#2 Yogyakarta

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Honest, it’s not the first time that I plan to write about this city, but it’s just so..difficult. It’s so difficult to put my love to this city into words. How am I supposed to describe a city that I love although I wasn’t born there and I don’t speak the language?

Let me start by saying that HI UGM and Yogyakarta challenged everything I’ve believed in my whole life. Everyday feels like never-ending learning for me, really. I learned not only from classrooms, but from talking with street vendors, collaborating with diverse individuals in projects, etc. Four and a half years changed me into a totally different person, I’m not sure whether others can see it/not but I can feel it myself. And all the change is for the better, of course. I might as well talk about my takeaways from this beloved city.

This city taught me to s..l..o..w..d..o..w..n.. and it was difficult! I was raised in a family that doesn’t know how to stop, doesn’t know when to rest. We don’t believe in taking naps or sleep early at night. We don’t believe in making mistakes, although it’s a very human thing to do. This city full of students making mistakes every single day reminds me that mistakes are merely mistakes, and as long as I learn from it and plan to change for the better then I’m good. One word I haven’t heard much since I left Yogyakarta is ‘selo’ which literally means slow/chill. Locals and students say that a lot and I think that also shows the lifestyle there – slow-paced life, avoid confrontation, smile and forgive easily. It liberates you, you know. I didn’t worry too much, I didn’t over-stressing things I cannot change (compared to how I was back then before Yogya).

This city never forget to remind me to be humble, that I shouldn’t think highly of myself simply because I’ve studied 4 years more than the ‘commoners’. It reminds me that my education is eventually to serve people and to give back to society, to listen to the people whose voice are unheard, to learn to pass the microphone to the ones mistreated and misunderstood.

This city never fails to show me love and compassion. Moms walk in the morning to take their kids to school. Young couples here and there holding hands. Student helping an elderly to cross the street. Stranger voluntarily buying gas for another stranger whose motorbike runs out of gas. Girls feeding milk to stray cats everyday. Peaceful demonstration ends with cleaning up the entire street they occupied. Street vendor offering hot tea for free on a rainy day. The more the list goes, the more I smile typing this post 🙂

This city shows how happiness is simple, and it is there all around when you choose to see it. You don’t need money to be happy. What you need is your close friends…and that’s it. How? You can go celebrate New Year’s Eve on top of a motorbike with a friend near Tugu, which is free. Walk around Malioboro and as long as you’re not tempted to buy the souvenirs or try the foods, then it’s free. Go to museums, and it’s almost free. Visit Alun-Alun, rent a mat for Rp 5.000 and you can stay as long as you like. If you are a FISIPOL student, then you’re in luck there is selasar barat and sansiro area where you can hang out there until…..SKKK kicks you out which probably will be around midnight. Or you can simply talk to any strangers in Yogyakarta, and they’ll be open to talk with you. Each one offers different and interesting story, and I adore that.

This city, the school I was in and the people around me reminds me to be a human and memanusiakan manusia and I think it is the best takeaway of all. We are all the same – despite our differences in ethnic, faith, lifestyle, sexual orientations, educational background, family background. Bahwa kita semua satu dan sederajat.

If anyone asks to describe Yogyakarta, I would smile and say.. ‘Yogyakarta sangat spesial’ to the point where if I get the chance to visit, I’m not very sure about whether I will cry of happiness or smile the widest one.


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