My study experience in Bali at the Udayana University
Embarking on a semester abroad is a transformative journey, and Christine, a 25-year-old student AT HAWK University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Germany, offers us a glimpse into her unique study experience in Bali, studying at Udayana University in Bali through Asia Exchange. In this exclusive interview, Christine shares her motivations, challenges, and the incredible moments that defined her time on the “Island of the Gods.”
What motivated you to study in Bali?
After finishing my apprenticeship, I actually wanted to explore Southeast Asia before starting college. But at this time, the whole COVID thing happened. My flight got canceled just a week before I was supposed to go. So, I changed my gears and decided to start college early in October. Some friends who’d already done a semester in Bali shared their experiences with me during my studies. It got me thinking – why not combine my dream of Southeast Asia with my studies? Bali became my bright idea, a way to mix learning with travel. I wanted to explore a new culture, see amazing landscapes, and grow in ways only a study abroad journey can offer.
Furthermore, I’d never flown that far on my own before. I wanted a real challenge and go somewhere far away from home. So I went to Bali on my own as a freemover.
How were you able to incorporate travel into your studies in Bali?
We still had online classes, so I had to drive to my University once every two weeks. This allowed me to live farther from the university and be flexible about traveling. Before starting my studies in Bali, I already knew that I would have about three days of University under the week. So, two days off plus the weekend allowed me to travel a lot during my semester. Furthermore, I knew there would be a semester break I could use for traveling. In the end, I went to Singapore for my midterm break. But most of the time during my semester, I spent in Bali and the Islands around it, which already have so much to offer!
Here, you can find the best places to visit in Indonesia!
How did you finance your semester abroad?
I received two different scholarships for my semester abroad. One was a PROMOS scholarship for German students. The other was a one-off payment from a foundation. The scholarships definitely helped me a lot financially. During my time in Bali, I also received a small salary through my online job. Since the prices have risen in Bali after the pandemic, I could use my monthly salary well.
I also applied for the AuslandsBafög, which took a relatively long time. I just got the money after my time abroad, which was still good for me, so I could repay the money I borrowed from my parents. But I think it is essential information for future students that they should apply for the Auslandsbafög in time. Otherwise, you may already be in your semester abroad and have to wait for your money the whole time. That happened to some people in my semester. It’s still worth applying for bafög abroad, even if you don’t receive domestic bafög. The limits and conditions for receiving an auslandsbafög are different, and you will more likely be funded. At the foundation from which I received my scholarship, more attention was paid to those who really needed a scholarship.
Find out more about scholarship opportunities here!
What did your letter of motivation for the scholarships look like?
I think the letter of motivation plays an essential role in the scholarships. Firstly, I saw that 16 different nations can apply via Asia Exchange, meaning you can make many European contacts while studying abroad in Bali. This was one of the goals I mentioned in my motivation letter. Of course, you get to know the Balinese culture when you live there, but for me, it was also exciting to learn more about other cultures in Europe through making new connections. For example, I lived with two people from Sweden and learned a lot about their culture. It was exciting to realize that although you live so close in Europe, many things and traditions differ.
I also mentioned in my motivation letter that I would like to improve my English skills. That worked quite well, but only because I actively decided to do it. The fact that many Germans go to Bali to study means that you can quickly get stuck in a German environment. The Asian market was also attractive for me, especially in the property sector. I also wanted to expand my knowledge there and mentioned this in my letter. My semester abroad also helped me a lot on a personal level, and this is also a goal that can be said in a motivation letter.
With my motivation letter and all other documents, I applied for the scholarships after I got my place at the University. You often need confirmation of a place at the university abroad and the length of your studies. But luckily, the registration with Asia Exchange was super fast, so that was no problem. I would say I got my scholarships mostly because of my good grades at my University back home and my personal motivation. Even though I’m not volunteering, I still get these scholarships. I believe I could have received even more scholarships if I had volunteered.
How did you feel about the academic approach?
I think it’s clear that the teaching is very different from the European standard, and the standard is somewhat lower, but it depends a lot on what you make of it. For example, I have published a scientific paper while studying in Bali. Our midterm exams were many take-home exams, and our professor in international business law had given us an assignment two weeks beforehand that we should present a legal matter from our country, e.g., tourism law or criminal law. When I handed in my paper relatively early, the lecturer called me and asked me if I could imagine publishing it because he liked it and thought it was really good. That was in mid-October, and we worked on the paper together again. He revised the formal aspects and rewrote German terms that were foreign to Balinese with me. We finalized it around Christmas.
The idea of publishing it came from my professor. Of course, this meant I had a bit more work to do, but my lecturer put a lot of effort into the whole thing and helped me a lot. Because the staff at the university were so friendly and helpful, they put in so much effort for us students. I also had a certain expectation of myself at university.
What was the highlight of your study experience in Bali? And what learning did you take with you from your semester abroad?
Definitely the friendships I’ve made. This summer I’m visiting my Swedish flatmates in Sweden, which I’m looking forward to. But also things like swimming with dolphins, waterfalls and nature and people were very impressive in general. Also, the islands like Gili were a dream. For me, it was just the complete package.
Regarding my learnings, I would say: Always be interested in other people and cultures. For example, you noticed the Balinese were very happy when you asked them about things. For example, they explained things to me very nicely when I didn’t know something in temples or something similar. So stay curious!
Make your own study experience in Bali with Asia Exchange: Find out more here!
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