Douglas Andreasen is an alumnus of the 2022 CLS Indonesian Program hosted by Universitas Negeri Malang in Malang, Indonesia. Douglas is a final semester senior majoring in History at California State University Sacramento. Douglas is a huge history buff and hopes to teach history at the university level.
Getting to Know Douglas
I grew up in a town called Yuba City, located in the central valley of Northern California. I grew up in poverty and never thought I’d attend college at all, let alone visit other countries with the Department of State. I’m a huge fan of strategy games like Crusader Kings and Rimworld. I also play guitar, and I used to play shows all over the country! I think my most interesting fact is that despite living through homelessness, I managed to make it to where I am now. It’s hard for me to believe that I got this far, but I did. And that’s cool. Learning Bahasa Indonesia was very fun and very challenging. I tend to overthink and worry quite a bit, so even though I understood the material I still stressed. That’s how I am with most things in school – I understand the material but I’m still finding reasons to stress!
My academic advisor is a Southeast Asian history buff and really sparked my interest in Indonesia. I remember a segment on Indonesian history in one of his classes where he talked about Sukarno (the former President of Indonesia) wanting to be addressed as “Bung Karno” which translates to “buddy/guy/bro/dude." I knew that this was the language for me. I highly recommend that people look into learning Bahasa Indonesian.
It uses the Latin alphabet, has simple grammar rules, and your conversation partners will help you along your journey. My favorite word in Bahasa Indonesia is “Lucu” and it basically describes something as being both “silly/funny” and “cute” which English doesn’t really have an equivalent for.
Surprising Local Indonesians
When we had a cultural excursion to visit Bung Karno’s grave, I decided to wear my peci. A peci is basically a muslim cap that is worn during prayer or at formal occasions. Everyone in my cohort knew I was interested in Bung Karno and thought it would be really fun if I wore the hat. What I didn’t expect, however, were two separate field trips of small children from local Indonesian schools.
I walked by them and was immediately met with a chorus of, “Hey! Bro! Bro!” I decided to engage with them in Indonesian and ask, “Anda suka peci saya?” which means “Do you like my hat?” They responded in an uproar of cheering and laughter at the fact that I was a bule (foreigner) speaking Indonesian. They demanded high fives and fist bumps; we took some photos and I left them to their field trip. It was wholesome and fun.
Sharing Californian Culture
It was fun taking photos with local Indonesian people, who will often stare at foreigners until you address them. When you speak with them in their language they immediately light up and will talk with you about anything. They love taking photos with foreigners and I saw it as my civic duty to provide them with an authentic Californian experience. I told them about the food we eat, the way we talk, and the way we greet friends in California. Most people in the USA find it hard to believe that Indonesia is the largest Muslim country, and that they have a very audible call to prayer five times per day.
Words of Advice
Apply! Apply! It’s worth the few hours it’ll take to apply. You won’t regret taking the time to do so. Do your best, speak your target language as much as possible, and it will be an incredibly fun and rewarding experience.
March 27, 2023