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Photo by Celia Mitchell (2015/16 Semester Photo Contest Entry), Indonesia Semester.

Money and Banking

Selamat pagi! Good Morning!

This post is about uang (money) or duit (cash). We have some information and tips to help you decide how to prepare for personal expenses that might come up during the course. Try to think about what you will need for souvenirs, snacks, juice, laundry, postcards, & postage over three months. We recommend ~$200; some spend more, but many people spend less. If you plan on buying lots of gifts for folks back home, you might have a slightly larger budget. Some participants splurge on hand-drawn batik (wax-print fabric) in Yogyakarta, or hand-woven ikat fabrics in Flores, but we want to emphasize that the most important thing you get on this trip is experiences and connections—it is the memories that you will carry with you the longest.

Credit Cards/Debit Cards/Cash: Indonesia is a cash economy, so you won’t be able to use debit or credit cards to make direct purchases at most stores, but rather will get cash from ATMs and then use that. Most debit and credit cards will work at the ATMs of major banks, and we will plan in time for such errands. It’s not a bad idea to bring two cards, maybe one debit card for regular use and a credit card authorized to extract money at ATMs in case you lose one of your cards early on. Please have all the bank information you need to cancel the card in case you lose the card. Remember also to call up your bank and tell them you will be traveling with the card and accessing money from Indonesia (this is often referred to as putting a travel flag on your card), and make sure you know the pin. Pro-tip: Always having $20 US dollars in a hidden part of your money-belt is a smart practice.

Q: Should I bring cash and convert it to Indonesian currency?
A: It’s a good idea to have some of your local currency for backup even if you are bringing a bank card. There will be opportunities to exchange money after our orientation, once we are in Yogyakarta. There will be more opportunities to exchange money in Makassar.

You can post any money related questions to the yak board—it is likely other participants will have a similar question—or email an instructor if the topic is sensitive.

Sampai jumpa di Jakarta! Until we meet in Jakarta!

Colin, Rita, and Bradford