The impact of cross-cultural experiences carry an array of advantages that may result in a greater global perspective and perceptual understanding or personal development and interpersonal relationships (Wilson 2009). As a country with half its citizens under the age of 30, studies have found that eight in ten Indonesian students are considering to study abroad for a variety of reasons such as cultural exploration, boosting their academic profile or improved career prospects (ICEF 2017). However, the attainability of such opportunities is heavily determined by the ease of access to information and financial support.
Indication of the Indonesian survey respondents’ motivations for study abroad (AFS 2017)
For Kesuma Anugerah Yanti (Yanti), a mathematics major from Lambung Mangkurat University in Banjarmasin, her month-long study abroad in Thailand has opened up new avenues that have shaped her future goals. As a determined young student who contributes to the city of Banjarmasin through her duties as an International Officer at university and a contributor to the city’s local tourism Instagram page, Instanusantarabanjar, Yanti has her sights set on travelling the world.
Yanti on her studies abroad in Thailand, teaching students English in Chiang Rai (Yanti 2018)
However, for students in Indonesia, this is a dream that is often only achieveable with the financial aid of scholarships or exchange programs. Yanti placed a heavy emphasis on the difficulty for youth to access the suitable information which would result in a successful application in Banjarmasin. While Lambung Mangkurat University work with sister universities in Thailand and the Philippines to send students abroad, for more job specific programs, students are forced to seek out external programs which are often financially demanding. Without the support of a scholarship, opportunities often go amiss and students in Banjarmasin succumb to their fate that perhaps studying abroad is impossible and thus, solely focus on earning an income instead.
Despite this, there are youth like Yanti who are continuously striving to attain this goal. When asked what she would like to pursue after university, she confidently responded with ‘I would like to find scholarships to continue studying and go abroad or work to keep studying. The most important goal for me is to go abroad again as my experience in Thailand allowed me to focus on myself, grow as a person and meet new people who helped me improve my English’ (Yanti 2018). Her willingness to self-learn Spanish is an attestation of her determination to travel as she has realised the benefits of going abroad. Additionally, Yanti strongly believes that it is incredibly important to emphasise to youth that money is not a limitation to pursuing opportunities abroad.
While it is evident that money is a concern that dictates the futures of many youth in Indonesia, young individuals like Yanti are examples of the growing desire for students to travel abroad despite the hardships they may face during the application process. It is also suggested that such international experience enhances university engagement, builds relationships between countries and resultantly will broaden the cross-cultural experiences for local students (Novera 2004). Overall, this interview has highlighted the need for a greater support for students in developing countries to embark on cross-cultural exchanges for they provide students with intrinsic that can only be obtained through experience.
ICEF Monitor 2017, Study finds that young Indonesians are highly motivated to study abroad, viewed 20 January 2018, < http://monitor.icef.com/2017/12/study-finds-young-indonesians-highly-motivated-study-abroad/>
Novera, I.A. 2004, ‘Indonesian Postgraduate Students studying in Australia: An Examination of their Academic, Social and Cultural Experiences’, International Education Journal, vol. 5, no. 4.
Wilson, A.H. 1993, ‘Conversation partners: Helping students gain a global perspective through cross-cultural experiences’, Theory Into Practice, vol. 32, no.1, viewed 20 January 2018, < http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00405849309543568?journalCode=htip20>