My IDRP Journey #1: Finding the Right Project

In preparation for my final year at RMIT University’s Master of International Development program, I started looking for International Development Research Project (IDRP) opportunities in December 2017. At that time I contacted a number of people whom I met through development workshops and seminars, both on campus and outside. Long story short, I met Dr. Yaso Nadarajah in the same month and she offered me an opportunity to work alongside her in South West Victoria, particularly in a small town called Narrawong. She has been working in the region under RMIT’s Handbury Fellowship program, which supports community development projects in that particular location.

To be honest, I had no idea what Narrawong would look like–besides the fact that there is not much written online about the area, I also never had the opportunity to visit rural Victoria. I think this is what Bolton calls “certain uncertainty” in her book Reflective Practice: Writing and Professional Development–there is no need to know exactly what is happening, because after all the only thing that remains certain is uncertainty itself. Nevertheless, I finally had the chance to visit the town with Prof. Nadarajah in the middle of May. There, I met people behind the Indigenous Resource Garden and Sculpture project, which is the project I will be working on. In particular, I will compile a literature review for a document called Narrawong Town Social Profile. While staying there, I will also assist the Indonesian language classes at Narrawong District Primary School.

Evaluating my own experience of finding and preparing for IDRP, there are a few things that I’d like to share. First, as cliche as it sounds, networking is an important thing to do, both as a student and a development practitioner. I really suggest everyone, especially those who aren’t currently working in development, to attend seminars and get to know people there. Melbourne in particular offers the chance to attend various events every day. Joining online newsletters is also another way to stay alert about placement opportunities. Furthermore, unless you really want to do a specific project, I would highly recommend being open to possibilities, since development is such a dynamic field.

If you asked me what I wanted to do for IDRP last year, I wouldn’t have answered going to regional Victoria. However, now that I’ve started preparing for my placement, I must say this is such a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that is challenging but exciting at the same time. Taking this lesson into my future career as a development practitioner, I now aspire to be more open minded and proactive instead of thinking and worrying too much.




Sistem Perkuliahan di Australia


Alhamdulillah masih dipertemukan lagi dengan bulan ramadhan. Demi puasa yang lebih produktif, hari pertama ini akan gue isi dengan sharing tentang sistem perkuliahan di Australia, khususnya berdasarkan pengalaman gue mengambil Master of International Development (ID) di RMIT University Melbourne. Ini juga sekaligus sambungan dari postingan gue tentang program ID beberapa bulan lalu.

Mata kuliah dan sistem kredit

Di program ID, dan kebanyakan program master by coursework lainnya di RMIT, ada 96 kredit yang dibagi dalam 4 semester (2 tahun). Hampir semua mata kuliah gue bobotnya 12 kredit. Mereka ini terbagi dalam 3 kategori, yaitu core courses, program electives, dan university electives. Singkatnya, core courses itu mata kuliah wajib yang jumlahnya ada 6, sementara program electives dan university electives sama-sama mata kuliah pilihan. Bedanya, yang pertama terdiri dari kelas-kelas yang tersedia di dalam program ID itu sendiri, sementara yang kedua boleh diambil dari program/jurusan/fakultas apa saja.

Tiap semester itu lamanya 12 minggu. Di program-program lain, dari 12 kredit dibagi jadi 2 jam x 12 pertemuan. Tapi, untuk ID, peraturannya agak unik. Hampir semua kelas dibagi jadi 3 jam x 8 pertemuan, bahkan beberapa jadi 6 jam x 4 pertemuan. Salah satu alasannya adalah untuk mengakomodasi mahasiswa yang selain kuliah juga bekerja full time. Kelas-kelas yang lamanya 3 jam itu ditaruh di sore-malam hari (jam 17:30 sampai 20:30), yang 6 jam di hari Jumat-Sabtu (jam 9:30-15:30).


Setau gue, istilah capstone alias step terakhir sebelum kelulusan ini dipake di banyak universitas juga, deh. Intinya sih, ini adalah 24 kredit yang harus kita penuhi sebagai syarat kelulusan. Cara menuhinnya gimana? Kalo di ID, pilihannya bisa dengan menulis minor thesis atau mengerjakan International Development Research Project alias IDRP.

