Where are you studying?
Third-year international relations student
'The Dutch colonists were really cruel'
Juliëtte’s favourite food is nasi tjampoer: ‘My favourite restaurant here cooks Balinese food. A plate of nasi costs approximately 1.60.’ A cup of coffee can be cheaply bought at a wharung, small bars that are set up at the side of the road. Western chains have also come to the country, and they charge a bit more: two euros for a cup rather than the thirty cents a wharung charges. Indonesian nightlife is very different from that in Groningen, says Juliëtte: ‘They don’t really have pubs, but rather clubs and lounges. You have to reserve a table, and it starts right after dinner. Beer is relatively expensive here, and supermarkets aren’t allowed to sell it. It costs 2.20. But wine is even more expensive. I haven’t had any in a while.’
‘I’d never travelled outside of Europe, and Indonesia seemed cool! I did a minor in French, but I didn’t really feel like going to France to study. I can visit there any time. It’s so different than Europe here. The city itself is really spread out, with many low buildings. You need at least an hour to get from the north side to the south side in the busy traffic. It’s much larger than Groningen, but because it doesn’t have any high-rise buildings, it doesn’t really feel like a city.’
Have you got used to the traffic yet?
‘Everyone here rides a scooter. I have one, too. I do have a driver’s license, but I’d never driven a scooter before. So the first time I did was here, in this chaotic traffic that drives on the left. There aren’t really any traffic rules, so you have to take each other into account. People don’t honk their horns because they’re angry; it’s a form of communication. They also have giant scooter parking facilities, like we have for bikes.’
What’s your living situation there?
‘I’m a little ashamed. Where I live is pretty extravagant. I share a large villa with twelve other people. We have a large living room, a kitchen, and even a pool. I pay 220 euros a month, which is extremely expensive by Indonesian standards. I try not to talk about it. But I’m really happy with it.’
Do you spend a lot of time with your roommates?
‘We often take trips together. I’ve been to Lombok, Java, and Sulawesi. In January I’d like to visit Kalimantan, together with a girlfriend from the Netherlands who is in Australia right now. I’ve also met a lot of great people during my classes and volunteer work. Indonesian students are really welcoming!’
What are the classes in Indonesia like?
‘They are much easier, students don’t have to work nearly as hard. I kind of figured it would be like this when I decided to come here. But I don’t mind. I’m mainly here to work on my personal growth. I did notice that the students are very active, and the relationship with the teachers is really informal. We don’t have a mentor, but a Facebook group. For another course, a WhatsApp group. When students have questions, they just send the teacher a message through WhatsApp.’
Are there any traces of the colonial past that you can see?
‘The language has quite a few Dutch words in it, such as wortel, or koelkast. There are buildings that were built by Dutch people, and there is even an old-fashioned mailbox. What surprised me is how different they see the colonial past here. The Dutch colonists were really cruel, but I was never told about that.’
Would you be able to permanently move to Indonesia?
‘Westerners have it really easy here. Compared to the rest of the people here, we’re very rich. The country is beautiful, the nature is amazing, and the people are really friendly. But women don’t have the same position in society as they do elsewhere. I think that emigrating to Indonesia would be quite difficult.’