Not all those who wander are lost

Two rehabilitation counselor students doing an internship at school teaching Balinese children.

Take me back to Bali..!

When I left abroad, I had no idea how fast four months can go. I remember the day when we had a flight from Thailand to Bali and we were so excited. All I could think was that I AM REALLY GOING BALI NOW. I didn’t have any clue how many new, amazing people I’m going to meet, how wonderful memories I’m really going to make, and how much my English is going to improve. I was just so excited. When our driver picked us up from the airport and gave us the key to our room, it was almost midnight and we didn’t meet any other volunteers, expect the one from our next door who asked us to be more quiet because she was sleeping (I need to admit that we were a bit terrified – you are sleeping, at 11 pm on Saturday night and we just came here and we can’t even talk or laugh… WHERE ARE WE). I was SO happy that I could take all my clothes and everything out of my backpack and I didn’t have to carry it anymore. We really had lots of stuff with us and our friend Rachel always kept saying that our room looks like we would really live there. Yeap, we were at home.

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Compared to Jyväskylä, Ubud was really difficult. Of course. Streets are tight, everyone is driving by their motorbikes, there are restaurants everywhere. Etc. When we were in Bali, I heard quite many young people saying that Ubud is boring. I think that it depends what you have got used to and what do you like. Many people who live in Helsinki, might say that Jyväskylä is boring. I don’t think so. Jyväskylä is not so big, you can walk or cycle almost everywhere and almost every time when you go to town center, you meet someone you know. And that’s what I like. It’s same with Ubud. Maybe this is why it felt so much home to me.

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Do I miss Bali? -YES. Did I miss back home when I was there? -Yes. But actually not so much than I thought I would miss. I missed my boyfriend, some friends, hot shower, rye bread, salty liqourice and cheese. And making food. But I really didn’t think about that all the time 😀 I could have been stayed there easily longer. What do I miss about Bali now? ABSOLUTELY THE WEATHER!!!!! When I walked out of Helsinki-Vantaa airport, I really thought that I was going to die for the coldness. And now, when it’s -25 celsius, I really hate this 😀 I also miss the people, beautiful beaches, speaking english, my students, cheap prices,… So many things.

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I need to say that the experience that I had, is something that I won’t ever forget. There are not enough words to tell about it – it’s something that you just need to experience by yourself. If someone asks me is it worth to go to do practical training abroad, I’d say absolutely. I feel that it’s shame not to go 😀 I would do it again anytime.

Hisilicon K3

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Back in Finland

Here we are back in a cold or more like freezing Finland. It’s -25C and I have to say it is too cold and makes me miss the sun and even the heat that made us sweaty all the time. It is almost like a different world here.

Freezing, snowy Jyväskylä.

Freezing, snowy Jyväskylä.

Where are all the people and motorbikes, big buildings, rubbish from the streets, cockroaches, stray dogs, palm trees and much much more? It sure takes time to get used to all of these differences. After all this remembering and missing our last months it is still good to be back home. I missed my family and friends very much and it really was time to see them again. Even when here it is so much more quiet and clean everywhere, more rules and everything is very organized compared to Asia, it is still home. It is always nice to come home and every time I remember how lucky I really am to have such a good home country, loving family and of course quality education.

It’s funny when the four months we spend away felt like a long time to be apart from home but at the same time the period went so fast and time really flew. That’s why I want to encourage all the students that are thinking of going exchange and not to be afraid of that “long” period of time away home. I promise that every second is worth experience and it all will be quickly over. I have never heard that someone would have regret that kind of an experience.

I believe that traveling and especially living and working in abroad can really open your eyes and help you to see a bigger picture about life. I wouldn’t change this experience to anything and I highly recommend abroad practical training period to everyone.

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What have I learnt?

