The Time I ... Learned How to Code

Learning how to code so I could build my own website was something I never thought would have been possible until I went to The Institute of Code. I knew I wanted to improve my existing website (hosted by Wordpress) and I wanted to eventually have the ability to make money through my website. I also had an idea of how I wanted my website to look, I just didn’t know that I would be the one to build it! Read on to find out how you too could learn to code at the Institute of Code!

I thought that building a website was something that only ‘nerdy’ guys who had studied coding for years could do. I started to look around for potential web designers and web developers and I soon realised that the cost of designing, building and maintaining my website was in the thousands. During my research I stumbled across the Institute of Code (IOC), a school based in Bali that ran a 10 day intensive coding course. The cost of the course (inclusive of accommodation at a luxury villa, all meals, transport and sight seeing) worked out to be such good value for money that I booked on to the next available course in September of this year. I’ve been asked many questions about the course since I attended so I thought it would be fitting that my first blog post on my new website be about my experience at IOC and how I came to build this website!

Why did I choose The Institute of Code?

There are other training institutes and other courses to learn coding. Naturally once I discovered IOC I wanted to suss out what other similar options were out there. I found online training courses, tafe courses, small local training provider courses but none of them were as enticing as IOC. I’ve tried to do self paced online training before and I never end up completing it because life gets in the way. I liked the fact that IOC was completely immersive and I could put my full focus into it for the 10 days without distraction. Tafe was expensive and would take months to complete and the small training providers did not offer the same trainer-to-student ratio that IOC offer. At IOC there would be 1 trainer to every 4 students. Nowhere else matched this ratio. Also, there’s the fact that the course is based in Bali, one of my favourite destinations in the world and a relatively cheap flight away from my home city of Perth.

What kind of people attend the course?

My course had 15 participants from all over the world; Australia, U.K, Kuala Lumpur, U.S.A, Germany and Netherlands. We ranged in age from 17 to 48 and our professions ranged from student to accountant to business owner and many more. There are no prerequisites for attending IOC, people come from all walks of life, you just need an interest in learning how to code. The reasons for wanting to code were as diverse as our backgrounds; professionals looking to upskill, understanding code for existing career, aspiring entrepreneurs and digital nomads, wanting to build a website(s), looking for a challenge. Despite our differences we all got along so well, it was really sad at the end saying goodbye to everyone!

What are the benefits of building your own website rather than just using the templates on Wix / Squarespace/ Word press?

I had previously been using a wordpress website, which, as a first blog, was great and easy to use, however, there are limitations on what I was able to do on my site. Even though there are many templates, I had some particular features which I wanted to have on my site that the template wouldn’t allow. Even if i had kept my wordpress site, knowing how to understand code is super helpful so I could inspect the coding and make personalised adjustments.

What does a typical day at IOC look like?


What were the class session like?

I was a bit worried about learning in a classroom style setting, it’s been 5 years since I completed my degree and haven’t been in a classroom since. To my surprise I actually found having a structured learning environment really beneficial. I didn’t have any distractions, I was surrounded by like minded people and there was always a trainer on hand to help if I got confused (which happened often!). There were plenty of breaks and we were not always sitting in the classroom.

For lecture style lessons, we all sat around a large table with a projector at the front which the trainers used to walk us through the lesson. We had lessons on html, css, portfolio building, version control, jekyll, responsive design, javascript, content management systems, SEO and many more. Towards the end of the 10 days we split into small groups of 4 to have 1-on-1 time with a trainer putting all we had learnt into practice by building our first websites.

What is the food and accommodation like?

The Villa is one of those places that you walk into and go ‘wow!’ Perfect for taking pictures and for relaxing during down time, all your needs are taken care of. Unless you are a couple, or pay extra for a single room, you will be sharing a room with 1 or 2 other students. This feels a little awkward on the first day but by the end of the course you become like family. Also, you really only use the room for sleeping and showering, the rest of the time you are out doing activities or coding in the common areas. The food was some of the best I’ve ever eaten. We had a mix of Indonesian and Western style dishes from Acai Bowls to Mie Goreng Noodles to Tacos to Macha Cake and there were always plenty of salads and sides to make sure no one went hungry. I especially loved the Banana and Pumpkin cake that was served for morning tea!

Is it safe to go to IOC in Bali?

YES!!! From the moment you arrive, there is a driver waiting to meet you at the airport to take you to the Villa. Once you are at the Villa, you will be greeted by the program community manager and shown to your room. The Villa has 24/7 security and when ever the group goes on excursions it is always with the community manager and known drivers. At the end of the course one of the drivers will take you back to the airport for your flight home. Bali itself is no more or less dangerous than anywhere else. I personally have travelled to Bali a dozen times in my life and I have never had any issues with my safety because I never put myself into risky situations. If you stick with your IOC family you will be perfectly fine.

Can you really learn to code in 10 days?

I thought, ‘how can I possibly learn to build websites in 10 days!?’ but when you are doing an intensive course where you are quickly putting what you are learning into practice, it is totally possible! I won’t lie, the first couple of days where you are learning the basics of html and css are overwhelming and your brain may feel like it is going to explode. When you start to actually build your first website and consolidate all your new knowledge, slowly but surely everything starts to make sense. Every single student on my course had build a website that we presented to each other on the final day. Though the quality and completeness of these websites varied, and we had some late nights in the last couple of days, everyone had been able to achieve something. For me, I had build the skeleton of my website but I was yet to fill in the actual content (images and text). I figured it would be easier for me to do that part at home on my own than it would be to do the actual structure and styling on my own.

What on-going support is available?

Since finishing my course at IOC, I have had Skype calls, phone calls and messages with trainers from IOC. There is also an alumni facebook group where IOC send updates and tips and where you can post a question to fellow IOC alumni. When you encounter a problem, the best thing I have found, is to attempt to work through it yourself - refer back to your course notes and look on internet forums. If you are still stuck then try the facebook group and if you are still stuck then book in for a Skype chat. Skype is the best option as you are able to share your screen. There is yet to be a problem that IOC haven’t been able to solve.

I can’t believe that I my website is now live! It has been months in the make, what I thought would take me 1 month post-course to finish has taken me 3 because I wanted it to be perfect. I never thought I would like coding but I really enjoy the problem solving side of it and I can get lost in it for hours! There is NO WAY I could have built this website without The Institute of Code trainers guidance and ongoing support. I am excited to continue to build on my website and to launch the ‘Train With Me’ part of my site next year. I hope you like it, feel free to leave feedback in the comments section below.