Bisa dibilang, IDRP ini adalah ciri khasnya program ID di RMIT. Research project di sini sebenarnya nggak selalu bermakna literal, karna kita bisa juga ikutan internship atau jadi volunteer untuk mendapatkan 24 kredit IDRP. Tapi, benang merah dari semua jenis kegiatannya adalah: 1) kita harus mencari sendiri kesempatan untuk ikut project/internship/volunteer (boleh di NGO, perusahaan, lembaga riset, dll.) dan 2) di akhir kegiatan, kita harus menulis Reflective Research Report yang panjangnya kurang lebih setengah dari standar minor thesis.

Segitu dulu ya sharing hari ini. Seperti biasa kalau mau tanya-tanya silakan komen di bawah. Oh iya, in shaa Allah gue akan lanjut nge-post perkembangan IDRP gue dalam beberapa bulan ke depan di blog ini. Mohon doanya juga ya, biar project gue lancar!

This month, 9 years ago


April 2009 was the first time I stepped on a foreign land: Singapore. Not for a leisure trip, but for a study tour and university visit. I can still remember how I begged my dad to send me on this trip via payphone (yup, that was the most convenient way to call home from my boarding school). Look, I very rarely ask for things–let alone pricey ones–to my parents, knowing that our financial situation wasn’t at its best at that time. However, I knew deep inside that this trip would be the door to achieving my dream of studying abroad.

Turned out, apart from financial reasons, my dad was actually very supportive about sending me to Singapore. After sorting out the payment, he accompanied me to the immigration office to make my very first passport. I was sixteen at that time, and even leaving the dorm for a while to go to the immigration office felt like a dream.

Long story short, my school friends and I spent about a week in the city-country.  We visited top schools such as NTU, NUS and SMU. At that point of time, I wanted to be an architect, and studying in Singapore seemed like a good choice for my future. Little did I know, I wouldn’t even pass the document screening two years later. But let’s save that for another post.

Before embarking on the trip, I promised myself not to waste the money my dad entrusted me. Alhamdulillah, not only did the trip open my eyes about education abroad, it also gave me more chances to visit other school trips in the following months. On that same year, I was sent to China with some of my classmates whom I went to Singapore with. The next year, I was able to visit Japan for another school program.

Now I’m not posting this to show off, or to say that everyone has to travel the world. The message that I’d like to convey is that nothing is impossible as long as you believe in yourself and your Creator. Before 2009, I had no idea I would be able to study abroad like this, but that trip to Singapore really opened my eyes that there are things that I could actually accomplish if I kept trying.

Sorry for the rather unstructured post–you don’t have to read it all, really. But I hope, if you do read it, you’ll start to trust your dreams more. Also, don’t forget that you’re not alone. There are always people who will support you, be it your family, friends, or colleagues. Don’t forget to thank them too once you’ve achieved what you wanted, in shaa Allah.

One-day Trip to Mt. Dandenong

Hello! This post will be about another one-day trip from Melbourne. Our destination is Mt. Dandenong, which is perfect for a visit in the fall season.

  1. SkyHigh Mt. Dandenong
    How to get there: from Melbourne Central Station, take the train to Belgrave Station and get on to bus #694. Get off at Mt. Dandenong Observatory.

    This place is actually a restaurant and a function hall combined, but there are also barbecue/picnic spots if you want to prepare food yourselves. If you go there by car, you will have to pay for an entrance fee. However, the entrance is free if you take public transport.

    Sure, the bus ride up there is quite… erm… challenging, to say the least, but it’s totally worth it! Just remember not to read a book or play with your phone on the bus.

    The weather was quite foggy when I was there, so I couldn’t really see the Melbourne city from above. Nevertheless, it was nice to stand on another altitude once in a while. Plus, there is a “secret garden” nearby the parking area, which is worth a visit, too!

  2. Dandenong Ranges Botanic Garden
    How to get there: from Melbourne Central Station, take the train to Belgrave Station and get on to bus #694. Get off at Parsons Lane and walk up along Olinda-Monbulk Rd.

    This garden was previously called the National Rodhodendron Garden for its vast collection of rhododendrons. It’s super pretty in the fall season, with a mix of green, yellow, and red colors everywhere. It was just the beginning of the season when I went there, but it was already beautiful.