– It’s all about planning. You really just can’t go to teach anyone without any plans. It just doesn’t work like that. It’s good if you have also a plan B and sometimes you also need to have a plan C. For example yesterday I had planned for the end of the lesson a very good game (in my opinion…) and we started to play the game and the students didn’t like it at all!!!! They didn’t wanna play it!!!!! AND I had been so confident about my game that I didn’t have even plan B for the game. Thank God then my students had one game on their mind that they wanted to play so they taught me that 🙂

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– To communicate without shared language. Many times my students just speak to my Indonesian and I’m trying to speak them veeery basic English or just to draw and communicate with signs 😀 I think this is good if I’m ever going to work with immigrants.

– To be more creative than earlier. I have used really much creative methods that my students learn. For example when we had the topic “On the beach” I made them a memory game of all the things that you can see on the beach and they had to match a text and a picture that mean the same. Many times we use colouring pictures: first we colour a picture that belongs to our topic and then we write sentences about that picture. We play games that helps kids to learn. It’s amazing to see their improvement <3

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Mount Batur and volunteers. 1717m high mountain that we went to.

– To learn to see my students as an individuals instead of a group. I think that for me this took about a month. I had to learn their names and something more about them. Especially my first class I know the best, maybe because I see them every day so it has been easier to get to know them. And their English is the best compared to my other classes. Now I can say that who is good and who need more help and what kind of help etc. I’ve also notices that one of my students might have dyslexia because he has so many problems on reading and writing.. Anyway there’s still one big class that I have, that I don’t know very well. Their English skills are not good and there are about 25 students so getting to know everyone has been really hard. So I think that I still need to become better on seeing persons as an individuals instead of a group when they’re in a big group!

– To work with people who have totally different culture than I have. I think that kids all over the world are somehow really same. For example (almost) all the kids love games. I don’t think that there is so big different to work with Balinese children than Finnish children. Of course there is language – we don’t understand so well each other and their religion is having a really big role in their lives; they go often to ceremonies and love it. For me it’s quite strange because I’m not so religious but of course I respect their choices about that and somehow I think that it’s so cool that they have this common thing that connects all of them.

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Beach in Canggu

– To report about the lessons. Every day after the lesson we need to write in a diary that what we’ve been. Because I have three classes I also have three diaries to write to. I have really learnt that I need to write the diaries really soon because otherwise I won’t remember what we’ve done with my students.

– To counsel kids in different ages. My youngest students are 8 years old and oldest are 15 years old. I can use almost the same materials for learning but for example all the games need to be different for 8 years old and 15 years old that they are motivated.

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Sunset in Tanah Lot temple

– To think after the lessons that what would I do otherwise. Because I’m working with kids, I can really see that what they like and what they don’t like. Actually this is very good because then I know that what works with them and what doesn’t and I can change my teaching methods.

– I would like to learn to make people to adhere in the group. In our school, kids just come and go. You’ll never know how many students you are going to have on next day. Of course here they have also another school that they go and sometimes they have exams that they need to read for and very often they also go to ceremonies. But still!!!

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Beach in Canggu.

– If I could decide what do bring here to Finland, it would definitely be sincerity and happiness of all the people. Even though they are disadvantaged, they are still always so happy and it’s amazing to see. They really take care of their families and their community. We really need this in Finland to make it better.

<3

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So what is this VP Bali?

VPbali

I wanted to tell little bit about the organisation that we are teaching in.

VP Bali = Volunteer programs Bali is an international volunteer organisation that provides free English classes for underprivileged children in Bali.
In the organisation there are four different programs; In the Valley, Village, Special needs and the one we’re in that is program Ubud.

In the program Ubud there are two local schools with around 500 children attending to the classes everyday. All of the children first attend their regular Indonesian classes between 7.30-12.30 and after that come to the English classes at Vp Bali in the afternoon. That is why I really appreciate the kids for coming to classes still in the afternoon even though they must be tired after already studied in their normal classes. That also tells a lot about their motivation to learn English, which then also motivate us to teach them the best we can.

