Manar Al-Ogaidi is an exchange student from Macquarie University. Manar’s student exchange program was at the international undergraduate psychology program in Universitas Gadjah Mada. Courses she completed included: Community Empowerment and Psychoeducation, Psychology of Communication, Mental Health, Psychology of Marriage and Family, Psychology and Culture, Psychology of Disaster and Crisis, Psychology of Emotion and Psychology of Religion and Spirituality
She really loved the new learning environment! She felt extremely welcomed and comfortable from the first time she arrived. She really appreciated how they were given the ‘feels at home away from home’ T-shirts when they first arrived too! Those kind, unforgettable gestures from both peers and teaching staff continued throughout her time at Jogja and in UGM. She also found the classrooms really interesting as they reminded her of a highschool layout. She loved that since the class seemed close together, which is different to her uni classes in Sydney with a cohort of over 1000.
Besides class work, there were field trips, the development of community initiatives and lots of group work and discussions. The teaching method was definitely different to what she was used to in Australia. For one thing, she had double the number of subjects in Indonesia, whereas she had a full time load of 4 subjects in Australia. In Australia, content was taught at a faster, condensed pace during weekly lectures.
For the difficulties in transferring from her home country, she guessed just the usual loneliness and homesickness someone usually gets in a foreign country, especially since it was her first time living away from home. When she first arrived in Jogja, she also had to navigate culture shock and language barriers, but everyone’s friendliness exceeded her expectation and helped her to easily adapt by the end of it.
She learnt so much from this program. There were many things she learnt about Indonesia and the world, and just as many personal things that she learnt about herself. She made amazing friends and had eye-opening conversations with people from both Indonesia and abroad. She was exposed to different world views and experiences that she was previously ignorant of. She learnt and had discussions about a spiritual side of psychology that is often not discussed in her university. She started to learn Bahasa Indonesia, and practiced using it in many unique, enriching situations. She got the opportunity to both study about and experience the psychology of a different, collectivist culture. In doing so, she began to understand the world, her Iraqi parents who share many values and worldviews with Indonesian culture, her family and herself better.
In relation to her studies, she really loved the field trips and important class discussions. She believes they really helped the content she learnt to come alive as she was able to see psychology beyond what is on paper. Some of the most memorable experiences include the time she spent and the conversations she had with both strangers and the new amazing friends she made. She really wishes that she can maintain the extremely wonderful relationships during her time in Jogja. Some memories of the class activities, discussions and faculty events will forever live in her mind. Memories of deep conversations during group work, class karaoke sessions, and cheering her friends on while they play sports or perform music will always stay with her. She also really loved the field trips, and the first hand exposure it gave her to the way of life and social structures within different families and communities. Her first impression was a warm one, and that was pretty consistent throughout her time in Jogja. She did, however, learn a lot more and come to understand the culture, psychological situation and diversity of Indonesia a lot better than when she started.
She wishes more people realized how amazing Jogja and UGM are and the outstanding experiences that await them there. She has already been eagerly recommending studying abroad here to most students she talks to, and plans to continue doing so once back in Australia.