Readings nicely accompanied the excursions and other experiences we had in the program. Our instructors encouraged us to connect what we were reading with what we were seeing. However, the assignments we turned in were based more on observations and less on readings. The readings supplemented what we learned experientially when we took the midterm and final exams. Directors, coordinators, and instructors were available 24/7 and went above and beyond in making sure we were safe and comfortable! My host family was wonderful, caring, attentive, patient, kind - everything good in the world! I got lucky. I miss Indonesian food so, so much. And the food provided at the program center was amazing - and there were options for every diet. Learning the language was a fully integrated experience! Living at home with my host family, speaking Indonesian in class and at home, on the streets, in stores, restaurants, etc. And going on every excursion or small trip offered - that helped with getting comfortable with new surroundings. Also asking questions helps a lot!
Health issues was the topic of one of the first discussions we had as a group - a local doctor also served as a guest speaker. When anyone had health issues, they were cared for immediately and as a priority above all academic and extra-curricular activities. Everyone stayed safe throughout our trip, and I think a key to accomplishing this was following the advice of our director and teachers, and sometimes families. We spoke Indonesian every day and had intensive language study from the beginning of the program until we departed for independent study projects. Excursions and conversations with everyone we saw when away from the program center were crucial to learning the language - speaking the language you are studying by practicing with your host family is so beneficial!! Speak with your host families, don't be shy or afraid of making mistakes, understand that the people you speak with probably appreciate that you are trying, laugh at any mistakes you make and ask questions in class! Also pay attention to the links between language and cultural customs, practices, social behaviors, etc. I became a calmer, less worried, less frantic, more patient, more loving, more open, happier person because of my experience abroad. I learned to treat everything in life as a learning experience and to approach things and people without expectations or reservations.