In every school program is using the EAL curriculum that have different topics that we need to teach to the students. The teaching methods are pretty informal and we can think of different subjects and teaching methods by ourselves as long they aren’t too hard for them. Usually all of the volunteers are teaching very basic English f.ex words, time, names, depending of the level that the students have in different classes. As long as we remember to keep it creative and fun it is usually enough.

Usually volunteers always teach in pairs but during our stay here there haven’t been enough teachers so we have taught alone. I’d believe that it is much more easier to teach with someone especially if the class is very big but on the other hand I don’t think I would have learned that much about this experience if I wouldn’t have been alone.

Me and Essi with two other teachers and some kids :)

Me and Essi with two other teachers and some kids 🙂

I really think that this organisation is doing a great influence of these children’s lives and I’m very glad to have had this kind of an opportunity to be part of this.

Here is the website so you can check about more details: http://volunteerprogramsbali.org/

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So happy.

Because we are living in the same homestay than all the other volunteers, we’ve got loads of new friends. Almost every week there’s a new volunteer(s) coming and at the same time also someone is leaving. Some volunteers are here only for two or three weeks (I think that it’s way too short time to be in the program. For me it took about three weeks just to get used to teaching) and some of them are longer, as us. Somehow I think that it’s good that there are every week new volunteers coming here but at the same time I’m very sad that we have had to say so many goodbyes for so many amazing people. People come here from all over the world (not any Finnish people has been here as a volunteer when we’ve been) which I think is really good but it also makes the reunion harder!! We have already planned a little bit about a trip for next summer to middle-Europa to meet our friends there!

Because everyone stays in the same place, we also do much things together. Especially on weekends. While we have been here, we’ve spent two (???!! really… Not sure 😀 maybe three??) weekends here in Ubud. All the other weekends we have gone to somewhere else. Last weekend we went on to Kuta on Friday because it was one of our friends last night here. Then on Saturday we went to Seminyak and on Sunday we went to Uluwatu. I really fell in love with Uluwatu and I can’t wait to get back there!!!! One weekend we went to Canggu that is on the coast too. We don’t have a beach here in Ubud because this is inland so I think that all our weekend trips are goes places where is a beach.. 😀 It’s good that we have an opportunity to travel on weekends so we can see more places here.

I think that when I compare my English now and when I came here, there is a really big change. First I was quite scared to speak english here 😀 But now it’s more than fine. I just needed to get used to it. I’ve been here in Asia almost three months so it would be weird if nothing has happened to my English skills 😀 Of course there still comes moments when I don’t know the word or I don’t understand what someone says but you can always ask. The problems that I still nowadays have with English are with the accents! Sometimes people have so strong accents that I really need to concentrate myself on listening to them, hahah. Especially people who come from Australia and London.

Anyway, I’ve been so, so breathtakingly happy here. I’m so happy that we decided to come just here.

<3

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COSTS

What does it costs to do a practical training in Ubud, Bali ?

I think that the next ones are compulsory costs.

I don’t know if I wanna write this because then I really realize it’s gonna be so much money 😀 But let’s try..

Flights about 870 euros. (We flew from Helsinki to Bangkok, it was 260 euros + flight from Surat Thani (Thailand) to Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) 70 euros + flight from Kuala Lumpur to Denpasar 70 euros. When we are leaving, we’ll fly from Denpasar to Singapore (70 euros) and from Singapore to Helsinki 400 euros.) Of course it might be cheaper if you don’t visit Thailand but it really was worth for every cents 😉 And our flight from Helsinki to Bangkok was reaaally cheap!!

Vaccinations: 290 euros. Hepatitis A & B. School paid hepatitis B so we only needed to pay for A. It was 55 euros per vaccination and you need to take two of them. In addition we also took Japanese encephalitis vaccination. It was 90 euros per each vaccination and you need to take two.

Travelling insurance: 90 euros. I tendered out all the insurance companies in Finland and got the cheapest one from Pohjola.

– Visa: 35 euros. Now we just need to extend our visas because our first visa was only for 60 days and now we need 30 days more and it costs 55 euros for us. = 90 euros.

– Program fee 1100 euros. This includes accommodation, breakfast, pick up from airport and drives to school.

So 2440 euros…. 😀 Much money!! But luckily we got a “stipend” from school (about 1000 euros) and of course we get student money and it is also possible to take student loan that is more when studying abroad than studying in Finland (700 euros per month).

Living (food etc.) here is really cheap and if you really want to live cheaply here, you can easily live for 100 000 IDR (about 6 euros) per day! Including lunch and dinner in a restaurant and still you have money to do something else. Today I ate indonesian food for lunch and paid for that 18 000 IDR (1,24 euros) 😉

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My teaching (Kerttu)

I have been teaching now for 6 weeks. It sounds like a lot but still the weeks have gone by so fast. My first week I taught with another volunteer from Germany but after that I was on my own. It took me many weeks before I got the feeling that I can handle it and got the confidence also. Before I came here I never thought that I’m going to teach alone but now I’m pretty glad that I needed to really push myself out from the comfort zone and that’s why I believe that I have really learned a lot.

I have three different classes. One class I have everyday and that’s with the little ones ages 7-11. They are so cute and every time they’re full of energy (sometimes little bit too much). What surprised me was that even if they’re so wild and energetic they still listen to me and really try their best to do all the assignments, as long as they aren’t too easy and boring for them. That’s why I need to plan every time something new and more creative for them so they stay interested. Usually I have 6 to 10 kids so not too many but you can really see when there’s more kids than usual because it gets much harder to handle the big group. The biggest challenge is definitely make all of them learn the same things, which is very hard because they are different ages and their level vary a lot also. Some kids know all the subjects already when others struggle more with them.

In the rice fields with my little ones :)

In the rice fields with my little ones 🙂

In two other classes I have older kids with ages 13-17. One class I have every Monday and Wednesday and the other every Tuesday and Thursday. In other class I have about 10 students and the other one usually almost 30 students. At first it was very hard to work with a such a big group but now when I’ve got the confidence and I have got used to it I think that I’m doing pretty well. I like my older ones very much and it so fun to teach with them and when they can understand English better than the little ones the communication is easier also. With these students I also love their enthusiasm to learn. Let’s not also forget that the kids come to the school voluntarily in the afternoon after their “real” school day. The challenge in these classes is also the different English levels between them. Especially the boys are always little behind the girls so it needs extra work to get them all to learn the subjects properly.

My student's drawing. We were learning word on the beach and building sentences about the picture.

My student’s drawing. We were learning words from “on the beach” and building sentences about the picture.

So because I have three classes I really need to do my planning every day before school. After school I also have three diaries that I need to report the summary of what happened in my classes. That is actually very good system so I can also check what did we do for example last week and what do we still need to practice etc. I believe it is also very useful to the stuff in the program so they can see what all the volunteers have been up to and what could they do to make the classes better and more beneficial for the children.

The time surely flies here and even though now the 3 months feel too less I’m happy that I had at least that. I think you only get to know the children, school, teaching and the system when you’re here long enough time. I am already counting days when this is going to end because I know it’s going to be too soon and definitely too hard. For now just need to enjoy the rest of the time and try to make the best out of it.

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Living in Ubud

We are living in homestay in the center of Ubud. All the other volunteers are living also in the same homestay (or in the homestay that is next to our place). Now we have here nine volunteers in our homestay and four in the other homestay. I think that it’s nice that we are all living here because you always have friends here! If you wanna be alone, then you can just go to your own room. We are living in the same room with Kerttu but it’s not a problem. All the volunteers who are living downstairs have own terrace and then we have a nice yard where we can hang out together.

Because this is homestay, here lives also Balinese family. They have so cute almost two years old son! The Balinese family make us breakfast (you can choose between omelette and banana pancake), drive us to school and clean our rooms. I don’t have any photos of our homestay but I can show later.

