Spring or fall semester? Part 1, Bali

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We constantly have students asking us about which semester to choose for their exchange. If you are a student coming from the Northern side of the planet, exchanging the cold weather to sun and tropical warmth can be a very tempting option – and you get to return to a summer that’s just starting! Obviously the best thing to do to avoid having to choose is doing two consecutive semesters, but as this isn’t possible for everyone, commonly there is a decision to be made here. Spring or fall? We are starting a weekly series of “Spring or Fall Semester” blog posts, in which we will quickly list some reasons to lean either way for each of our destination countries. Today on the first part of the series we are taking a closer look at seasons in Bali.

There are endless beaches to be found in Bali, regardless of the time of the year.

Bali – as most parts of Indonesia – enjoys tropical climate with two seasons: dry season and the monsoon season. The dry season in Bali lasts typically from April to October, during which time a typical day on the island is sunny, around +28 degrees Celsius, and accompanied with a nice trade wind breeze blowing from the ocean making the hot afternoons feel a bit cooler than in the monsoon season. Occasional showers, and thunderstorms still occur all through the dry season although the amount of total rainfall remains very low, causing many of the rivers to dry up. As our semesters in Bali currently run from September to December, and from end of January to end of May, students on both semesters get to experience a bit of both seasons.

The monsoon season, or as often referred to, the wet season, is typically on from November to March. During the wet season the prevailing winds are lighter, humidity levels are higher, and generally saying, days and nights feel warmer with the temperature staying around +30 degrees Celsius mark day and night time. As typical for tropical monsoon season, the rains usually only last for an hour or two, and the sun is out most of the day on majority of the days. Rain is not continuous either like on some other tropical parts of the world, and it is not unusual that there is a dry period of a week or two during the monsoon season.

Wet season is the best time to visit waterfalls. Tegenungan Waterfall, Sukawati.

So weather wise for a student, it doesn’t really matter which semester one chooses. Both spring and fall semester have their perks. People doing the fall semester will arrive to the end of the dry season, and will usually get to see the beginning of wet season. The spring semester then starts in the middle of the wet season, and turns into dry season towards the middle of the semester. During this time Bali is at its greenest, and all the lush rainforests and rice paddies are at their best.

Beautiful rice terrace, North Bali

High season when the island is at its busiest somewhat follows Australian school holidays, and is between the months of July and September. Also holidays such as Chinese New Year, Christmas and New Year’s Ever, can be considered peak seasons for tourism. During these times the prices are at their peak for accommodation, and the traffic jams occur on a daily basis. Both spring and fall semester are mostly outside peak season, so it is easier to find affordable monthly rental villas for accommodation. Although the prices of villa rentals in Bali have gone up significantly within the last ten years, there are still great deals for student groups booking their accommodation for the whole exchange period, and most western students will find themselves being able to afford a luxury villa to be shared with fellow exchange students. Asia Exchange recommends booking your accommodation through reputable agents such as www.bali360.net and www.study-in-bali.com to ensure a safe living space, and to avoid problems with landlords and unexpected extra costs.

River rafting at its best!

Spring semester is a great getaway from the Northern winter, and when returning home at the end of the year, our students are happy to go back to summer proud of their nice tan that none of the people who stayed back home have. During spring semester there are a few interesting public holidays too, such as Nyepi, the Balinese Day of Silence, and Chinese New Year, both of which are public holidays in Indonesia. These little study breaks are great opportunities to explore some of the endless Indonesian paradise islands, or for taking a trip to any of the nearby Asian countries or metropolitan cities. If you love white water rafting or kayaking, spring semester is your choice! As there is more rain, all the rivers are flowing at a full force, and adrenalin spikes are guaranteed for anyone who dares to jump in! For someone who is into surfing, it is interesting to know that as the winds are lighter, and typically from the West or North, all the world famous right hander breaks like Keramas on the East Coast of the island and Nusa Dua in the South will be firing whenever a solid swell rolls in. Spring semester is also great for those who enjoy nature walks or photography, as the landscape is at its greenest, and all the wonderful waterfalls are rumbling with such force one will not get to witness during the drier months.

Wet season mornings on Bali’s East Coast can look like this.

Dry season is a little cooler, and especially going out later in the evenings it is not too hot for wearing jeans and a long sleeve shirt. So the weather is a little cooler, and there’s also a nice sea-breeze on most afternoons, thanks to the prevailing trade winds. Not only these winds feel nice when sipping your drink out of a coconut on the beach, they also groom the legendary left handers on Bukit peninsula to those perfectly shaped tubes that traveling surfers have been coming for the island for since the 1960s. Uluwatu, Padang-Padang, and Kuta Reef are some of the classic waves that will make an advanced surfer smile every time. The water all over the island is also clearer as there is less rainwater coming down from the rivers, so snorkelers, divers, and anyone who enjoys swimming in the ocean will also get to enjoy the better clarity and cleaner beaches. During the dry season you can leave your rain poncho at home, and head to your favorite restaurant for dinner without having to look up to the sky to see if there’s a potential rain cloud nearby as the sky is most often clear.

Whether you choose spring or fall semester, sun and warm weather are guaranteed on most days.

So to choose between spring and fall semester is something that is based on your personal preferences. Do you want to extend your summer and come back home for Christmas? Choose fall semester. If you want to escape the cold winter and snow to come and enjoy the tropical heat, and return to Northern summer with a tan, choose spring semester! If you love the idea of living in Bali for a little longer, and really getting to know the culture and language even better, then you should do both semesters – that is possible with us too! We love both seasons in Bali, and encourage everyone to come and see the best of both!

Find out more about our exchange programin Bali here.