Alumni Spotlight: Ali Lotz

Ali Lotz is from Pennsylvania, USA and is finishing up her senior year of high school. She will be attending college for International Relations and Global Affairs in the fall. Ali has far too many interests for her own good, including track and field, tumblr, photography, cooking, world travel, and being incredibly trendy.

Morning: A day in my life in Bali consisted of a rather normal, relaxed morning. We typically woke up around 8am, with the exception of a few early rises. I chose to wake up extra early many mornings to have a little journaling time, see everyone making their morning offerings and just to take in the beauty of the homestay.

Getting ready was easy because there's no need to be high maintenance; a quick shower, throw on some clothes, and braid my hair and I was ready to go. Ibu made us breakfast every morning which consisted of a plate of fruit, Balinese coffee or tea, and whatever specialty she was cooking up that morning. We all ate together at the common area, and were then off to what adventures awaited us that day.

Ali with local children

Afternoon: It's hard to pinpoint a typical afternoon because the leaders had something different planned for us every day. We often went out to lunch as a group, but also had the opportunity to eat lunch on our own quite a few times (I recommend Pizza Bagus!). I can assure you that an afternoon was never wasted. Many times we went to the banjar (like a community meeting place), where some local people would teach us many of the Balinese arts and specialties like offering making or wood carving. Also, when there was nothing planned for our afternoons we would venture out into Ubud to explore the shops, restaurants, or monkey forest. Other days we spent visiting temples, walking through rice paddies, going into the town, or going to the beach.

Evening: By the time evening came around, everyone was exhausted from the excitement filled day, but we always managed to have some fun in the evening, often spilling over into the wee hours of the morning. Every night we had a hearty dinner, either out at a restaurant, cooked on the beach, or home cooked by Ibu. Dinner always consists of rice, and whatever else is cooked up, often chicken, tofu, eggs, or fish; no worries though because dinner was always delicious. Because Bali is such a small island, they have few if any cows, therefore no beef or milk (just a warning), instead you get to eat fried bananas and banana lassis!

After dinner we would most likely take a quick trip to the Circle K for a magnum bar and then come back to the homestay to have a GLA reflection session, talk about our day, journal, and then play card games, mafia, or signs. Each night we became better friends and had trouble getting to bed at a decent hour because were all hanging out in someone's room listening to music, dancing, or talking.

Immerse yourself in Indonesian culture

Highlights: It truly is difficult to choose a single highlight in a trip that I consider to be the highlight of my life, but the Anthropologist in me comes out here because I have to say experiencing the culture was by far my favorite. Balinese culture is truly a unique culture that cannot be found anywhere else on earth. Witnessing and partaking in their culture every day gave me a new perspective on life and the world. It is colorful, expressive, happy, relaxed, helpful, in touch with nature, welcoming, and 100% unique.

Along with my overall trip highlight, the volunteer experience provided many lessons and experiences to me personally. As a volunteer, my peers and I traveled to a school for mentally and physically disabled children. Only one of the teachers at the school spoke English, and after a quick introduction and some instructions we were left to our own devices. The most amazing part of volunteering was being able to communicate with the kids so easily even though they didn't speak a word of English.

One event that's crystal clear in my memory is when I was desperately trying to say something to one of the teachers, and failing miserably I muttered "sing ken ken" (which means no worries). Instantly the teacher broke out into a huge smile, and replied with another "sing ken ken". Even though I may not have been able to communicate precisely, the teacher and I completely understood each other.