Study Abroad in Indonesia

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A Guide to Studying Abroad in Indonesia

When you imagine your perfect day, does it involve sunset yoga or lemongrass tea? How about exploring hidden temples or hanging out with wild monkeys? Indonesia is the perfect place for students to mix the business of university studies with the pleasure of abundant outdoor activities, gorgeous backdrops, and incredible food. If Nasi-Goreng sounds like your idea of a delicious dinner, eaten after meandering some of the world’s most beautiful scenery, you may just find that study abroad in Indonesia is perfect for you.


While perhaps best known for the island of Bali, one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, Indonesia is actually the largest archipelago in the world, encompassing over 17,000 islands. Filled with green lagoons, ancient ruins, bustling cities, intricate temples, and bright blue waters, Indonesia provides the perfect backdrop for an ideal study abroad experience, no matter what you’re looking for.

If you truly desire an island getaway, consider studying on one of Indonesia’s more remote, rural islands, where you can join study abroad programs geared toward community activities and conservation. After class, be sure to continue your studies by exploring the local culture, visiting religious temples, or even grabbing your scuba gear for some of the best diving you’ll find anywhere in the world. Nearly anything is possible if you choose to study in Indonesia.

If city living is more your scene, be sure to check out study abroad opportunities in Jakarta. Home to over 10 million people, Jakarta is known for its chaotic, lively, and fun atmosphere. After class be sure to check out Surabaya Street for some prime antique shopping, before heading to Monas, the city’s iconic national monument.

All that being said, if you’re looking for a solid mixture of nature and culture, Ubud might be exactly what the doctor (or your study abroad advisor) ordered. Centrally located, Ubud connects study abroad students to science and conservation through sites such as the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary, while also bringing them closer to local experiences, such as bathing in the sacred pools of the Tirta Empul Temple. 

Study Abroad Programs in Indonesia

So, by now you’ve probably decided to study abroad in Indonesia! What an excellent choice, but now you must decide classes to take...

While there are many urban opportunities to study in Indonesia, the biodiversity of the country as a whole makes it a haven for biology and environmental studies of all kinds. However, there are definitely diverse program options beyond these two subjects as well.

If you’re more into the travel industry over science, Indonesia is also a great location to study tourism. Not surprisingly considering the number of tourists that visit Indonesia annually. There are also programs that focus on the performing arts, including courses in acting, fine arts, dance, and music. If courses outside of the classroom sound appealing to you, you’ll be happy to hear that performing arts programs often allow students to visit small villages, local theaters, and even temples as part of coursework.

Scholarships & Costs

If you’re seeking a one-of-a-kind study abroad experience that won’t leave you broke at the end of the semester, studying abroad in Indonesia could be the perfect opportunity for you. Although Indonesia’s economy is considered strong, and growing, the country’s infrastructure is still developing. For study abroad students this means more affordable program opportunities that your home university will (hopefully) accept academic credits from (but always be sure to check before committing to a program!)

Study abroad programs in Indonesia are definitely on the more affordable side, for both summer and full semester-long programs. Some study abroad programs will include living accommodations in up-front costs, although other program fees will only cover tuition. Be sure to contact your host institution or program provider directly to verify exactly what’s included in your program so you can make the most of study abroad in Indonesia.

If you’re looking for ways to help alleviate some of the financial burdens associated with studying in Indonesia, don’t forget about all of the available resources! Check with your own university to see if they provide funding opportunities for students looking to study abroad in Indonesia; many schools have scholarships and grant opportunities available to financially assist students who are interested in studying abroad. Also, be sure to look into community resources, such as Rotary International or Key Club, to see if they offer scholarship opportunities specifically for students interested in studying in Indonesia, or Asia in general.

Accommodations & Visas

While it’s easy to get super pumped about studying in Indonesia, don’t let that make you forget about the important things you have to check off your list before you’ll be “cleared for take off” and on your way to your perfect study abroad destination.

Applying for a visa and securing housing are two pre-departure “must-do’s” that can’t be bypassed. If you’re planning on studying abroad in Indonesia for more than 60 days (full-semester or year-long programs), you will most likely be required to obtain a student or socio-cultural visa. Take a look at GoAbroad’s Indonesian Embassy Directory to discover contact information for an embassy or consulate in your home country, so you can find out if you need a visa to study abroad in Indonesia.

As for your living situation, accommodation arrangements can vary greatly depending on how you choose to study in Indonesia. While some study abroad programs and universities may set up your housing prior to your arrival (and may even include it in your tuition costs or program fees), others might leave you to your own devices in the housing department. This could mean anything from pairing you with an agent to assist in your housing search to encouraging you to book a live-in hotel for a week or two when you first arrive so you can explore the area on your own and get a feel for where you want to live!

While the latter situation might seem quite intimidating, it also provides you with freedom and flexibility you wouldn’t otherwise have via more “traditional” housing situations. Consider what type of environment would shape your ideal study abroad experience, and then go from there. Don’t forget that your program liaison will most likely be there to answer any and all questions you have about potential neighborhoods along the way, especially specifics related to safety and amenities.

Benefits & Challenges

Selamat datang, or welcome, is what you’ll hear as you set foot in Indonesia. Indonesian, a form of Malay, is the official language of Indonesia, but there are over 350 native languages still used throughout the islands. Unfortunately, as a study abroad student, there’s a good possibility that on a daily basis you will, more often than not, be confronted with not speaking the language of most people you encounter on the street. While your classes may be taught in English, the language barrier may make daily life a bit more complicated.

Additionally, for students who prefer more participatory forms of education, such as small, discussion-based courses, Indonesia may not be the destination for your studies. Instead, courses in Indonesia are more apt to take on a lecture-style format, which is certainly something to keep in mind when finalizing your study abroad plans.

On the flip side, Indonesia is a land full of contrast and diversity. The nation’s motto is actually Bhinneka Tunggal Ika, meaning unity in diversity. What could be more inviting than that? The Indonesian way of life is reflected in everything from its culture to its cities to its blossoming rainforests and neighborhoods; expect to find something unique every place you visit while studying in Indonesia.

As an added highlight, theater and storytelling is a large part of Indonesian culture. The islands are very much about local stories, particularly those you can play out using wayang kulit, or shadow puppets. The same goes for music and dance, which makes heavy use of masks during performances. Making and wearing masks for traditional dances is very popular, especially in Bali, and adds to the allure of exploring a completely new and unique culture while thousands of miles from home.

A world apart, Indonesia provides a one-of-a-kind study abroad experience with all the fixings. From waterfalls and nature conservancies to temples and artisanal handcrafting workshops, if you’re looking for that “wow” factor that will really set your experience apart, look no further than study abroad in Indonesia.

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A Guide To
Studying Abroad in Indonesia


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