Did you know that you can receive scholarships for studying in the Indo-Pacific?

This January I had the opportunity to spend three weeks in Indonesia as part of a short-term study program under the New Colombo Plan. 

On 16 January 2024, I, along with nine other UNSW Engineering and Food Science students, arrived in Jakarta and travelled to Bandung to attend the annual International Student Conference (ISC) hosted by the Universitas Katolik Parahyangan (UNPAR). At this conference, we were joined by university students from around the world, countries including the USA, Sweden, Spain and Turkey. We all came together to learn about and discuss a common interest – the topic of smart cities. The specific topic of the 2024 ISC was “Empowering Youth and Local Voices for Human-Centric, Sustainable and Inclusive Smart Cities”. Over the course of a week we participated in lectures and workshops teaching us about the challenges and strategies in designing inclusive smart cities and the role of youth initiatives in facilitating this development. Whilst half the week was spent at the university, the other half was spent on site visits to local communities and urban farms to learn about how smart city design and sustainable initiatives are being implemented within the Indonesian community.

You cannot go to Indonesia without experiencing the vibrant culture and delicious food! When we were not in the classroom, we were out visiting the Rancakalong foster village, and learning about Indonesian culture through traditional fabric (Batik) classes and a Wayang Golek and angklung musical performance. We even learnt about traditional food fermentation practices when we made our own tape and tempeh, then saw the commercial production process at the KOPTI tempeh cooperation.

I am extremely fortunate to have been given the opportunity to participate in this study program and received a scholarship as part of the New Colombo Plan. Not only did I learn about smart city design and sustainability globally, but I also got to experience and observe it in Indonesia whilst networking with students from diverse degrees and backgrounds.


Cherie Pepperell is in her fourth year studying mechanical and biomedical engineering at UNSW Sydney.