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Indonesia: Arts, Religion, and Social Change

Indonesia: Arts, Religion, and Social Change

Examine the important roles played by Indonesia's arts and six officially recognized religions in shaping sociocultural discourses in Bali and Java.

This program, based in Bali, blends contemporary culture and politics with rich cultural traditions in the arts and religion. You will examine the arts and religions of Indonesia, as well as the socio-religious and other current issues the country faces, including those related to land, water, ethnic identity, and the environment, especially as they relate to the tourism industry in Bali. You will be immersed in the traditions and contemporary interpretations of Hindu and Islamic religious and cultural practices in the context of political transformation and tourism development.

Major topics of study include:

  • The dynamic ways in which Balinese traditional arts, social networks, and the environment are changing, in conjunction with the opportunities and pressures of globalization
  • Current debates on the future of Balinese culture and society in relation to global pressures such as increased development and international tourism
  • The ancient roots of Javanese and Balinese culture and the history of the republican movement that led to the formation of modern Indonesia
  • How religion, society, and the arts have developed side by side on each island

students in lecture in IndonesiaIn this program, you will examine the close relationship between contemporary economic and political change with religion, fine arts, performing arts, gender politics, and social organization in contemporary Bali. You will discover the dynamic ways in which Balinese traditional arts, social networks, and the environment are changing, especially in urban settings, in conjunction with the opportunities and pressures of globalization.

Institutions we work with include:

Kerambitan, Tabanan

sitting and praying in Indonesia

The program is based in the Tabanan area of west central Bali; the program center is located in the ancient Tabanan palace known as Puri Saren Kangin Palace. This location has been the program’s orientation site for many years.

Located just an hour from the airport, Tabanan is a very important regency in Bali and is known for its beautiful rice terraces, black sand beaches, temples, and distinctive art forms. In 2010, UNESCO officially recognized Subak Jatiluwih—the beautifully terraced rice fields—as a World Heritage Site.

During orientation, you will visit Tanah Lot Temple and witness the purification ceremony held there, before commencing your activities in Bali.

In the nearby city of Tabanan, you may visit the Subak museum where you can see traditional tools used by farmers before the modernization of Bali’s rice production.

Subak is an irrigation organization unique to Bali: organization members are those who have rights to plant and harvest the rice fields and share water from the same water source.

You may also witness many of the temples in the area, including those dedicated to the goddess Danu, the Lake Goddess, who is said to irrigate the rice fields. You may also visit Tanah Lot Temple, a public temple situated on a rocky outcropping on the coast. The fresh holy spring water bubbling from the rock under the foot of temple is the source of tirtha (holy water) for all Balinese.

students interacting with Indonesian peersInteraction with Indonesian Peers

The program includes several opportunities for you to meet, socialize, and work together with Indonesian peers. In Java, Indonesian peers are invited to participate in program activities such as interfaith dialogues and intercultural social events.

Local students from Udayana and Warmadewa universities participate in the village excursion to Tabanan. This gives both groups of students a wonderful opportunity to share the surprises of village life and to get to know one other in an informal atmosphere. Indonesian students will partner with their SIT peers in a joint field-study assignment to conduct interviews and gain primary data for an analytical paper. This will give you an opportunity to practice carrying out interviews in a cross-cultural setting.

Field Study

Field-based exercises are an essential component of this program. One of the highlights of the semester is attendance at religious and other cultural ceremonies. You will witness processions to the river, tall and beautiful handmade rice ornaments, and special dance performances lasting late into the night. You may purchase pakaian adat, the beautiful Balinese clothing to wear to religious ceremonies.

The Field Methods and Ethics seminar will instruct you in the techniques, methods, and ethics necessary for successful research. The course focuses on the concepts of learning across cultures and from field experience. Material includes:

  • Cross-cultural adaptation and skills building
  • Appropriate field study methodologies
  • Field study ethics and the World Learning / SIT Human Subjects Review Policy
  • Developing skills in observation and interviewing
  • Gathering, organizing, and communicating data

Throughout this section of the program, you will establish ideas for your Independent Study Project and learn how to develop your research topic properly.  

mponent of this program. One of the highlights of the semester is attendance at religious and other cultural ceremonies. Students witness processions to the river, tall and beautiful handmade rice ornaments, and special dance performances lasting late into the night. Students may purchase pakaian adat, the beautiful Balinese clothing to wear to religious ceremonies.

