Studying Abroad in Bali, Indonesia

Olivia Crosby, the U.S. winner of our photo contest begins her blog with ISV Magazine! Now is your chance to learn the story behind the winning photograph of her attending a purification ceremony in Indonesia.

Hi my name is Olivia Crosby and I recently graduated from John Jay College of Criminal in which I received a Bachelor of Arts in criminology and psychology. I finished my last six credits studying abroad in Bali Indonesia. I have always been a curious individual that seeks to learn about people from various cultures, religions, and ethnicities. Early in my childhood I desired to travel to other countries to broaden my awareness about other cultures.This curiosity in the lives of people has been translated into my career choice to become a homicide detective. I seek to solve many of the mysteries surrounding unexplained deaths.  This curiosity has led me to want to study abroad and take Psychology 345 Multicultural psychology which will assist me have a greater understanding on the impact of culture and how it affect the way people act, think, and, feel. I felt this course could help me to understand what types of circumstances can lead to this activity of a person taking another person’s life. I also had a great interest in studying the behavior, beliefs, and the impact of culture on an individual from Bali. I was more intrigued about taking Psychology 352 Cultural psychopathology and healing because I felt I would learn about the predominant belief system in Bali. This study abroad program was a month long however I missed the first two days of the program which started on May 26 due to me attending my graduation ceremony on May 28.

Olivia Crosby, international student voice magazine

Olivia’s winning photograph

Since I won the International Student Voice contest I feel it only right to speak about the picture I choose to enter in to this contest. The picture was taken on a Friday Afternoon in Bali Indonesia at a purification ceremony . Walking into the temple I had many questions, my first question was what is the reason behind this purification ceremony. Prior to coming to the purification ceremony , my teacher informed the group that we would need two sarong because we would be able to take part of the purification ceremony. Although I was very inquisitive as to what the experience of ceremony would be, I chose to observe and not participate in the ceremony out of believing the little I did know about the ceremony would be in conflict with my faith.

When we first walked into the pool area I noticed a lot of offerings on top of a shelf. My tour guy walked up to a shelf and put offerings down for the classmates who were planning to take part of the ceremony. Along with this many native Balinese were sitting on the steps praying. I noticed these individuals had their eyes closed and hands clasped together. The women were sitting on their knees while the men were in a lotus position. Initially I was unaware of each fountains function. The tour guy, Dewa then mentioned that The first four fountains were to thank ancestors and remove karma passed from them, purify your future and the relationship you may have with family members, and to increase and cleanse your aura and remove diseases. Immediately I noticed everyone passing one particular fountain. My classmate Natasha and I asked Dewa why were people skipping this fountain and he explain that this fountain which was called Padegenous was for nightmares. I started to notice each person put their head under the water three times and then moved on to the next fountain and repeated these steps. I began to closely observe the various facial expressions of the individuals who participated in the ceremony. I noticed many of them either appeared to be happy or in deep thought. As I watched my classmates I realized how the water made them feel comfortable after visiting the first two fountains. When it came to the final fountain I also noticed that many native Balinese stood under the water longer, then they did for the other fountains. Noticing this made me curious to why this was the case, I asked Dewa what was the meaning behind this? Dewa informed me the reason was at the particular fountain individuals would clear their mind with the stuff they burdened their selves with. After the last fountain everyone migrated to the next. On the other side of the wall were four more fountains. Many people only visited the first three fountains. I noticed it was a woman on each fountain. I wondered if a goddess was being worshiped as individuals visited each fountain. At the conclusion of the ceremony I spoke with my classmates, I asked them how did they feel. I was informed that many of them enjoyed the experience.

Although I did not participate in the actual ceremony, I enjoyed being able to learn and observe what the purification ceremony was about. I have a great appreciation for the quietness of the ceremony, this allows individuals to reflect. While sitting on the steps I was led to reflect on a time in which I took part in something both spiritual and symbolic. In April of 2009 I was baptized. My baptism reflected my decision to now publicly declare that I would follow Christ. I vividly remember the water being cold and my pastor immersing me under water three times. Similarly to individuals who immersed themselves in the fountain. The belief that the results of the immersion are a change in life, I believe that the actual immersion in baptism is not the power in change but a person acknowledging with God they can change.

I have learned that many of Balinese ceremonies have been noted to be beneficial in assisting them getting thru their day. All of the ceremonies include offerings to thank the gods. I found this similar to my religion in which I give praises to my God in song and prayer and living a life that is pleasing to Him. I have thoroughly enjoyed the experiences of the Balinese culture thus far I have witnessed similarities and differences and have grown in my appreciation for the great diversity of human kind as a whole.

Keep checking back for more blog posts from Olivia!

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