A vast archipelago of more than 17,000 islands, Indonesia is a land of contrasts—fiery volcanoes and peaceful seas, crowded cities and distant plantations, modern high-rises and crumbling temples, Komodo dragons and countless tropical birds, young people on scooters wearing brightly-colored sarongs and batik shirts. More than 300 ethnic groups and cultures, with dozens of languages, different social and cultural backgrounds with European, Middle Eastern, and Asian influences make up the unique society of Indonesia.

Teens in Indonesia enjoy socialize in big groups. Sports are popular in Indonesia, especially soccer, badminton and pencak silat (a traditional form of martial arts). Want to build and fly kites? This is the place to do it!

Culture & Community

A photo posted by Coralie gisel (@cocoinindo) on

Expect to attend regular gatherings with extended family. Elders are highly respected and make sure you consult your host parents before making any major decisions. Being a member of the greater community is also important and Indonesians tend to feel indebted to their village, their mosque or their professional organization. Communication styles in Indonesia tend to be indirect, in fact, there are twelve different ways of saying “no” in the Bahasa Indonesian language.

School

You will probably attend a public high school, which runs from Monday to Saturday (7 am to 1.30 pm). On Friday, the school ends at 11 am because of the noon Muslim prayer. You will wear a school uniform. After school you can learn traditional Indonesian music or dance.

Language

A photo posted by Coralie gisel (@cocoinindo) on

Although there are more than 583 ethnic-languages and dialects used daily in the country, the official language is Bahasa Indonesia. Having a basic knowledge of English will help. AFS offers language lessons,and will send language study materials before the exchange.

Food

Indonesian cuisine combines indigenous techniques and ingredients with influences from India (curries), the Middle East (kebabs), China (stir-frying) and Europe, including products brought by Spanish and Portuguese traders before the Dutch colonized the islands. Cooking varies widely by region so food can be very spicy or sweet. Fish, coconut and chilies served with rice is a staple. The main meal in Indonesia is usually lunch or dinner and communal cooking with designated roles and hierarchies at the table are common.

Explore the Programs Available in Indonesia