Janni Järvinen is a former Asia Exchange student and currently an Online Ambassador who is available to answer questions from prospective students about what it is really like to study abroad in Bali. She agreed to answer some interview questions about her experiences.
By way of background, Janni moved to Sweden in fall 2013 to study an international bachelor’s program in Business Administration. She is originally from Finland – also known as the land of Santa Claus, according to Janni. Lucky her, she has had the opportunity to travel extensively throughout her life so it was only a matter of time until she ended up living in Asia.
Where did you spend your exchange?
I did my exchange during fall semester 2015 on the island of Bali in Indonesia.
What made you to decide to study in Asia?
My bachelor’s program includes a mandatory study period abroad and when the time came to decide I had a few options. In the end I decided to head to Indonesia because I felt it would benefit me in the most way. I’ve grown up in Scandinavia and felt that the only way to grow as a person would be to go outside my comfort zone. Instead of heading to somewhere close by I decided to go all the way and chose a destination that would be a once in a lifetime experience.
How did you get the study place? How was the application procedure?
After I found out about Asia Exchange and I had decided upon my chosen destination it was all pretty easy. I acquired all the necessary documents for the application and within 3 days I was ready to submit. In five days I got an email from Asia Exchange securing my exchange position in Bali. Doing the application process through Asia Exchange was simpler than exchange procedures at my home university! The plus side is that you can apply in the last minute, you don’t need to plan your exchange semester months in advance.
What was best thing about your exchange experience?
A lot of people heading to abroad don’t really understand the worth of their experience until it is actually over. While living in Indonesia it was mainly an educating life changing event that taught me about cultural differences. The real effect of my decision came afterwards. My exchange really made clear to me what I want from life and especially what I don’t. It might sound like a negative thing but on the contrary, it made future decisions so much easier when my wants were clarified.
Were you able to balance between school and free-time activities?
In Bali it was really easy to balance my school and free time! Even though attendance was mandatory it didn’t take out of my experience. I had enough time to travel in Indonesia as well as outside. And since I had to attend school I was also able to educate myself while doing all those wonderful extra activities.
How we like to spend our weekends in Bali: with friends!
Where did you travel during your exchange?
My main goal was to see as much of Asia as possible during my time in Indonesia. I was targeting especially countries I had never visited before (and probably will not visit anytime soon). I also felt like getting a broader image of Asia and South-East Asia was more important than visiting different parts of Indonesia. Therefore, I ended up visiting nine different countries; Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Cambodia, Vietnam, Australia and Japan. It was most definitely worth every penny!
Did you experience any culture shock?
My home university’s International Office warned us about the effects of culture shock that it would be a two-part process; when you arrive to the new country and when you come back to your home country. I was more worried about the coming back than actually leaving, and didn’t really experience a shock when I arrived to Bali. I had previously traveled to Asia and had somewhat of an image of what to expect. I think the biggest “shock” came after 2 months when it didn’t feel like being on a holiday anymore, instead you were trying to integrate to the Indonesian way of life. When I arrived back to Scandinavia I think the biggest form of shock was the snow, when I was still wearing flip flops…
There are many “transport” options to choose from when traveling Asia.
Why is Asia a great exchange destination?
Especially to students coming from Western countries there are so many possibilities to learn about a culture so different from ours and it will most definitely enrich your life. Experiencing Asia and the culture is a great way to broaden your horizon, which is an irreplaceable addition for you in your future career!
What do you think about Asia Exchange’s charity work?
I strongly feel that contributing to the well being of society is everybody’s responsibility. When we improve the conditions for one, we improve the conditions for all and therefore I think it’s great that Asia Exchange works in order to support local charities!
Balinese bringing their offerings to the sea.
What would you like to say to a person who is thinking about going to exchange in Asia?
The most important thing you can have is an open mind. As clichéd as that might sound it really is important to keep this factor in mind. You will face new situations, some of them might be nerve wracking, but with patience and willingness they are easy to conquer. And also don’t be afraid of the unknown, going out side your comfort zone is the best thing you can do! If nothing else, you will have stories to tell to your grandchildren.
You can reach Janni via email at janni.jarvinen (at) hotmail.com. She is happy to answer questions about student life in Bali. Feel free to email her in English, Finnish, or Swedish.