Yes, I skipped a blog post last week.
Chinese New Year season made me embrace the art of doing nothing – except nibbling some cookies, hehe!
This week my mind takes me back to good ol’ school days in Jogjakarta. I spent two years there separated from my family and boy, I thanked my parents for it!
Jogjakarta, Yogyakarta or Jogja is a small city in Indonesia located on the island of Java.
If you’ve travelled there, you will know the city for its cultural heritage, Borobudur Temple, Mount Merapi and Malioboro Street.
But the locals know the city better as Kota Pelajar aka the City of Students.
Children from various cities of Indonesia come to Jogjakarta to complete high school or attain a bachelor’s degree as the education system is good and the cost of living is low.
For example, Gadjah Mada University (UGM), one of the oldest and largest universities in Indonesia which ranked 320th in the world (according to World University Rankings 2020) is located there.
For food, you can get a decent and nutritious meal from as low as RM2 or USD0.50 (price is based on my experience, 10 years ago).
My parents almost send me to an all-girls boarding school. Luckily, they brought me along and we decided to rent a room. It’s just too many rules and not enough personal space for me!
Although I didn’t stay in a boarding school, my stay in Jogja opened my eyes, shaped my personality and made me tougher.
Here’s why I recommend parents to send their children to study in Jogjakarta:
They Become More Empathetic
It starts at school. The school that I attended (Stella Duce 1) values mutual assistance when it comes to school fees.
That means, children with strong financial backgrounds pay higher school fees to help others who don’t have the privilege.
But it doesn’t stop there. Most of my friends were staying far away from their families too, therefore, we always share what we got – especially food.
They Learn to be Humble
The Javanese people are soft-spoken, polite and friendly. Wherever you go, you will be treated respectfully.
I met people from different backgrounds and we treated each other respectfully – not only in our circle of friends but to the waiters, vegetable sellers and housemaids too. Basically, everyone.
Even the ones from well to do families didn’t flaunt their wealth, they looked and behaved just like normal students.
Living alone in Yogyakarta taught me to be humble as I knew if anything happened, I would need help from others.
It’s the same reason why travelling tends to make people humble.
They Become Conscious Spenders
Every beginning of the month, I would split my allowance to several amounts such as room rental, grocery, tuition and savings.
Like most of my friends, I didn’t have the privilege to ask for extra money from my parents unless for emergency cases. What I received every month was all I got, so I learned to spend carefully.
As a result, I developed a habit to paying my bills first and setting a budget. At that time, I had no choice but the habit stays even long after I left Jogja.
They Become Tough Cookies
In Indonesia, it is common to have housemaids to assist you. Although there were maids in the homestay where I lived, I still have to face some challenges alone, such as:
- To sleep with an electronic fan instead of an air conditioner
- When suddenly my room was flooded, I had to save my stuff and clean them. Luckily, the maids allowed me to sleep in their room during my evacuation.
- When a big, fat rat fell from the rooftop onto my feet
- When mushroom grew inside my cabinet and I realised that I had to clean it daily
- When there’s a blackout and I had no candle or flashlight and had to use the toilet in the middle of the night
- When someone stalked me
- The days I saw ghosts
- When I went jogging in the morning and suddenly someone on a motorbike groped me #MeToo
- When I had a hormonal imbalance that caused me to miss my period and people starred as if I was pregnant when waiting for my turn in the pregnancy department in the hospital (LOL)
I wonder why whenever family members travelled to Jogjakarta, everything was smooth. Yet challenges occurred when they were away!
They Get Fit
This one is subjective. When I was there, I had no motorbike or bicycle and it could be pricey to take becak (trishaw) daily.
However, most of the places are so near. So, I walked A LOT.
I’ve always accustomed to walking for hours in the shopping mall, however, walking outdoor gives a different feeling. Especially an evening walk when the weather is good.
When in Yogyakarta, a walk to the bookstore, bakery, church or small shopping mall feels calming. The road isn’t as busy as the ones in big cities like Jakarta, Surabaya or Bandung.
My favourite past-time was walking from my place to Malioboro Street. The distance was almost 2 km and it took 20-30 minutes, one way.
To this day, I love walking so much I couldn’t stand sitting for long hours. When I go to and return from the office by car, I will feel uneasy because I haven’t been moving my body much!
Alright amigos, those are some of the reasons why studying in Jogjakarta aka Yogyakarta aka Jogja is a good idea. However, there are some catches.
First of all, the main languages are Indonesian and Javanese. Secondly, the Javanese language is a subject in school and you must participate in the exam.
I was lucky to pass the exam as my teacher saw how hard I tried, though I was basically just rewriting the questions in Sanskrit, hehe!
I hope this post gives you a wider perspective of Jogjakarta. See you next week 🙂