Alumni Elina and Miika: “Without the exchange in Bali, we would never have met”

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Read about how two students met each other through Asia Exchange

Finnish students Elina and Miika met during their Bali exchange through Asia Exchange in 2015. Five years later, they are married and have a baby boy. One of their plans for the future is to travel to Bali with their son to show him where his mom and dad met.

Elina, who was 23 years old at the time, had previously been studying in Sweden but was now looking for a different kind of exchange. Miika, also 23, had planned an exchange with four of his friends.

They both wanted a relaxed and carefree atmosphere where they could surf and enjoy the sunny weather. Elina’s intention was to go alone but before leaving she noticed that someone was looking for a roommate on the Asia Exchange Facebook group, and she formed a group with seven other students.

Elina and Miika both started their studies at the Udayana University in Autumn 2015. They are eager to share their story because before their exchange, they read student and alumni stories too.

“I remember when I was planning my exchange, I read student stories myself. It gives you a totally different perspective about going abroad”, tells Elina.

Elina and Miika both started their study abroad semesters in Bali, in the autumn of 2015. Picture by Sebastian Pena Lambarri

You might also be interested in: How is it to be an American student in Bali?

Meeting one another

Elina and Miika met at a beach in Bali where they were spending time with a group of friends. After surfing and spending the day at the beach, they all went to grab something to eat. Elina and her friends were also planning to organize a party later that night.

“My friend Juha was asking me who to invite to the party. I answered that “good looking single men” after which he yelled across the table “Miika you are single, right?”

“It was funny but I was also mortified”, laughs Elina.

After that day, Elina and Miika started to get to know each other better.

Four months of care-free life

According to Miika, the best thing about Bali was the freedom of living life how you want. There was no pressure about life or the same kind responsibilities like there was back in Finland.

“Before Bali, both of our lives were very achievement oriented and I think the biggest realization was that you don’t have to try to perform everything. It was four months of care-free life where all your worries were put aside”, tells Elina.

The average day besides studying in Bali, would consist of surfing, hanging out with friends and eating good food.

“Life in Bali was not systematic and everyone was always relaxed and in a good mood”, tells Elina.

One of Miika’s best memories was hiking to the Mount Batur. It was also his first official date with Elina. Another trip that has stayed in his mind was when he travelled to Vietnam with his friends.One of Elina’s best memories was traveling to Australia from Bali. There Elina and her friends visited Perth and Sydney.

“It was definitely a trip to remember.”

Elina and Miika’s first date was a hike up Mount Batur. Picture from Elina and Miika’s archives

Bali is not only what you see in the photos

According to Elina and Miika, studying in Bali was quite relaxed compared to studies in Finland. The life was different in many ways and it changed your perspective.

“Life in Bali is a certain kind of luxury that you don’t get to experience in Finland. Living is inexpensive and you get to stay in this beautiful villa with a pool, and gardeners and cleaners coming everyday”, explains Elina.

But despite the fact that Bali is an incredible travel destination it’s important to realize that Bali is not all about the white sand beaches and fun exotic life you see in the photos.

“There is a big gap between the wealthy and the poor and it’s still a country with its challenges. I wish that people would show the other side of Bali because that’s also the reality”, explains Elina.

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Life after Bali

After returning home from Bali, a lot changed in both of Elina and Miika’s lives. For the first six months they were living and studying in different cities since Miika was studying at the Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences and Elina was studying at the University of Helsinki. After six months, Elina moved to Seinäjoki.

“There we got engaged and after two years we moved to Helsinki. After one year in Helsinki, we got married and now we have a baby boy”, tells Elina.

“It’s fair to say that the exchange had a huge impact on our lives because without it we would never have met. We had totally different lives and we were both very focused on our studies and work”, tells Elina.

 Elina and Miika got married after moving to Helsinki. Picture from Elina and Miika’s archives

Passion to traveling continues

According to Elina, the biggest dream has already been fulfilled since they now have a family of their own. In addition to that, a common interest they have always shared is traveling.

“We have travelled a lot after our exchange to Bali and we would like to travel more in the future as well. We are both passionate about seeing the world and exploring different cultures. One of our plans in the future would be going to Bali with our son to show him where his mom and dad met”, tells Elina.

According to Elina and Miika, the exchange changes your mindset:

“It changes your way of thinking to more open-minded. It teaches you about different cultures and social differences and also makes you appreciate the little things. If you are thinking about going abroad, do it!”

“I admired the local spirit in Bali. You didn’t think about tomorrow or yesterday, you just enjoyed the moment”, says Elina.

Are you interested in studying abroad in Bali? Then you should click here.

Asia Exchange is a Finnish company providing study abroad opportunities inAsia Pacific for students from all around the world. Want to get travel tipsand new blog posts straight to your inbox? Subscribe to ourmonthly newsletter!If you have any questions about studyingabroad, feel free tocontact us!We’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

This article was written by our communications intern, Sofia!