Grace O’Hearn is a New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant recipient from The University of Technology Sydney. Grace participated in the 2020 Sustainable Tourism Professional Practicum in Bali, Indonesia, where she interned with Lily Lane Villas. Throughout the practicum, Grace was an ACICIS Social Media Ambassador, tasked and trusted with using social media to facilitate meaningful discussions about life, study and travel in Indonesia. Here is Grace’s story…

Bali and Tourism Study? A Match Made in Heaven
By Grace O’Hearn (STPP 2020)

Overseas study programs are becoming increasingly more popular and relevant to the degrees of university students. As a tourism student, having overseas academic experience is even more valuable. Every day at university, we learn about the world and the global tourism industry, so what better way to learn than to immerse yourself in one of the most popular tourist destinations amongst Australians; Bali. While Bali may not immediately come to mind as a location for academic study, it really is the perfect place to study tourism. After only a year as a tourism student at The University of Technology Sydney (UTS), I undertook the ACICIS Sustainable Tourism Professional Practicum (STPP) in January 2020. Without a doubt, this is the most valuable experience I’ve had as a student.

The first two weeks of the Sustainable Tourism Professional Practicum are held at Universitas Udayana in Jimbaran, where you will hear from leaders in the Balinese tourism industry, including brilliant academics and experts in sustainable tourism businesses. You’ll also learn about the history of Bali, which allowed me to think more broadly and critically about the island labelled as a ‘paradise’.

You’ll also get to learn the basics of the Indonesian language in these first two weeks. This definitely came in handy during the four-week internship and was an easy way to make friends with the staff … never underestimate the power of asking someone ‘sudah makan?’ (have you already eaten?) – it’s a sure-fire way to make some friends. While you will be learning lots in the classroom, you’ll also have some fantastic field trips to look forward to. In 2020, we visited Penglipuran Village and Taman Baca Kesiman, where we experienced community-based tourism first-hand.

This program also allows you to immerse yourself in the Balinese culture and way of life and to meet some fantastic (and incredibly kind) people. My Ibu Kos (house mother), while I was staying in Jimbaran treated all the girls staying there like her own daughters, and it really did come to feel like a family. This is an experience I know that I would not be able to get elsewhere. Furthermore, the ACICIS staff (shout-out to Kelli and Diana!), your Indonesian student buddies and the other Australian students will become a strong support network while you’re in Bali, and any problem you may have will be swiftly taken care of.

Like many students, I needed to complete an internship as part of my degree. I am so glad that I chose to do my internship overseas in Bali rather than at home. As a tourism student, getting to intern in another country in a tourism business was incredibly valuable and so different from the type of internship I would have had at home. Like most internships, I found that the four-week placement was challenging at times. However, the guidance and support of the ACICIS staff helped me overcome this and make the most of the experience. I found that by keeping a positive attitude, an open mind and show the confidence to put forward my own ideas to my supervisor, the experience ended up being a valuable one.

Learning from experience and interning in a different culture pushed me to my limits, but also allowed me to grow personally and professionally in an exponential way that I would not have experienced elsewhere.

While the Sustainable Tourism Professional Practicum is intensive, you have quite a bit of free time too. During the six weeks, I managed to visit Uluwatu, enjoy lots of massages, hike up Mt Batur to see the sunrise, have a few weekend trips to the beach, visit the Tegalalang Rice Terraces and explore the stunning waterfalls of Bali. So, while you study and work hard during your time in Bali, there is also lots of time to have some fun and explore this beautiful part of the world.

Finally, if you’re eligible, the Australian Government gives out New Colombo Plan Short-term Mobility Grants for this program of $3000, which goes a long way to cover the cost of the program. In any case, the Sustainable Tourism Professional Practicum is well worth the money. You’ll gain so much first-hand fascinating knowledge and experience in the tourism industry that will be invaluable to you as an Australian tourism student.