Exchange program Reflection by Fadi Faraj
I applied to this program and I was not sure if I will attend or not, because I was doing my internship last semester and my workplace asked me to stay for the summer break. This program was in the city of Surabaya, organised by ITS University.
This exchange program was one of the best experiences in my life. I made new friends from many countries and learned more about my degree. My major is Civil and Environmental Engineering.
After undertaking this program, I became more motivated about my course. I learned so much about the sustainable development in Indonesia. I went to Malaysia in 2014 in another BUiLD exchange program and learned about managing water in tropical countries. I would like to thank BUiLD for giving me this great opportunity for the second time and having the faith in me as a representative
of UTS and Australia. I really appreciate it.
I arrived two days early in Surabaya to have some relaxing time and do some shopping. I did not find it difficult at all to find the ITS volunteers at the airport who drove us to the hotel and invited us for dinner with Mr. Wahyu (program coordinator). I felt welcomed and people were very friendly with me.
Figure 1 Arriving in Surabaya
In the opening ceremony, volunteers performed the Saman dance, a traditional Indonesian dance that participants of my sub-course had to perform at the end of the program. I found it really fun and enjoyable to watch and perform.
Figure 2 Saman dance in the opening ceremony
After that, participants and volunteers were grouped in small groups and as an ice breaking activity, we were asked to find something in common between all the members of the group. My group found that everyone was wearing a watch. I had so much fun during these activities as well as the performance that we did during the welcoming dinner. We danced, laughed, had a memorable night and found out more about each other. I felt privileged when I was asked to represent Australia for the newspaper photo session.
Figure 3 Representing Australia for newspaper photo session
Figure 4 Welcoming Dinner
Figure 5 my group’s performance
The traditional games were great. I like how everyone took the games in a serious manner and tried their best to make their team win. I started my team’s first game and won the ‘jumping in a bag’ activity. I was so happy and my team was proud of me. At the end of the day, everyone was happy and we took plenty of pictures as usual and went back to the hotel for dinner.
Figure 6 traditional games and activities
The city tour was amazing and I found out more about Surabaya. I learned how heroic this city is and how its people freed their city from the Japanese. I also learned that Surabaya means the shark and the crocodile, representing the typical fights between the two animals in the waterways around the city. I enjoyed my time in the museum and took many pictures.
The program was very well organised. The classes were not long and I found the content interesting to learn. The teachers used videos, fun activities and group discussions and presentations to make the sessions more entertaining and beneficial.
I learned some Indonesian words, which were similar to Malaysian. I also learned a traditional song and dance of Surabaya. Participants were given the chance to make their own tempe (a traditional Indonesian food made from soybeans). I found it delicious and needs creativity to make as people can add the ingredients they want to make it.
Figure 7 Making Tempe
Figure 8 City Tour (Museum)
Figure 9 City Tour (Museum)
Figure 10 3D image trick at the museum
Figure 11 Farm visit
One of the most memorable days of the program was the Mount Bromo visit and water rafting. We had to wake up at 3am, get into jeeps and arrive at a hilly area to watch the sunrise while looking at Mount Bromo from a distance. I forgot how sleepy and tired I was as soon as I saw the spectacular view. The smoke produced by the volcanic actions was visible. I have never been that close from an active volcanic mountain.
Figure 12 Watching the sunrise – Mount Bromo
Figure 13 Catching the sunrise – Mount Bromo
After that, we had breakfast and went to the bottom of Mount Bromo where there were many horses to hire souvenirs sellers. My first experience of horseback riding was an unforgettable one. I enjoyed every second of being on top of the horse. The view from the top of Mount Bromo was breath taking.
Figure 14 Horseback riding to Mount Bromo
Figure 15 View from the top of Mount Bromo
Figure 16 Trip to Mount Bromo
Right after that, we went back to the bus and slept for 3 hours before we arrived at the water-rafting place. Again, as a first time experience, I had a great time in the waves of the river.
Figure 17 Water Rafting
The visit to the city mayor’s house was unforgettable. Even though the mayor was busy at that night and could not attend, the service and welcoming of the coordinators and the people from the government reflect their generosity and values.
Figure 18 Dinner in Surabaya city mayor’s house
Figure 19 UTS participants and representative (Joanne Taylor)
Towards the final days of the program, participants had to prepare a presentation highlighting the sustainable aspects of their universities and countries. Every student was allocated in a different
faculty. I was allocated in the business management faculty and the students of the class were very well behaved, good listeners and showed interest about UTS and Australia.
The closing ceremony followed with some good food, speeches and videos about our journey that had ended. I liked the idea that every participant received a CD with all the pictures taken throughout the program. We also received appreciation certificates.
Right after the closing ceremony, I went shopping with some friends for the last time and took many photos. At night, all participants and volunteers went to a karaoke place and made the last night of the program a very entertaining and memorable one.
Figure 20 Fun photo-shoot session after the closing ceremony
I always felt a sense of belonging being in this program. People called me brother and I really felt that I have formed a second family in Indonesia. Staff and volunteers always made sure that participants are fine and making the most out of the program. I will never forget how friendly, simple and welcoming Indonesians are. I will never forget Surabaya, its history and great people. It is not a tourism city like Bali or Jakarta, so people used to stare at me all the time because they are not used to seeing foreigners. Some people even asked to take pictures with me, which made me feel like a celebrity.
Thank you Indonesia & ITS for having me. Thank you BUiLD for this great experience.
I am glad I took this opportunity.
Fadi Faraj – 11380817