How studies looks in ISI Yogyakarta

It’s an interview from website about my experience in Darmasiswa scholarship program (in ISI Yogyakarta university). Hope it will be useful for those who are thinking to choose this university for future studies or other university in Yogyakarta city.

Why did you decide to apply for an international program?

I’m always searching for new opportunities to travel and stay abroad for a longer time (as well I was volunteer in EVS program in Greece for 6 months). I heard story from my friend which was selected for Darmasiswa scholarship in Indonesia. I found this scholarship interesting too. This scholarship is unique opportunity to discover Indonesian culture by participating and learning straight from the masters. You can choose the island or city, period of studies (6 or 12 months), university and the subject which you want to study: batik making, traditional Indonesian dances, gamelan lessons, Indonesian language and many other subjects. And it’s quite easy to apply – you just need to fill the application form, collect needed documents and send them on time to responsible embassy. So I decided to try my luck and applied. I was one of ~550 people who were selected from all over the world. I quit my good paid job and start my adventure in Indonesia.

Why did you choose your specific program?

I’m dancing from the childhood, but it’s just my hobby, I never thought to become a professional dancer. I tried many kind of dances till now. When I saw that Darmasiswa scholarship suggest to learn traditional Indonesian dances, I decided that it’s the subject which I want to study. What can be better than learn one more “dance style” and collect new experience in my dance “career”, especially when Indonesian dances are so colorful. Each island have different dances, stories behind them, moves, clothing and etc. One year it’s really not enough to learn all dances and learn them professionally, but at least to understand them and enjoy it’s quite enough :). Even if many universities suggest to study Indonesian dance, I choose ISI Yogyakarta university. First of all, I heard many good reviews about this university from previous Darmasiswa students. Second, because of the Yogyakarta city. This city is cultural center and students capital city (in Java island). Where is better to be if not in the center of everything? :).

Here is the short video from music class that I entered.

What was your favorite part about the location?

Yogyakarta is very live city. Here are so many cultural events every day, so many artists with whom you can collaborate and meet. You just need to be open, curious and you will have many possibilities to discover not only traditional Indonesian culture but modern art as well. Also Yogyakarta city location is very grateful; within 1-2 hours by motorbike you can reach really amazing nature places: waterfalls, caves, mounts, beaches and etc. As well in the city you can find many beautiful places, meet interesting people. It’s a city that never sleeps :). ISI Yogyakarta university is located in south part of Yogyakarta city. Here are many places covered by rice fields. So most of the time you can see green color around you and Parangtritis beach is ~40 min. away (yeah it’s not the most beautiful beach in Indonesia, but at least sometimes you can feel sea breeze and see amazing sunsets). For me, this location was perfect – not so far from center, you can still be at least in small part of nature and the prices here a bit cheaper than in other parts of Yogyakarta.

What makes the program you participated in unique?

Uniqueness is to learn about the culture and exchange your knowledge with others.

Pictures from Darmasiswa students participation in cultural camp.

How did local staff support you throughout your program?

Darmasiswa program coordinator in my university Pak Bambang Supinardi just perfect. He is working with Darmasiswa students already many years and everybody tells that he just amazing. He always advices, answer the questions, helps in other issues. I never heard from him “no”/”not possible”. In any case, how he could – he always helps. I think his help made this studies more colorful.

What’s one thing you wish you would have done differently?

All Darmasiswa students enter studies with 1st year Indonesian students. It means, no matter how you experienced with your activity in your country, you had master degree in that field or other. Here you will study with youngster that just finished the school. In this case, I think I could be more curious and go to lessons with last year students, try to ask teachers to let me participate. I followed the rules and did what was asked ;). I think if you into something, you need to try your luck and reach more. How you can know if you wouldn’t try. So my advice, if you want something, you see it more interesting, just be proactive, try to join and participate.

Describe a day in the life of your program.

Dance studies in ISI Yogyakarta for Darmasiswa students was the most active comparing with other subjects. Studies are divided in 2 semesters. Each semester has own schedule and different subjects, different dance styles. In each semester we had to choose 3 subjects from all possible ones. I had lessons every day. Each day the timetable was different – one day 1 had 1 lesson per day, another day 3 of them. 1 lesson is for 1,5 hour, there are breaks between lessons for 20 min and during lunch time longer break. Sometimes we had projects, so we needed as well to work with groups after lessons. Also I had music lesson, for better understanding of dance rhythms.

