Connecting Indonesia and Australia: Online & face-to-face

Hi! My name is Reymond Kana. I am one of Indonesian mentors in the UniBRIDGE project. I was a student of Nusa Cendana University when I first joined the program. The UniBRIDGE Project is a program that aims to connect Indonesian and Australian students together through an online web-conferencing platform. Through the use of that platform, we can learn the cultures of both Indonesia and Australia and the Indonesian and English languages together, and is also a great opportunity for networking. Here I am going to share my experience when UniBRIDGE gave me an opportunity to visit Australia.

Good things will come at the right time. It was the first time I got a message from UniBRIDGE through Chris Hall as the Director of the Program that Sari and I received a chance to travel to Australia. I never thought that I would ever receive this great opportunity since I finished my university studies. The message said that we were appreciated because of our contribution to UniBRIDGE, and that we would become official volunteers for UniBRIDGE and an opportunity to visit Australia.

Days of preparation came by. I prepared all the things that I needed to travel to Australia, such as my passport, visa, and travel insurance. Luckily, I was helped by UniBRIDGE and Nusa Cendana University through its International Relations Office to prepare all the required documentation. I also got suggestions from some previous awardees about what I have to prepare and what I should do when I arrive in Australia.

The study tour began. We flew from El Tari airport at 1 PM on Garuda Indonesia Airlines to Ngurah Rai Airport in Bali. It was about 3 PM when we arrived in Bali. We had to wait for a few hours for our next flight to Australia as it was at 10 PM. We decided to just stay at the airport because it was the first time in Bali and there was nothing to do there to kill the time.

The time for international flight that we had been waiting for came. We flew on Virgin Australia Airlines. It took about 6 hours from Bali to Sydney. It was early morning when we got to Australia, so we saw the beautiful sky with the sun rising over the harbour city.

This was the first time ever in my life stepping my feet in Australia. It was one of the greatest experiences that I've ever had. Honestly that was my first flight and it was to Australia. Such a wonderful gift, right? Yeah absolutely! Anyway, at Sydney International Airport, Chris Hall was already there when we arrived. After that he took us to a café st Coogee Beach to have brekkie. My first Australian meal that I ate was toast with smoked salmon, scrambled eggs, and some vegetables in it. It was so delicious. The drink I had was just hot chocolate as my stomach was a bit unwell. While having the brekkie, Chris also gave us an outline of our activities there and an Opal card for each of us so that we could use the public transportation there. Sari and Rezky who took pictures there while I just laid on the grass and took a little nap.

The first day was a big day for me and Sari because we had planned to visit Canberra as well. So we took the bus to Canberra from Central Station. It took about 3 hours to get to Canberra from Sydney. In Canberra, I stayed with my friend Albert who is doing his Master's degree there. And Sari stayed with her UniBRIDGE friend, so we were separated in Canberra. The city is quiet if I compare it to Sydney. But I think it would be a comfortable place to live. I spent 2 nights there. I went to the Australian War Memorial, Australian National University, the old and new Australian Parliament House, and National Library of Australia. I also went to some places like Questacon and Arboretum but when I was there, the places were already closed, so I just walked past them. There I also went to Canberra Center where there are a lot of shops. Me and my friends also went to a Turkish restaurant where they sell kebab, which also sold in Kupang but I never tried it, so I tried there. We enjoyed the food at the edge of Lake Burley Griffin where I can see Mount Ainslie with a Telstra tower on it.

It was then the time to go back to Sydney. We also had a big day on that day that we had to go to University of Sydney to join Bahasa Indonesia class as we reached Sydney. The class was so interesting. There we were discussing our own perception about the old Nusa Tenggara Timur (NTT) and the NTT today, and about the culture of NTT. The university is so unique. It looks like Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the Harry Potter movie. It is not just a university, but it is also a tourist attraction where there are many tourists visiting just to take pictures. In Sydney I stayed at a hostel where I was in the same room with some other guys. It was a nice yet strange experience that I had.

Besides going to University of Sydney, Sari and I were invited by Australian friends to a Greek restaurant. There I ate some food that can’t remember their name because they all are written in Greek except a glass of Greek beer that I drunk. There was a day where it rained during the day, so I decided to spend the day to buy some presents at Paddy’s market and a market near Central Station. Overall, it was an amazing experience to be able to go to Australia and visit the friends that I made through UniBRIDGE Project.

UniBRIDGE Project is supported by the Australian Government through the Australia-Indonesia Institute of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade