May 28, 2019

Bali - Every Day is an Adventure

Treetop Ropes CourseUnfortunately, the program has ended as I write this. It went by faster than I think any of us expected. I can still remember day one, arriving to our first “home” in the pouring rain, exhausted and excited. I knew from the first dinner we shared together that we’d all become quick friends. I couldn’t have asked for a more fun, engaged, and caring group to spend those two months with.

Tide Pooling on Mushroom Beach Nusa LembonganBefore the trip I hadn’t put much thought toward what I’d expect to gain from the experience. I knew that I’d probably come out on the other end with a more holistic worldview– a better grasp of cultural relativism. However, I’ve learned so much more than just that. Being in Bali where religion and daily life are centered on balance, I’ve learned to find it in everything I do.

Sometimes it’s hard to know what the right thing to do is, but it’s important to step outside myself and look at the big picture. I ask now, “what’s going to matter more ten years from now?” Bali has shown me that it’s really not worth the energy to ‘sweat the small stuff.’ School may be important but life is short. Sometimes you have to look at the opportunity being presented to you as an opportunity to make your life memorable and worthwhile.

Presenting at Bug Bug SchoolI guess going on this trip in general is a perfect example of that. None of the classes offered were required for my major and going abroad has set me “back” for transfer. Yet, I’ve learned more about myself and about life than I have in any two month period… ever. On the same note, Bali has shocked me, too. Coming from Santa Barbara where the majority of people lead environmentally conscious lives, it was difficult to see people throw their trash anywhere and everywhere. There’s little-to-no environmental education or pressure to keep their “home” clean.

Nat and Fran releasing baby turtleTraveling here allowed me to recognize that a lot of environmental issues stem from ignorance, not apathy. It’s not fair to call out these people for their irresponsible management because most of them simply don’t know better. I’ve finished this program with an understanding of how important education really is… knowledge truly is power and I for one am more inspired than ever before to clean up this planet.

Aside from that, this trip has taught me a lot about character and relationships. People who would never have become friends in our typical school setting have come together and some of them I know will be friends for life. People don’t need to have the same major, profession, or passion in life to be able to bond. It didn’t matter that we had some theater majors, some business people, and a broad range in ages– we all had fun living, learning, and exploring together.

Jack and the giant spiderTraveling has caused us all to reflect on our own ways and ideas, and consider how our lives are impacting others and even ourselves. I’ve learned that our way of life is not the only way, nor the “right” way. So much of what we consider to be “normal” is just what we’re comfortable with. I think it’s important to recognize this as I go through life; understanding that other people come from different backgrounds and respecting that creates harmony and compassion.

Spending any time in Bali would be amazing but being immersed in their culture brought meaning to our surroundings. It was enriching to be able to speak with locals, get a sense of their daily life, and see what we were learning actually happen around us. Studying the oceans made our time in the water even more vibrant.

Nat, Emma, Carly, Piers diving at Manta Point Nusa PenidaI couldn’t tell you what my favorite part of this trip was. Every day was an adventure filled with incredible knowledge and loud laughs. The greatest thing about this trip were the people who were involved. By the end it was evident that this group truly connected; the last days were bitter-sweet with smiles and laughter (as always) but tears, too. It was hard for some of us to say goodbye to the friends who’d become family and who we’d become so comfortable spending every waking minute with. But with all that being said, I wasn’t sad. This trip couldn’t have been any better and I am incredibly grateful for everything I’ve learned and everyone I’ve met.

Nat and program director Michelle PaddackMissed Natalie's last blog? Read what she was up to with her classmates in her first month HERE. Interested in what our other group is doing in Rome right now? Jump over to Rome blogger Valeria Garnica.

Interested in all the photos from the Bali program? Go to the our PhotoAlbum or check it out on Instagram @studyabroadsbcc, #sbccstudyabroad and #sbccbali2019

Come back to the blog June 11 when Rome blogger Valeria Garnica checks back in with us!!