Marion writes:

My time in Lombok was totally rewarding; immersion in language is the quickest and most enjoyable way to attain verbal communication skills. However the Lombok program is much more than simply gaining language proficiency. This course succeeds in exposing a culture foreign to most Australian students. From the wailing of 4 a.m. prayers to the purchasing of one’s evening meal from street vendors, each day is like living a National Geographic documentary. 

          There’s no getting around the fact that I am a mature student…ok I am an older student, maybe not so mature! In part my objective for writing this is to reassure those who may, rightly so, have reservations about attending the Lombok in-country program.

My own doubts travelling to Indonesia included terrorist and health issues. The former is largely out of our hands however we were kept well informed at all times, from both the lecturers in Lombok and email updates from DFAT. During my stay the ‘Danish cartoon issue’ broke; we were promptly advised of the matter. Every student was given the opportunity to leave as there was no way of knowing what might come of this issue.

This is Santi, one of the lecturers of Levels 3 and 4, with me.

I am sure any student who had wished to withdraw at that, or any, stage would have been supported in their decision to do so.

Another issue during my visit was the flooding and resulting landslides. I knew my husband back in Australia would be concerned for my welfare as Lombok is a small island and he may not have realised how far I was from any danger. However, when I rang to re-assure him, he hadn’t even heard of the disaster yet; Lombok’s local news service, on such matters, is quite efficient.

My second concern, the availability and quality of health services, seemed like it wasn’t going to affect me, much to my relief. However on the last night of my stay I needed to be admitted to hospital. I was dehydrated and needed to be put on a drip, plus be administered antibiotics for a stomach bug.

I must admit I was slightly anxious as a few days prior I had visited a local ‘health clinic’ and seen disposable gloves hanging out to dry…after being used and washed. Now that’s taking recycling way too far!

However at the hospital I was constantly accompanied by the lecturer from Australia and the senior director from Lombok University. After a night in a very clean four bed ward, that was shared by various family members of the other patients, I awoke to the undivided attention of a Catholic nun. She spoke no English (more language practice) but had obviously had years of nursing training.

I cannot speak highly enough of the care I received from the staff at this facility. I was treated by an Australian trained, English speaking doctor with sterile equipment in clean surroundings. Another of the students is a seasoned nurse in Australia. When she visited me she favorably compared the hospital, its facilities and the staff’s efficiency to any competent country hospital in Australia.

The issues I’ve mentioned seem bleak…possible political unrest, a natural disaster and a hospital admission. However, in context, they were all learning experiences.

I’ve neglected to mention the New Years Day stroll when a group of us ventured upon a wedding ceremony, to which we were subsequently invited to join the feasting and celebrations.

I have not told of the side trip when we took a bus north and witnessed a family mining for pumice stone in their ‘backyard’.

One must travel to Lombok to appreciate the atmosphere of a cattle market where beasts are auctioned then pairs of them are transported home in the back of a minibus.

To hear sun-weathered girls clamber for your attention, and rupiah, one needs to bask on the white beaches of Kuta. It is there that a fresh pineapple will be peeled and served to you for 30 cents; assistance with your vocabulary and pronunciation is included in the price.

No lecture in Australia will compare to the cacophony of voices, pallet of colours or myriad of flavours at any of the Lombok markets.

        Nothing will prepare the novice for the delighted tones of school girls meeting an enthusiastic sugarcane hawker. Their male counterparts dress smartly as they leave school early on Fridays; many carry a rolled prayer mat under their arm.

Everywhere one looks, each turn of a corner; one encounters a voice, sight, taste, smell or experience quite alien to any campus in Australia. All this and so much more WITH immersion in Bahasa Indonesia! Rewarding, worthwhile, satisfying, meaningful, advisable, fun… For all scholars of Asian studies “must do” should also be added to this list! 

Selamat jalan-jalan,

Nenek… Marion (Murdoch University, 3rd year student, B.A. Asian Studies, Specialist in Indonesia)

See my selection of Lombok photos

From: "Rechelle Marshall" <>
Date: 14 February 2006 11:46:54 PM
To: "Philip Mahnken" <>
Subject: Re: Help & Have a wonderful 2006

Selamat malam pak Phill.
I reached Singapore last night and i am here till Sunday, returning in time to start uni Mon. Had the best time. It is so much easier learning Bahasa in country I'll fill you in on all the gory details ( including cidomo accident) next week. How cool is Gili tra( lalala, still can't remember how to pronounce it) Thanx for organizing such a great opportunity for us. C U next week.

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