• Indonesia
4 - 26 weeks
Program Tags
Adventure Travel Arts College Credit Conservation Cultural Immersion Hands-On Learning Language Immersion Post-High School Religious Social Justice Study Abroad Wilderness +2
Need-based funding, General grants/scholarships, 529 Plan eligibility, BIPOC funding
Health & Safety

Program Details

Boating Fishing Hiking Remote Exploring
Fall Spring
Guesthouse Host Family Tent
Primary Language
Bahasa Indonesian
Age Min.
Age Max


Starting Price
Price Details
The land cost for Indonesia Semester: Community, Culture & Conservation is $16,550 for three months. Need-based scholarships are available.
What's Included
Accommodation Activities Some Equipment Meals Transportation
What's Not Included
Airfare Some Equipment Travel Insurance Visa
Sep 29, 2023
Dec 23, 2022
39 travelers are looking at this program

About Program

Spanning from Malaysia to Australia, with over 17,000 equatorial islands, Indonesia hosts the world’s highest level of biodiversity and one of the richest cultural tapestries on earth. Dragons Indonesia semester program takes students on an ethnographic adventure into remote communities and ecosystems rarely visited by travelers. Comprised of over 17,000 islands and 700 living languages, Indonesia is home to the highest level of biodiversity of any nation. As the largest Muslim nation in the world, students examine how Islam has influenced and adapted to Indonesian society, while also looking at how other religious traditions concurrently thrive. Throughout the semester program students experience the complexities and controversies of development, conservation, and human ecology.

Scholarships and college credit available.

Video and Photos

Diversity & Inclusion

BIPOC Support

Unfortunately, discrimination based on race, ethnicity, national origin, and skin tone exists in different forms all over the world. In some destinations, especially rural or ethnically homogenous areas, people may not have had much exposure to racial diversity. As such, people with certain physical characteristics may experience unwanted attention. Most commonly, this might include staring, insensitive comments, people taking your photo (with or without asking), or attempts to touch your skin or hair. Black students traveling in parts of Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and North Africa have often reported higher levels of unwanted attention than their peers. White students traveling in parts of Asia and Africa have also reported receiving unwanted attention. Students are encouraged to communicate with staff if they feel their personal boundaries are being violated or if they feel unsafe or uncomfortable in any situation. We encourage you to believe your peers if/when they share experiences like this with you.

LGBTQIA+ Support

Social, cultural, religious, political, and legal attitudes toward the LGBTQ+ community vary around the world. According to the Global Acceptance Index, average levels of acceptance for LGBTQ+ people around the world have been increasing since 1981. However, many countries where Dragons operates programs may have social discrimination or even laws against being LGBTQ+. We have safely supported LGBTQ+ students in all of our program areas, and provide specific cultural and geographic advice to help students stay safe on course.

In some cases, students may be advised not to speak about their sexual orientations and/or gender identities with local contacts (such as homestay families, ISP mentors, language teachers, and guest speakers) due to safety concerns. Likewise, transgender and non-binary students may have to choose to present outwardly as male or female in certain contexts during the program. In other cases, “coming out” to some or all host community members may be a safe choice.

Neurodivergent Support

For students with neuro-differences (such as dyslexia, ADHD, ASD, TS, and dyspraxia), it is important to be aware that neurodiversity is likely viewed differently abroad than at home. People might not be familiar with labels or terms that are very common where you come from. If you struggle with lots of external stimuli, you should be prepared that you will be in some environments that are louder and busier than what you are used to.

Accessibility Support

If you are a student with a physical disability, you might encounter challenges around accessibility than you have at home. Many of the places we travel at Dragons don’t have building codes or other regulations in place to support people with visual, hearing, or mobility impairments. You may need accommodations or support that you don’t usually require in your life at home.



