Week 1 at Jamu Spa School | Adapting to life in Bali

Wow, it’s felt like a long week. I’ve made myself feel at home at Andree’s and I feel like I’m back into routine. Except I’m in an entirely different country where the pace of life is different, language is sometimes a barrier.

School has felt intense. I’ve started off with the anatomy & physiology diploma and it’s not like the content is hard, it’s just there’s a lot of content. We’d have basically learned (or memorised rather) a 200 page textbook in 10 days. I just need to remind myself that the exam is just 45 multiple choice and 60% is the pass mark. I’m certainly confident about achieving that but I think I’m more motivated about learning as much as I possibly can rather than getting that pass. Anyway I wish my exam for anatomy & physiology was next Friday, but since I’m doing the spa therapy course too, the exam will be included with that one. So I have to keep revising anatomy content for the next 35 days! Sigh. Anyway, I’m enjoying being back in the learning environment. This week we’ve gone through Cells & tissues, Skin, muscular system, skeletal system, digestive system, respiratory system, lymphatic system, cardiovascular system, and probably another one I don’t remember. My class mate Viti and my teacher Ningsi are both really friendly. Though Ningsi is almost due to have a baby so I hope she won’t have to rush to hospital suddenly! We have a quiz after every module and we got homework in addition to our assignment on pathologies. Yesterday for example we had to create a poster of the systematic and pulmonary system (it was fun to be colouring again), but I was feeling overwhelmed because I was already behind on the assignment. We go through 2-3 modules each day and the assignment requires us to research 2 pathologies for each, so I’ve pretty much been spending most of my ‘free’ time after school studying. I even set my alarm early so I can get an hour of study in before having breakfast. Right now I want a break from school but my mind is thinking about the assignment I need to finish, and all the modules I need to revise so I don’t forget the content by day 40. Urgghghhhhhhhhhh!!!!

Besides study, the social aspect of school has been quite enjoyable too. The cohort is small (10-15) and I’ve met other students who are in their late 20s, 40s, even 50s. Today I met Ada. I think she’s the age of my mum but she’s a sweet chinese woman from HK who wants to set up a beauty and massage business in Sydney with her daughter who’s currently there working for Sheseido or something. Today was her last day so sadly I won’t see her again but we exchanged details and she told me she’ll be in Sydney in a few months time which might work out great. She was really keen to know my intentions in massage and was excited about the idea that we could build the business together ha-ha. Ruby came back today as well for a 1-day facial scrub course! I think we became instant friends on Monday and I’m glad I got to spend some more time with her today. She’s actually picking up her daughter tonight from the airport and I might join them for dinner near the beach later if I’m up for it. I met a few of the ladies who work at the school throughout the week too. Half of them are white people actually and they work for this association called ‘Spa Connectors’ which apparently owns Jamu Spa School. I met a lady named Ana from Melbourne who recruits for the spa industry, and a younger lady Rhianna who takes care of all the marketing stuff for Jamu. It was interesting to get to know the staff, and it’s made me more interested about the spa industry, what I could be doing and where. The staff are so approachable and accessible too and I feel like I can easily get employment information whenever.

I learned that Jamu has a graduation ceremony every Friday – appropriately so since they have a range of courses that go between 1-5 days. Today was a graduation day and 4 people received their certificates. The ceremony was pretty casual – it was just at the lunch area and we stayed in our uniform for the photos. There was tea, fruit, cakes, and lotsa donuts!

Pic with the graduates! 
Fruit and cakes at the grad ceremony 😛
The donuts actually look decent

One of the girls from Japan graduated today with 8 certificates and she’d been here for 3 months. She told me I’ll probably be sitting through 6-8 ceremonies before I graduate… Oh man. But hey at least I know there’ll be tea and cake every Friday afternoon! Another perk of studying at Jamu :P. Oh, while I’m on food I just want to mention it’s been pretty good and satisfying. They do use chilli and spice quite a lot though and I feel annoyed that I have to bother asking for something without chilli. Like the other day they washed a boiled egg for me, rinsed out the longbean soup so there was no chilli, and today everything was sautéed in chilli so they went out and bought me tofu. Which is so kind of them, but it’s still annoying I don’t get to enjoy some of the food they make. There’s allllways crackers though – Indonesians seem to have a thing with crackers. I love it but I probably shouldn’t develop a habit of eating it so much. After all they are deep fried too so why would I say no to deep fried egg but yes yes yes to a billion crackers? I

look forward to lunch every day and I love not having to worry about deciding what to eat. Here’s a few pics of what I’ve been having!

