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Our Visit to ITB - Exchanging cultural knowledge

Today we visited the “Institut Teknologi Bandung” which is the local FHNW partner university. Upon arrival, a group of Indonesian students welcomed us warmly. The traditional Swiss initial shyness was quickly outplayed by Indonesian openness during an initial session where small mixed groups of four to five students from each country discussed differences and similarities between Switzerland and Indonesia. After 30 minutes every group held a short presentation about its findings to share the insights with everyone else.

One particular similarity was hardly surprising; millennials like Instagram and boomerang-pictures no matter where they come from. That’s why a more than just a hand full of little group photo-sessions started to spontaneously form in every corner of the room.

Once this first part of the day came to an end, new groups between exploreASEAN’s delegation members and buddies from ITB were formed to start the second part of today’s programme: exploreBANDUNG! My group consisted of four Indonesian students, two other Swiss students, and myself. Our buddies openly invited us to ride with their cars to various points of interest in the city of Bandung. The first official highlight on the agenda was a visit to the government building, which locals playfully call “Gedung Sate” which means “satay building” referring to the building’s central pinnacle which sort of looks like a traditional Indonesian dish called satay. However, my first personal unofficial highlight was riding along and seeing Aldilla, and Indonesian student roughly the same age as myself, driving and navigating through the messy Bandung traffic. Frankly, I wouldn’t have gotten behind the wheel for a fortune, and I couldn’t help but silently admire Aldilla’s oversight and reflexes that got us safely through to our destination.

Our second stop was Braga Street. Lovely buildings, colourful plants and a multitude of inviting bars and shops lined the avenue. We decided to have lunch in a local restaurant. Luckily, Yosefa, the second of our new found friends from ITB, was willing to translate and explain those parts of the menu that weren’t available in English. Together with her personal recommendation, I managed to pick out a tasty bowl of rice and fried fish with traditional Indonesian sauce.

Lastly, we all gathered back on campus to have a little campus tour and a wrap-up session were each group shared their individual experiences. That was then the last part of the official programme but as our group did get along so well we decided to go for a joint dinner later on where we could chat a little more. All in all, it was a very fun but also insightful day that taught us far more about Indonesian culture than any book or lecture could have had.

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