When Dominique Holani started her Bachelor of Environment and Sustainability/Bachelor of Development Studies at Fenner School, she knew she wanted to go on exchange at one point - it was part of the reason why she chose to study at ANU. Now, she’s doing a six month exchange in Indonesia, as part of the ACICIS’ Agriculture Semester Program (ASP).
‘I’m not a big traveller and have never been overseas without family or being on a tight organised school program.’ She explained.
‘I first read about the ACICIS ASP program on a wattle post for one of my environment subjects and thought it looked like a good opportunity but wasn’t 100% sure that I should do it. I had already been searching around for an exchange program, so when I received another email promoting the program I decided to have a proper look into it and went from there.’
ACICIS’ ASP is a semester-long program that allows students to take units in a number of internationally accredited study programs at Bogor Agricultural University. These include subjects in agribusiness, agronomy and horticulture, plant protection, forestry, food science and technology, and animal production technology. The ASP runs in two intakes each year: from August to February, and from February to August. Dominique hoped that by travelling to Indonesia, she would gain more confidence travelling independently, as well as navigating a different culture and environment.
‘It’s been great learning more about Indonesian culture and it’s kind of embarrassing to admit but learning even the smallest things like how to hail and stop an angkot and how to cross the busy roads, which initially felt extremely intimidating, have felt like huge achievements.’
Not only has the experience grown her confidence, it’s also offered her specialised course content, and given her a cohort from around the world, who are also interested in similar fields and issues.
‘It’s been great going out and getting to know the group of ACICIS students and the IPB buddies that were organised for us. We’ve gotten along really well and they have been genuinely welcoming, eager to take us around and show us the ropes. We haven’t at all been made to feel like obligations, and would describe ourselves as a little friendship group who go out for dinners and enjoy catching up. Just last Sunday night we went shopping together, had a ride on a rollercoaster which was at the top level of the shopping then went and watched a horror at the movies.’
‘Academically, it’s been really interesting to learn familiar course content covered from an Indonesian perspective. It’s been quite rewarding to have them tied into both of my degrees, learning about contemporary agriculture and environmental concerns, as well as highlighting how important they are in the course of development in Indonesia and how they continue to pose challenges into the future.’
On top of learning and immersion, one of the most unforgettable experiences of Dominique’s time in Indonesia so far, has been encountering humour everywhere.
‘We’ve had huge laughs, and it’s so much fun to be able to crack some jokes and have a giggle with new friends and strangers, whether they be our taxi drivers, immigration officers, or lecturers.’
Now, Dominique is looking forward to the four-week professional placement that she'll be undertaking after the end of the semester, which will provide her with insight and hands-on professional experience in the field. Host organisations for fieldwork include international research organisations such as World Resources Institute (WRI), industry, and international non-government organisations such as World Agroforestry Centre and the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).
‘The application was a really easy process. The main parts of it involved filling out the standard forms and organising course credit, which I thought would be a huge challenge, but ended up being completed pretty easily over email. I felt fully supported by the College of Science and was offered support whenever I was confused or needed assistance.’
For more information about the Program, which is available to Fenner Undergraduates, visit the ACICIS website.