What made you decide it was time to volunteer abroad?
It was another item on my bucket list waiting to be checked off; little did I know it would turn into so much more. It was also a challenge to myself too, as it was my first solo trip.
Why did you choose a kindergarten teaching program?
I am working on my teaching degree and love kids!
What surprised you most about Bali?
How beautiful the country is. The people are so welcoming and inviting. I felt so safe, walking around by myself in a town, and a country, I knew little to nothing about. The landscape is breathtaking and so well preserved too.
What made your experience abroad unique?
The program itself and the people I met. That is usually a make it or break it kind of thing, and it definitely made my experience! The kids were amazing and loved having me there as well.
How did local staff support you throughout your program?
Whenever I had questions or concerns, they were right there to help. They made me feel at home from the moment I walked through the Lovina doors.
What is one thing every participant should know before participating in your program?
Prepare yourself and go in with an open mindset. It can be challenging to be away from normal life for a period of time, especially with language barriers at the school. It was trying at times and I disconnected myself from home by only using wifi on my phone.
It really is a life changing experience if you make it one, so enjoy every second of it!
In general, how difficult was it to communicate with the locals?
It wasn't as bad as I was expecting; in fact, it wasn't hard at all. Most of them knew a little English and were also willing to try to communicate with you, so I got by just fine. The kids I was working with in kindergarten taught me things as well, so I picked up a few phrases and words while I was there.
Describe a typical day in the life of your program.
Breakfast at 7 a.m. and head to school by 8 a.m. From 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. it was classroom time, and at 9 a.m. the kids had recess and a snack break. Every day when we would come back from recess we sang songs and played games until school ended at 10 a.m.
The rest of the day was ours to do what we please! Some days we hung by the pool, did waterfall trips, beach walks, shopping, or just about anything; other days we just hung around the house. We spent some time preparing for the next day’s lessons too. Dinner was at 5 p.m. and the food was always amazing. After dinner we would head out for drinks, take a trip to the mini mart, or have movie nights.
What did you enjoy doing in your free time most often?
There were so many options! The staff were quick to help us book transfers and give us ideas about things to do. We saw so much in such a short amount of time.
What was your favorite part about Bali?
I felt so safe. We walked everywhere, day and night and never had any problems. The locals were so welcoming and helpful.
What was your accommodation like? What did you like best about it?
After reading some reviews online, I was a bit nervous about what the accommodation was going to be like. But it by far exceeded my expectations! I shared with three other girls and we had our own bathroom. The cold showers were nice considering the temperature! The Lovina house had a pool and great common house for gathering, mealtimes and wifi. I loved the atmosphere. It really did feel like home away from home.
Is there anything you wish you would have done differently?
Stayed more than three weeks
What was the hardest part about volunteering abroad?
The hardest part for me about volunteering abroad was stepping outside of my comfort zone. I have usually traveled with other people, but this time there was no one who was able to go with me. I knew it was something that I had always wanted to do, so I just decided to do it. I was very nervous going into it, as it being my first solo trip, but in the end it was completely life changing.
What is one thing you wish you would have known before volunteering abroad in Indonesia?
I feel like I was very well prepared. I went into knowing what I was in for and had talked to prior volunteers about their experiences. I think the only thing I could have been more prepared on was what they wanted me to teach the kids. In America, we have a set curriculum and in the school I work in, we are required to follow that. It's hard not knowing what the kids already know when you go in the first few days.
Do you have any packing tips for individuals heading to Bali?
Bug spray, sunscreen, and bug spray! Oh and light clothing, you sweat, all the time. And a poncho! Also, if you are teaching, bring stickers and different activities for the kids; they don't have to be big, but anything helps (i.e. flashcards, coloring books, crayons, paper, etc.).
What do you feel the biggest benefit of volunteering abroad is?
It made me truly thankful for the things I have, the country I was born in, and the way I was raised. It made me realize I need to take every chance I get in life, because I have the opportunity to do so.
Now that you're home, how has volunteering abroad impacted your life?
I want to go back, tomorrow. It has solidified the fact that I want to teach abroad once I finish my degree. I'm already working towards where I will be going and looking at my options for the next year. It has also made me appreciate my life here. Living simply over there made me realize how much I don't need and don't want.
Would you recommend IVHQ to others? Why?
Absolutely! Why would you not want to make a difference in someone else's life and help make the world a better place?! Not only are you helping change it, it changes you in more ways than you could imagine.
If you could volunteer abroad again, where would you go?
I am already trying to plan my next volunteer trip for next winter, and Madagascar really sticks out as a place I want to go, so I'm thinking that's what it will be! But if I could, I would go everywhere!
Lindsey is from Northern Minnesota and is currently working on her bachelor’s degree online in elementary and special education. She loves to travel and has been to quite a few different countries, but her list keeps growing the more places she goes. To afford her crazy travel lifestyle, Lindsey works three jobs – bartender, waitress, and language facilitator --, but she loves every second of her crazy life.