The majority of the students in Bali come from Europe, especially from the northern parts. But more and more people from outside of Europe are finding Asia Exchange’s program and this is great news for the Udayana University! We definitely need more multiculturalism at the campus!
This year Asia Exchange had some students also from the US. One of them is Tuleeka Hazra, who comes from New York. Tuleeka’s parents come from India, where she was also born. The family moved to the US already when she was nine years old and due to this she has always considered herself more of a US citizen.
Tuleeka has always enjoyed travelling. Her grandparents and her godsister were the ones who inspired Tuleeka to choose studying in Indonesia. Her grandparents travelled to Bali often and they fell in love with the place. As for her godsister, she worked in Jakarta for several years and came to Bali on holidays. After Tuleeka’s grandfather passed away she wanted to visit the place that used to be so important for him. Tuleeka says the Universities in the US have a lot of contracts with universities in China but not much co-operation elsewhere in Asia. She points out that this is the reason why many people in the US think Asia is one big country, and they are not aware of the huge cultural differences found on this continent.
Paradoxally Tuleeka’s dad was not too excited about her plans to study in Indonesia. He thought it would be too dangerous and suggested an opportunity to study in Europe instead. But as a strong-minded girl she didn’t want to change her plans. Now because of the sad incident that happened in France, her dad also feels that her daughter might be safer in Bali than in Europe.
According to Tuleeka the application process was the easiest part of the study semester process. She thanks the staff at Asia Exchange’s head office and says she received good Student Support Service during the whole applying process. However, what she was not so much prepared for was the arrival in Bali. She explains that in the US the orientation days are much more guided and she felt that she needed to be a lot more independent than she was prepared for. This, in the end, was a good learning process for her and she says she definitely grew a lot.
Balinese culture has from time to time been overwhelming both in good and bad. First, she experienced a cultural shock. The Balinese time was something she was not used to and in restaurants everything took hours and complaining about it had no influence at all. Slowly she started the see the good aspects of the culture as well. Everyone she has met here has been really helpful. If she left her scooter keys on the lock, there was always someone who would run after her to give them to her. The Balinese are proud of their own culture but at the same time they are also curious and open for other cultural values as well. This is something Tuleeka has appreciated a lot. She says that tourists should respect more the Balinese way if life and understand that they are only visitors here.
Tuleeka advises students to come to Bali before booking an accommodation. New roommates become an important family when you are living so far from home. She also says it is better to look for a couple of options before making the decision about moving in somewhere. She was lucky to find an amazing international group of friends who have shared the living and thoughts about life with her. She has enjoyed the conversations had with her roommates and she says it has made her see things differently from time to time.
The strongest impact this semester has had on her life is the change in thinking. She says she now appreciates the little things in life more and she has gotten so much more courage to follow her dreams. She says it would be a good idea for everyone to live in another country. She says she has become very grateful about what she has around her. Tuleeka has also started to practice more sports here than before and has taken better care about her health.
Bali has had a strong impact on her future plans. Tuleeka has been enthused by the woman entrepreneurs she has met here in Bali, especially since she is studying entrepreneurship as her minor at university. She believes one day she will also run her own company. Most importantly, she feels that by having her own business she can also donate something to those who were not as lucky as her in life. But before this she wants to explore the world a bit more. Next year you might find her backpacking and driving a motorbike through South America. Bali definitely put her in a craving for more, new exciting travel adventures!
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