Dragons defines responsible travel as travel that is culturally conscious, environmentally responsible, and focused on developing meaningful connections and mutual respect in the communities to which we travel. Over the course of Dragons 25+ year history, we have cultivated long-standing relationships with respected community leaders, academics, social entrepreneurs and professionals involved in environmental and cultural preservation. In the more than 20 countries in which Dragons has operated, we have steadfastly adhered to minimum impact travel, an accurate and informed understanding of place, and the realization of maximum benefit for the communities we visit.

Ethical Impact

Dragons believes that we need to shift the way we think of volunteer travel. Instead of focusing on “service work”—on the idea that short-term volunteers can contribute to communities abroad—we advocate a paradigm shift: we choose, instead, to focus on “learning service.”

Learning Service is a holistic experience that combines an intimate and authentic engagement with the local community, the study of effective development, and the contribution to an established community-driven project. It is the process of living, working alongside, and humbly absorbing the culture of those being served while coordinating closely with project managers to understand the trajectory of the project, from inception to completion and beyond. It is an acknowledgment that often it is the volunteer who stands to gain as much or more from the work. And it is a commitment to making contributions that create positive impacts in the communities coupled with the humility to always listen and learn first.

Program Highlights

  • Explore the impacts of modernization and development as they relate to ecology and land-use within protected and un-protected areas. Delve into issues of political marginalization and under-representation.
  • Study political dynamics and the impact that rapid development has on specific communities; examine issues related to gender, cultural and environmental preservation, ethnic vs national identity, and dominant cultural communities.
  • Spend time in three homestays of two weeks or longer in both urban (Jogyakarta) and traditional communities (Langa, Sampela) and begin to understand their natural environments, cultures and political significance to Indonesia.
  • Examine Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism and Christianity, as well as Animist and Shamanistic traditions, with a focus on religious pluralism, rituals and festivals/ceremonies, religious conflict and resolution.
  • Pursue self-selected studies of issues that are pertinent to the communities we visit, as well as deep engagement with the Indonesia world of arts (gamelan, shadow-puppetry, street art, yoga, dance) and culture.


Where There Be Dragons Financial Aid & 529 Funds

Where There Be Dragons offers need-based financial aid to students that demonstrate reasonable financial need and are excited to engage with communities around the world.

Program Dates

Application Deadline
Program Dates

Program Reviews

4.90 Rating
based on 10 reviews
  • 5 rating 90%
  • 4 rating 10%
  • 3 rating 0%
  • 2 rating 0%
  • 1 rating 0%
  • Housing 4.9
  • Support 4.9
  • Fun 4.9
  • Value 4.9
  • Safety 5
Showing 1 - 8 of 10 reviews
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing Experience!!

I chose this program not only because I knew I would be able to explore the world but because it would give me the opportunity to immerse myself in new communities. Since being home, I haven't gone a day without texting or calling someone from my trip. Not only including my instructors and other students but also my homestay families. I created bonds with so many people who I now consider family. This program and people taught me about who I am, the beginnings of where I fit into the world, and the skills to continue exploring and learning on my own.

Highlights: a night camping on a tiny island in the middle of the ocean, speaking to people in their language, playing with little kids, breaking through to a homestay family member, spending time as a group on long travel days, hearing people's life stories, boat rides, sunsets (most beautiful i've ever seen), running into the ocean after a 12 hour bus ride

  • Connections
  • Beautiful landscape
80 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Where There Be Dragons: Indonesia

Traveling with WTBD in Indonesia was one of the most extraordinary and remarkable experiences I've had in my life thus far, and will most definitely stay branded in my memory forever. Two factors that made this adventure a serious impact on me was how we learned to speak Indonesian through immersion, and most of us could speak it quite well after only two weeks due to that first hand learning, plus it also gave me a boost of confidence with languages because I had trouble with Spanish in highschool. That other critical factor was how we were all taken in by our host homestay families and integrated into becoming part of the family. For anyone looking to go I the future, I would recommend that you try to be as much of a minimalist as possible, because you will collect things on your trip and it's even more difficult if your pack is stuffed from the beginning. I consider myself very lucky to have been apart of this experience because it gave me the takeaway of being able to interact with a country in which the US had meddled in, and to see that even so, they were some of the kindest people I will most definitely ever meet. It also gave me a first hand look at the sadness and tragedy of deforestation and the animals of which it harms.

