Writer: Nadira Annisa Photos: Sumire Matsumoto's personal collection
APU has always given students endless opportunities to unravel a whole new part of the world – one of the opportunities being the Exchange program. If you're still wondering on whether to go or not, one of our friends from Japan, Sumire Matsumoto, has shared her own experience while being a part of the exchange program.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? “My name is Sumire, and I am from Chiba, Japan. I am currently learning as a 7th semester APS student and my major is Culture, Society, and Media. During my time in APU, I did all kinds of activities such as being a part of Kumon English Camp, Kyoto Week, Indonesian Week, being a Teacher’s Assistant, APU Buddy, and many more.”
What university and country did you go for your exchange? And why did you choose to go there? “I got the chance to spend a year of exchange at Binus University in Jakarta, Indonesia. The reason as to why I chose this university was because it is the only university that fulfils two of my aspirations.
I have always wanted to study abroad for a year and then come back to Japan as I need to start hunting for a job, which is why I took on the exchange program in my 5thsemester.My second wish was to be able to live in Indonesia. I have always been interested in Indonesian culture and I like how they interact so kindly with others. I had my first glimpse of Indonesia as I was attending my Entrance Ceremony in APU. There were several performances; one of them being the Saman Dance. Unbeknownst to me, the performance was a start to my interest in Indonesian culture. It led me to learning Indonesian language in my first semester and taking part in each year’s Indonesian week. Through all of these snippets of Indonesia that I got from APU, I wanted to be able to experience the culture myself. I wanted to have a hands-on experience on everything that I had seen through the cultural weeks and I was ready to immerse myself in Indonesia’s spectacular culture, thus leading me to an exchange in Indonesia.”
What was your most memorable experience during your exchange? And what were some difficulties you faced? “I had countless memorable experiences while in Indonesia, like that one time I decided to dye my hair purple, but what etches to my memory the most is when I got to join a dance studio in Jakarta called GIGI art of dance. I took on contemporary jazz classes every Tuesday at this amazing dance studio. During the first few meetings, I found it hard to adapt with the new surrounding, but everyone had been amazingly supportive and kind throughout the journey. They even took me in to an Indonesian local community. I was ecstatic to be able to dance and surround myself with new faces everyday. On October, I got the chance to perform 4 pieces (contemporary and Indonesian traditional dance) at an event. I was shy but beyond grateful to have been given the trust to perform in front of a lot of people. That had been one of my greatest experience during my exchange period.
I encountered several obstacles along the way. I had a hard time trying to adapt to Indonesian foods and lifestyle. I experienced several diarrhea cases just by drinking milk and coffee. Some difficulties I had was adapting to the lifestyle and also food in Indonesia. I wasn’t really sure of the cause, but some people believe that Indonesian milk and coffee products are not as fresh as those in Japan. I didn’t succeed in trying to overcome this problem so I had spent nights when I took a lot of trips to the toilet right after I drink coffee. Another thing is that my love for online motorcycle had caused me several problems. Despite the traffic in Jakarta, I had always taken GOJEK and Grab everyday to go to the campus. However, during heavy rain or when evening comes, taking online motorcycle becomes inconvenient as there were only a few GOJEK and Grab available. I got to experience a taste of rejection by dozens of drivers before finally finding my ride home!”
What are some differences that APU and your exchange university had? “In my opinion, Binus university focuses more on the practical techniques compared to APU. Also during my exchange program, I was able to take some classes that weren't offered in APU, such as, Journalism and PR courses. But thankfully it could still be transferred as APS Major credits when I go back to APU. The University has no cafeteria as it is located inside of a mall in Jakarta called the FX Mall. So I had to find myself a restaurant in the mall and needless to say, my money ran out rather quickly.
Furthermore, from what I have noticed Binus University almost never distribute handouts. All of the information were given through the internet, and also there was no online quiz which was something I needed to adapt to. It was hard for me to get information because the campus website wasn't used as much as how APU Campus terminal is used. So for me, the key to getting good grades was making a lot of friends as you’ll get all the updates you need thorough them.”
Some tips for students who want to go for exchange “For the students that are going abroad for exchange, I believe that you should have these things checked in your to-do list! First of all, do you like the city and the environment that the university is located in?Second, are there any community (like the APU Buddy) that ensures you a smooth exchange experience? During my time in Binus University, I am so thankful to have a wonderful group of people helping me throughout my exchange period in Indonesia. And last but not least, even though it seems trivial, do you like the food in that country?
Through this exchange program in Indonesia, I was able to fully immerse myself in a whole new culture that I am interested in and I was able to meet a lot of new people in my life. I worked in the Japanese literature department as a Teacher’s Assistant in Binus University, thus allowing me to share the Japanese culture with others and we can learn from one another. My exchange experience in Indonesia has become one of the most memorable chapters in my life. I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to spend a year in Indonesia and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for me!”
How exciting was it to hear Sumire’s experience as an exchange student? If you have any questions about going to Indonesia for the exchange program or the program in general, you can ask Sumire more through her Instagram, @sumire_0226 or kindly take a trip to the academic office. We can’t wait to read your stories someday in the future!