The Field Methods and Ethics seminar instructs students on the techniques, methods, and ethics necessary for successful research. The course focuses on the concepts of learning across cultures and from field experience. Material includes:

  • Cross-cultural adaptation and skills building
  • Appropriate field study methodologies
  • Field study ethics and the World Learning/SIT Human Subjects Review Policy
  • Developing skills in observation and interviewing
  • Gathering, organizing, and communicating data

Throughout this section of the program, students establish ideas for their Independent Study Project and learn how to develop their research topics properly.  

Independent Study Project

You will dedicate the last month of the program to conducting primary research on an Independent Study Project (ISP) on a topic you select. This individual research project allows you to apply the concepts and skills of your experience-based learning in the Field Methods and Ethics seminar and your interdisciplinary coursework, while exploring a topic of particular significance to you.

Student ISPs on this program have been many and varied over the years, including those based on arts practica and the social sciences. In the social sciences, students have produced high quality works on topics including:

  • Balinese rural women's reproductive health issues
  • Local responses to illegal use of land 
  • The social and ritual organization of "original Balinese" villages in Balinese highland areas
  • Street art and youth culture
  • The ritual significance of gamelan music and Balinese dance
  • Tourism and the environment
  • The export of Balinese culture via tourism
  • Modern arts of Java and Bali
  • Gender minority in Java
  • The role of women in contemporary Islamic communities of Java
  • Life at Pesantren, the Islamic boarding school

Some students have elected to do the arts practicum ISP, for which they have worked with a wide variety of local experts in the fine arts, performing arts, textile arts, and musical arts. In many cases students have established a lasting artistic and personal rapport with their local partners that has led to the development of innovative artistic approaches. Many projects have been beneficial to both SIT students and their Balinese/Indonesian teachers and peers.

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Coursework in this program focuses on the connections between contemporary Indonesian society, politics, and economy with the historical traditions apparent in everyday life, be it urban, village, or rural. Coursework puts the experience of being in Bali in historical context, especially with regard to its special history as an island that was brought under the influence of Dutch colonialism very late (1846 for North Bali, 1909 for South Bali), and never lost its unique form of Hinduism. Through a combination of thematic seminars, language study, field studies, and educational excursions, the program introduces students to the historical, political, and economic (tourism, oil, international investment, and agriculture) conditions of everyday life in Bali, Java, and Indonesia.

Coursework also aims to assist students in understanding the very different set of personal and social points of orientation that are in the background of Balinese life but serve as determining factors in their sense of self and society. These include the relationship between the self and the geophysical world, social relationships, and the relationship to the calendar that determines rituals, an important part of Balinese life.  

Students examine the ways in which the arts fit into these patterns. Students explore the deeply seated Balinese notion of a constant interplay between physical/visible reality and a metaphysical/non-visible world of energies that is believed to exist alongside the visible world, and to condition the visible world in ways that often require ritual or healing interventions.

Links to syllabi below are from current and forthcoming courses offered on this program. Because courses develop and change over time to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, actual course content will vary from term to term.

The syllabi can be useful for students, faculty, and study abroad offices in assessing credit transfer. Read more about credit transfer.

Arts, Religion, and Social Change Seminar – syllabus
(ASIA3000 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
An interdisciplinary course conducted in English, with required readings, that draws connections between contemporary Indonesian society, politics, and economy with the historical traditions apparent in everyday life, be it urban, village, or rural. Students also explore the dynamic ways in which Balinese identity and traditional arts are changing, especially in urban settings, in response to the pressures of globalization and increased Balinese engagement with global networks. Lecturers are drawn from institutions such as the Faculty of Letters of Udayana University, Universitas Pendidikan Ganesha, Universitas Gadjah Mada, and local NGOs. Educational excursions are an integral part of this course, and attendance at evening and weekend temple ceremonies and performances is sometimes required.

