens, but that is not the standard. Eating in a restaurant every day is just too expensive in Germany.

Well, back to Indonesian lunch breaks. I found out that you can also go to a canteen here around the campus, but there is also a thing called “nasi kotak”, a lunchbox. For the international readers a short explanation what this lunchbox is like: You get a meal delivered in a box, usually rice, vegetables and chicken or something like that. So, while hoping that my lunch, wherever I get it and whatever it might be, is not going to be too spicy - a bit spicy is good though - I really enjoy eating the Indonesian way! Even though, every once in a while, I do cook some potatoes at home. :D

And then there are always snacks whenever there is an official meeting. For Indonesian people, it is probably so normal that you don’t even think about it, but for me it was quite surprising when I walked into my first meetings or general lectures that I had to write about and I got snacks. The snacks are usually something sweet and something hearty and some water and I think that it is a nice tradition to make people feel welcome at those events.

 
Internationalization at UII PDF Bookmark and Share Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 02 October 2013

UII tries to establish itself as a world-class university with a lot of international connections. And I think that the university is doing a great job.

I have been here – I just checked the calendar and wow… I have been here 6 weeks already, time is flying! But what I was actually going to say is that I have been here “only” six weeks and I have already met several people from other countries that UII has a cooperation with: two researchers from Germany, a lecturer from the US, an international student from Singapore, studying in Australia and now doing an exchange to Indonesia, two Dutch exchange students as well as a Dutch researcher. Moreover, several people from UII are overseas right now and there are organizations to encourage this behavior even more in the future.

While for me personally it is always interesting to meet people from other countries, hear their stories how they got to Indonesia and not be the only foreigner for a change, I think that this international cooperation is important for the academic development of a university as well as the personal development of the students. As I have studied multilingual communication with a major in translation, we have always had many exchange students at our faculty, however, mostly from within Europe as the European Union really facilitates this kind of exchange to the neighboring countries. I think that we can all learn a lot from each other as everybody, every country and every culture has good ideas, different opinions about certain subjects, new approaches to deal with different issues and of course different cultures that influence everyone’s behavior.

Even though I think that one develops academically while spending time abroad or with foreign students in the country, I think that the personal development is also very important. One becomes more independent, gets to see different views about a lot of topics and learns a lot just by spending time with each other and having fun.

Therefore, I really think that, overall, UII is really doing a great job to build its international connections.

 
Wisuda VI 2012/2013 PDF Bookmark and Share Print E-mail
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Tuesday, 01 October 2013

ImageMy first week in office did not end with a free weekend, but with work on Saturday. Just to be clear, I liked it! I was asked to attend the last graduation ceremony of the academic year 2012/2013. Just a brief information for outsiders: UII has six times per year its graduation ceremony. I was asked to wear long pants, long sleeves and a hijab, which I was very happy to do. On the one hand, I think that it simply shows respect for the culture and religion and on the other hand, I got enough stares, even with the hijab and long clothes.

On the day of the ceremony, I had to get up early. In Germany, we do not have a graduation ceremony like that for university students, but we did have a ceremony after graduating from High School, which started at 3pm, I think. Why does the graduation ceremony here start so early in the morning? Just a strange question I had to ask myself as an outsider…

The actual ceremony, however, was very nice and formal. Like I said, there is not a ceremony like this at our university, but the students simply go to the secretary and pick up their graduation certificate – not really the appropriate end for studying several years if you ask me. Here, the students were wearing very formal, traditional clothes and cap and gown. There were several speeches, which I only partly understood, but since my assignment was to take pictures for our department, this was nothing I had to really worry about. Later, everyone was called up personally and received their certificate, with special honors for good grades. That is an appropriate ceremony to celebrate finishing one’s studies and I enjoyed being part of it very much.

 
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