October was the month from academic hell. All of the school work for an entire semester finally caught up to us and we were slammed with assignment after assignment and project after project. I’m not complaining though. This is supposed to be a semester of studying abroad. I suppose I had to do it eventually…
Not to worry though, we did manage to squeeze in a lot of fun in between assignments. Some of the many study breaks we took included: sunset sailing, didgeridoo playing and cliff jumping. Some other big October highlights were getting the opportunity to go back to my favorite island, Rottnest, to snorkel sunken shipwrecks and coral reefs (thank you Joyce family!) and celebrating Halloween by taking a haunted torchlight prison tour. Like I said, no complaints.
We only had the highest of expectations coming into Bali and everything from our villa to our various excursions blew them away. The villa alone was so extravagant that we hardly wanted to leave at first. It was huge in size, comfortably accommodating all 27 of our Notre Dame crew at Port Lodge plus some extra friends. Its main attraction, however, was the lengthy infinity pool in the back that overlooked rice paddies. We spent the majority of our stay at Villa Infinity Bali laughing and lounging poolside and pretending that we actually deserved this:
On Day 1 we went snorkeling at another island, Nusa Lembongan. Not only did we see heaps of colorful fish and beautiful reef, but also we even spotted a nearby pod of dolphins! The only downside was that everyone walked away with varying degrees of sunburn. Mark that as the first and (so far) only sunburn of my time abroad.
On Day 2 we took a bike tour throughout local villages, coffee plantations and rice paddies in order to experience Balinese landscape and culture. We wrapped up the day by visiting the Ubud Monkey Forest. Don’t be deceived, however, these feral creatures only appear cute and playful.
This moment was especially significant because the day I hiked Mt. Batur happened to be the same day as the 12th Annual Baraka Bouts Semi-Finals for the Notre Dame Women’s Boxing Program. It felt especially symbolic that I should fight my way up to the top of a volcano to witness the sunrise at the same time as many of my friends who would fight in the ring to raise money for Holy Cross Missions in Uganda.