Considered by many to be the crown jewel of Indonesia, the island paradise of Bali is a prime study abroad destination for a wide range of interests and fields of study. From the volcanic highlands and terraced rice fields of the north, to the pristine white sand beaches and feverish nightlife of the south, the island has something for just about everyone. If you are searching for a study abroad program in a location that is rife with local culture but also features a large population of tourists from around the world, then studying in Bali is for you!
Subjects & Courses
Denpasar is the largest city on Bali island and home to Udayana University, the largest and most well established university on the island, which happens to be the most popular destination for studying abroad in Bali. The school is spread across three campuses around the city. Udayana offers a wide range of courses for students from a variety of fields of study.
Asian Studies. Udayana is the organizer of the Bali International Program on Asian Studies (BIPAS), a program that is specifically tailored for foreign students. Areas of study within the program include technology, business, political science, and tourism management, all with a primary focus on Asian culture.
International Relations & Business. Both international relations and business are popular areas of study in Bali, again these courses are primarily provided by Udayana University and have a strong concentration on Southeast Asia. All courses at Udayana University are instructed in English, except for language classes of course.
Indonesian Culture & Language. Finally, there is always the opportunity to learn about the local ways of life through studying in Bali. Language courses in Bahasa Indonesia are available through Udayana University as well as through several language schools spread across the island. With the abundance of bilingual locals working in the tourism industry on the island, students studying the Indonesian language in Bali will find themselves in a fantastic place to practice their skills in the local community. There are also many study abroad programs in Bali that focus on exploring Indonesian culture, and some even allow students to visit various areas around the island.
Conservation. Due to the high demand and profitability of the tourism industry, programs focused on conserving the island’s natural environment are not uncommon. Conservation study abroad programs in Bali focus on sustainable practices that can help preserve Bali’s natural beauty without hindering the tourism industry, as well as teaching local communities effective conservation strategies.
Life in Bali
Daily life in Bali, especially in the southern part of the island, is centered around the tourism industry. The island is world renowned as a surfer’s paradise and as a haven for travelers, meaning that it is a perfect destination for anyone looking for fun in the sun. The equatorial location of the Indonesian islands results in daily temperatures that rarely fall outside a range of about 75 to 88⁰F (26 to 31⁰C). The months of May through September are the dry season in Bali and will also see the lowest daily temperatures. November through February is the rainy season and will also be warmer and more humid on average. These rainy season months will also naturally see the fewest number of tourists on the island, an important note for a place that saw over 3.2 million foreign visitors last year alone.
Obviously, tourists come to Bali for a variety of attractions and experiences, one of which is the island’s nightlife. Bali has become a mecca of sorts for young people from all over the world due to its well-known nightlife and tropical atmosphere. The Kuta region, stretching along the western side of the isthmus connecting the main city of Denpasar to the southern part of the island, is a very popular area for young foreign travelers to hang out in the evenings. The area is home to countless bars and dance clubs and is the nightlife center of the city.
If a night out on the town isn’t your style, then fear not, Bali is also a cultural tourism center with countless Hindu temples and many large Hindu festival celebrations held on the island throughout the year. Ecotourism is also popular as the northern parts of the island feature lush jungles and the coral reefs and surrounding smaller islands are home to some of the best scuba diving locations on Earth.
Costs & Affordability
Overall, Bali is a very affordable place to study abroad, as long as you accept the fact that you are living there and are not a tourist. Local goods and services will cost substantially less than in a typical American city on average, and local food is both delicious and cheap.
Items that are imported will be more expensive, such as things like electronics and name brand clothes, which should be brought from home if they are needed. For students spending an extended amount of time on the island, the most important thing to remember is that living like a tourist will cost you! If you are looking forward to making the most of the island’s tourist attractions several times per week and eating out at Western style restaurants, make sure your budget is prepared to handle it.
Accommodation & Visas
Finding a place to live while studying abroad in Bali isn’t overly difficult. For those attending Udayana University, plentiful housing options are available for students. Furthermore, some study abroad programs in Bali offer housing specifically for international students, allowing for interaction not only with the local culture, but with cultures from all over the world. If student housing doesn’t work out, apartments are readily available all over the island, but will be a bit more expensive due to the large demand for apartments generated by tourists. However, prices in Bali will still fit into any reasonable student budget. There are many listings available in the center of Denpasar for anywhere from $300 to $800 per month, depending on the number of people sharing the apartment and the amenities desired.
Getting a visa to study abroad in Indonesia can be a bit confusing, but the process for student visas can be broken down into just a few simple steps. First of all, a student visa for studying in Indonesia can only be obtained after you have arrived. But, before you go you will need to get what is called a social/cultural visit visa, in order to actually enter the country. It will be valid for 60 days from the time you arrive and you will need to present a letter of acceptance from your school as well as a note indicating that all academic fees have been paid in advance to obtain it.
Once you arrive in Indonesia with your temporary visa, it can be converted into a more long-term student visa (also called a “stay permit”) through the Indonesian Immigration Office. Any university in the country that deals with international students will have an Administration Office that can help you with this step. Finally, once your stay permit is obtained, you will be allowed to study in Indonesia for a period of up to 12 months, and an additional four, 12-month extensions are possible for students participating in long-term programs – meaning you can stay for a total of five years if pursuing an entire degree in Indonesia.
Benefits & Challenges
- Affordable Paradise. Between the amazing tropical climate, the ever-present and exciting nightlife, and the exposure to the best of Southeast Asian cultures, Bali is a fantastic destination for students with a wide range of interests AND a tight budget. The relatively cheap cost of living on the island paired with all it has to offer is a recipe for an unforgettable study abroad experience. It is important to avoid the super touristy attractions and restaurants to benefit from this pro!
- Tourism & English. The huge numbers of tourists visiting Bali each year (and their influence on the local economy) make the locals very accepting and embracing of outsiders. While Bahasa Indonesia is the official language, English is commonly spoken as well, especially around tourist areas of course.