In the words of Tina Turner, “Big wheels keep on turning.” Why this song came to mind as I sat down to write this post? I’m not sure. But... It seems semi-fitting so just let it happen. Wow. Where to start? The past few hours have been filled with nothing but complex thoughts sprouting from every hidden corner of my brain. But now as I sit behind this brightly lit, computer screen trying to put these thoughts on paper, I’m at a loss for words.
My exchange year is now 27% complete. I cringe when I hear the word “exchange year” because really, this time in Indonesia is so much more than that. It’s so much more than I ever expected. Life changing experience is an easy term to look at and say, “Hey, I want that!” But it’s a completely different story when you’re living it. I am simultaneously the strongest and weakest that I have EVER been. This experience has challenged me in ways that I never would have imagined. My personal strength, my ego, my beliefs, my self confidence. All have been completely pushed to the brink and back. And I’m sure this will be a continuous cycle. I HOPE this will be a continuous cycle.
I’m at the point where I can’t imagine my life before coming to this country. I love Indonesia. My heart and soul are in Indonesia. I knew I was lucky to have been given such a unique opportunity but, I never really quite understood what that meant until now. I have been given the chance to completely reinvent myself as a person. Everyday, I am put into situations where I have to question my values and beliefs and everything that I used to consider, dare I say it, “normal.” There is a new force and drive within me like never before. I’m realizing how weak I am. How little I know about our world. How much fear is actually inside of me. And yet, I’m addicted. It’s SO BEAUTIFUL. And I never want to leave. I can’t imagine living a stagnant lifestyle with a 9-5 job in the same town my whole life. There of course, is absolutely nothing wrong with that. That’s just not for me.
I have been put on this Earth to explore. I know what you’re thinking, “Oh, boy. Another little, teeny bopper that thinks she wants to travel the world.” Well, that is and that isn’t the case. I don’t just want to travel the world. I want to serve the world. I don’t always write about the... shocking parts of Indonesia. There’s extreme poverty. Street children that work instead of going to school. Disabled beggars on the street. Sex trafficking. Being an outsider, adjusting to these conditions was not easy. I often felt out of my comfort zone, and in way over my head. But then, I realized. America has the same exact issues. These issues just a look a bit different. And it takes living somewhere else to recognize our own problems. We live in a broken world. Every country, every PERSON, is fighting their own battles. My new life purpose has become to make these battles a little bit easier.
The world is broken. But on the flip side, the world is infinitely beautiful. And I see that now
I see that each day in the people and places and smells that have become a part of my daily routine. I see beauty in the security guards in my neighborhood that say, “Selamat pagi.” each morning. I see beauty in the smiles of the school children that follow me home from school. I see beauty in the rainstorms that engulf Bandung like a warm, needed, blanket. In the friends that have quickly become like family. In my hands that I now use to eat with. In people’s faith, and dedication to their religion. In my host brother’s giggle that often will turn into a full out roar. In the butterflies that pass me on my way home from school. In the sound of a new language rolling off of my tongue. In the many smells of food. In food itself. It’s all. So. Beautiful. And that, is a very, very cool realization.