Here is the short video from music class that I entered.

What was your favorite activity outside the normal day-to-day schedule of your program?

Indonesia is amazing country! First of all, during free time I was trying to see as much as possible and travel around Yogyakarta or somewhere further. I was interested in Indonesian art, so I was going to many festivals, events, celebrations and etc. I was curious to meet Indonesian people, so I tried to communicate with them more. I really tried  to fulfill my day and discover more and more about Indonesia.

What type of accommodation did you have? What did you like best about it?

When we arrived, our university provided us 3 nights in hostel. With university “buddies” (local students) we were searching for a place to stay for all study period. Some of the students found a place to live alone, others the houses for 6 people and etc. The main thing that when Darmasiswa students arrives, most of places (cheap ones and near university) already rented for local students. But still there are always what to choose. We (3 girls) found a place near university, the distance maybe ~10-15 min. by foot. Nice surrounding, neighbors, new build house (yeah it was without any furniture but we bought everything that we need by ourselves). Just pity that after 4 months we needed to move out (even if we agreed to stay there 1 year). If you are curious, here is all story why we moved :)

Now that you’re home, how has your program abroad impacted your life?

The studies period is from September till May/June (depends on university time table) but scholarship period 1 year (if you choose 1 year). It means, that you have opportunity 2-3 months after your study still stay in Indonesia for traveling and you will get still scholarship amount. This is the idea of this scholarship – give opportunity for students not only learn about Indonesian culture, exchange with students your culture but give possibility to see more of Indonesia. My scholarship year is 2014/2015, so I decided to stay in Indonesia. Honestly I don’t want to go home yet, still so many places want to see. If everything will work out I will stay here a bit longer :). And even without coming back home – I feel the impact of this program. I started to see things in different way, realize that we don’t need many things to be happy, met many people who gave impact to my life and views which I saw in Indonesia – just refresh my life.


What is your experience in Darmasiswa program? What you would like to share with future students?

Useful? Great! :) You might also like these:

Frequently asked questions
First days in Indonesia
Scholarship amount


Why I moved from first home

3 of us (me, Karolina and Mesi ) moved to our first home . We were first people who lived in that house, so everything were still new (“everything” I mean clean walls, not broken ceramic floors, clean squat toilet, like nothing else was in that house – just curtains and 1 Indonesian style carpet ;)). Even this condition didn’t calm us down about the price (15 00 000 Rp/per 1 year+additional money for electricity). We thought that it’s a bit too expensive, so when our local friends visited us, we asked what they think about this house. All of them told, that it’s really too expensive for such condition house (without furniture, ceilings, even some of them told, that by ”standard” this house not finished yet). So, we just understood that we got such price because we are foreigners and almost everybody in Indonesia wants to “earn” money from them.

Our owner with a family lived beside our house, in the same “yard”. Sometimes she was bringing us breakfast, tea, sweets and etc. We were happy and were making a joke that we have ”second mother”. Nobody from her family was speaking English, so we thought we will have good opportunity to learn Indonesian language as well. We could anytime ask owners husband to help us at home or just borrow the tools. We were quite happy at that time there.

In Sewon area (Yogyakarta) didn’t live many foreigners, so some neighbors were hanging around in our terrace because of curiosity, the owner’s family celebrations was held here as well. Kids were running around, sometimes trying to get into a house without permission. Everything was fine for us, we knew that Indonesians are curious people and shares everything with everyone.
We were polite with all, smiling for everyone that we passed, never had any party or stayed loud till late, dressed properly and etc. In my opinion we adapt very quickly and really respected their lifestyle, we were just good neighbors.

But everything changed after 4 months living in this house.

Once (before Christmas) Karolina, me and Indonesian friend were at home, when somebody knock the door  (~10 pm). It was owner’s husband who asked our friend to come out because they have to talk. When I open the door wider I saw that our entire house was surrounded by ~ 20 men. Mesi was coming back home and she told that the view was intimidating – the local men stands in each corner of the house, by windows, like would be afraid that somebody can escape from house.  We didn’t understand what’s happening. Nobody explain us anything, like nobody speaks in English, so we were just waiting till friend will come back and tells what is going on.

