Alumni Spotlight: Selen Ozcan


Why did you choose this program?

I chose this program after being recommended by a friend who also completed it, and after reading so many positive reviews about it. I’ve always loved teaching, so to be able to do that in an environment together with others who share a common goal was something that I really wanted to be a part of.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

The program provider assisted me with booking and paying for my program. At first, I couldn’t decide if I should do a 2-week stay or 3, and I kept going back and forth. I’m truly grateful for their patience while I was taking time to decide which option to put me through for. The program provider also helped me out with my visa situation, how to apply, and what I would need.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Just go for it! I was so apprehensive at first that I literally almost didn’t go, because I was never on my own or went someplace without knowing anybody, so that sense of fear took over for a bit. However, everyone is there to help. Make friends along the way. I really wish I would’ve stayed even longer as I’ve got to make such good friendship and memories; I never wanted it to end.

Also, bring more swimsuits and leave some empty space in your luggage! The volunteer house has a pool that everyone hangs out in most days, and I wasn’t aware before I got here. Everything you might need clothes-wise, you can get from the market for very cheap. By the end of my time there, we were basically all wearing the same things!

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

Days can vary a lot! Our induction week was so fun, that is when we go around Bali sights, get to meet everyone, and have all sorts of activities! During the orientation, we went to the monkey forest, waterfalls, infinity pools in the middle of the jungle, and took Balinese cooking classes.

Once you start teaching, each day you start at 8 AM (don’t worry you’ll love it, so waking up at 8 was not a problem for me at all even though it usually is!) and finish teaching by 12, so you have the rest of the day to do whatever you want. That’s when you get to plan places you’d like to see around town with the friends you’ve made, and each day can be different than the next.

You get to plan the lessons with the partner assigned, so the day before, you might be planning something. We did a lot of crosswords, coloring, and word games to present on the following day. The kids are all so welcoming and sweet I got attached instantly, and having to leave was tougher than I imagined.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

My biggest fear was not making any connections. I’m not very sociable by nature, but thankfully for me, everyone there is! I spent two weeks in a room with four other girls, and we got so close. All the group activities made me get out of my shell and interact with more people than I ever did in any other situation. I realized that everyone just wants to have a good time and make friends so I realized quite fast that I had no reason to feel isolated or alone because there is always someone that you can talk to.

What weekend activities in Bali would you recommend?

During the weekends, you get so much free time. I was only there for two weekends so I wanted to make sure I got to do two things – Nusa Penida and Gili Islands!

All the volunteers usually head out exploring other islands for the weekend; everything is so easy to plan, and everyone at the volunteer house is helpful. At Nusa Penida, we got to see the famous beach and cliff at Kelingking Beach, lagoons, and we got to swim very closely with the manta rays! It was probably the most surreal experience I’ve ever had.

At Gili Islands, we got to swim in some of the clearest I’ve ever seen, go diving at the underwater Buddha Temple, and swim with giant turtles! Each weekend is different, and there is so much to do but I would 100% recommend doing these two if you decide to go to Bali.