By Jose Carlos T. Chanyungco, Chief Delegate
Our trip to Indonesia gave us, without a doubt, memories to last a lifetime and new friends to keep even longer. Six Filipino delegates participated in the Asian Medical Student’s Exchange Program last May 12-18, 2013 held in Diponegoro University (UNDIP) in Semarang, Central Java. Each day was a different adventure with some of the friendliest people in the world.
The six delegates were:
Zanria Harilen Cabreros – AMSA UST
Jose Carlos T. Chanyungco – UP MSSR-IPPNW
Maria Alyssa Christy T. Dela Cruz – AMSA FEU-NRMF
Faith Rjean A. Elayado – AMSA FEU-NRMF
Catherine Marie G. Icalabis – AMSA-UERM
Reinavelle Jeunesse D. Mateo – AMSA-UERM
Day 0. May 11, 2013
All six delegates arrived at around 1:30 AM in the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Jakarta where they were energetically met by an alum of AMSC 2011 who waited with them until the van arrived for transfer to the Gambir train station.
Once the delegates were transferred to the train station, they started their adventures with a 6-hour side trip going to Jogjakarta where they were met by the coordinator, Tegar Ksatria. Delegates freshened up, were given a hearty dinner and then proceeded to Teman Pelangi, a fair where delagates were able to try out the zorb-balls.
Afterwards, they were able to go the outskirts of Prabanan Temple and spent the rest of the evening in Marlioboro, a market for batiks and other small souvenirs, where everyone also had a second dinner of Mi or noodles.
Day 1. May 12, 2013
The delegates woke up early the next day to catch the sunrise view of Borobudur and to take some time to explore the ruins itself. The view was seen after a hike to the top of a neighboring hill and afterwards everyone went to the ruins to see and marvel at it up close wearing the traditional sarong.
The delegates could feel the history of the place since Borobudur was remarkably well-preserved and the carvings on its walls were extremely intricate.
After some more shopping outside, it was time to go to Semarang for the welcome party and dinner at the swanky La Dolce Vita restaurant.
It was the first time for the delegates to meet almost all of AMSA-UNDIP which was a little overwhelming at first but soon enough; everyone was mingling around and talking to each other. The program started with a spy-themed welcome video, introductions and other fun festivities like a Balinese dance and a live band. Everything went smoothly and AMSA-UNDIP, despite being first-time hosts, was very prepared.
The delegates along with Tegar and Sarah Dyaanggari, the university representative to AMSA, had dinner with UNDIP’s Vice-Dean and renowned neurosurgeon, Dr. Zynal Muttaquin who was the one to officially give the delegates their IDs, thus opening the program.
The day ended by meeting even more people and having this sense of excitement as everyone looked forward to the week’s events which were about to unfold.
Day 2. May 13, 2013
The first night at the house the delegates stayed in was comfortable enough to recharge all of them for the jam-packed second day. It started with a campus tour of UNDIP and the Medical Faculty where the delegates saw the various buildings and facilities the university had to offer.
The host buddies/tour guides were very accommodating during the tour. Afterwards, the six delegates were divided into pairs to sit-in a Problem-Based Learning session. The session was a glimpse onto the academic life of medical students in Indonesia that proved to be very enlightening and the delegates some ideas, which could be suggested at home.
After the academic experience, the host buddies brought the delegates to a mall downtown where they were able to try some satay for dinner and watch an Indonesian comedy afterwards, Cinta Brontausorous. Although there were no subtitles, the movie itself was very funny and there was a host buddy gracious enough to be a translator.
Day 3. May 14, 2013
The third day started with breakfast of rice porridge (Soto in Bahasa and Goto in Filipino) in a local restaurant.
Afterwards, another campus tour was given but this time, the delegates did it on bikes. Since only four of the delegates knew how to ride, the other two spent their time underneath a tree, admiring the view.
The second Problem-Based Learning session was held after the tour and it went on as seamlessly as the first one the day before but after the learning session, the delegates got to visit a histology lab class in order to see how the students in UNDIP worked.
The third day even had more activities in store. The host buddies brought the delegates into Jamu Jawa Asli Museum, which was a museum dedicated to traditional and organic medicine. The delegates even bought some products to bring home to the Philippines before going back to UNDIP.
Once the delegates arrived in school, they listened to a lecture by Dr. Zynal Muttaquin entitled Epilepsy Surgery in Indonesia: Present Status and Future Direction. The delegates also presented a token of gratitude for Dr. Zynal’s support for AMSA and letting UNDIP host the Philippine delegates.