Bahasa Indonesia – syllabus
(INDO1000-1500 / 6 credits / 90 class hours)
Bahasa Indonesia – syllabus
(INDO2000-2500 / 6 credits / 90 class hours)
Bahasa Indonesia – syllabus
(INDO3000-3500 / 6 credits / 90 class hours)
Emphasis on beginning speaking and comprehension skills through classroom and field instruction. Instructors are faculty of Udayana University in Denpasar. Classes are taught three to four hours daily. Based on in-country evaluation, including oral proficiency testing, students are placed in beginning, intermediate, or advanced classes. Balinese or Javanese language instruction is available for students with full competence in Indonesian.

Field Methods and Ethics – syllabus
(ANTH3500 /3 credits / 45 class hours)
A course in the concepts of learning across cultures and from field experience and an introduction to the Independent Study Project. Topics include cross-cultural adaptation and skills building; project selection and refinement; appropriate methodologies; field study ethics and the World Learning / SIT Human Subjects Review Policy; developing contacts and finding resources; developing skills in observation and interviewing; gathering, organizing, and communicating data; and maintaining a work journal.

Independent Study Project – syllabus
(ISPR3000 /4 credits / 120 class hours)
Conducted at an approved location in Bali, Java, and other parts of Indonesia appropriate to the project. Sample topic areas: the ritual significance of gamelan music and Balinese dance; contemporary youth culture and street art; painting in the Ramayana tradition; the social-political relation of government and religion; environmental challenges of global tourism; the representation of myth in public art; traditional healing arts and modern medicine; the export of Balinese culture via tourism; traditional village life and governance; gender and economic change; irrigation management in rural Bali; the aesthetics of religious tradition in Bali; the role of women in contemporary Islamic communities of Java.

Browse this program's Independent Study Projects / undergraduate research.

Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.

prambananEducational excursions along with field visits to foundations and NGOs engaged in contemporary social challenges in Bali are designed to directly complement and enhance classroom study and fieldwork. The program includes visits to important historic and cultural sites, temple festivals, and other religious rituals, performances, and local ceremonies outside the program's home base.

Java: History, Islam, and the Arts

The program includes two weeks in Java, the most populous island in Indonesia, and home to a majority Muslim population. Java is also well-known as the original home of tempe and batik textiles. While in Yogyakarta, you will have firsthand experience in making a batik T-shirt of your own design with local experts, and you will see a ballet version of the Hindu epic the Ramayana. Yogyakarta is the site of some of the most famous ancient temples of Southeast Asia.

During this time in Java, you will have easy access to lecturers from universities such as Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM) and Universitas Sanata Darma (Sadar) as well as to the intellectual and artist communities of Yogyakarta. Lectures and excursions will focus on the major religions and philosophies represented in the area, the famous court arts of Java, and the way that social change is expressed through the arts and education in Islamic schools and universities. You will also have experience visits to Pesantren, Islamic boarding schools, and you will see numerous examples of street art forms.

This excursion also includes visits to Borobudur and Prambanan, important Buddhist and Hindu monuments, and homestays with Javanese families who are mostly Muslims.

Tabanan District

Lake Bratan

You will spend between four and six days in a rural farming village in the Tabanan district of Bali, one of the leading regions for Indonesian rice production. During your time in Tabanan, you will have the opportunity to learn about local agriculture and the unique practices of subak societies, which govern rice-field irrigation. You may choose to test your own rice planting skills, learn about traditional medicines, prepare a traditional Balinese feast, play sports with village children, and learn Indonesia's peculiar and widely influential traditional music, gamelan. You may also learn how to make traditional medicine after a lecture on traditional healers and medicine in Bali. You can also make coconut oil and coconut bowls as part of the optional activities.

This excursion is an excellent opportunity for you to examine how the arts are configured in traditional rural settings of Bali, where religious activities are still closely tied to agricultural cycles and rhythms, as well as intergenerational continuity and change in contemporary cultural practices in a North Bali village. A highlight of the visit is the opportunity to engage with a group of Indonesian university students from the English language programs of Udayana University and Warmadewa University in Denpasar.

While in the village, you will conduct an interviewing exercise to gain primary data for your thematic seminar paper on a topic related to your ISP. This assignment will help you develop your interviewing skills and reveal the challenges and problems that might come up during your ISP so you can try to find the best solutions to minimize problems.

