My year in Indonesia: Chloe Legge

Final year BA Anthropology and Politics student Chloe took the opportunity to study at the Universitas Gadjah Mada in Indonesia as part of her year abroad. Here, she tells us about her experience.

Written by Chloe Legge

In my second year at the University of Birmingham, I was fortunate enough to study abroad at Universitas Gadjah Mada, Indonesia. When applying, I knew I wanted to study and live in a country culturally different to my own and I can thoroughly say it was one of the best experiences of my life. Studying anthropology, living and learning within a country vastly different to one I am used to was invaluable and opened my mind to new experiences and perspectives I wouldn’t have found elsewhere. Although it can be daunting, living and studying abroad can help you develop vastly as a person, helping you gain a greater level of experience and independence, as well as gaining a greater understanding of your subject within a different context.

Chloe and four friends standing in front of the Prambanan Temple, a 9th century Hindu temple in Yogyakarta

Visiting Prambanan Temple, a 9th century Hindu temple in Yogyakarta

Visiting Yogyakarta's historic royal Cemetry, we had to wear traditional Javanese clothing in order to enter

Visiting Yogyakarta's historic royal Cemetry, we had to wear traditional Javanese clothing in order to enter

My time in Indonesia allowed me to experience studying my subject within a different context which, in turn,enabled me to experience different perspectives. Particularly when studying politics, these differences in perspectives opened my mind to attitudes within and towards international relations more generally.

Outside of the university campus, I made sure I did my best to assimilate into Indonesian culture by trying my best to learn the language Bahasa Indonesian. Although I am not a natural when it comes to learning languages, it really helped make my daily life easier and opened up opportunities to new experiences I would have access tootherwise. 

Sunrise on Indonesian Independence Day. We hiked up the mountain before the sun rose and hundreds of people sang the Indonesian national anthem'

Sunrise on Indonesian Independence Day. We hiked up the mountain before the sun rose and hundreds of people sang the Indonesian national anthem'

Sunset over our daily view of Mt. Merapi, Indonesia's most active volcano

Sunset over our daily view of Mt. Merapi, Indonesia's most active volcano

One of my favourite memories was being invited to a traditional Indonesian wedding after talking to a lady at university who was interested in our experiences of the country so far. That weekend, we drove to Hersister’s house where we were dressed in traditional Javanese clothes, hair and makeup (which was a really fun experience itself). 

We were then transported to a huge wedding venue of over one-thousand guests where there was food, singing, and speeches included in the ceremony - I was even offered to sing on stage (an offer I had to politely decline).

Studying a year abroad was an experience I couldn't recommend more highly, particularly to countries or universities that may be more of an unpopular option amongst students due to the language or cultural differences. If I was to give one piece of advice to students considering a year abroad, it would be to enter withan open mind and to ensure you make a conscious effort to make the most out of every opportunity.

If you would like to hear more about my experience as an exchange student at Universitas Gadjah Mada, Indonesia, I have a video explaining my journey and experiences uploaded onto youtube which you can watch below.

Find out more about Chloe's adventure