    The most needed preparation before going there are your very own feet, because you will need to walk up and down frequently to fully see what the garden has to offer.

    On the way home, you can visit the tiny little town of Olinda, where unique cafes and shops are. On some of the shops they posted some explanations on the town’s history, which dated back to the early European settlement era.

    Overall, I was 100% satisfied with the trip, even though it was much less planned than my previous ones. As long as you have comfortable clothes and shoes to wear on the trip, plus a decent camera (sst… I actually just used my phone) to capture the beauty of this area, I’m sure you too will be satisfied!

Cara Dapet Beasiswa?

“Kak, caranya dapet beasiswa gimana sih?”

Pertanyaan ini sering banget gue dapet dari dedek-dedek gemes yang lagi duduk di bangku SMA maupun S1. Berhubung pertanyaannya nggak spesifik, biasanya gue tanya dulu si dedek tersebut lagi ngincer beasiswa apa. Tapi in general, berikut ini jawaban yang biasanya gue kasih ke mereka:

  1. Banyak cari informasiManfaatkanlah teknologi informasi yang makin menjadi-jadi ini dengan banyak cari informasi seputar sekolah/kampus/program tujuan. Kalau internet di rumah lemot, atau kuota HP kurang memadai, bisa pinjam komputer sekolah atau pergi ke warnet. Bisa dibilang, proses pencarian informasi ini adalah langkah awal kesuksesan. Semakin detail informasi yang kita punya tentang sekolah/kampus/program tujuan, insya Allah semakin siap juga untuk daftar. Ya, ibarat mau perang, mesti ngerti dulu dong medan perang dan musuh yang bakal dihadapi seperti apa.

    Oh, tambahan tips, tanya ke orang-orang yang udah berhasil sih boleh-boleh aja, boleh banget malah, tapi usahakan pertanyaannya jangan tentang persyaratan atau hal-hal umum lain yang bisa dicari tahu sendiri. Selain bisa mengganggu orang yang ditanya, persyaratan dan tanggal pendaftaran itu umumnya diganti setiap tahun/periode. Jadi, daripada sama-sama nggak enak, lebih baik tanya pertanyaan yang lebih detail (tapi jangan kelewat kepo ya hehehe).

  2. Siap-siap gagal
    Loh, belum daftar kok udah disuruh siap-siap gagal? Menurut gue pribadi sih menyiapkan mental untuk bisa menerima hasil apapun itu sangat penting. “Siap-siap” di sini bukan berarti pesimis loh. Tapi lebih ke nyiapin mindset “oke, kalo kali ini belum berhasil, gue akan coba yang lain” atau semacamnya. Kalau kalian terlalu fokus ke bagian enak-enaknya, saat kegagalan itu datang pasti akan lebih sulit buat move on.
  3. Teliti saat menyiapkan berkasUntuk yang satu ini, gue belajar banyak dari orang Jepang. Selama di sana, gue menemukan beberapa program beasiswa yang daftarnya harus tulis tangan dan nggak boleh ada salah tulis sedikitpun! Bayangin deh tuh ribetnya gonta-ganti kertas akibat salah nulis satu karakter. Nah, menurut gue, ketelitian kayak gini justru sering dilupain saat menggunakan komputer. Ada baiknya sebelum submit dokumen kalian periksa baik-baik apakah ada bagian form yang belum diisi, typo, scan-an kurang jelas, dll. Kalau perlu minta tolong teman/keluarga untuk ngecekin juga.
  4. Be authenticBaik saat menulis essay maupun saat wawancara, jadilah diri kalian sendiri. Nggak perlu minder karna merasa IP kalian nggak sebagus orang lain atau prestasi kalian cuma sebatas menang lomba balap karung. Yang dicari sama pemberi beasiswa bukan kesuksesan atau kegagalan kalian, tapi gimana cara kalian belajar dari pengalaman. Percayalah bahwa tiap orang itu unik dan punya daya tarik masing-masing.
  5. Banyak berdoaIni sih udah pasti, ya. Sebesar apapun usaha yang dilakukan, cuma Allah swt. yang berkuasa nentuin jalan hidup kita. Jadi di sela-sela nulis essay dan nyiapin berkas, jangan sampe deh ibadah yang biasa kita kerjain berkurang. Justru harus makin ditingkatkan lagi dong ya semangat “merayu” Allah nya.