What would you improve about this program?
Even though limited access to technology is already in place, I would recommend making it completely mandatory
134 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

All encompassing program

What I loved most about the Dragons program was how our instructors incorporated every aspect of travel into our day. We learned about culture, language, religion, and politics, we saw the world wonders, and explored off the beaten trail. They taught us to be travelers but also while
My favorite memory is after our last homestay party facetpainting the cheeks of the children in the village. They were having a blast, and I know I laughed just as much as they.

What would you improve about this program?
I think some of the other students on the program weren’t as willing put themselves out there and really take on the challenges of the semester
140 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Best Decision of my Life

This trip absolutely changed me as a person for the better in a way I don't think any other opportunity could have measured up to. Do not feel intimidated by this trip -- I went in with no prior backpacking experience. The trip has been something I talk about with nearly everyone, and my experiences there have not only been cherished by me, but also other people respect me for my decision to travel and to learn more about others around the world.

It challenged me mentally and physically every day, and it gave me an opportunity to leave everything I have ever known to learn more about the world and to reflect on myself. There is something amazing about accomplishing a feat you never imagined you could do -- it has given me a self-confidence that has gotten me opportunities after the trip and still now in college with internships. You come back with stories no one's could beat, and strength that no one can take away from you.

I 100% recommend this trip. Indonesia is a beautiful country with beautiful people, and WTBD ensures that you are the leader within your experience and to make of it what you will and feel comfortable with. They are there to guide you and to help you if you need, but in no way do they force you to do anything, which I think is a great part of the trip. I built relationships with people I met there, and I wish every day that I will one day go back and see them again. If you are willing to throw yourself wholeheartedly into something that will make you uncomfortable at times and will challenge you, but will also leave you with incredible memories, a unique, unforgettable experience, and a new perspective of the world, then this is the trip for you.

Attached to this review is my video summing up what I saw and did, and it was amazing.

What would you improve about this program?
I cannot imagine a single way this could be improved. I would have loved to stay for longer!
134 people found this review helpful.
Read my full story
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Yes, I recommend this program


My semester in Indonesia with Where There Be Dragons was absolutely one of the most important experiences in my life. The opportunity to travel to a developing country and see how the rest of the world lives in a culture completely different to my own has changed the way I think about how I interact with and exist in the environment around me. The instructors are kind, thoughtful, and inspiring. Dragons is a great organization for gap year experiences – the students are encouraged to make the trip their own and have autonomy, but in a safe and supportive structure. Indonesia is a diverse and fascinating country that few Americans know anything about, despite its massive population. The places we lived in on the trip were all unique and wonderful in their own ways. I still think about the trip every day, even a year later, and I will forever be grateful I had the chance to travel to this amazing country with such incredible people.

134 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Life changing

This program was absolutely incredible. My home stays were the most amazing part throughout my trip- I cried after leaving all four of them because I just felt like I was a part of the family. From spearfishing to going on jungle hikes looking for durian, this trip will blow your mind. There is intimacy within the group and the instructors are incredibly helpful. This creates a safe space on the trip, which is super important when looking at gap year programs. I tell all of my friends to take a semester off because this trip was so influential and I want others to feel and experience the same awesome things I did on this adventure.

127 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program


This was an incredible trip - I swam with dolphins and learned to spearfish with an adopted Bajo father, I played soccer in bamboo forests and on pitted fields dotted with cows and I became a part of three families that I'll never forget. Every day I was a part of these things and dozens more, things I hadn't imagined and each of them informed my worldview and inspired me to explore and find out whatever was around the next corner like nothing else ever has.

