Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Submitted by mumunmumun on 3 November 2017 • Opinion
It’s been a while since I stepped back into school life. There were one or two occasions where I did have to visit an educational institution but not for too long. I also never had much consideration to see a ‘school’ as a travel destination, so it has been off my radar for some time. Until we were asked to share a little about travel blogging in Solo or Surakarta. Taufik, from Explore Solo and a lecturer at the Universitas Negeri Sebelas Maret (UNS) invited us to share about travel blogging and how blogs have become an alternative media, even a source of living for some people. Specifically, in English, because he was under the English studies.
So, we went back to school. And to my surprise, UNS was very cool. We even asked Taufq and Mas Agung (the head of the department) to show us around for a sightseeing tour. And here are 5 things that are awesome about UNS, in no particular order.
Having your own water source is an advantage but only if you know how to manage it. As an educational institute, I raise my hat to the campus as they decided to put knowledge to good use and manage the source to make bottled water, which they use for the social events. With campuses having to stand independently and generate its own income, campuses need to find alternative sources of income. This was one of them. What’s even cooler is that they provide drinking fountains around campus (I think there’s about 10 at the major buildings), that are accessible to anyone. I had a go at it and it’s a fairly good tasting water. So despite they made bottled water, their students can enjoy free water which reduce the amount of plastic bottles as waste around campus. Very cool!
Apparently this isn’t a new idea amongst campuses. Education institutes have been building hotels or other form of accommodations around campus to facilitate the needs of those visiting. This includes guests of seminars and conferences, also parents of students during graduation season. I, on the other hand, have just understood this concept at UNS. It was a bit mind blowing to see the UNS Inn with, if I can recall, 4 floors of rooms. The rooms itself was like a 3-star hotel, with private bathroom, hot water, AC, TV and beds comfortable enough for a good snooze. It has all the essentials and is located within the UNS grounds. With a price of about IDR 350,000/night, it’s not bad.
It’s a different time now, compared to when I went to school. During my days, students had thick reference books with them or always access accountable information from hardcopy books. Now, everything is online, including journals and reference books. I can’t emphasize how lucky students are today with a digital index that can help them find the right journals and publications minus the search time. In addition, access to some worldwide alternative information, those more current, that can be read straight away to enrich their assignments, essays, and writings. UNS lets students access it 24 hours at the library’s main lobby. Possibly all campus has this facility, lucky (or not) for UNS, this was my first encounter to such facility. That night, we visited the library lobby, and like any other library, students were there to (seemingly) study on laptops.
My alma mater was a pretty small campus with almost all places reachable by an easy walk. Different to some campuses that take up hectares of land due to the many majors and abundant students, which needed an inner transportation system. The idea is not new, but the fact that UNS has an electric car, another applied technology, to cater to that need had me applauding slow. To be honest, I didn’t get the privilege to ride the electric car as it was being serviced during our visit. We did, however, enjoy the campus bus that goes around campus which cost IDR 1,000/pax. It wasn’t as quite or as exciting as the electric car but it was still something I hadn’t enjoy during my school days.
This last point could be a debatable point for this post. The cool thing about UNS is that they have a special corner in their campus, where various religious praying houses were built for their students. They have a mosque for Moslems, church each for Catholics and Christians, and temples for Hindus and Buddhists. The complex had been there for a while but the image was revamped to counter the fact about UNS being an extreme religious moslem campus. It’s very appropriate considering the ISIS and diversity issues in the country not too long ago.
I plan to return to UNS one day, if not sooner, just to find other gems of the campus and to hop on their electric car. And honestly, being surrounded by people with books in their hands, talk of events, and fashion that was far from the usual mall-attire made me feel a few years younger.