A unique journey of education and enjoyment – the TDM 2nd phase

10th May 2015 around 4pm @ Changi Airport. Whoever had watched us, 22 TDM students, disembarking the plane from Bali at this time wouldn’t have thought that we are well-traveled tourism master students. We more looked like a bunch of confused people making their way through the airport for the first time! And we had good reasons to be like this: to discuss with the customs officers whether we have to fill in the immigration form or not or going up and down by elevator for 10 minutes before arriving at the right floor – then now the moment has come, which I personally found the most difficult one, more difficult then all assignments together – the moment of saying good bye to my fellow class mates and of realizing that phase 2 of this program has come to an end!

A lot has happened since we started our journey 3.5 months ago at Schiphol Airport: we spent 5 weeks in Melbourne being all excited about the second phase and trying to figure out what these assignments were all about. We worked hard during the week and enjoyed travelling at the weekends. The research was interesting and educative; however everything seemed to work so well in Melbourne’s tourism industry that we learnt more from Melbourne than Melbourne from us!

All the more were we excited to move on to Myanmar – a destination where tourism has started to develop only recently and thus a lot can be improved – our input there seemed more useful and relevant! Not only for this reason was Myanmar my favorite among the three destinations: I also felt welcomed by its lovely, helpful people and enjoyed being back in Asia where everything is different and even going on a train is an adventure! But what I liked most about Myanmar was that the research we did was actually really fun! I remember for example cycling through the heat of Bagan for hours to find the hotel zones, which do exist on paper, but apparently not so much in reality! Or talking to government representatives and learning to read between the lines and to analyse the unspoken instead of the spoken!

After having finished our second assignment we enjoyed our well deserved city-break in Singapore where food is absolutely awesome and people pretty much as nice as in Myanmar. After five days of relaxing our brains and having fun in Singapore it was time for the last destination: Bali! Much did I expect from the “Island of the gods” and really disappointed was I when I realized that Bali, or at least Seminyak, is not the island paradise I imagined it to be! Instead of palm trees, white sandy beaches, turquoise blue water and cozy places to hang out I found designer boutiques, fancy, overpriced restaurants, a dirty, not particularly nice beach and streets full of traffic, annoying taxis and crazy motorbike drivers! Only after discovering other areas of Bali like the rice fields around Ubud, the view from the volcano Mt Batur at sunrise, the neighboring island Nusa Lembongan or the rafting at the Telaga Waja River with nearly the whole class, I started to like Bali. Also our research through which we experienced Bali from a completely different perspective, e.g. by speaking to over 40 Entrepreneurs of small businesses, helped to improve my initially bad image of Bali and its people, making me in the end wanting to stay longer! And even though I looked forward to finish our last assignment, I did not look forward to the end of phase 2 – too much did I enjoy this way of learning.

Then during these 3.5 months we did not only learn a lot about tourism destination management, but also about working in groups and about ourselves and our classmates. 3.5 months of studying together, living together, traveling together, laughing together, crying together, celebrating together, and predominantly having a great time together have come to an end. What remains are valuable experiences that cannot be found in any academic book, memories that are unforgettable and friendships all over the world!

This post was written by Master TDM student Manuela Blapp