During my semester in Bali (and also afterwards) I never felt like going abroad had been the wrong decision. Getting into a new culture surrounded by people I didn’t know had been a great experience, but another feeling was growing stronger and stronger: PANIC. This wasn’t because of a bad event, I just had the feeling that my time in Bali was running away and that I wasn’t using it well enough. Every second spent chilling at home felt like a huge mistake. I just wanted to explore more and more and get into the Balinese way of life as deeply as possible. It took me quite a while to realize that I could never do all of the things I wanted. Luckily, with a few tips and tricks, I managed to overcome this feeling and I got more relaxed.
Now when I talk to students who just started their semester, I always give them some hints on how to make the most out of their time abroad:
1. Don’t let your fears stop you
I never thought about studying abroad because I was scared to travel alone. But I quickly realized that there’s no need to be afraid. Leaving home and getting out of your comfort zone is an important part of growing up. Of course, you’ll experience your semester in different ways, both positive and negative. But I’m pretty sure that in the end, you’ll have a great time.
2. Make a bucket list
Before the start of my semester, I didn’t inform myself about the country I was going to. I just got on the airplane and suddenly I was there. Once I arrived, I realized I had to make a plan to use my time wisely. So, I started writing down places I wanted to see and visit. Every time someone spoke about a place I had not heard of before, I added the name to my list. I looked up which of these places were perfect for a short trip and which of them were close together so I could visit them in one go. Crossing these places from my list after visiting gave me the best feeling. Try it!
3. Open up your mind to everything
With everything, I mean e-very-thing. Try the food, talk to locals, get to know your fellow students, get into the culture and the daily life. The best way to experience another culture is by living like a local. You’re not a tourist who sticks around for a week! You’re staying there longer and you’ll have the chance to get closer to the local life. For me, it was the best feeling to wake up early and start the morning together with the locals. In Bali, they believe that the first deal makes the day. So if you go to a market in the morning, you’ll see the happiest faces and get the best prices.
4. Be like Dora the Explorer
Try to find special spots by yourself. Don’t only follow the given way on Google maps. Stop at the smallest restaurant, order food, have a little chat with the old lady at the market or enjoy the sunset on a hidden cliff! The best spots I’ve found during my semester were the places next to the ones I had on my bucket list. Many paradisiac places we saw, we discovered only with the help of locals.
5. Look after yourself and be yourself
Find the things that make you happy during your stay. For me, it was a beach walk at the end of the day with my dog and drinking a coconut or a beer. What I learned during my time abroad was that you do not need to run around all the time. The most important thing is to feel comfortable and relaxed.
If you feel like eating some western food instead of Nasi Goreng, do it. If you want to stay in bed instead of going to the beach, do it. Do what you need and like and you will enjoy your semester abroad. There is no need pretending to be someone else. Every country has its possibilities for every personality.
Whenever you look back, you will be proud of yourself and happy that you did it. If my semester abroad taught me one thing, it’s that you don’t need that much around to be happy.
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This text was written by our intern Sarah!