The day ended with a very cheerful and lively (and noisy) dinner at Pak No. Aside from the day’s host buddy, a lot of other AMSA members joined the fun. Although it had only been 3 days, it seemed like we’ve all known each other for months.
Day 4. May 15, 2013
The fourth day only got more interesting. The first activity was to teach and play with kindergarteners. The delegates taught them some origami, how to wash hands properly and a few English words by playing a train game.
The delegates then went back to UNDIP for Indonesia hour where the hosts taught the delegates the basics of speaking Bahasa and Javanese along with a traditional Javanese dance.
Sam Poo Kong was the next destination. The delegates got to see the Buddhist temple that had influences of traditional Chinese, Javanese and Islamic architecture.
Afterwards, the delegates and the host buddies went to Lawang Sewu, Dutch-era train station known for its one thousand doors. The delegates explored the supposedly haunted rooms and even went underground to experience the dungeons. Despite being accompanied by a guide, it was still a scary experience for all.
The day ended with loud, sometimes out of tune singing in the Family Ktv. It was almost a competition between the delegates and the hosts but in the end, everyone was just enjoying the celebratory mood and forgot about their worries (and exams).
Day 5. May 16, 2013
For the fifth day, delegates were able to cook their own lumpia for breakfast since a host buddy’s grandmother was there to teach them.
Afterwards, the delegates were able to marvel at the museum of local Indonesian records at MURI.
Then, of course, everyone’s favorite activity; the hosts and the delegates went shopping in the nearby Paragon mall.
After shopping, the delegates went back to school for a music festival named Gloves and as a surprise, sang a Filipino song, Especially for you by MYMP, which was popular in Indonesia, for the students of UNDIP.
To end the day, the delegates and the host buddies went to the city center, Simpang Lima to get some tea from Chatime and afterwards, went out to ride tandem bikes. By this time everyone was comfortable enough to call each other Jejemon (Filipino term) or Alay (Indonesian term), which meant the same thing.
Day 6. May 17, 2013
The first activity for the sixth day was to visit the newly built, and still unopened hospital, Rumah Sakit Nasional Diponegoro.
After the very informative and impressive hospital tour, the delegates were brought to the very serene and peaceful Watugong Buddhist monastery.
The next destination, after a quick lunch, was the largest mosque in the island of Java. It was an eye-opening experience for the mostly Catholic and Christian delegates.
For dinner, the delegates and many of the hosts went back to Simpang Lima to eat and have fun. Unfortunately, there was a strong deluge, which prevented everyone from doing anything else other than to eat. Nonetheless, the delegates and hosts still enjoyed each other’s company.
Day 7. May 18, 2013
The last day started with the host buddies telling the delegates that it was going to be an extremely fun and busy day. It started at the Police Academy where the delegates were given a spectacular show by the academy marching band.
After the amazing show, there was a brief tour of the campus and then the delegates were given some snacks and a very warm welcome at the residence of the Chief of the Police Academy.
Once back in the UNDIP campus, the delegates had to play a game against the hosts and, continuing the theme from the video, it was called the Kidnappers vs. Warriors. There were various games like finding lost eggs and having a pseudo-sumo match and at the end, the delegates/warriors had to free the captured hosts.
After the game, everyone went up a hill to experience the cool breeze in Susan Spa, where there was a breath-taking view of the city and very luxurious amenities.
Going back down, everyone had a satisfying seafood lunch and then went back home to prepare for the farewell party.
The farewell party started with the delegates being ‘kidnapped’ and blindfolded before being brought to the venue. Once ‘free’, there was another video showing the conclusion of our spy adventures. The party afterwards was filled with cultural presentations, games and, of course, food.
However, goodbyes were unavoidable and it was slowly dawning on everyone how this might be the last time we see each other. There were many heartfelt farewells and long hugs. A few even shed some tears. Although the theme throughout the stay was Warriors versus Kidnappers, in the end, we all felt that we were one loving family.
Day 8-10. May 19-21, 2013
After the farewell party, some of the delegates and the host buddies chose to not sleep in order to make the most of the remaining time and at 5:00 AM, the delegates were off to the airport for the final goodbyes.
For the next days, the delegates had a side trip in the beautiful island of Bali where they got to experience the very different Hindu culture and swim at the pristine beaches.
As the delegates were flying back home, they all made plans to keep in touch with their gracious and hospitable UNDIP hosts in order to plan for another trip where they could again meet each other, may it be in the Philippines or again in Indonesia.