Sarah Volpers is a former Asia Exchange student and intern and a current Online Ambassador, available to answer questions from prospective students about what studying abroad in Bali is really like. She graciously allowed us to interview her about her experiences in Bali.
What’s your name and where do you come from?
My name is Sarah and I am from Munich, Germany.
Where did you spend your exchange semester?
Why did you choose to study in Asia, and your destination in particular?
Actually, I never thought about going abroad for a semester, but when a friend of mine decided to go to Bali for a semester abroad and asked me to join, I couldn’t say no. I will never regret that decision and will be forever thankful that she convinced me to go to Bali.
Tell us a little more about your study destination, what was it like to live and study there?
Studying in Bali is really studying in paradise. This magic island and its surrounding one’s offer you everything you need and want. Many people call this feeling of not missing anything around and the feeling of freedom you have on the island the “Bali bubble”: A place where you forget the rest of the world.
Next to the studying part, it offers so many wonderful must-sees, amazing and diverse food, an interesting culture, a lot of new people and a lot to do (surfing, hiking up the volcanoes, joining a cooking class or snorkeling). It’s super easy to get around with your scooter and as the classes only take place three times a week, it’s perfect to discover the island and others around. You will never get bored!
Did the experience meet your expectations?
More than that!
What were the highlights of your exchange?
Actually the whole semester was a highlight, even the daily life in Bali is better than a normal day at home. Studying and living at the beach, chilling under the palm trees with a fresh coconut, doesn’t this already sound like paradise (and there is even so much more to see and do)?
How did you get the study place? What was the application procedure like?
The application process was super easy and quick. I applied in December 2016 and just after one day I received an E-mail that I got accepted. We got informed pretty well via E-mail about all the necessary steps like the course selection, payment, visa etc., so we could focus on finding an accommodation and taking care of other important things like insurances and vaccinations.
Which were the most interesting topics in your studies?
As I am studying history and law back at the university in Munich, the history class (now called “Comparative Regional Studies in Indonesia”) and “Business Law and Legal Tradition on Trade and Investment” were some of the most interesting courses to me. Additionally, I really liked the Bahasa class. Learning the local language made it way easier to communicate with the locals and you could make them smile with your skills.
What kind of accommodation did you have and how much was the monthly cost?
My friend and I didn’t book anything in advance as we wanted to see the places and meet the other students first before we decide where to life. Next to the many students that come to Bali, there also a lot of so-called digital nomads from everywhere in the world living and working in Bali. So, we ended up living with two non-students in a villa in Kerobokan close to Canggu and we paid around 350 Euros per Person incl. a cleaning lady three times a week, electricity, a pool and a garden. Additionally, we had the living costs such as food etc., but they are super low in Bali (e.g. fried noodles for less than 1 Euro).
What were your average days like while living in Asia?
During the three days of classes, I got up in the morning, made myself some breakfast and then drove around 20-30 minutes to the university. At the campus I always met some people and had lunch with them in the breaks. When I came home in the afternoon, I went for a beach walk with my dog (I took him home at the end of my stay) or enjoyed some Bintangs at the beach with my friends during sunset. For dinner we went to western restaurants or for some traditional dishes at the local markets. The rest of the week I either traveled around or had some relaxed days at the pool, the beach, surfing, partying, enjoying a traditional massage and eating.
Did you have a chance to travel during your stay?
Yes, a lot. I arrived a bit earlier before the semester started to get a feeling for the island and to explore a bit of the southern part of the island where the university is located. But there was also plenty of time during the semester and the semester break to travel north or other places. Some people leave the country to other places in Asia, but I recommend exploring as much as you can in Indonesia because there is really a lot to see like East Java, Nusa Penida, Lembongan, Gillis, Lombok, Flores…
What kind of things did you learn about Asia and your destination?
It’s an amazing continent full of hidden gems, an incredible diversity in culture and customs, really good food and a lot of lessons for life. Even if our culture couldn’t be more different than theirs, it is super easy to dive into it. If you behave politely and respectful towards the locals, they are super happy to show you their life and culture.
What kind of things did you learn about yourself?
Be more patient. Everything in Bali goes in its own flow: the people, the traffic, appointments, the university and more. There is no need to stress or hurry. If a mechanic says he will come in an hour, he might show up after three. This is not a sign of disrespect, they just have other priorities in life. And the most important thing, I can live and be happy with less things in life. I came with just a backpack and I stayed for a whole year in Bali without missing much and while having a great time.
In your opinion, why should people go to study in Asia?
Studying in Asia shows you what really matters in life. Despite the study experience, it will teach you even more respect towards people, animals and nature (which is a really big topic especially in Bali) and that a smile can make your day. Additionally, in Bali and Asia in general, you will meet people from all over the world and you will make connections that can be helpful and enrich your life.
Would you recommend this study program to other students?
I definitely would.
What are your greetings to Asia Exchange?
It was a pleasure to spend a whole year (semester abroad and internship) with you!
A free word for any student considering going abroad?
Do it, don’t doubt! Going abroad was the best decision in my life so far.
Asia Exchange is a Finnish company providing study abroad opportunities in Asia Pacific for students from all around the world. Want to get travel tips and new blog posts straight to your inbox? Subscribe to our monthly newsletter! If you have any questions about studying abroad, feel free to contact us! We’ll get back to you as soon as possible.