    Oke deh segitu dulu tips mendapatkan beasiswa dari gue yang sotoy ini. Semoga bermanfaat. Semangat terus yaa!


NZ North Island “Must-Visits”: Are They Really Worth It?

So I just got back from Auckland, Matamata, and Rotorua in New Zealand’s North Island, and I thought I’d share my thoughts on the two places that appear regularly on travel influencers’ instagrams.

  1. The Hobbitton Movie SetHow to get there: Take a bus from Auckland to Matamata I-Site and sign up for the Hobbitton tour. From there, a tour bus will pick you up to the movie set.
    Entrance Fee: NZD 79 (including bus to the set and guided tour)

    First of all, let’s talk about the I-Site (a.k.a information center). This building was deliberately built as a hobbit hole! Apart from signing up for the Hobbitton tour, you can also get information on other places in NZ. You can also leave your bags in the designated space which costs 5 NZD.


    The movie set itself is located about 20 minutes away from Matamata I-Site. Now let me be honest and say, it wasn’t as “fantastic” as I thought it would be. I’m pretty sure the fact that I haven’t seen any of the LOTR/Hobbitton movies made the place feel “foreign” to me, as in I didn’t feel any connection to the place as the movie fans would.

    That being said, if you do have the time and money to got there, why not? It definitely is a green, beautiful place filled with cute “houses”. Plus, by joining the tour you will be able to hear interesting behind-the-scenes stories.

  2. Te PuiaHow to get there: Take a bus from Auckland to Rotorua I-Site, and then take Bus #30 to Hemo Road. Wait in the same bus stop when going back to the I-Site.
    Entrance Fee: NZD 54 (day pass, including guided tour)

    There are two main attractions in Te Puia: the Maori culture and Pohutu Geyser, which is apparently the biggest geyser in Southern Hemisphere. It reminds me a lot of Beppu and its famous Jigoku Meguri.

    By adding NZD 15 you can experience the Maori cultural performance (check the timetable first though, because it’s only performed 3 times per day). To me, this is the best part of my visit. There’s just something magical about the Haka (Maori traditional war dance) that will make you feel both threatened and entertained.

    You can also visit the Maori Arts and Crafts Institute, where students from all over NZ learn how to preserve Maori tradition with the help of modern technology. The students receive scholarships from the entrance fee to Te Puia.

Day Trips from Melbourne: Brighton Beach and Geelong Waterfront

Since I’ve listed two non-beach getaways from Melbourne in my last post, I’m now sharing with you two beaches that you can visit if you are more of a beach person (unlike me, LOL).

  1. Brighton Beach

    How to get there: from Flinders Street Station, take the train to Brighton Beach Station.

    Brighton beach is probably the most instagram-ed beach in Melbourne. The colorful bathing boxes there are indeed eye-catching. If you really want to take pictures in front of the boxes, it’s best to come early so you don’t have to “fight” with the crowd.

    To be honest, I don’t think there’s any other interesting thing to see or do there. Sure you can do sunbathing or a little bit of swimming, but other than that, it’s just a “regular” beach.

  2. Geelong Waterfront

How to get there: From Southern Cross Station, take the V/Line Train to Geelong Railway Station (Just a heads up, the V/Line fare is different from the regular one-day Myki fare. The 2018 fare from Southern Cross to Geelong is 18.48 AUD per day)

Geelong is technically not in Melbourne–in fact, it is the second largest city in the state of Victoria (after Melbourne, of course). It’s also home to Deakin University, of which one of the campuses is located right across the waterfront. I mean, can you imagine attending lectures while thinking about the beach?

The beach itself is quite lively with attractions such as a carousel and a ferris wheel . You can also find food trucks selling fish-n-chips and gelato (a.k.a beach staples).

There’s also a swimming facility for adults, and a pool for kids. You can literally spend the whole day here. Just bring your own lunch if you’re tired of fish-n-chips already.

Once again I remind you all to check the weather forecast before going, since Melbourne’s weather (especially in the summer) is always unpredictable.

Enjoy your trip!