We don’t have much in our room. We have two beds, wardrobe, chair and toilet where is also a shower. Sometimes you can only get cold water but usually you get two minutes hot water, and it’s sooo hot that you feel like your skin is burning 😀 Then it’s lukewarm.

What I miss here is a kitchen (so I could make food) and air conditioning. When we came here the nights were sometimes even cold but at least for two last weeks the nights have been really hot and I hate to go to sleep when it’s hot and I’m sweating too much!

We have animals also here; birds, dogs, geckos and near in our homestay are also cocks so the mornings are always really noisy here. All the animals + Balinese family wakes up reeeeally early, about 6 am and our walls are like paper so you can hear everything to your room.

Everything in Bali is really cheap compared to Finland. Usually a meal in restaurant is about 3-4 euros (you can also eat cheaper especially if you eat balinese food) and if something costs more than 6 euros we always think that it’s too expensive and wanna find a cheaper place 😀 One of my favorite pastas here costs 1,6 euros. What else about the prices.. One night in cheap hostel is about 5 euros, 1,5L water bottle is 0,3 euros, etc. Everything is reaaally cheap! But that’s just good for our budget as a students 😉

Ubud is cultural center of Bali. Here you can find for example temples, balinese dance shows, paintings and statues, museums and galleries, balinese cooking classes etc. I think it’s good that we live in Ubud instead of for example Kuta. Here is kinda safe and you almost never need to be scared here. This feels like home! And if you get bored in Ubud, it’s always easy to travel to other places. We often do weekend trips to other towns.

I really like this place and I’m so happy that we chose to come here to do our practical training!!

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Quotes from my diary

We need to report about our lessons in our “diaries.” We need to write there that what we have done in the lessons, if we have played a game, we need to write what game we played, we need to write what kind of exercises we’ve done there etc. We are writing the diaries of course in english so our coordinators and the teachers who are coming to teach our classes after us can also read that what we have done there and what should teach more.

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I have three diaries that I’m writing to. One for every class that I’m teaching.

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I think that here the reporting takes more time than in Finland because we can’t report with the computer.

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I also write in the diary if I have had some problems with the class. This was when I got 9 new students in my first class and they were much worse than my other students in the class. The new ones didn’t even know the alphabets and my old students can form sentences. After couple days the new kids were moved to another class (Kerttu’s).

Now I have same kind of problems. I got two new students in my second class and they don’t know anything that we are considering. We are almost finishing one topic (On the beach) so I think that it really would be waste of time to start the topic over again just for two students because the other students are already good at it.

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I also do wordtests with my students so I can know that when it’s time to move on. I had these wordtests with my classes last week and they did it really good. This week I’m going to have a bigger test about the whole topic.

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– Essi

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My classes (Essi)

I haven’t written here in a long time but now it’s time to start to write this blog again. We’ve been working here in Bali now almost for four weeks and I think that finally we know that what we are doing! The beginning of our practical training has been really much about getting to know everything and everyone. It really takes time to get used to a totally different culture and people’s way to work.

First three weeks I (Essi) worked with my co-teacher John and I really need to say that it was much easier to have two teachers in the class instead of one. Kerttu has been teaching alone since the second week. We both have three different classes that we are teaching; two classes per day. The first class is always the same but the second class is the same on Mondays and Wednesdays and on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I have the youngest students on my first class. The students are between 8-11 years old. Other students that I’m teaching are between 12-15 years old.

We teach from Monday to Thursday at 13-17. So it’s four hours teaching per day. I wish that I could say that that’s it but it really isn’t.. To be a good teacher, you also need to plan. A lot. We usually start our working day after breakfast, which means around 10. I tend to write my diaries first in the morning. We need to write teaching diaries about our school days so in the mornings I always write about the yesterday’s school day. Then I start to plan my lessons. We only have the topics that we need to teach to the students but everything else we make up by ourselves. I think that we can be really creative here! We can show some pictures later what we’ve been doing here with our students.

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