Bali or Bust!

Maya Volk

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Greetings blog readers! My name is Maya and I’ve volunteered to document my adventures as I study abroad in Indonesia (specifically on Bali) this fall semester. I am a rising junior studying sociology and psychology, but I also love to read, write, and hang out with my wonderful friends both at home in Portland, Ore. as well as at Whitman. As I sit and write this, I’m feeling a bit weird not being back at Whitman as everyone is moving in, but all of the packing and scrambling to get ready to leave in the past few days has helped to distract from the odd feeling of not driving back to Walla Walla for the start of another year.

But, that being said, I am SO excited to travel to Bali and immerse myself in the culture for the next four months. Before I write too much, I think it’ll be helpful if I explain a little bit about where I am going and what my program entails. Bali is an island in the Indonesian archipelago, south of Malaysia and north of Australia. It sits 8° below the equator (hello Southern Hemisphere!), and so it is pretty hot and humid all year round (can’t say my thick curly hair is so stoked for that fact…). Indonesia has the largest population of Muslim people in the world (87.2% of of the population according to Wikipedia), but Bali is unique because it is predominately Hindu. The program that I am going on is specifically focused on arts, religion and social change, so I will definitely be learning a lot about Bali’s Hindu population amidst a country of Muslims. As for the other parts of the program (arts and social change), I have a feeling that they will be woven into the study of religion because all are very intertwined in culture-rich Bali.

My program is a small group of American students, and we will be having daily lectures relating to the theme of the program as well as 3 hour-long Bahasa Indonesia lessons. Bahasa Indonesia is a very easy language to learn – written in the Gregorian alphabet with hardly any conjugation. One of my goals while I’m there is to become as close to fluent as I can, and I think it may not be such a lofty aspiration. I will be staying with a host family, both in Bali and for two weeks when we travel to Java (a nearby island) to experience life with a Muslim family. Stay tuned for upcoming posts that will go into more detail about my families – all I know as of now is that my Balinese family has a cute little grandmother and is about to receive some tasty Oregon jam.

Oh and speaking of food, a quick explanation about the title of this blog. I’m sure you are well aware of what Walla Walla sweet onions are (and if you’re not I’m a bit surprised and urge you to educate yourself quick), but perhaps not aware of what satay is. Satay is an Indonesian food that is essentially seasoned and skewered meat or seafood with a delicious dipping sauce (I think often peanut based). One aspect of traveling to Indonesia that I’m most excited for is the food, which is apparently very tasty and consists of a lot of fried rice, fried noodles, gado gado (all of you who have been on a scramble are probably familiar with this peanut sauce dish), stir fry and tropical fruit.

Well, my still-empty suitcase is calling my name, so I must get back to preparing to leave. I will try to update as much as I can, but there’s a chance that spotty internet and a 15 hour time difference will hinder regular posts. I still promise to keep you all posted, so stay tuned for my next post when I’ll actually be IN Bali!