Bule is a common term, used in Indonesian language (Bahasa Indonesia) to describe foreigner, precisely – white-skinned person coming from a Western country. Direct translation leads to the word 'albino' however these days is used in spoken form to refer to any tourist / expat visiting the country or moving from across the ocean to live in the Archipelago.
Many people find the word insulting, as it's often overused by street vendors, sellers and taxi drivers to draw attention of their potential clientele.
While being an intern in Indonesia, especially in a bit less tourist area, you should be prepared that word 'bule' will always be with you wherever you go, whatever you do. Saying that, we would like to show you some more positive aspects of being bule, as our interns have experienced the most amazing adventures and shared with us the most incredible stories that happened just because of their 'bule' status. So keep calm and see 'bule' more as a way to express the special status of a person coming from different, therefore very exotic for an average local person, culture.
1. You will be asked to pose for photos with local people (yes, selfie will do as well).
Being popular always adds to your life this special 'celebrity touch' that makes you feel a little more important and a little more courageus to interact with people that you don't know. That way you are gaining more self-confidence, as along with photo requests are coming sweet words, compliments and sincere admiration for your not-so-black (or even blonde!) hair, light eyes or pointed nose. Feels good!
2. You will get to feel the Indonesian hospitality.
Indonesian people are very proud of their cultural heritage, traditions, festivals and local celebrations. The same way, they like to share their ceremonies with other people and believe that presence of people coming from different cultures is invigourating the event itself. As a result, even during your relatively short stay in Indonesia, you will encounter countless opportunities to take part in very diverse events – weddings, graduation ceremonies, reception for newborn babies, religious festivities, cultural & artisitc performances. On top of that, you will be treated as a special guest, with all the intentions - to make you feel relaxed and comfortable.
3. You will always find someone willing to help you out.
One may say that 'helping thing' it's a more universal truth, but you need to believe that especially in Indonesia you will be taken good care of as 'bule'. Indonesians are extremely friendly, helpful and polite by nature, but while interacting with people from different culture – on top of that they do feel responsible for your safety, comfort and often also entertainment. They will offer you their help not hoping for anything in return. Our interns have reported being brought home on a motorcycle by random people, as they couldn't find way home or being given free samples of fruits or vegetables by street vendors – 'so can discover more flavours'.
4. You will experience the best of Indonesia, in every meaning.
Doesn't really matter, if it will be your flatmates, workmates or friends from the University, they will always go an extra mile just to make you discover the spot with the best local food, hidden in the jungle waterfall or some magical view point on the hill just outside the city. These little gestures intended to show you all the highlights that the country, the city, the neighbourhood have to offer, are meant to give you beautiful memories and make you come back to Indonesia again!
Certainly word 'bule' will not define you as a person in any way. In Indonesia is more like a symbol of a different, yest not fully recognised culture. Being in Indonesia, you will create your very own image of 'bule', filled in with your energy, personality and positive ideas. The key is simple – find the way to make your stay in Indonesia the best possible experience. Doing internship with us is one of the ways to make it happen!