Understanding American Culture

Understanding American Culture – From Jakarta With Love

The influence of western culture is prevalent in Indonesia; Jakarta more specifically. Hundreds of malls filled with western stores such as Louis Vutton, Nike and H&M. The advertisements showing typical pretentious stock photos of happy white families which we are accustomed to in the states. You can hear “Closer” (for the millionth time) by the American duo, The Chainsmokers, playing throughout the mall. While you are walking you can’t help notice the eyes which gawk and stare at you as if are some kind of alien. Bule, Indonesian-slang for a western-looking person,  is often shouted out at you.

I was not fully aware of the scope of American influence before I came to Jakarta. American culture can be found in many aspects of everyday life that you may not realize. From language to the rise of popular American west coast- urban street brands such as, Vans and Thrasher.

I considered the United States to have a good reputation globally. I thought we would be perceived as intelligent and forward-thinking. The stereo-types I hear about America are mixed. People consider the citizens good people but often times view the government as controlling and out to ruin the world. When meeting new people, the first question that is often asked is, “Did you vote for Trump?” I must choose my words wisely when answering this question and try to educate them as cordially as possible on the messy politics of America.

But for the most part the stereotypes which are though about America are often taken from movies and television. Which is a idealistic view of American people and their beliefs. White people are often put on a pedestal as in movies they are seen as the most beautiful. The girls get a romanticized view of what American men as some how a superior race of human beings. Which is bull****.

By: Logan Cayton, From Jakarta With Love


Introspection of Self

My name is Logan Cayton. Currently a student at Emporia State University, I am writing this blog not only to fulfill class requirements but to also share my journey studying abroad in Indonesia. Studying abroad seemed liked an opportunity to allow myself to see the bigger picture. Already in my 3 weeks of being I have met and made connections with countless people who have showed me a different point of view. Making connections is one of the most valuable things though as I have already met some people who could potential get me where I want to be in my career.

Being taken out of your comfort zone makes you grow. You have no choice. In the streets of Jakarta I see something new everyday and I learn something new everyday. Whether it be a new word in Bahasa (The national language of Indonesia) or finding out that maybe eating food on the street your first week maybe isn’t such a wise idea.

As for why I chose Indonesia; I wanted to be surprised. Most western countries, although slightly differing cultures, share much of the same ideals. I found this out quickly while desperately searching for a roll of toilet paper, when it was already too late. But the values  and practice which many of the people display are much different than the  “western way.”  Located in Jakarta, the nation’s capital and largest metropolis. It is home to over 8 million people. With that comes an amazing array of cultures, languages and religions. The majority of the inhabitants affiliate themselves with the Islamic faith. This is evident as a mosque can almost be found around every other corner. Muslims pray five time a day, so be prepared to wake up from the call for prayer around 4:20 every morning for the first week. As the nation is run with the ideals of the Muslim this can present some adjustments for an American.

The dorms I live in are seperated by gender and no one is allowed to have guests in their room. Technically, by Indonesian law no man or woman allowed to live in the same house or have sex without being married. This law is mostly situational though and a Bule (slang for white people) should not be too worried about hooking up but should take it into account.

Although alcohol is by no means outlawed here and while many people drink, the price and availability is inferior to that in western cultures. A high tax makes it quite expensive for Indonesian standards and it is hard to find liquor stores. There are surprisingly a good amount bars and nightclubs in Jakarta with a good nightlife, if you happen to be into that.  While booze is tolerated here drugs are strictly prohibited. Indonesia is a very corrupt country just like any other country but here the police can be paid for almost anything. If you get caught driving without license, you can pay them off. Almost any crime you can think of has a price tag and it is the reason many men go into the police force here. Everything except for drugs. That can be punishable by the death penalty.

Many of the rights and freedoms we take for granted in America are not enjoyed here. For instance, a 2008 government act made it illegal for anyone to express views that the government might see as opposing their views. You do not have the right to as much free speech although in 1998 a speech and press act was passed my professor for journalism class happens to be one of the top editors for  a magazine which speaks the truth about the corruption so prevalent here.