Around Bali

This three- or four-day excursion will take you to the mountains of central Bali and along the north and east (or sometimes west) coast. In the fishing village of Sangsit, you will meet with Muslim and Hindu community leaders and villagers for a round-table discussion on the religious and cultural diversity of the north coast. This discussion will be followed by an excursion to several klenteng, Chinese temples; to a wihara, a Buddhist monastery; and to the mosque at Sangsit.

This excursion will give you an exceptional opportunity to observe firsthand Bali's geographic and cultural diversity. During the trip through the mountainous area of the Kintamani ridge, you may have the opportunity to stop at Sukawana, a Balinese village that maintains an old form of social organization based on an "age hierarchy." You may also visit at least one of the village's major temple sites. If the weather permits, you can climb Mt. Batur, the second largest mountain in Bali after Mt. Agung.

DenpasarDenpasar and Udayana University

After returning from the excursion in Yogyakarta, focus on the themes of social change, current issues, and the environment and tourism in Bali. You will have lectures at Udayana University and stay in a hostel in the Denpasar area; the program will also visit conservation projects around the Sanur area. You will have opportunities to interact with the Indonesian and Balinese students who joined the group during the village visit.

You can take advantage of the excursion in Denpasar to locate contacts for your Independent Study Project—reaching out to the community of journalists, intellectuals, and artists who live and work in the area.

While the city lacks towering skyscrapers, Denpasar is decidedly urban, and you will have the opportunity to explore the city's large bookstores and shopping centers, observing the way business operates outside Bali's central tourist zone.

Ni Wayan Ariati, PhD, Academic Director

ariNi Wayan Pasek Ariati (Bu Ary) completed her doctoral work at Charles Darwin University of Darwin, Australia, a city whose location on the north coast of Australia makes it a natural partner in the future of Indonesian-Australian relations. Ary comes from a small rice-farming community in the Tabanan region of Bali and is still involved in the social and religious life of her native town. She completed her BA in English literature and linguistics at Udayana University in Denpasar in 1988 and joined the Indonesian language teaching staff of the SIT Indonesia program in 1991. She received a Fulbright grant in 1996 as one of the Indonesian language teachers for the SEASSI (South East Asian Summer Study Institute) program held at Arizona State University. She was appointed coordinator of that program in 1992 and served in that capacity until 1997, when she and her family shifted to Darwin, Australia. In Darwin she worked as an instructor in Indonesian language before returning to the SIT program in Bali in 1999. In 2000–2001, she served as one of the academic directors for the Bali program, and subsequently took up posts with SIT in Western Samoa and North India. Her experiences in North India kindled her desire to make a comparative study of female images in the Hinduism of India and Bali. This led to her doctoral work at Charles Darwin University (CDU), where she completed her dissertation in history and women’s studies titled “Journey of a Goddess: Durga in Indi, Java and Bali.” Her published articles include “Theodicy in Paradise” (Journal of the South and Southeast Asian Association for the Study of Culture and Religion, New Delhi, June 2010).

Edward Trisna (Edo), Program Assistant

Edward “Edo” Trisna studied English language and literature at Udayana University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in 2009. Edo joined the SIT Study Abroad program in Bali as a program assistant in fall 2014. Edo previously worked for several event organizers from 2007 until 2014, and he was involved in various international conferences and events in Bali, Jakarta, and Surabaya.

Language Program Coordinator and Staff

The intensive Indonesian language course is taught by highly qualified instructors who graduated from the Udayana University Denpasar, Bali. They are the authors of Bahasa Indonesia for Beginners, used exclusively on the SIT Study Abroad Bali program.

Language instructors include:

I Made Yudiana, Language Coordinator

Made Yudiana (Pak Yudi) joined the SIT program in Bali in the fall of 2001. He completed his BA in English at Udayana University the following year. Before joining the SIT program in Bali, he worked for many years in the NGO field, especially for Bali Hati, an NGO specializing in educational support for children of lower income families in Gianyar and Badung regencies. He devotes much of his free time to further developing his mastery of English and often provides assistance to local institutions delivering English language courses to native speakers of Indonesian.

