Dijana Čataković is a former Asia Exchange student and a current Online Ambassador, available to answer questions from prospective students about what studying abroad in Bali is really like. She agreed to answer some interview questions about her experiences.
What’s your name and where do you come from?
Hi! I am Dijana from Slovenia.
Where did you spend your exchange semester?
Why did you choose to study in Asia, and your destination in particular?
I always wanted to live next to ocean. Studying in place where you can wake up, have morning surf before lecture, then have a breakfast on the beach or grab a fresh coconut in between the classes sounds exactly like Bali life.
Living in island is great experience, surrounded by nature such as cliffs, rice terraces, volcanos, waterfalls, secret rivers, all types of beaches gives you way more motivation for studying. You can just grab your computer, drive to your favorite beach, order a mango juice and do your task while watching the ocean sounds perfect right?
Did the experience meet your expectations?
Yes and experiences were even higher than my expectations.
What were the highlights of your exchange?
Living next to ocean, learning about Balinese Hinduism culture, learning to speak new language, meeting amazing same-minded people, seeing beautiful places and studying new subjects.
How would you summarize your exchange experience?
This exchange changed my life. I realized what I want to do in my life and how I want to live my life. Studying in Bali is totally different then in Europe, for example sometimes professors can be late because of some religious ceremonies – but I found those differences being interesting, they teach you how to see things in different perspective and how differently we live our lives on other sides of Earth. After this exchange you will definitely change your perspective on many things (even those simple little one, such as drinking tap water, having shower with hot water ☺)
How did you get the study place? What was the application procedure like?
I applied online and followed all the process as written on Asia Exchange website. Asia Exchange was really fast responding on my e-mails and I always got really helpful answers.
Which were the most interesting topics in your studies?
Law and legal tradition in South East Asia
What kind of accommodation did you have and how much was the monthly cost?
I was living in a local Balinese house, which I was sharing with two Polish girls. Monthly costs were really low 100 euros per person. House was big but simple, three rooms, kitchen, living room, two toilets and garden with Balinese Hindu temple and papaya tree. We did not have hot water (but hey in Bali is always hot, so you actually don’t need it ☺) and we didn’t have Wi-Fi – but sim cards are really cheap in Indonesia, so you can just get a local sim card (University campus has Wi-Fi, so do many cafes around Bali). I found it really cool, so that you can disconnect a bit in evenings and instead of spending time on social media, you can enjoy so many things which this island offers (believe me one semester passes so fast, so you better start discovering and doing all the crazy things before it’s time to leave). Even though lots of students rent out fancy places with pools, this is not my way of living. I like to experience local things and live as locals do. Ocean is just around the corner, so I didn’t need pool ☺ but as I said, everyone has their own ideology how they want to live and how much they want to spend. But this is my way ☺
What were your normal days like while living in Asia?
I woke up at 5.30am, went for a morning surf session, had lots of tropical fruits for breakfast and drove on my scooter to University. I usually had classes until 2 or 3 pm. In between I had lunch with my classmates always in different local restaurant (Indonesian food is delicious and cheap – tempeh is my favorite dish, you should try). After class I did some school stuff (projects, homework etc, … It was never too much work, just the perfect amount). Then depending how I felt I always went to discover something new – some hidden waterfall, temple, cliffs, … Some days I just went for evening surf or yoga class, sometimes to meditation classes, cliff climbing, diving, snorkeling, Every Thursday night I was driving to Ubud in place called Bali Bohemia where they make really good open mic event, which you should not miss! … Almost every day I went for a dinner with sunset (sunsets in Bali are unforgettable!) with my housemates and classmates – we tried to go to different beaches (sometimes we made picnics, sometimes we visited local restaurants). Sometimes we went to cinema – In Seminyak there is a restaurant called Earth café and they have some great movies every night going on – no entry tickets you only grab a drink or something to eat instead of ticket. At weekends I usually went for a nice drink in one of the bars or local beer on beach (there are some beach parties going on around too, check out Nyang – Nyang beach for reggae night or Uluwatu for surf party, Canggu is a place for some skate parties or more underground types of parties, Ubud has many spiritual events going on at weekends, Kuta is a place with lots of popular music parties) Many nights I spent sleeping under beautiful stars in hammock or in tent (even during week days) Because having opportunity to sleep under stars, full moon with a sound of waves and then wake up have a swim and drive to school is not possible to do everywhere right? So, why not to do it in Bali, because you can! ☺ Yes, this was my type of island living.
What kind of things did you learn about Asia and your destination?
I could write a book about things I learned about Asian culture and especially Indonesians. Indonesia has so many islands, different religions and cultures. What they really know how to do it, is how to respect each other no matter where are you from, which is your religion and I really like that they know how to live together in peace. I learned a lot about Balinese rituals, the way how they prepare different ceremonies for Moon, for Ocean gods, which is really nice how they connect with Nature and our Planet.
What kind of things did you learn about yourself?
I realized I am quite strong and really independent person, to be able to travel alone as much as I did. I hitchhiked alone around Indonesia through many non-touristic villages all the way from Bali to Flores Island (in all types of weather conditions – it was great fun. My favorite experience was when I hitchhiked a truck full of coconuts). After traveling in Indonesia I went to Singapore, Thailand and Australia (flights from Bali are cheap) and I hitchhiked 10.000 km around Australia. I experienced emotions which I would never be able to experience at home (how to be in new place, where at beginning you don’t know any people, language, far away from family and old friends – so you can`t just ask for help from your family). Even though I had been raised up to appreciate things in life, I learned to appreciate things even more. From food I eat, tap water which we have in Slovenia, excellent education, great health system, actually every little thing which are part of our everyday lives at home are not so regular in everyone’s lives around the world. Being born in Europe is a huge privilege compared to Asia especially in ways connected to human rights.
In your opinion, why should people go to study in Asia?
Studying in Asia is a huge difference than studying in Europe. This is exactly the reason you should do it. To see how other parts of world work, how it is to be a student in totally different environment. How it is to be a citizen of Asia.
Did you have a chance to travel during your stay?
I had a chance to travel a lot.
What are your greetings to Asia Exchange?
I am really happy that this program exists. Because of this program I had amazing life experiences. I met wonderful people, I learned more about myself, I traveled a lot. I grow up mentally and emotionally.
Would you recommend this study program to other students?
I would definitely recommend this program to others. Every single person who has opportunity to do it, should go for it!
A free word for any student considering going abroad?
Please do it! Before it is too late. When I was thinking about this exchange and I wasn’t sure an old traveler told me: You should travel as far as possible, as much as possible no matter the money. You can always find the way to financially support yourself. Because once you are old, you might have money, but you don`t have health. You won`t be able to sit on airplane for 12 hours because your legs won’t let you. So jump on plane now and go to Asia. And I went. I moved to Bali. It was the best idea ever. Try it and let me know after how did you like it – I am sure you won`t regret it
Learn more about studying in Bali: