My exchange experience in Bali – Go for it!

Exchange student experience in Bali 2022

According to Asia Exchange students, studying in Bali is one of the most valuable experiences of their studies, if not their whole life. Bali is not the usual study-abroad destination. As a student coming from Finland, many things are different from home. Read our alum’s blog to learn more about Bali’s student experience.

Coconuts and luxury villas?

The idea of doing an exchange had been on my mind for a long time. I finally decided to make my dream come true last spring. When thinking about where to go, I had previously considered Sweden and Iceland – in many ways, the exact opposite of where I ended up. I had been dreaming of a trip to Bali for a long time. Then, I came across the opportunity to spend an exchange semester in Bali with Asia Exchange. Two birds with one stone. From then on, I was sure my exchange would be to Bali.

My expectations were based on the classic social media hype: great pictures of beaches, sound surf waves, coconuts, and luxury villas. Googling also suggests that anyone traveling to Bali will experience one, or more likely several, food poisoning and constant fear of dengue fever. Add to this the last half of Eat, Pray, Love, and you sum up my expectations. I can say that, somewhat surprisingly, these expectations were almost wholly fulfilled, even if my experience was only a tiny and one-sided sample of what Bali offers.

You might also be interested in Student Field Trip In Bali To Aling Aling Waterfalls.

I can say that, somewhat surprisingly, these expectations were almost wholly fulfilled.

Hectic traffic – “Hati Hati.”

Bali is known for its rich culture and friendly people. As an exchange student, you have a unique opportunity to be part of the everyday life of the Balinese people. I would recommend every exchange student interact as much as possible with the local people. For me, the most memorable experience was the Day of Silence (Nyepi) in March. Nyepi is a day during which the whole island falls into silence. People are not allowed to leave their homes, so the streets are completely deserted, and the use of lights is limited. On the day before the silence, locals flock to the streets to watch a parade of young people and children carrying statues of evil they have built themselves. Nyepi is just one example of the unique experiences you can have in Bali when you step out of your role as a tourist.

And then the famous one – traffic. Stereotypes of chaotic traffic jams are mainly true in tourist areas such as Seminyak and Kuta. Most people travel by scooter, but many cars are also on the road. From a tourist’s point of view, scooters are the most convenient way to get around, as Bali’s public transport is not well-developed. Traffic in Bali is left-hand traffic, and the rules of the road can be summed up in words “hati hati,” which means “be careful.”

Fun activities for exchange students in Bali

Bali is the perfect place to practice and try out different sports. I went to Bali to learn to surf, and the conditions were ideal. Many local instructors offer surfing lessons, and you can rent a board for a few euros. If you want to dedicate yourself to the sport, the cheapest option is to buy a second-hand board for around €100. The west coast of Bali has several beaches suitable for beginners and intermediate surfers, while the best waves for experienced surfers are in Uluwatu. Snorkeling and scuba diving are must-do water activities, with the Gili and Nusa islands providing good conditions.
Furthermore, diving certification is also relatively cheap in Bali. Other popular sports in Bali include tennis, badminton, futsal, padel, yoga, CrossFit, and Muay Thai. Exercise classes (apart from water sports) are relatively expensive in Bali compared to the general price level, as these are primarily aimed at tourists. For example, a gym card at an air-conditioned gym can cost over 60 € per month.

Read also 10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Studying In Bali.

Canggu life and travels

During my exchange, I lived in Canggu on the west coast of Bali, a town known for its vibrant life, digital nomads, restaurants, and surfing. When I arrived in Bali in early February, Canggu was a comparatively peaceful exchange paradise. All services and activities were nearby, and the beach was a few minutes away by scooter. As Indonesia’s travel restrictions were lifted as spring progressed, Canggu changed significantly. The peaceful surf village became a wild place plagued by traffic chaos. So I am thrilled to have enjoyed a very different Canggu at the beginning of the exchange. Although I lived in Canggu throughout the business, I traveled extensively in Bali and Indonesia. Bali is easy to get around by scooter, and from Canggu, you can get to almost anywhere on the island in two hours. Bali’s location also allows you to travel to other Asian countries. After my exchange, I traveled to Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand before returning home – I highly recommend it!

Traveled a lot in Bali and throughout Indonesia. Bali is easy to get around by scooter, and from Canggu, you can get to almost anywhere on the island in two hours!

Cost of living (your best life)

The cost of living in Bali is relatively low. The cost of housing varies depending on location and accommodation type. I lived in the popular Canggu area, one of the most expensive in Bali. I had a room in a guesthouse with a swimming pool, a courtyard, and 24- hour security, with its entrance and bathroom. In total, I paid around 300 € rent per month. The location was excellent; the beach was a two-minute scooter ride away. However, I would like to stress that the low price was partly due to the effect of Covid-19, and the prices increased again towards the end of my exchange. In addition to the accommodation, the monthly costs included a telephone connection (around 5 €/month) and a scooter (around 28 €/month). You will only spend a few euros to fill up your scooter.

When it comes to food, it is possible to skimp or splurge in Bali. Food prices in shops are relatively high (compared to eating out), and many accommodations don’t have cooking facilities. Thus, exchange students typically eat in restaurants throughout their exchange. The cheapest you can get is a portion of fried rice, vegetables, chicken, and eggs for less than a euro. Breakfast prices for western food ranged from three to eight euros on average. As a guideline, I would say that the average daily food expenditure was around 10-15 €.

These are my final words to convince you!

I can warmly recommend Bali as an exchange destination to other students. An exchange is undoubtedly always a memorable experience, no matter which goal. But I encourage everyone to think outside the box when choosing a study abroad destination. Bali has become famous among tourists for its stunning beaches, surfing opportunities, lively nightlife, and guaranteed food poisoning. But for the exchange student, it offers much more. The magic of Bali is impossible to put into words. You have to experience it for yourself. If I had to give a few tips to an exchange student going to Bali, I would advise them to get to know the local people: learn studying Bahasa (the official language of Indonesia), be brave, and try new things (whether it’s eating in a shady looking warung, surfing or taking part in a local ceremony) and relax. Bali is where everything doesn’t always go like clockwork but where good vibes go a long way. Oh, and the food poisoning I was waiting for – it never came.  

Click here if you are interested in studying abroad in Bali! 

Asia Exchange is a Finnish company providing study abroad opportunities in the Asia Pacific for students worldwide. 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,  contact us! We’ll get back to you as soon as possible.