After ~30 min. friend came back, he didn’t explained anything, took a motorbike, told that he will tell everything next day and just left. But one of the men came to our house, started to point to one of motorbikes (another friend just keeps it in our place, like he had 2 motorbikes) and asked where another guy is. We told him that nobody is else at home, only 3 of us. They didn’t believe, so couple of men were sitting in front of our street till ~12 pm and “guard” if somebody else will come out. They wasted their time.

Next day, when friend came, he again was invited by owner’s husband to have another talk. Inside the house was the owner’s son as well (who didn’t live there and during 4 months we saw him first time). Finally after this talk friend came to explain everything.

So, somebody told to “RT” (the smallest unit of governmental system to manage the living area. Each “RT” has their own community leader that makes decisions, solves the problems) leader that in our house happening orgiastic things, man stays over the nights and etc. Like in Indonesia not allowed to live together not married couples, those gossips gave a “result”. The community man with a leader in front came to check our house in the evening when they saw that in front of a house parked not our motorbike (they had so much time to observe our place that they even knew which motorbikes we are driving and which ones in not ours). During second talk with friend, owner told that from now on if we have male visitors we need to open both doors (front and back) to show that we are not hiding anything and villagers can see that we are not doing anything “bad”. As well visitors should leave our home till 10 pm. We were surprised about such changes, because when we moved in, nobody told us, that it’s not allowed to have visitors in the evening (owner just told us, that male can’t stay overnight here, except if it’s relatives). All 4 months we had visitors – nothing happened, owner didn’t say anything and suddenly it became the “huge thing”. Also we didn’t understand why they talk with our guests, not with us about “new rules”.

We tried to figure out which our behavior could rise such changes. And we could think about 2 cases: 1. Once our local friend was smoking in the kitchen with open back door a little after 10 pm and one villagers was just passing by (in the back door was a small path to pass people to their houses) and saw him. 2. We had massage course in our home, came couple males, females (all foreigners), we stayed longer than we planned (till ~10.30 pm) and maybe talked a bit louder than usual. But are both case so “bad”?

What happen next? Almost 1 week after that “event”, local man were spying on our house every evening (in opposite street), owner husband was coming to our place at ~9 pm, knocking the door and asking our guest leave (even didn’t wait till 10 pm, probably wanted to go sleep earlier :D). Like we didn’t accept to open every time our doors when he have guest, owner was coming and remind us about “new rule”. We couldn’t live like this, without any privacy, all the time under pressure of community. We went to talk with our Darmasiswa program coordinator, explained what happened and asked come together to community leader to talk directly what is the situation about.

Leader explained that there are rule in this RT, that visitors can’t stay longer than after 10 pm and somebody saw that we have visitors later. Those people were “afraid” that our behavior can influence the local teenagers and etc. He asked to follow the rules and that’s all.

Next day we went to owner asking her to “protect” us in front of villagers, like we don’t do anything bad, if somebody doesn’t have what to do just gossiping it’s not our problems. Especially when in opposite street lives foreigner couples, holding parties and nobody said anything to them. But later we figure out that, next street is already another RT, so another rules, more flexible and we were just unlucky to live in strict RT. The owner told that she can’t do anything; we just need to live like this for a while. But we weren’t happy about it. We started to think about moving out and ask to give back half of paid money. We didn’t know where and how we will move yet, but live like this wasn’t normal for us.

Couple days later we asked one of university “buddies” to help us to translate to owner that if situation won’t change we are ready to move out and we want get money back. During the talk with the owner we figure out some interesting “facts” that was told for “buddy”.

Our house was built on the land that belongs to couple of the same family relatives, who lives almost next to owner’s house. Relatives are jealous for our owner that she rented a place for the foreigners (it means got more money). So they started to make “problems” to the owner (as well she told that it’s not first time, when relatives tries to harm). Everything it’s not because of our behavior, but because of relationship between families, we were just not lucky, probably any other foreigners who would live there would sooner or later had the same situation.

