Universitas Gadjah Mada – Student experiences

Yogyakarta is the second most popular destination for tourism in Indonesia with a large expat community. Notably, Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM) is the number one destination international students coming to study in Indonesia.

Asia Options was able to interview a number of Australian students who had studied at UGM. Among them were some of the first students to enter regular classes gaining both cultural and linguistic immersion. These students studied in the city of Yogyakarta at UGM in 2011/2012.

We asked them about their experiences studying at Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM) and living in the city of Yogyakarta. Here are their responses:


What did you enjoy about studying at UGM in Yogyakarta?


Indonesia is an amazing country to study in. With more than 17,000 islands there is too much to explore in one lifetime. Apart from having great opportunities for food and travel, I found that many new friends there and many people who I hope can gain the same opportunity I did in studying overseas.

Overall Indonesia promises an amazing cultural immersion experience. Everything there was new and different experience for me, especially in contrast from Australia.



The experience of living in Indonesia while also studying there was absolutely amazing. I enjoyed studying in Indonesia because it became a lifestyle. I met excellent friends, ate delicious foods and studied in one of the most beautiful countries on earth.



Studying in Indonesia is a fantastic experience! The people of Indonesia are very friendly and welcoming, so it is easy to make new friends. The study experience can be at times a challenge, but from my own experience the lecturers and my fellow classmates were always encouraging of my efforts and were there to help if I didn’t understand something.


What have you gained and what have you enjoyed about studying at your host university/host country?


Yogyakarta is a great place to study and live. It has a mix of the traditional and the modern. It is a student city with more than 100 universities. In some places bustling with hundreds of people yet in other places you can find peace, quiet and tranquillity.

It is a big city but it retains that small city feel. There are virtually none of the high rise buildings and skyscrapers that dominate Jakarta.

Universitas Gadjah Mada is one of the highest regarded Universities in Indonesia. I had a number of insightful and inspiring professors there and met dozens of new friends on campus.



Yogyakarta is a city that is full of students. It’s easy to meet people and make friends. Universitas Gadjah Mada was a really nice university with a large range of subjects and courses. The city is within an hour of some beautiful beaches, next to an awesome volcano and filled with culture, art and crafts. The people in Yogyakarta are friendly and caring.



Yogyakarta is an excellent place to live and study, because it is the centre of traditional Javanese culture as well as education. For people who are interested in learning about Indonesian culture, Yogya has a thriving arts scene, both traditional and contemporary. As well as it’s cultural aspect, Yogya is located within close proximity to beautiful beaches, temples and majestic Mount Merapi, so, as a lover of art and nature, I really appreciated Yogya’s cultural side and it’s natural beauty. The people, however, are probably what’s most special about Yogya for me. You will make friendships in Yogya that last a lifetime!



I loved how most people in Yogyakarta were friendly. I enjoyed the cheap food and accommodation, and had lots of fun tasting all the new foods! There is a nice vibe in NorthYogya because of all the students who live there. I stayed in a quiet kampung very close to my University, on Jalan Kaliurang. It was great because I was close to the supermarket, internet cafe’s, laundromats and printing/photocopying shops. Because there were no other Australians at my boarding house (kos), I was able to practise Indonesian heaps!



Yogyakarta is an accessible city in which to live. It has a neighbourly nature about it. People there are always up for a chat and the lifestyle is much more relaxed and laid back than in Melbourne. Making friends was easy and enjoyable in such a hospitable city. Some of my favourite memories are from the kos (boarding house) I lived in. I was awakened most mornings by a man selling chicken soup from a cart. The guy living in the room above me became one of my best friends. I would usually hang out with friends after class at a café somewhere. The food is delicious and cheap and exploring the region is easy to organise. I enjoyed Yogyakarta so much that I extended my one-semester exchange into a full year and I plan to return to visit my friends by the end of the year.


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Nick Metherall

Indonesia Country Coordinator
Nick is a student at La Trobe University. He is currently conducting field work in rural and remote parts of Eastern Indonesia.