While on a welcome trip to the Thousand Islands, a chain of islands north of Jakarta, we had a party that night after a day of snorkeling and exploring the many islands. While we were drinking and dancing the people whom we rented the home from had not informed the local police that we this would be going on. So when the police arrived and saw a bunch of foreigners, they were concerned there were drugs involved. They were most likely just trying to get money but whatever. We were then informed that the police would search through all our things. Everyone looked at each other as if this was some kind of joke. How could they have the right to go through our things without proper cause? Because you have no freedoms. They only ended up searching the locals we were with and it all worked out but the culture difference was felt by everyone that night.

By: Logan Cayton, From Jakarta With Love


One Step Further

Name: Moaz Al Nouri

Year of Studying Abroad: Sophomore

Degree/Major: Economics and Business

Country visited: France

Moaz - La Rochelle4
Why did you choose to participate in study abroad?

Being an international student in the United States gives me a whole bunch of opportunities that are not given to me back home, opportunities that I only understood their benefit by experiencing them one by one. It has also shown me the advantage of studying abroad, being in the middle of students from all over the world. Students who speak languages I don’t understand and follow beliefs I didn’t even know about,
yet were open to share their cultures and learn about mine.
They might look different, but they all think similarly.
So I thought to myself why not take it a step further where I push my limits a bit more. Go explore another country, live a new experience, practice another language, and minimize my comfort zone as much I could. To learn more and see the world better.
So I got on the first plane and went to France…not really! It was not that easy, it took me very long time, I visited the International Office uncountable times, sent the university in France many emails, and even had to go to Chicago for a visa appointment. That didn’t discourage me, though, not even a bit. I was so determined that I wanted to study abroad in France that I kept trying as much as I could, which I am so thankful for now.

What were your expectations for the country?

I visited Europe before, so I kind of had an idea of what to expect. Yet, I went with the stereotypes and thought that the people in France wouldn’t speak English and would expect me to communicate with them in French and that they would not be so friendly. Little did I know! In the city of my university, everyone spoke good English.
I was able to practice my French there but whenever I was short on words, they immediately shifted to English.
Also, people were surprisingly nice! I remember a stranger came to help me hold my luggage up the stairs leaving the metro station, and another directed me to the right place without my asking. Maybe in Paris where many tourists go, you’d find locals who get sick of being asked “where is the Eiffel Tour” and just ignore the question,
which might be understandable, but my experience with the people there was just great.
One more stereotype I went with was that they’d have really good food and desserts, which was quite accurate and fulfilled my expectations!

Moaz - France 2

Something special about the course you had?

From the social side, I liked the fact that I made many friends who were also studying abroad there. They came from Canada, Austrailia, and the U.S., some were actually from Kansas, too. We did not only work in groups on our projects together but we also had the chance to tour the city, hang out, and go on company visits. It gave me a chance to learn about Australia and Canada, even though I was in France.

Moaz - La Rochelle

From the academics side, I learned a lot about international business. We had professors from different countries, including my own, to my surprise! I also got to create a company and do its profile, budget, and benchmark, which was really cool!

Moaz - La Rochelle2

Have you had the chance to travel around?

I was so excited to visit Europe again, so I didn’t want to go to France without visiting its neighboring countries. For that, I planned a trip around 10 European cities that I have not visited before. I booked tickets on airplanes, buses, and trains. It was kind of intimidating at first, especially that I was going to be traveling alone from each city to another, but I didn’t let that stop me. I took it as a challenge. I thought of my friends and family members who live in Europe that I would reunite with, and I also bought myself a selfie stick, you know, for documenting my trip, and here are the results:

La Rochelle, France

Paris, France

Moaz - France

Rome, Italy

Moaz - Rome4

Pisa, Italy

Moaz - Pisa2

Florence, Italy

Vatican City

Moaz - Vatican City2

Budapest, Hungary

Moaz - Budpest

Vienna, Austria

Moaz - Vienna2

Prague, Czech Republic

Moaz - Prague3

Berlin, Germany

Moaz - Berlin2

Who knew you’d find your happy place away from everyone you know, in the middle of a foreign country that doesn’t speak what you apprehend?

Summer 2015
Moaz Al Nouri