6 weeks ago, when I was still at home, I didn’t really know what to expect. I was excited to go, but also really nervous.
Then I arrived in Malang. I thought I was experiencing cultural differences: the crowded streets with all the motorcycles, everyone being really religious, the different food and of course the rubber time. I didn’t know, that this was nothing compared to what was waiting for me. That the culture in Malang is not that different from my culture at home. I started realizing that when I arrived in my village: Donomulyo, a small place 2 hours away from Malang. In here it feels that you’re travelling back in time. The people in Donomulyo are not used to seeing foreigners, can’t speak English, have old traditions, don’t have WIFI and have no normal showers and toilets… Yes, I experienced a really big culture shock in my first week. Actually, things never got normal for me. Every day was a new day with new surprises and I never got bored here.
(Travelling around with the other volunteers)
My teaching experience
During the project I gave English class to an Islamic senior high school. It was the first time I was teaching a whole class. They were enthusiastic about me being there, but they were also really scared to talk English. I think the shyness is really a thing in this culture. I found out that improving their English will not be my goal to accomplish these 6 weeks, but getting rid of their fear. I had to think of ways to let them speak, making it less scary for them. It was really challenging, but using games and making them more active really helped. I had a good time teaching the students and I was really happy seeing them be less scared and more motivated. It was great to see that I really made an impact. And I felt really special when the school organized a birthday party and a farewell party for me, something they never did before for other AIESEC volunteers!
(Celebrating my birthday)
Besides teaching, I did a lot of activities. I visited beautiful places in Java with other AIESEC volunteers, like mountains, temples and beaches. I already went to the Bromo mountains the second day I was in Indonesia. This was a good way to get to know all the others. It was great to see all these places and to hang out with the others and to share all our experiences. During the week the locals taught me more about their culture by taking me to concerts, parades and dances.
(Indonesian dancing on the streets)
It was the scariest thing I’ve ever done in my life, but it was so worth it. Going to the other side of the world all by myself, learning more about other cultures and developing my skills. I really learned to appreciate everything I have back home. And I will never forget this adventure!
This post was written by AIESEC in the Netherlands. We offer international voluntary projects and professional internships with the aim of developing leadership in youth.