134 people found this review helpful.
Read my full story
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program


Last fall, I was a student on the Where There Be Dragons Semester course in Indonesia. I hadn't planned on taking time off between High School and College, but my ED school (Middlebury College) accepted me with a gap semester. The idea terrified me, challenged me, and ultimately has been an incredible gift. The course with Dragons changed my life.

One of the most incredible parts of Dragons courses are the instructors. Each program is made up of twelve students and a minimum of three instructors, at least one of whom is native to the counrty and citizens of the world, and each came to the program with a wealth of experience in human rights, conservation, academics, and cultural building. All were wonderful, passionate people with a will to open our minds, widen our knowledge of this world, and to grow with us as we experienced the consciousness-expanding wonder of deep, informed travel.

Whether the experience is four weeks or three months, being immersed in a new culture can be immensely challenging. It is so important to have quality mentorship in times of intense growth. Dragons recognizes this, and the instructors are people who can hold space for this kind of transformative opportunity. I found that, beyond being more than qualified to inform us on human rights issues, the environment, cultural tendencies in the developing and western world, and many more intellectual pursuits, the instructors were there to support us mentally and emotionally. They guided us, challenging us when necessary, but always there for us. They took care of us, but they also helped us learn to take care of ourselves.

Another amazing thing about Dragons is the relationship they build with local communities. Everywhere we went Dragons sought to create a sustainable friendship that benefits students and locals equally. This certainly deepens the student experience as it opens up doors for the friendships and mentorships. A homestay family that trusts Dragons as an organization will be more likely to get excited about sharing their world with a student. I will never forget the connections I made with parents, children, and friends as we traveled through Indonesia.

In each community we studied the culture (religion(s), history, customs, political dynamics, and role of the western world in all of this). environment (conservation issues facing communities, the impact of these on their everyday lives, changes being made going forward, and our roles in these issues), and community (what are the health care and educational systems, how far away is the nearest hospital, how and what language do the children learn to read). We studied all of this through community interaction: we'd sit in on community gatherings, organize talks with the village head, midwife, shaman, workers, and professors, and we'd ask them to tell us about their lives and their world. We also set aside time to process with the group, to learn how best to handle the intensity of our experiences.

The course had a great balance of time spent learning with the group and time spent exploring, hanging out, and integrating our experiences into a newfound awareness of self and the world. Each day we would come together for at least two hours to check in with everyone, take care of medical needs, and rediscover solidarity with our peers. When we needed it we would always make time to go snorkeling in the nearby coral reef, explore the regional volcano, sing songs around a bonfire, have a dance party, drink a coconut, and decompress.

I know that this trip changed my life. On my own, I never could have made it to such remote and beautiful places, experienced so much depth in new cultures, made such close friendships, and internalized my experience as lasting inspiration. I have been blown away by the integrity and values exhibited by all the staff at Dragons, and I am so incredibly grateful to have been their student.

Each student faced many challenges on this program: we went into the unknown and fought against our comfort zones. We pushed into growth and found that, as we were challenged, new worlds started to open up to us. New perspectives appeared, deeper empathy was felt, greater integrity was realized, and we were suddenly more mature, more moral, more in touch with our inner selves, and more sensitive to the lives of those around us in this vast, unpredictable, beautiful world. Having had this experience, I will never be able to live without thinking of myself in service to my community. I can't go back: I will always work harder in my friendships, find ways to explore, adventure, and deepen, and remember that I am a citizen of the world.

I wish that more of my friends would do Dragons programs. I have complete faith they would find their minds and souls expanded by it, just as I have.

What would you improve about this program?
I would continue working on and building relationships with the community, so that there are just as many chances to give back as there are to learn. I would also lengthen the amount of time spent in each place and increase instruction of Indonesian Language. This, as well as working in more time to study the history of Indonesia as a whole (beyond specific communities), and facilitating more discussions on development.
129 people found this review helpful.

Questions & Answers