I Made Joni Jatmika (Jo), Language Instructor

Jo holds a master’s degree in linguistics with a concentration in translation study from Udayana University in Bali (2011–2015), and she obtained a bachelor’s degree from the English Department Faculty of Letters at Udayana University (2002–2006). She also completed a program in multimedia and design from the New Media Interactive Computer College (2007–2008).

Utei Charaleghy Pamphila (Ella), Language Instructor

Utei Charaleghy Pamphila (Ella) joined the SIT program in Bali in fall 2014. She earned both her BA in English language and literature and her master’s degree in linguistics from Udayana University. During her time as a university student, she taught English for Indonesian students at several English courses for about five years. She developed her intercultural communication competence when she worked as a translator and interpreter in the Indian Consulate General for two years. Her experience in learning, teaching, and translating English has, to a great extent, contributed to her understanding in the language learning process faced by foreign students.

Other lecturers include:

Dr. Mohammad Iqbal Ahnaf, Lecturer

Dr. Iqbal holds a BA in Islamic theology from the State Islamic University, Yogyakarta, Indonesia; an MA in comparative religious studies from the Centre for Religious and Cross-Cultural Studies, Gadjah Mada University, Indonesia; an MA in conflict transformation from the Centre for Justice and Peace-building, Eastern Mennonite University, US, as a Fulbright grantee; and a PhD in public policy from Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. He also has received training in automated text analysis from Social Science Automation Inc., Ohio, US. He has been an intern at the Search for Common Ground, US; a country representative at Asian Muslim Action Network; a trainer of peacebuilding strategies for Indonesian civil society activists at the Centre for Justice and Peacebuilding, Eastern Mennonite University; and a researcher and analyst for the Security Monitor Program of the Centre for Strategic Studies, Victoria University of Wellington. Dr. Iqbal’s work focuses on two issues: Islamist movements in democratic context and religious-based violence and peacebuilding. He has studied the changes of Islamist movements as the result of their interactions with the democratic context of the Muslim world. He has facilitated interfaith bridge-building programs bringing interfaith leaders including those associated with hard line movements. At present, he is conducting a research project on multi-religious coexistence in Indonesia.

Dr. Baskara T. Wardaya, Lecturer

Dr. Baskara T. Wardaya is an Indonesian national and a professor of history at Sanata Dharma University, Yogyakarta, Indonesia. He holds a master’s degree and a PhD in history from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. During his studies and upon the completion of his studies he has been conducting research on post-independence Indonesia, especially with regard to the 1965 anti-communist purge in Indonesia, its international context and its impact. He has published several books on the topic, including Suara di Balik Prahara: Berbagi Narasi tentang Tragedi ‘65 (Voices Behind the Tempest: Shared Narratives on the 1965 Tragedy) (2011), which has been translated into English and published in Melbourne, Australia, as Truth Will Out: Indonesian Accounts of the 1965 Mass Violence (2013). He is also the author of the book Cold War Shadow: United States Policy toward Indonesia, 1953–1963 (Yogyakarta, 2007).

Based on his academic studies and research experience, he has substantial knowledge of the political, ethical, and other problems of human rights documentation and archiving. Since 1998 he has been conducting archival research in several US libraries, such as the Truman Library (Independence, MO), the Dwight D. Eisenhower Library (Abilene, KS), the John F. Kennedy Library (Columbia Point, MA), the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library (Austin, TX) and the Library of Congress. While working as Fulbright Scholar in Residence at the University of California-Riverside (2011–2012) he did archival research at the Richard M. Nixon Library (Yorba Linda, CA) and the Ronald Reagan Library (Simi Valley, CA).

Dr. Siti Syamsiyatun, Lecturer

Dr. Siti Syamsiyatun is the associate director of ICRS-Yogya. She is also a lecturer at the Department of Dakwah UIN (State Islamic University) Sunan Kalijaga (1996–present). Dr. Syamsiyatun has been a member of Pusat Studi Wanita (the Center for Women's Studies), UIN Sunan Kalijaga, from 2006 to the present. From 2006 to 2008, Dr. Syamsiyatun was the director of the UIN Sunan Kalijaga International Office.

