Thursday, January 21, 2016

Indonesia Travel Opportunity: The Darmasiswa Scholarship

My first visit to Indonesia last year (during my wandering around Southeast Asia), Lombok, Bali, and some parts of Java got me hooked into this country's landscape. Then, I told my local friend I want to come back to Indonesia, but hopefully not for just 1 month as it is expensive to go in and out of the country. Then, he said, I should look into the Darmasiswa Scholarship.

The Darmasiswa Scholarship is a 1 year program offered by the Indonesian Government to citizens of countries which the country has diplomatic relations with (though this is almost all countries). Aside from being an opportunity to travel this country, you are paid (by means of ~$140 or exactly 2 Million Rupiahs allowance every month) to learn Bahasa Indonesia, Arts, Culinary, Traditional Medicine, Tourism and even IT. A great opportunity for Nomads wannabe, those who'd like to take a break from work or school (gap year), or just plain want to be and learn Indonesia.

Is the money enough? Well, first, the ID government will shoulder the transportation from Jakarta to the city of the University. From your country to Indonesia, and then back to your country, you will have to provide on your own.

For the allowance, this is more than enough for your daily expenses of going in and out of the classes, and occasional trips on the weekends. It really depends on your lifestyle. Some of my classmates in my university are even able to save half. It depends too on your city.

For accomodation, you may opt to stay in the University Dorms for the cheap. However, university dorms may have stricter guidelines, and sometimes the university is not entirely in the center of the city, and that, transportation almost everywhere in Indonesia after 9pm, is very hard, if not expensive (taxi).

Apart from the discourse, You can choose from a list of Universities around the country. In case you are not accepted in your chosen program and university, check the tickbox which says you will consider other universities which may be able to accomodate you.

Most people, and I deem a lot are actually those into travelling Indonesia, either more or besides studying, chooses Java, more specifically Bali and Jogja. Hence, competition (for slot) in this side is a little stiff.

Cost of Living in the city should be one thing to consider when choosing the University. Each city will have a different cost compared to the other. West Java for instance will be a lot cheaper than Bali. Consider your interests as well. If you are a party goer, and needs party once in a while, perhaps, Java is your best bet. If you want serenity, perhaps Sumatra.

For those who'd like a very very quiet space (no parties, very timid nightlife, and pretty much conservative environment and people, but amazing landscape, choose West Sumatra, UNAND in Padang, where I am. Food is very spicy here, so try to consider that. Imagine your breakfast, fried rice is actually fried chilli's with rice.

In choosing Sumatra though, and probably Kalimantan, and some parts of Java, consider that annually, there is a problem on forest fires which may hit your city.

For 2016/2017, some of the requirements have changed compared to that of 2015/2016. The requirement of being a student, and also not being more than 30 years old. For our batch, I have seen even seniors in the program, for some reason I am not sure. I suggest consulting the embassy in your country about it.

Note that for the entirety of the program, you may be allowed to go out of the country only 1 time. Succeeding time, you will have to process an exit/entry permit on your own, and at your own cost.

There are several holidays in Indonesia too, and December breaks depend on the University that you will go to. In UNAND Padang, we have more than a month from December to January, which I am usiing right now to explore Indonesia. After a month of landtrips from Padang, West Sumatra, I am now finally in Cilegong, West Java. YES! Sumatra alone is so biggg!

In case you are not available to arrive at the opening ceremonies, or the first few weeks of classes, you may later talk to your provider, University International Office secretariat, about it. We have one student arrive almost a month after.

Exact details about the program are in their site.

results come out a little, perhaps a week, after published date... be patient.

In your application, you will be asked about what you intend to use your knowledge of Indonesia for. I thought this made a big factor in my application.

In my case, which I really meant, I wanted to work for the welfare of illegal migrants (Indonesians and Malaysians in South PH, and Pinoys in Sulawesi and Borneo). Other than this, i made mention of the need for collaboration and familiarity because of Asean Integration. Don't copy mine though; have one on your own and mean it. Your sincerity may be looked into.

Additonal Tips for Pinoys based on my application:

It took me several months before I managed to get the correct details of the Indonesian Embassy in Manila, until I gave up sending emails to addresses and phone numbers that don't work. Then, a friend later found out I was interested in taking the program, and connected me to his friend who works in the embassy. It was already a few days past the deadline, but after a phonecall, I was given the chance to submit, which I managed to do within 1 day.

Applications are to be submitted by paper. In my case, as I am outside Manila, I shipped, LBC, my documents for next day delivery, just to make it on time.

contact details for Indonesian Embassy:

Gotty Simbolon
Coordinator Office of Education and Culture AttacheEmbassy of the Republic of Indonesia
Manila, Philippines
Phone +63 2 8925061 to 68 Loc 123 and

For Health Certification, please go to a doctor and seek certification fit for travel and study. Get as much recommendation as possible, from previous boss, from professor, etc.

No need for IELTS Certification. It is but known that we speak English, so that's negligible.

For familiarity with Indonesian language, we are more than familiar. A lot of the words are the same, and you will be surprised that a lot of compound words, which root base don't make meaning in Tagalog, actually has individual meanings in Bahasa Indonesia but derived compound word is not in use in Bahasa Indonesia. E.g. Dalamhati... Dalam (inside) Hati (heart or liver). Tanghali... Tengah (middle) hari (day).
Other than this, a lot of words are the same except for the sound, mostly "R"s changed to softer sounding "L"s. So, no need to worry about the requirement of being familiar with Bahasa. You are born familiar with it. Just go over the basics on google. 

Filipino participants at the opening ceremony in Jakarta 2015-2016 Darmasiswa program

Yeah, there are countries with as much as 40 participants, and to think that this programs started for ASEAN, how could we only have 3 here. lol... hence, I wrote this article. Not so much of us know about this, and rather than getting ourselves familiar with countries of the west, why not our neighbors and blood relatives?

You will be surprised as to how much familiar things are, culture, food, etc, and some people won't even believe you are not Indonesian, to a point that they will ask you for IDs if you tell them you are Pinoy.

Then remember, upon your stay in Indonesia, try to think of something to give back what the Indonesian government has granted you over some of its citizens who are working hard to earn a living.

Darmasiswa UNAND 2015/16 participants fund raising for an orphanage in Padang

Visit the Darmasiswa site.


  1. And right away I have looked for my documents.. Thanks for sharing!

    1. go and submit. in any case you are still missing a few docs until the deadline, just talk to Gotty from ID Embassy in Makati and submit them later.


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