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Melanie Woo

Communications & Marketing Assistant, International Co-op

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Indonesian pagoda surrounded by a lake and a boat floating in front
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Alexandr Podvalny from Pexels
It is very important to establish personal relationship in the workplace and especially with a client before getting to business.

"Reach your ambition as high as the skies! Dream it as high as the skies! Because if you fell, you're going to fall among the stars!" [Translated]


- Soekarno, President (1945-1967) of the Republic of Indonesia

Halo! Selamat Datang ke Indonesia!

Capital: Jakarta
Currency: Rupiah

Work in a thriving country, full of new prospects and opportunities. Indonesia is a new hub for job opportunities, with a mix of rich flora and fauna and a flourishing metropolitan centre. It is the destination for food and nature lovers, being a country rich in culture and tropical attractions.

Int'l Co-op Students' Experiences in Indonesia

"I was also very lucky to have the chance to work with an anthropologist who just wanted to learn from the people by getting involved. This was definitely one of the greatest parts about my job, and I am so thankful to her for this learning experience. The weather was so hot there, but people's warmth always managed to cool me down. I remember one of the women who claimed to be my mother said to me once, 'you have to come back. You live with us. You'll never starve, and you'll never have trouble finding a place to lay your head on. We're here for you.'"

- Hayati Indah Putri, Communication Major
Ethical Expeditions

Working in Indonesia

Different cultures have different work etiquettes and nuances. When immersing in your co-op work term placement, it is important to adhere to the cultural expectations. The following information is from the Canadian Intercultures website

  • Attire: Indonesia is a tropical country; the best thing to wear is any clothing made of cotton. Be clean and wear ironed clothes. Men and women shouldn't wear shorts to work. Dress pants and jeans (depending) are acceptable for men with short-sleeved shirts. Just remember to dress modestly, especially if you live in the rural area: do not show a lot of skin or wear anything that is too tight.

  • Greetings: You can easily and safely address everybody by Ibu (Mrs. and Ms.), usually shorten to Bu and Bapak (Mr.) usually shorten to Pak. Coworkers address each other Mbak/Mas (older sister/older brother in Javanese) instead of the formal Bu/Pak.

  • Punctuality: As you are a foreigner you are expected to be punctual and always present unless you are really ill. The local people might behave differently, especially if they are of a higher social status than you are, or if they are your boss. Then they will then have the privilege of being on "jam karet", which literally means 'Rubber Time' (to stretch the time or be late). Deadlines are very flexible in Indonesia. It would be a good idea not to tell everybody about the "real deadline". Give them a deadline before your "real deadline".

  • Decision-Making: It is important to discuss ideas and plans with your supervisor. You have to keep in mind that you are working in a foreign environment and you don't know all the nuances of language and culture, therefore it is best to get as much feedback and input on your work to help guide you in this context.

  • Relationship: It is very important to establish personal relationship in the workplace and especially with a client before getting to business. In Indonesia business is only done with friends, not with strangers. Indonesians tend to be timid and shy, and the more comfortable they are with you the better the working relationship. It is best to develop working relationships with equals in terms of office hierarchy. Age determines the level of respect you will be granted as well.

  • Language: Friends and colleagues appreciate the efforts you make in learning the language and the culture and are likely to be keen in helping you along. Often, friends and colleagues will ask for your assistance in return to help with their English. 

Past Co-op Employers from Indonesia

The following are some past Co-op employers that have hired SFU students. Check with the International Co-op office for other previous employers.

  • PT Freeport Indonesia

  • Ethical Expeditions

  • dBelga Toserba & Swalayan

  • dBelga Distributor Tulungagung

  • PT AJN Solusindo

Interesting Facts

  • Religion is the most important thing for an Indonesian. It is illegal not to have a religion and a person's religion is stated in her/his ID card beside all the normal information that an ID card usually include: address, date of birth.

  • Indonesian spas and salons offer the very popular "cream baths"; the local herbal hair treatment which includes massage from head to shoulder or toes.

  • Indonesia is made up of 17,508 islands. About 6,000 of these islands are inhabited by people.

  • Badminton and soccer (football) are the two most popular sports in Indonesia.

  • The Balinese cat actually is not from Indonesia. It is more likely a Siamese Cat (from Siam or Thailand), and called Balinese because the cat moves very gently like an Exotic Bali Dancer when they are want to sit.

  • Indonesia is home to Komodo dragon (varanus komodoensis), the largest lizard in the world.

  • Indonesia is also home to the Javan rhinoceros, which is not found anywhere else in the world.

  • Wayang kulit, or shadow puppets, are a unique art and entertainment form in Bali. The puppets are manipulated behind a white screen, with light and shadows producing an effect similar to holding your hand in front of a white movie screen.

  • The word "ketchup" comes from the Indonesian word "kecap," which means "sauce". The letter "c" in "kecap" is pronounced "ch".

  • Roughly one third of the active volcanoes in the world are located in Indonesia.

  • Prior to turning three months old, Balinese babies are carried everywhere. They're not allowed to touch the ground until they've reached the three-month mark.

Places of Interest

Traveling and exploring is part of the co-op experience! Here are some attractions and sights that are well-known and breathtaking. For more attractions, visit the Indonesia Travel Guide Website.

  • The Islands: Bali and Lombok

  • Borobodur, over a thousand years old and one of the greatest Buddhist relics in South-East Asia. It is constructed of over a million and a half stones, with nearly 6 km of reliefs and 300 statues of Buddha.

  • Yogyakarta, Java

  • The National Monument ("Monas") in Jakarta

  • Orchid Gardens in Jakarta

  • Derawan Island in Kalimantan

  • Sumatra (the "Africa of Asia")

  • Sulawesi Island

  • Genung Bromo (2,392m), an ancient crater with four peaks rising from it and the most popular climb in Java.

Selamat Tinggal!

Beyond the Blog

About the Author

Melanie Woo

Communications & Marketing Assistant, International Co-op

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