The struggles of being a journalist in a foreign country.

One of the biggest struggles I’ve encountered since working in Indonesia is the language barrier. I did not realise how hard it would be.

Back home in Australia, I love conducting my own interviews – meeting the talent face-to-face and having a conversation with them as they tell me their story.

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Each time I’ve gone out to do an interview in Jakarta, I’ve been accompanied by a translator. The first time I was with an intern who was helping me out. His English wasn’t that great, but it was better than having no one and attempting to interview people by myself.

I really struggled with not knowing a 100 per cent what the talent was saying or if the translator was asking the right question and translating the responses correctly to me. I felt like I didn’t trust the translator.

Don’t get me wrong, the intern was a really great guy and he knew his stuff, but the language barrier between him and I made it really hard to communicate what I wanted. I’m very grateful he agreed to help.

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I went home after the interview and felt really down because I didn’t know what to do. I messaged an Indonesian friend of mine, who I knew and trusted and asked him if he could help me out the next day. He agreed to help.

The following day I was out with my friend conducting interviews. I felt really good because I knew he’d explain everything to me. It was also a bonus his English skills were much better than the intern.

My mojo was definitely lifted at this stage. Even though I was communicating to my talent through a translator, I still felt connected with my talent and I think that’s really important when you interview someone.

Something else I’m trying to get used to is what Indonesians call ‘Indo time’. Nothing is ever on time and the main reason being traffic.

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Example: We could have dinner booked for 6:30 and then because of the rain and protest no one would get to the place until at least an hour later because of traffic.

Another example is we could have an editorial meeting scheduled for 11am, I’ll be in the office by 10:30 (I like to try to get to things at least 15 minutes early – but that’s just me) and I’ll be the first person in the building. The meeting then wouldn’t start until 11:30-12pm. Crazy times in Jakarta.

This whole experience has probably been one of the hardest things I’ve done in my career, but it’s also been one of the most rewarding experiences.

It’s widen my perspective of what I want to do with my career. I’ve always had the idea of not leaving Australia and climbing up the ranks to be a political reporter. But now I’d love the opportunity to be a foreign correspondent in any country before I chase my dreams of becoming a federal political reporter in Canberra.

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This placement has let me meet people I would not normally meet. I’ve interviewed Chinese-Indoneisans celebrating Lunar New Year, refugees living in Jakarta and Saroo Brierley whose book was made into the movie Lion – that was a real treat!

I’ve been working on my skills as a multi-media journalist and am loving every step of it. I love that I can take my own pictures, find and interview my own talent, write my own stories and film my own vision.

Surprisingly I’m not feeling home sick yet and I think it’s because I’m having way too much fun. I will definitely miss Jakarta and can not wait until I come back.

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