As well when we asked to give back half of the sum that we paid, they didn’t agree (of course who would? :D). They told that we moving out because of our own decision, they asked as to stay. But we told that with such living condition we can’t stay if owner won’t protect us. We suggested to take money only for 6 months that we won’t stay, even if we are moving after 4 months, not 6. We suggested to leave during 1 week, so they can find other people to rent – but they were stubborn. Even when the owner already agreed but the son didn’t allow to give back money. After couple of hours talking, making jokes of us in Indonesian they told us that all money they already spend and they don’t have any. They could give a little bit only after 4 months and then later the rest of the sum. We didn’t agree-we needed money now, because we will need to pay for the place renting now. Finally they told they will give money but only 7 000 000 Rp. When we asked why not 7 500 000 Rp, they told that they got only 14 00 000 Rp. What we figure out?  The student from ISI who helped us to rent this place, took commission from owner 1 000 000 Rp. When we asked him to negotiate the price, he told that it’s not possible, but it was possible, he just wanted that money for himself. Another fact – when we wanted to signed the contract before moving in, that student told that it’s not necessary, it’s not polite and etc. Now we know why he told like this, he wouldn’t get any commissions! So the lesson to learn – contract is necessary, to avoid all situations like we had, to be clear how much money paid and it’s totally normal and polite!

When we agreed finally about amount that they will give us back, they asked us to move during 1 week and the money they will try to collect as soon as possible, at least half of the sum during that week, and rest of the sum later. But suddenly next day they already had all the amount (yeah, and somebody told that they don’t have money to return :D).

Like in January was holidays in university, 3 of us already had plans to travel. So we agreed with some friends that we leave our stuff for a while in their places and after the trip, will take it back.

I was traveling almost 3 weeks in Lombok island and left my stuffs in my friends Debby’s place (by the way I meet her through as well :). When I came back, she hosted me till I found the “big tent” :). We visited some places but not many options left – it was middle of study year, the places were or not very good, expensive or they asked to rent for 1 year. It’s pity but 3 of us didn’t find a place stay together so we moved to separate places.

But now I feel really happy – no problems with neighbors, the RT leader and community is quite flexible. But still I’m quite polite, if I make any party, I always inform the owner that will come more people and maybe we will stay till late.

What’s left “behind”?

We speak with several local friends about our entire story with first house and we found out interesting things.

First of all, some local people – who are childish – are jealous to those who can speak with foreigners in English, especially if it’s man from another community or village. That’s why (probably) the neighbors in first house, when recently saw that some local friends visit us – was a bit jealous to those guys and started to observe our house more.

Second, some Indonesians friend from other islands told us, that Javanese usually will smile to your face but in back of you will gossip about you, well they aren’t totally wrong just it happens not only with Javanese but other people as well. In Javanese traditional clothes, the knife “kris” is hidden in the back, when in other islands is in front. It means behind the politeness and hospitality of Javanese they are still similar with other people, that can react hardly if they didn’t get respect or other people insult them. Javanese people who put their knife in the back – in their traditional clothes, can mean that their not so straight, like people from other Indonesian islands, who put the knife in the front. It’s possible to make connection with our owner behavior – she was very nice, but when some things happened she didn’t want to take responsibility that she didn’t inform us about the rules, when saw that in the beginning some friends stays longer never told as anything.


Have you ever experience anything like that? What are your experiences renting a house abroad?

You might also like read these:

Indonesian people lifestyle
Good manners in Indonesia
How to find a place to live

First days in Indonesia

After I landed in Jakarta I had first meeting with “Indonesia” – taxi drivers just stuck to me suggesting bring me anywhere I want, money exchange ladies were shouting and inviting to change money in their place, oily food smell everywhere, it was terrible hot…

It was hard to find Darmasiswa students waiting spot (even if it was described in information letter). Finally after I found the place I saw many other students standing in the line and waiting for their registration. After couple of hours in airport we moved to Jakarta hotel where the Darmasiswa scholarship opening ceremony was held.

I was totally tired, didn’t want to meet any new people, hungry… just wanted to finish everything quick and go to sleep ;).

Those couples of program orientation days were usual. Long program, many slippages, not enough food for everyone, some useful information, many questions and etc. I didn’t get out from the hotel at all, I just participating in the program and was sleeping :D.

Finally, after meeting with my university program coordinator and other selected students for ISI Yogyakarta, we started our trip to new “hometown”. First the flight from Jakarta to Yogyakarta was delay for ~ 6 hours (oh it’s so common here, delay the flights), so instead of coming at day time, we arrived quite late and very tired.

