io.undip.ac.id – Kemitraan Negara Berkembang (KNB), the fellowship of developing countries becomes the flagship of Indonesian scholarship for foreigners. It is seen that every year, Government of Republic of Indonesia accepts more than 100 people every year to undergo their studies in Indonesia under this scheme. One of them is Hassana Dauda Sani, the awardee of KNB Scholarship from Nigeria. She has just finished her master degree in Faculty of Public Health at Diponegoro University. She loves to tell the story of ‘being’ Indonesian for 3 years and here is the story:
“MY EXPERIENCE IN A PLACE FAR AWAY FROM HOME…….!
I was a Nigerian girl who only knew about foreign countries from books and movies, with the hope that I will one day experience living abroad and fortunately it did come to pass even though it wasn’t my dream country, I did make a special journey.
Moving to Indonesia made me start a completely and an unbelievable new life. The journey from my home country to my new country was long but exiting since it was my first time going to Asia. I looked out for every detail I could get about the continent with every transit during the journey. Although I was scared travelling alone, I however had my hopes high. My feelings were complex – I was full of curiosity and my heart was like a rabbit’s but at the end I arrived my destination and was warmly received by my hosts.
The next day I got up and I couldn’t wait to go out, even though I couldn’t understand the local language. I looked at my new surroundings, it was very different from what I was used to. Everything, everywhere, everyone was new for me. I thought I couldn’t live there, and I was scared about that. As time went on, I gradually learned many things. I remember the Indonesian people were especially kind, and always smiling so I thought to myself, they would help me to understand and be understood. I felt that I shouldn’t be afraid because I had predecessors whom I could also learn from and I was also aware I was going to take a language course. So, I told myself it wouldn’t be as difficult as I thought since I have always liked to learn new languages. The important thing was that I could be secure and happy to live in Indonesia, and start to feel like it was my sweet home.
As time went by in this strange country, I started to know about the culture (the do’s and don’ts), the food (most of the people prefer to eat out rather than cook at home which is the opposite of where I come from), how to relate with the people, as well as how to take care of myself which was a good chance to get my own independence. Although at first, I had issues with the food which I couldn’t cope with but as a result of this, I fell ill and was hospitalised. The doctor advised that I should try to eat their food because my blood level was low since I wasn’t eating well. With this, I set out to try the cuisines and I eventually fell in love with a few (Nasi goreng, nasi padang, roti bakar, lumpia, soto ayam, buah naga, e.t.c). I also discovered the local market where I could get varieties of raw foods and make myself. Notwithstanding, there were special delicacies back home that I couldn’t and still can’t get here and I miss taking them.
I find the fact that people around here barely know anything about the African continent compared to the level of knowledge we have about the Asian continent over there, surprizing. As such, they see or compare us (Africans) to the Papuans while some other people think we are African Americans. I always have to explain to almost everyone I meet; what Africa is like and what life is all about there. They are curious to know why we have different skin colour and most especially, they are thrilled to know that I am actually a Muslim because they don’t think there are Muslims in Africa.
Another very amazing thing about Indonesia is the tourism! I am always fascinated about every tourist site I visit because the places are always well decorated, homely and everyone trying to show what they’ve got to offer. There are more than a thousand tourist sites in this country of which I have visited very few.
Studying in UNDIP was also part and the largest of my experiences. I loved the environment and learning atmosphere. It has provided me opportunities to challenge myself and gain a huge improvement in academic areas, but also taught me lessons about life. The lecturers and students are always supportive, so with time, I became much more confident to communicate with others and express my opinion in class.
Having lived here for more than two years, it has been an enriching experience because it forced me to adapt to things that are unfamiliar and unusual, I have become independent and open to new, exciting, or terrifying challenges that I would never have encountered in my home country. And that is the most rewarding of all: the opportunity to learn and develop as a person, because I discovered things about myself that I never knew before; my beliefs, passions, character. Through interacting within a foreign society, my eyes got open to all sorts of aspects of life that would be difficult to learn in my native country since my stay here has made me to come in contact with not just the Indonesians, buy other people from other countries around the world with different social cultural behaviors.
I am very happy and glad that I came here. A new country, a new life and new challenges…!”