Dr. Syamsiyatun earned her master's degree in Islamic studies from McGill University, Montreal, Canada, in 1998. Her master's thesis was entitled: "Al-Shahrastani on the Shi\'i Doctrine of Imama: An Analysis of the Views Expressed in His Works of Al-Milal wa al-Nihal and Nihayatul Iqdam fi \'Ilmi al-Kalam." Dr. Syamsiyatun received her doctoral degree in politics from Monash University, Australia, with a dissertation entitled "Serving Young Islamic Women: The Dynamic of the Development of Gender Discourse in Nasyiatul Aisyiyah 1965–2005."

Dr. Syamsiyatun has received several awards and scholarships. In 2009, she was a Fellow of the Asian University Leader Program (AULP), hosted by the United Board for Christian Higher Education (UBCHEA). In 2008, she was named a Fulbright Visiting Specialist for the program entitled Direct Access to the Muslim World at the College of Idaho, Caldwell, Idaho. During 2002–2006, she received an Australian Development Scholarship to undertake her doctorate program at Monash University.

Dr. Syamsiyatun specializes in Islamic and gender studies. She is now teaching at ICRS-Yogya and UIN Sunan Kalijaga. Some courses she has recently taught are: The Development of Modern Islamic Thought; History of Islamic Culture/Civilization; Multiculturalism; Gender Analysis in Islamic Perspectives; Approaches to Islamic Studies; Religion and Gender; Women, State, and Civil Society; and History of Religions in Indonesia Part II (From 1900 to Present).

Olivier Pouillon, Lecturer

Olivier was an SIT Study Abroad Bali program student in 1991. His Independent Study Project (ISP) was on the Bemo System in Bali, the public transportation system in Bali. Olivier has over 17 years’ experience working in the environmental field, particularly in managing solid waste pollution in Indonesia. He first worked for the Wisnu Foundation, Bali’s first locally established Indonesian environmental organization, from 1994 to 1998. During that time, in 1995–97, he designed and established the first professional waste management system on the island, which became the company PT Jimbaran Lestari. After the Asian financial crisis, from 1999 to 2007, Olivier ran his own export company before returning to Jimbaran Lestari as their business development executive. He worked there for another two years before leaving to establish a new waste recycling company called Peduli Bali, also known in English as Bali Recycling. CV Peduli Bali (an acronym for Perusahan Daur Ulang Limbah Bali, which in English means Recycling Company of Bali) is the first fully licensed waste management, recycling, and hazardous waste processing facility in all of Bali. Peduli Bali is a pioneer in locally effective methods to collect, process, and recycle rubbish. In a very short time it has established itself as an innovative company where rubbish is either recycled, composted, or reused, and it has developed new methods to recycle difficult items such as Styrofoam, batteries, and wine/liquor bottles. Olivier is married to an Indonesian woman and has two children aged 6 and 18.

homestay familyHomestays in this program give you a special window into the values, daily lives, and activities of contemporary Hindu Balinese and Muslim Javanese societies and provide additional context for language and thematic coursework. Balinese families typically live in "house-yards" or family compounds that consist of a variety of separate buildings with a fair amount of open space separating each building or pavilion. You will discover the details of the Balinese home, including the role of the family shrine, the living quarters, and spaces for rituals or special guests. In contrast, Javanese Muslim families typically live in one building, and all the activities are carried out in that house.


The primary homestay for this program is located in the village of Kerambitan, within a short walk from the program's classroom facilities.

Through this homestay experience, you will have extraordinary opportunities to observe daily life and participate in the arts and social practices of the village. Kerambitan families, similar to most Balinese families, are very tight-knit and welcoming. You may have the opportunity to join your host family at a wedding, tooth filing, or other life-cycle ritual, and you will see an odalan or anniversary ceremony at a local temple. Students often forge strong connections with their homestay family, and many remain in contact following the program's termination.

You will begin your homestay experience in Kerambitan at the end of the orientation period and will return to your homestay between excursions and for the last few days of the evaluation period. The length of stay with your Balinese family — approximately five weeks spread over the entire program period — will provide you with an exceptional opportunity to become closely acquainted with your homestay family members.

rural homestayRural Homestay (Tabanan Area)

During the rural visit in the Tabanan area, you will experience a second homestay lasting four to five nights. You will experience the area's strong sense of community while staying with village families, most of whom live in large compounds housing several families from a single descent group.

