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Sonoma student returns home from semester in Bali

About five months ago I took a flight to an island I had no idea would become a place I called home, a place that housed people I referred to as family, and memories I would never forget.

I moved to Bali in early August with little expectation or knowledge of what it was going to be like. I arrived and was greeted by fast-driving cars on the wrong side of the road, rice fields as far as I could see, and the worst traffic ever.

I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into until after about a week there I moved into Student Village where I would be living for the next five months. Compost toilets and a room with no walls – what a paradise right? Contrary to popular belief, you get used to the toilets after a few weeks. Beside the toilets, this village was more than just a group of houses that had some high schools students and a few families; this village was a community, a family, they become my home and the reason Bali is where I will always want to be.

It was a transition I thought was going to be more difficult than anything I had ever experienced but to be honest, I got to the Green School and I knew it was where I needed to be. The people not only from the school but in Bali are so kind and open hearted, they are accepting of anyone and excited to meet you and hear your stories.

It was by far the widest variety of people I had ever seen. I met people from every corner of the world and got to hear all about different ways of life. Not only were the people incredible but everything about living there was just a dream.

Yes, there were downsides as there are to every place you live, but the downsides were well worth it in the long run.

So many teens feel they are not able to belong in the place they live, so many feel they have no place, they feel lost and unsure, it has become a common factor in being a teenager. I was one of those people and I hated it, so much so that I decided to make a change, I picked myself up and went on the adventure of a lifetime.

Travel abroad programs or international schools like Green School and its Student Village are opportunities I wish I saw more kids taking advantage of, they are truly life changing for those who feel they have no place, need a change or simply want to see the world.

Bali was the best decision I have ever made, I met lifelong friends and fell madly in love with the people and place, it will forever be a place I can call home – but it was all thanks to the Green School and Bali itself. If it were in any other place it never would have been the same.

In the words of all my roommates (aka family), Mahalo.

Note: Due to the imminent explosion of the Mont Agung volcano in Bali, Bella Martin returned home from Bali two weeks before she intended. She resumed her junior year at Sonoma Valley High this week.