We stayed in hostel for 3 nights and during that time all of us needed to find the place to live. Everyone did what they thought is the best way to find the place – some checking ads in internet, others – already had some places to visit and etc.

First day, me, Slovakian and Greek girls decided just go by foot to university and walking around streets ask people if somebody renting the place. We first met “Indonesian way” to explain the route. When we asked one local how far is the university from our hostel – he told ~20 min. So we were happy to have not long walk. On the way we asked one person – he gave one directions, we asked another – he gave different one. So we decided just to go straight all the time and we will find something :). Finally after walking ~ 1,5 hour on the dusty parts of the road (no pedestrian paths) we reached the university (20 min. to university it would be by motorbike – nobody told us about it, like Indonesians not used to walk, so all distances they calculate by motorbike:)). We met with previous Darmasiswa student looked her place, stayed there for a while, asked many questions, were walking around and decided that on the way back, we will go inside small streets and search for places. Instead of 1,5 hour straight walk to hostel, we took ~3 hours of walk in small streets – but didn’t find anything.

Next day, the university arranges for us a bus to bring to university area, meet with local students (program “buddies”) who helped us during first days – searching places, sharing advices. After lunch I agreed with one “buddy” to take me with motorbike to see the houses. Couple of hours he was driving me from one place to another – but I couldn’t choose the place, like one of them were very dirty, another with strict living rules, thirds near main roads and etc. I saw maybe 6 houses at that time. In the evening we meet with other students and share our experiences. Some of students already agreed who with whom will live; others already had found some place. I was still without the result. And in the evening I got SMS from one member – Hendra (by the way I wrote for ~25 people from Yogyakarta, only 5 replied – I didn’t ask for host just to meet, share advices and etc.:))., that he is near our hostel and maybe I would like to meet for a while. I didn’t have any other plans, so I agreed, I needed to think about something else than “how to find the place”. We had nice couple of hours of talk in one local “warung”. Unfortunately he didn’t have any ideas if anybody rents any place, but suggested his help in a future if I would need to go somewhere or take something.

On 3rd day I agreed to meet one local couple that I met in – Irma and Otong. They came to pick up me in hostel, we went to eat and they suggested to visit some renting places – unfortunately those places were too expensive. We had really nice time together and from that time our friendship began :). A bit later with “buddies” we went to see couple houses near university. I really loved one place – new house, near ISI, totally empty, but till that time it was the best option :). I didn’t just have with who to move in, like house was with 3 rooms. But later I agreed with Hungarian girl (Mesi) to live together and we were missing one more person (other students already had roommates). But we were lucky, like last day of our stay in hostel came one more Darmasiswa student from Poland (Karolina) – who joined us for renting a place. But I got sick – fever, flue and other stuffs. How it’s possible in tropical country? Easy! Outside is very hot, in any inside place all the time works air-conditioner with almost maximum power, changed surrounding, new food and etc. So, my immunity system just “broke” ;).

We moved from hostel on 4th day in the morning with all our stuffs, but really not agreed with house owner about the price. It was a bit expensive – 1 500 000 Rp for 1 year, we tried negotiate – but she didn’t give up. We decided to move in even for such amount, like we didn’t have any other place to move and we needed to stay somewhere. But I felt very bad and couldn’t stay in a place where even wasn’t a mattress to lie down. I asked Irma and Otong, if they could host me for couple of days in their place till I will get better and for them were ok. During those couple of days, I spend almost all the time in a bed, drinking medicine, when I felt better Otong helped me to buy some things for a house and I joined the girls who already stayed there from the first moved day.

First’s days in Indonesia were exhausted but interesting. Even if it was very hot, nobody properly were speaking in English, we didn’t know what to order to eat (everything was written in Indonesian language), I got sick but..I was very excited; everything looked so new, I was wondering and analyzing everything, meeting local people (Hendra, Irma and Otong) and just enjoyed the “new life” :).

Some moments from daily life after I settle in Yogyakarta (sorry, the pictures quality not the best one, like at that time I didn’t have yet my camera) :).


You might also like these:

Indonesian people lifestyle
Why I moved from first home
First times in Indonesia