Rice with a boiled egg and vegetable & soya bean
Rice with tempeh and fried chicken


Did I say I learned how to wrap my sarong the Balinese way as well? One of the Korean girls taught me. I like the soap they provide every time I wash my hands. And when we’re in class you can always here the massage music from other rooms which is nice. But it makes me a little sleepy after lunch.

So how’s life been in Bali so far?

Am I ‘living the dream’?

When I meet others, they’re impressed by my life experience particularly at age 23. I wish I saw myself how other see me, that way I’d have a different level of inspiration and motivation every day. But I’m taking my life day by day, and I’m thinking less and less about the future as each year goes by. When I think about it now.. I remember being in year 12 during the time we had to pick our preferences for university courses. I just knew that I wanted to have a ‘global’ life. Up until now I never thought I was living that life but I’m coming to realise I am.

I wouldn’t say I’m ‘living the life’ or ‘the dream’. I feel like the phrase must be associated with the idea of being on a hammock with my shades and a sombrero, a sunrise cocktail or a coconut in one hand, a book in the other, my skin golden, a white sandy beach in front of me with crystal blue water, and the key part – no single worry about how I will finance my life.

But I admit I’m having a good life. The way 20 year olds are always advised to live out their 20s. ‘It’s the best time to travel’, ‘you never know what you want to do’, ‘try new things’, ‘make mistakes’, ‘be independent’ etc etc..  The 30+ year olds are always telling me ‘I missed out doing that in my life’ or ‘I should’ve travelled more’ or ‘I worried about saving money all the time’. Well I guess how it worked out for me is that the ratio of the amount of time I spend working in Sydney to save up, to the amount of time and money I can spend living in another country, can be 1:4. In other words, I can work in Sydney for 6 months and save up enough to allow me to live overseas for 2 years. Many people would probably think ‘AS IF!’ But trust me, it’s possible. I’m doing it right now and I’m crazy when it comes to itinerary planning and budgeting. I worked in Sydney for about 6 months and saved around 15k. Living in bali right now is costing me about $500 a month. So really I can live here for 30 months ha-ha. But of course there’s random added expenses and crap happens when you least expect it. I understand though of course that everyone’s life style, spending habits and travel style is different.

Anywho this is what my daily schedule looks like now:

  • 6.45-7.45am: Do a bit of exercise (go walking or a dip in the pool) or study
  • 7.45-8.45: make breakfast and eat it while studying or catching up on news
  • 8.45-9am: Walk to school and get into uniform
  • 9am-12.30pm: Class
  • 12.30-1.30pm Lunch (the highlight of my day) 
  • 1.30-4.30pm: Class
  • 4.30 – 6.30pm: Unwind and have a snack, have a shower / do my laundry / clean my room /  buy groceries. 
  • 6.30pm: Before I know it I gotta head out to find food. By the time I choose a place, eat, and head back it’s around 9pm. 
  • 9pm approx: take a shower, back to study until I want to sleep. 

And this is what I’m most enjoying

  • Having my own space and freedom
  • Getting used to food I like to eat and the fruit available (hello hello durian)
  • Having routine but being in a completely new environment where there’s new people to meet, a new language to learn, new places to discover
  • The weather – sometimes it’s a bit hot but it’s weather I’ll barely complain about. All year round y’all
  • My friendly neighbours 🙂
My king bed and my fridge. Settling couldn’t be easier. 
This is my patio / porch just outside my vila
Looks like I have healthy days eh? Unfortunately I’ve developed this habit of binging on sugary foods before bed 🙁
Having breakfast while revising my notes. The pool’s down there!

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