What It’s Like Going to an International School in Bali

Caspia Nadapdap is a student at Bali Island School, she is currently in Grade 10. Caspia was kind enough to give us an insight into what going to an international school in Bali (especially during her high school senior years) is like!

Bali International School Independent Day

In August of 2020, my family and I decided to return to Indonesia to live. With me being in my high school years, we needed to give careful consideration as to which school I would attend. As Bali would be our new home until I graduated from high school.

When others hear this, they are often surprised and would ask the same question “Are you attending a school in Bali?” At first, I was confused on why this kept popping up but, after some time I realised, Bali is almost always correlated with the word ‘paradise’ meaning beautiful beaches, towering palm trees, lush rice paddies and more.

Although all of that is correct, Bali isn’t well known to be a place for education, unless in the field of tourism. However, after living in four different countries and attending schools with all sorts of curriculums such as the American system, a faith-based education and the International Baccalaureate (IB), I have discovered that the IB system would personally be the best fit for the final years of my education.

Bali International School Music Learning

After I carefully weighed my options between multiple schools, Bali Island School (also known as BIS) became my school of choice, and their colors of gold and navy blue (which are my favorite) sold the deal. BIS is located in the area of Sanur and was actually Bali’s first ever International school. 

Right now, I have just finished the first quarter of my Grade 11 year at BIS, where I entered the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP). I came to BIS in the 9th grade and in the past two years, I have seen BIS from all different angles including how they conducted and strived to provide learning during the pandemic. I am very grateful that I chose this school before entering university.

Bali International School Football kids

BIS is a smaller school, compared to some of the other options I was considering. Its smaller size allows us to have a tighter-knit community. I’m friends with all of my classmates but I have a very different relationship with each of them.

With some friends, we can have inside jokes, pull pranks, and have a laugh together, while with others we have deep discussions about pressing world issues and sensitive topics while remaining respectful. Through this, I have grown to appreciate how every individual part of our community brings something different to the table, and that we complete each other.

Moreover, at BIS, all of the teachers know us and how we all learn differently, and because there’s a small number of students, our teachers have the time to customize a topic in different ways so that everyone can have a solid understanding. After attending various schools throughout my education, I’ve come to realise that the most important elements of a school are the students and teachers. If both are willing to put in the effort to work and thrive together, then everything else will sort itself out.

Like most schools, BIS has some special and incredible teachers that go way beyond the classroom. When my class and I had dinner together before the school year ended, we shared stories on how several teachers have made an impact on our lives, and how their patience, kindness and joy will always be remembered because those characteristics and lessons transcend our classroom walls.

During the days where school is hardest, packed with exams, stress and a brain that can’t comprehend a math formula, having teachers and peers who are there to support you and go through the journey of school with you makes it all a little sweeter andmore  tolerable.

Bali International School farming activities

Something else that I’ve loved about attending BIS is how they prioritize creating well-rounded students and understand that everyone has their own specialities. A special aspect of the IB curriculum would be Service As Action (SaA) which is mandatory for students in the Middle Years Programme (MYP: Grade 6-10). 

SaA is where all students of the MYP choose a service activity from the available options, and commit to that cause for at least one semester. As a grade 10 student, we are expected to be the service leaders, as this entire programme is student-led. My co-leader and I worked together in the Taman Bacaan group in order to teach students from a local elementary school how to improve in English. 

After a year of working with the Taman Bacaan students, we saw a massive improvement in their English, especially when it came to writing and speaking. From the BIS side, we have grown by learning how to work with one another, and how to bounce off each other’s input in order to provide the best and most tailored lessons possible. 

There are also various other SaA activities that students can participate in, such as People’s Perpustakaan (a free book lending library), Gracious Givers (raising money for local Balinese student to go to University) and SOS Foodrive (compiling raw ingredients to cook and donate to underprivileged areas of Bali).

Bali International School Football

As I have entered the DP, I have thoroughly enjoyed participating in CAS (Creativity, Activity and Service) which is a core component of the curriculum. In CAS, students must conduct action in the three core sections, Creativity (which could be anything creative), Activity (activities that keep you physically fit), and Service (activities that allow you to help your community). 

Even after only 3 months of partaking in CAS, I have done many different activities such as going regularly to the gym, participating in cleanups of the Denpasar Mangroves and teaching social science to students at a nearby middle school.

CAS is a challenge as it requires students to balance and dedicate their time and energy; however, it will definitely help anyone to gain new experiences, and enrich them to be more aware of their surroundings.

Students with bicycles greeting their teacher in front of the entrance of Bali Island School

BIS is a recognised school in the international community, therefore there are many opportunities that are available to students. Yale MUN Taiwan annually invites BIS students to participate and learn alongside them the inner workings of the UN, and how to debate well on a large platform.

Through joining YMUNT this year, I was able to work alongside delegates from all around the world on issues that mattered to us, while constantly receiving feedback from our Chairs in order to improve.

Before the pandemic, BIS was also a part of other competitions such as the Worlds Scholars Cup and IISSAC (sporting competitions for international schools in Indonesia). Through all of these different activities and competitions, students are able to showcase the talents they have that are outside of the classroom.

This school year, inter-school competitions are back, and our senior football team is headed to Malang, and seeing the excitement on my friends faces is what makes these events worth the hard work.

Bali Island School allows students to academically thrive by having quality teachers and a great learning environment, but it also pushes students to go beyond what they thought was capable and explore different areas and interests. Through attending BIS, I have been able to connect with people from all walks of life, gain experiences outside of the classroom and create friendships that I will still rely on in the years to come. 

Going to an international school in Bali is much more than just the lessons learned in a classroom, but how it can be applied in the outside world.

See more of Bali Island School here

Bali Island School

Jl. Danau Buyan IV No.15, Sanur Kaja, Denpasar Selatan, Kota Denpasar, Bali 80227


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