So, I’ve been putting off writing this post for awhile – mainly to give myself some time to process and reflect on the experience before telling my story. To be totally honest, Bali wasn’t necessarily on my ‘Places To Travel’ list but when the opportunity to go presented itself, I was immediately making plans and buying my flight before I realized I had even officially said yes.
To give a little context, I’ve been on and off blogging for about 7 years but have been mainly ‘off’ during the course of that time. I decided about 10 months ago that I was going to wholeheartedly give this a shot. For me, it’s a creative outlet and a hobby to focus on outside of work, but finding the time and the energy while working a corporate 9-5 has had it’s struggles. Inspiration over the last few months had been dwindling and I needed something to spark my creativity again. I follow Kiersten’s adventures on The Blonde Abroad and while shamelessly stalking her Instagram feed one night, I came across a month-old post about a 10-day blogger retreat she was hosting in Bali, Indonesia. I commented asking if it was still open but figured it was likely too late. The next day while sitting in bed and scrolling through Instagram, she posted again about the retreat, but this time stating that two spots had just opened up. I applied on a whim knowing I likely wouldn’t get selected and even if I did, I wouldn’t be able to get the time off work. I had a week long, solo trip to Greece planned in just a few days and the retreat was a short 4 weeks away. The morning I was getting ready to leave for Greece, I got an email congratulating me as one of the 12 girls accepted into the program. What?! OMG. Fast forward to me somehow getting approval for the time off and before you know it, I’m packing my bags for BALI!
I’d like to say upfront that this trip was more than just an opportunity to learn about website design and blogging. From a tactical standpoint I learned everything I had hoped to. But what I truly didn’t anticipate were the lessons beyond the traditional coursework. I’m still figuring out the magnitude of exactly what I was supposed to get out of this trip, and the things I already do know, I’m keeping close for now until I feel it’s the right time to talk about it. But rest assured, it’s already been life-changing in so many ways and I’m beyond thankful I was chosen as one of the girls to participate.
First and foremost – Kiersten has been one of the most inspiring people to me. Not only does she totally own her blogger business like a boss but she’s one of the most humble, hard-working, honest, transparent and kindest people I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing. She’s the definition of a good person and it didn’t go unnoticed by me or any of the other girls. I honestly can’t say enough good things about her so at the risk of sounding like a paid advertisement, I’ll stop there 🙂.
From a traditional coursework perspective, I learned everything from SEO optimization to Photoshop & Lightroom skills. Classes were taught in the morning after yoga and finished by early afternoon. This allowed for time to explore the island, which I took full advantage of. The locals were so accommodating and respectful – something you can’t always say about a new place. This was also my first time traveling with a large group, which posed it’s challenges but turned out to be what I think is the best way to experience Bali. You get a little bit of everything – the laid back beaches of Sanur or the nightclubs of Ubud – and there was always someone who was up for anything. It was also so inspiring and comforting to be surrounded by so many other strong, like-minded females with shared life goals and perspectives. We had all traveled halfway around the world (literally) with one common interest that brought us all together. I’m confident we will all remain friends, supporting one another through each of our individual journey’s.
Although I have nothing but good things to say about this trip, it wasn’t all butterflies and roses. With any international travel, you’re bound to run into a few snags or unexpected situations. The last couple days of the retreat I had a wicked head cold that kicked me out of commission for a day or so, followed by the stomach bug which conveniently arrived the day I was scheduled to embark on my treacherous 32-hour journey home. If you didn’t know, the flights from Bali to just about anywhere in the U.S. are LONG, and I also had a 9 hour layover in Seoul, South Korea.🙈. It’s those types of situations that really test you and show you just what you’re made of. A small price to pay for one of the best life experiences to date.