Yogyakarta, Java

You will live with a host family in Yogyakarta for ten days as part of the group excursion to Java. The homestay families in Java are predominantly Muslim, which will allow you to become familiar with the predominant religious culture in Indonesia. During the stay with Javanese families, you will be invited to participate in socio-religious activities and social gatherings with the local communities. The Javanese families are very welcoming to SIT students. They are proud to be chosen as the homestays of students visiting from the United States, the home country of Barack Obama, who spent part of his youth in Jakarta, west Java; there is a museum near campus where visitors can see Obama’s bedroom when he was student.

Other accommodations during the program include hostels or small hotels.

A diversity of students representing different colleges, universities, and majors study abroad on this program. Many of them have gone on to do amazing things that connect back to their experience abroad with SIT. Learn what some of them are now doing.

Recent positions held by alumni of this program include:

  • Founder, Bali Recycling, Bali, Indonesia
  • Researcher, Institute of Ethnology, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany
  • English Teacher, Madrasah High School, Bandung, West Java, Indonesia

Program Dates: Spring 2016

Program Start Date:  Jan 29, 2016

Program End Date:    May 12, 2016

The dates listed above are subject to change. Please note that travel to and from the program site may span a period of more than one day.

Student applications to this program will be reviewed on a rolling basis between the opening date and the deadline.

Application Deadline:   Nov 1, 2015


SIT Pell Grant Match Award. SIT Study Abroad provides matching grants to all students receiving Federal Pell Grant funding; this award can be applied to any SIT semester program. View all SIT Study Abroad scholarships.

Tuition: $15,200

The tuition fee covers the following program components:

  • Cost of all lecturers who provide instruction to students in:
    • Balinese arts
    • Cultural anthropology
    • History and politics
    • Geography and economics
  • Practicum: students receive instruction in a traditional Balinese craft or art form
  • Field Methods and Ethics on research methods and Human Subjects Review
  • All educational excursions to locations such as historic and cultural sites, temple festivals, and local ceremonies in the Ubud, Tabanan, and Denpasar areas of Bali and two weeks’ excursion in Yogyakarta Central Java, including all related travel costs
  • Independent Study Project (including a stipend for accommodation and food)
  • Intensive language instruction in Bahasa Indonesia
  • Health insurance throughout the entire program period

Room & Board: $2,050

The room and board fee covers the following program components:

  • All accommodations during the entire program period. This includes during orientation, time in the program base (Kerambitan), on all excursions, during the Independent Study Project, and during the final evaluation period. Accommodation is covered either by SIT Study Abroad directly, through a stipend provided to each student, or through the homestay.
  • All homestays (eight weeks in villages in the Kerambitan area, a four-day rural homestay with university student partners and ten days in Yogyakarta with families)
  • All meals for the entire program period. Meals are covered either by SIT Study Abroad directly, through a stipend provided to each student, or through the homestay.

Estimated Additional Costs:

International Airfare to Program Launch Site

International airline pricing can vary greatly due to the volatility of airline industry pricing, flight availability, and specific flexibility/restrictions on the type of ticket purchased. Students may choose to take advantage of frequent flyer or other airline awards available to them, which could significantly lower their travel costs.

Visa Expenses: $ 160

Immunizations: Varies

Books & Supplies: $ 50

International Phone: Each student must have a phone in each country. Cost varies according to personal preferences, phone plans, data plans, etc.

Discretionary Expenses

Personal expenses during the program vary based on individual spending habits and budgets. While all meals and accommodations are covered in the room and board fee, incidentals and personal transportation costs differ depending on the non-program-related interests and pursuits of each student. To learn more about personal budgeting, we recommend speaking with alumni who participated in a program in your region. See a full list of our alumni contacts. Please note that free time to pursue non-program-related activities is limited.

Please Note: Fees and additional expenses are based on all known circumstances at the time of calculation. Due to the unique nature of our programs and the economics of host countries, SIT reserves the right to change its fees or additional expenses without notice.


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SIT was founded as the School for International Training and has been known as SIT Study Abroad and SIT Graduate Institute since 2007. SIT is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc. (NEASC) through its Commission on Institutions of Higher Education

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