Already a year ago I applied for the Frans Seda Twin Scholarship. I remember doubting if I should apply as I was not fully finished yet with my thesis proposal. When I got the news that I was one of the awardees of the scholarship, I was really excited. I had already been in Indonesia before twice, so I knew a little bit what to expect (at least that is what I thought). Also, it wasn’t my first time to study abroad as I studied in Madrid and Geneva before. I did not prepare too much for the journey in advance.
When I arrived in Jakarta, I was overwhelmed by the enormous city (before I had only seen this city in a layover). I was very thankful for having Melissa there with me (another Twin Scholarship awardee). The traffic, the sounds, the smells; I definitely was on the other side of the world now. It took me some time to adjust and feel comfortable enough to manoeuvre through the city to explore. Exploring the city included meetings with the Indonesian awardees of the scholarship, the board of the Frans Seda Foundation and my Indonesian supervisor Valerie Selvie. Melissa and I both felt very welcome!
During my first week in Indonesia, I heard from my Tilburg University thesis supervisor that my proposal was approved, but had to be changed from an Indonesian perspective to a more global perspective. This meant I had to change my plans for Indonesia completely. After a meeting with Valerie, she proposed that I would co-write an article on the Indonesian topic with her, while at the same time write my thesis on a more global approach to the topic. I was relieved that the ‘problem’ was solved and I could finally start my research.
My thesis regards the protection of genetic resources by law. Genetic resources can be found in natural resources, such as plants and animals. These genetic resources are valuable these days as technology and therefor possibilities relating to genetics are on the rise. As the protection of these resources is not fully covered by law or is not enforceable in a workable manner, the (monetary) benefits obtained by the use of these genetic resources do, mostly, not flow black to the place of origin of the natural resource. This is a problem as the sharing of these benefits could create an incentive at the place of origin to protect their natural resources and consequently sustain the biodiversity in general. An absence of such incentive may leave natural resources vulnerable to depletion.
My first domestic flight brought me to Bali, where I could leave the busy city of Jakarta behind and indulge myself in nature. In Bali, I wrote a first draft of the first two chapters of my thesis and the article. Then, I went to Nusa Penida, Semarang and Borneo. One of the most profound experiences during my time in Indonesia was my flight to Borneo, which allowed me to see the results of mining, lodging and other nature depleting actions from the sky. I was shocked by how the landscape looked from above. This gave me motivation to continue my research. In Borneo, I spend some time in the jungle to see the orang-utans in the wild and semi-wild. My days consisted of sleeping and eating on the boat and walking in the jungle to see the orang-utans. Being so close to nature and speaking with the local Indonesian people allowed me to understand their relationship to nature. Their needs, fears and hopes did change my perspective on my thesis subject. To this day I feel grateful to have been able to experience this.
Concluding, the Frans Seda Foundation Twin Scholarship allowed me to experience Indonesia with everything that comes with it. The kindness of the Indonesian people, the intensity of their cities, the beauty of their nature, the richness of their food and plenty of other things. My final message to all students that read my experience report and are doubting if they should apply, I have one advice: APPLY! Even if your proposal is not perfect yet, even if you have doubts if you can live 3 months on the other side of the world. Still: APPLY. The Frans Seda Foundation does not only provide you with financial support, but will also support you with your research, networking and the adaptation process.
Thank you, Frans Seda Foundation, for the unforgettable adventure.
Eva Neggers, 2018 Frans Seda Foundation Twin Scholarship Student