Study in Bali: Time for a change of perspective

4 min read

Study in paradise? Why not? POINTS of contact spoke with Jennifer Muth. She and Simone Müller are the founders of StudyInBali GbR with its headquarters in Dortmund, and they have been organising their study-abroad programme for seven years now.

[Translate to englisch:] Gruppe von Studenten springen vor Freude in die Luft
Got the chance to explore Bali and it's mesmerizing Architecture in the best way possible with people from more than 21 different countries whom now I can call my friends. Simply the best four weeks of my life.
Awab from Sudan (Tropical Architecture Summer School)
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ENCOUNTER [#6] or: what could you find?

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First contact

It all started with a simple note on the message board advertising the opportunity to “Study architecture in Bali”. None of us had a previous connection to Bali, nor had we ever been to Asia or even planned to go there any time soon. But the time seemed ripe for a change in perspective. Architecture Semester 2010 was the first international programme that Udayana University set up for architecture students. Unfortunately, due to a lack of experience on the part of the agency running the programme, there was a lack of architectural input, and the supporting programme also was not geared towards architecture students. But despite all that, it was a unique experience and we made many friends at Udayana University.

Student with StudyInBali Backpack in front of a statue
Bali is located in the heart of Indonesia, and is a small hotspot of cultures. Although the population is mainly Hindu, the Balinese are exposed to many cultural influences. What is special about them is that they accept and embrace foreign cultures while simultaneously preserving their own unique cultural identity.
Jennifer Muth and Simone Müller at the closing event of Summer School 2019
Jennifer Muth and Simone Müller at the closing event of Summer School 2019.

New impulses

Originally, we just intended to assist the university in Bali in optimising the processes and content as a favour. We completely reorganized the curriculum and developed a suitable supporting programme with workshops and field trips. Our first official semester consisted of eleven students. StudyInBali has grown steadily in all areas over time. The number of students has increased and we have added more programmes in addition to architecture: Engineering and Sports & Physiotherapy. We were able to attract additional universities, and we expanded our selection of programmes (Tourism Destination Management, Culinary Arts, Fashion Design, Photo & Videography) and initiated a summer school. Now, over 1,000 students have come to Bali in the meantime.


Future plans

Next summer semester we will be starting a new architecture programme (Tropical Interior & Green Architecture) at Sekolah Tinggi Desian Bali, and in August 2020 there will be an interdisciplinary summer school for the first time, focusing on sustainable urban development in Panama: “STUDY SMART – Smarter Panama City”.

“Going to Bali feels like an endless adventure – everyone is bound to find an activity they love! For us, for example, the island has a special smell (the incense sticks of the offerings) and special noises (Gamelan temple music, the clacking of the wheels on the rice fields, the engine noises). Bali feeds all your senses…!”
Jennifer Muth, Co-founder and CEO of StudyInBali GbR

“How do you experience the encounters with the country and its people?”

You get the feeling that your encounters with the Balinese people take you to a different level. Time moves much more slowly than in our world, and after just a few days in Bali, you find yourself in a state of inner peace and balance. The Balinese manage to remain true to themselves and their culture despite mass tourism and the influences of hundreds of countries and cultures, and this is probably one of the reasons why the island holds such an attraction for many millions of visitors. The hustle and bustle of tourism has had little impact on the traditional Balinese way of life. Tradition and modernity go hand in hand. Customs, rites and rituals are passed on to the younger generations, religion is an integral part of everyday life, and at the same time the Balinese are able to remain open to foreign and new things, and to naturally integrate them into their world. 

2 female students hug each other
The programmes have resulted in many intercultural encounters and wonderful friendships.
Green Village - 3 persons sitting in front of a bamboo architecture
Architecture trip to the Green Village in Bali. Here the students learn methods for sustainable building with bamboo.

“Where do students interact with locals?” 

There are a lot of places they interact, of course, both in everyday life and at the university. Our summer schools have a buddy programme, in which local students accompany the international students and provide advice and support for all of their questions, even before they start their studies. Occasionally, students want to live with a host family, so we try to establish contacts here as well. Great friendships have already grown out of this. With WhatsApp, Facebook and the like, communication today is much easier than it was a few years ago, even beyond Bali time. 

“We are convinced that a stay abroad must include a good balance of subject-specific teaching, learning of culture and language, and off-campus activities and experiences.”
Jennifer Muth

An important point to mention is that the semester or summer school in Bali does not just take place at the university. We are convinced that a stay abroad must include a good balance of subject-specific teaching, learning of culture and language, and off-campus activities and experiences. This is the only way to truly understand a culture, how the country and its people work, their philosophy of life and their opportunities and challenges. The subject Indonesian Language, History & Culture is an integral part of the curriculum of our 15-week programmes (one semester). Students are given the opportunity to explore the island with all its various facets, architecture and culture in the numerous field trips and workshops.

2 persons at the pool
Contruction at the bamboo workshop
A working model developed during a one-day bamboo workshop in the Green Village.

“What is a stay abroad like with your programme?” 

The programmes and subjects are usually developed together with the universities. One common theme of what we offer is: East meets West! This is about the blending of ideas between life in the West and tropical life in Bali. Our aim is to compare western and tropical architecture and create new harmonies in modern architecture through possible combinations of styles. 

A typical day as a student in Bali begins (usually after a hectic ride on a scooter through the busy streets of its capital, Denpasar) with seminar-like lectures, which are primarily designed for mutual exchange between students and lecturers. Lectures are held in English, and the course content of Resort Design & Hospitality Design, Tropical Home, Interior Architecture and South East Asian Vernacular Architecture is dealt with in a personal atmosphere.

There are weekly field trips to construction sites, Bali’s landmarks, modern hotel complexes and villas and traditional villages. We also visit studios of renowned architects and the projects they have completed. In workshops, the students get impressions of the variety of local materials, colours and light, as well as the relevance and techniques of earthquake-proof construction. Sustainable building methods using bamboo are presented and put into practice in a full-scale model in a one-day bamboo workshop. 


Application deadlines for 2020

  • Summer Class (28/03–31/07/2020), deadline: 15/02/2020

  • Winter Class (29/08–18/12/2020), deadline: 15/06/2020

  • Summer Schools (01/08–29/08/2020), deadline: 15/06/2020


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