ACICIS Series: Sofia Jayne
Anxious in Jakarta
Locking myself in the university bathroom cubicle for the fourth time in two hours, I took a second to gather my breath amidst the thick Jakarta air. The humidity made the clothes that I wore down to my elbows and knees, out of respect for the local Muslim culture, stick to my skin uncomfortably.
I was meant to be in class, sitting in a small room at a minuscule metal desk, amongst other Australian students who had travelled to Indonesia to participate in an intensive language, culture, and internship program. But there I was in a cubicle for the fourth time, trying to contain another panic attack. The cleaner who was stationed outside it, gave me another pitiful smile – she must have thought I had a problem.
The months leading up to Indonesia were full of daily panic attacks. At times, I could barely manage leaving the house out of fear that some force beyond my control would strike yet again and consume me with paralysing anxiety. So, when I received my acceptance letter for the ACICIS Journalism Professional Practicum, I was not only overwhelmed with excitement but also terrified that this anxious state would hijack my trip and cost me the incredible opportunity.
I knew that this program would be perfect for me though, and so I had to go, but it meant that I had to get better fast – if leaving the house was such a fearful task, how on earth was I meant to complete two weeks of demanding classes and a month-long internship in a foreign country?