Bandung: Faculty of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (FTMD) at Institut Teknologi Bandung (ITB) supports students in various global academic activities, especially student exchange. The student is free and has the opportunity to choose the university and the study program through the various student exchange programs available. It aims to develop their highly valued skills and gain broader knowledge and experience. 

As experienced by Raihan Lutfianto, one of the students in Aerospace Engineering 2018, got his chance to study abroad at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis).   

After coming back from Davis, Raihan shared many experiences and benefits. The experience was an added value for him when he started his career right after getting his bachelor’s degree at ITB.   

Host Family 

host family

Unlike other student exchange programs where the student lives in a dormitory, Raihan lived with his host family during the program. The host family program certainly gave him experience as a local. Through his host family, Raihan had one younger sister and younger brother.  

“Once I arrived, I was welcomed by a dog…” said Raihan.  

There was something funny when Raihan arrived in Davis. His host family also raised a dog that has been treated like a family member. The family and the pet are close and affectionate to each other. Thus, Raihan’s arrival was not only enthusiastically welcomed by his family but also by the dog. It is one of the unique cultures in Davis, considering that not every family in Indonesia threats their pets like their family member. 

With his host family, Raihan did many things together. They played together, decorated cupcakes, cooked instant noodles made in Indonesia (Indomie), and did other siblings’ activities. Raihan’s parents were also warmhearted. The mother cooked halal-based food because Raihan could not consume certain types of food. Hereafter, Raihan made traditional Indonesian drinks such as bandrek (Sundanese Sweet and Spicy Hot Drink) and bajigur (Sundanese coconut latte) for his host family when the weather in Davis was freezing. 

After Raihan returned to Indonesia, he stayed connected with his host family. He sent a gift to his host sister to celebrate her birthday.  

Cross-Cultural Understanding 

Davis is a small town in California. Its population ranges from only 50 thousand people with more bicycles than its population. Thus, everyone cycles for their daily mobility. This city is known as the “Bicycle Capital of the World.”   

“The electronics at Davis are not as valuable as a bicycle,” he explained.  

When we compare a laptop and a bicycle, both are placed in public open spaces, so the the bike is missing more frequently than the laptop when placed in public space. For the locals, bicycles make their lives easier. Without a bike, their lives are no longer valuable. Raihan also rented a bicycle as his transportation during the exchange program.  

Based on his story, Raihan was amazed by the friendliness of the locals. Every local greeted him when they met accidentally. One day, he was cycling, and the locals did not forget to say hello.  

Educated Cities   

As a Muslim, Raihan acknowledged that he never had trouble carrying out his prayers. He can already find a mosque just a 2-3-minute walk away from campus. Islamic Centre Davis is a large mosque that is quite active with its daily religious activities. Besides the mosque, there is also a room for prayer on campus. The room is called Reflection Room. While being used for prayer, other students often use the space for self-reflection.  

Being active in non-academic activities 

Besides being active in academics, Raihan was involved in other non-academic activities. One was volunteering in the Pantry Division of ASUCD (Associated Students of UC Davis). This division is responsible for free food and essentials for students. The students just showed their student ID cards to get free food and basic needs. After one and half months of joining, Raihan learned how ASUCD managed the food and basic needs given by the government, maintained the food supply post, and collaborated with the community on food-sharing activities.  

While volunteering in the ASU CD Pantry division, Raihan joined a student association. It is Formula Racing (FR UCD). Unfortunately, due to the heavier academic activities, Raihan was not overly active in many FR UCD activities. 

Socio-Cultural Activities in the Local Community  

Kegiatan di I-House Davis

Raihan was involved in community activities. One of them is the International House (I-House Davis), a social community activity for all ages. The activities are related to cultural acculturation, various language mini-courses, and others. The locals were willing to teach American accent English to international students who were studying there. Besides English classes, several other language classes, such as Spanish, Arabic, and others, can also be found. Small cultural parades or fundraising events are often held by I-House Davis. 

Introducing Indonesia   

Raihan and other exchange students from Indonesia held a memorial of youth vows and Batik Day. The event was filled with traditional Indonesian dances, song performances, and small exhibitions. The exhibition featured trinkets, carvings, and typical Indonesian statues. The committee also invited the participants to watch a movie together. Because it was close to the Halloween celebration, they played an Indonesian horror genre film. Raihan said that the locals were amazed by Indonesia’s many types of ghosts.  


Studying abroad is the ultimate way to explore and grow. You will experience new places and cultures, make friends from around the world, gain a global perspective, perfect your foreign language skills, and develop problem-solving abilities. It will allow you to build your highly-valued skills.