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Units of Study: i.e. subjects!

When travelling in a foreign country, there are things a person wishes they experience – and things they hope they never have to relive again. Funnily enough, all it took was one bite of an otak-otak and some street market food to make our first field school trip one that we will never forget.

Since arriving Batam, we have wanted to visit one of the hospitals to get a sense of the state of health services. Finally, on the 4th of July, after almost a week in Indonesia, our chance finally came.

Chris: My diagnosis was chronic stomach cramps due to … you guessed it, seafood. The culprit: a prawn. My only recollection of eating a prawn was in some soup I had for dinner one night at the local markets. Once shelled and deveined it mustn’t have been any bigger than half the size of my little finger. Prawn 1 Chris 0. I was given some medicine and we were on our way.

Veiongo: My allergic reaction was triggered by a traditional Indonesian seafood dish known as otak-otak. My lip began swelling and four hours later I was a red marshmallow. It took two hours to get back to our hotel from the small island where the allergic reaction had been triggered where I contacted clinicians back in Australia to seek advice. An hour later, Chris and I were sitting on hospital beds in one of Batam’s private hospitals. I was given medication, an injection and then paid a total of $22 AUD for hospital treatment (What a bargain!!!).

Chris: The following three days were mostly a blur. What I do remember however is being too scared to leave the vicinity of a clean and reliable toilet, I slept for most of the day and I was in a much worse condition. This was due to what Indonesians call mencret. Essentially, I had taken too much of the prescribed medication and I ended up dehydrated. Prawn 2 Chris 0. Back to the hospital! I was there for one hour in total with new medicine and another hospital experience.

A few things we noticed about the hospital: It was clean, the staff were friendly and could speak some English. As we wanted to be more cultured, we both tried our best to make use of our limited Indonesian vocabulary. Although it would have been easier if we spoken English, according to Mul (one of the leaders of the trip and native Indonesian speaker), the nurses and doctor were very happy to see the bules practising their Indonesian. This was a confidence builder and reinforced the benefits and importance of learning a language. Anyone who has tried to learn a second language understands that although it is challenging, time consuming and at times embarrassing, it is incredibly rewarding.

We are now (almost) back to full health. But there are a few things future travellers should learn from the Work and Organisational studies (WOS) students:

- Take an allergy test before leaving Sydney
- Just because the locals and other travellers can eat roadside delights doesn’t mean you can
- Don’t be that guy or girl that ate seafood and then got sick…. Twice
- Trying to speak the host country’s language puts you one step ahead of the person who only speaks English
- Even though it was one scary experience, at least we got to try out medical treatment in Indonesia

We would like to thank Mul and Gulnaz for accompanying us to the hospital, the awesome Harris Hotel staff, the hospital staff and our supportive field school team for being there when we needed them. A special shout out too to Dr Jacob Opio, Jacky Ayo-Opio and Lavinia in Australia for being on call 24/7. We really appreciate it!

Batam, you have been an incredible experience. It will definitely be a trip we will never forget!

Written by: Christopher Donovan and Veiongo Lamipeti

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Christopher Donovan- Hospital visit no.1

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Veiongo Lamipeti- waiting for an injection.

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Batam is a synecdoche of hope and prosperity for many people and has become a place where individuals and family migrate to from other areas of Indonesia in hope of finding a better life. Since arriving in Batam, my colleagues and I have experienced something that has changed all of us for the better.

The purpose of this trip was to conduct interdisciplinary fieldwork on rural-urban migration to Batam. But, as this trip draws to a close and as everyone is furiously typing away to complete our final assessment for the trip, there are very many things that we will walk away with when we depart on Saturday.

Here are some things that I believe most of us experienced whilst travelling abroad on the Australian Government's New Colombo Plan:

Interdisciplinary fieldwork is not only challenging but it is one of the best learning opportunities that I have personally ever experienced. The diverse culture, religion, food and the people on this trip makes all the fieldwork we have to do worth it. Whether it is travelling to Nagoya, ‘de bottle’ or the little night markets, each day brings with it new experiences and the opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of this ‘Industrial Zone’.

The disciplines on this trip involved individuals from economics, geography, work and organisational studies, and Indonesian studies. Each discipline brings a different perspective, attitude and approach to our fieldwork. This group is the epitome of the idea that diversity enhances productivity, creativity and as a result, enhances everyone’s understanding of the area of research. At the beginning of this trip, very few of us had much in common, but we have come to understand and appreciate the strengths and weaknesses of the people in our group. For example, what one lacks in writing, they are able to make up for with their strong interpersonal skills, which is useful for when conducting interviews.

And, finally, the last lesson of the trip: as Mul, one of our leaders, said, “you need to build a strong foundation before you build an empire”. Not only is this applicable to Batam, but also a motto we should build into our everyday lives in order to leave our mark in this world.

Special thanks to SSEAC, Michele, Mul, Sydney University and the Australian Government for making this all happen. The experiences from this trip have shaped our understanding Batam’s place in the world and reiterate the importance of developing stronger relations with Southeast Asia. It was a learning opportunity like none other!

Written by: Veiongo Lamipeti- Bachelor of Health Sciences (majoring in management).

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Pictured (Left to right): James MacDonald, Veiongo Lamipeti and Laura Van Den Honert

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