Selasa, 19 Januari 2010 13:28 WIB  

By Hannah Al-Rashid, s24
SOAS, University of London
Read Hannah's Malang report

After spending one semester in Yogyakarta, initially I was pretty annoyed to have to move to Malang, especially as I had felt finally settled into life in and outside of studying at UGM. If the Malang course had not been compulsory for us SOAS students, I think I would have probably stayed on in Yogyakarta, but I think that would have been the biggest mistake ever.

Although Malang in the first few days did live up to its name, "bener-benar Malang!" I would mumble to myself on all the little stints of bad luck I experienced, after getting back into the swing of studying and going to campus, I realised that change is definitely a good thing.

In my mind, one of the ways to assess how good or bad a place is, is to compare it to another. In an UGM vs. UMM show-down, Universitas Muhammadiyah Malang, would win hands down.

Firstly, aesthetically, UMM campus is breath-taking. Beautiful mountain views, green and fresh air as opposed to the dusty and polluted grounds of UGM. And although walking through the campus can be a struggle at times, walking up and down hills and all, it keeps you fit and wakens you before your lectures which can't be a bad thing.

Secondly, the Dosen; completely unpretentious, extremely friendly and very helpful. Dosen that actually look at you when you're talking to them (as opposed to some dosen at UGM who just look at the ground) Dosen that also take you and your studying at their campus seriously, but at the same time will crack you up with the latest polygamy joke or their dodgy experiences of studying in the West.

There's no denying that the study option in Malang is more demanding than the courses at UGM, but with self-discipline and good time-management it is completely feasible. If you are lucky enough to be given a Pembimbing like mine, adjusting to life in Malang will be a lot easier. My Pembimbing, who as well as helping me immensely with my report, also introduced us to some great Coto Makassar places, and made it his own personal mission to introduce me to the entire Sulawesi Selatan community, enabling me to make some great friends who I can now call saudara. I guess one of the greatest things about the people at UMM is that they treat you as equals, not just some bule student who can help them with their English, but rather especially in my case the "Bule-Bugis" girl who they can nongkrong with and just have a laugh with when her weird mixed-up accent puts a new twist on the old Slank classics.

I think the greatest thing about Malang and UMM are in fact the students. I found UGM too Java-centric, not a bad thing, but in my opinion not the best way to explore Indonesian culture or the Indonesian way of life. Whereas UMM literally has students from Sabang to Merauke. At UGM I don't think I met anyone that wasn't Javanese. At UMM however I have Dayak, Melayu, Bugis, Sunda, Flores, Ambon, and Papuan friends, just to name a few, and with that I have learnt a little about each of their different cultures, which is what studying in Indonesia is about, learning about the peoples and cultures of the whole Indonesia.

But how far is the Malang option useful in terms of improving your language skills without actually taking any classes? By far more useful than inculs in my opinion. Working on our projects in Malang forced us into situations, especially when conducting interviews for example, where we had to use our language skills irrespective of how bad we thought we were, and surprisingly, although those kind of situations may be daunting, in the end they can also be a confidence booster when we realise that actually, we are not as bad as we think. Although my opinion of INCULS is not the best, I have to admit that it does prepare you well for the Malang semester, in terms of language and writing skills, and although you do sometimes feel that you've been pushed into the deep end whilst researching, if you concentrate yourself hard enough and immerse yourself into your research, as well as student life in Malang, the results on and off campus can be very positive.

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