20 Days, 20 Lessons: #1

As my Fulbright Fellowship in Indonesia comes to a close, I wanted to dedicate a blog post (or 20) about what I’ve learned over the past nine months. So, for the next 20 days, my last 20 full days on site, I will post a different lesson each day. Let’s begin, shall we?

Hugs are important for my mental and physical wellbeing. I have always enjoyed a good hug, but they have taken on a whole new meaning here. Indonesia is not a hugging culture. Ibu-ibu will caress you in strange places and every limb of your body will somehow be pulled simultaneously in conflicting directions, but hugs? No, not in my conservative Magelang bubble. Have you ever craved a warm embrace from a family member, friend, maybe even a stranger? There is a correct answer to this, and that is: yes, you have. Me too. Unfortunately, 9.7 times out of 10 I could not satisfy this comfort.

Bearing this in mind, I present you with…

Lesson #1: Never take hugs for granted. You may eventually find yourself dizzy on an emotional rollercoaster, short of the option to protect yourself by cozying up in someone’s arms. I challenge you to fully appreciate the next hug you give and/or receive. Acknowledge how it feels, how it makes you feel. Take a moment to recognize how special hugs can be. Hey, you may hate it, but at least you had the opportunity to try.

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