If I were to imagine a place that I thought I would never fit in, Ubud, Bali would be that place. The land of yogis, spiritual gurus, healers, raw food cafes, and every self help experience imaginable, I am the odd one out. The one living on another level of spiritual awareness, presence, and priorities. While I wouldn’t identify myself as ignorant, unaware, or judgmental, when it comes to the essence of Ubud and the life many people here lead, I was the epitome of a non believer. I figured I’d eat my way around the city, see the famous thousand temples, and get the hell out of dodge–there was no way I wanted my first few days of solo travel in a while to be here where I couldn’t envision connecting with anyone or even being able to hold my own in a conversation about any of the aforementioned topics.

However, here I am 5 days later with no intentions of leaving anytime soon, engaging with a new network of friends who are broadening my horizons and educating me in ways I never expected I would be receptive to. It happens that my curiosity and thirst for knowledge is endearing. This community is deeply generous and has so much experience to share–experience that surprisingly parallels many things I’ve dealt with at one point or another. Realizing the similarities of human experience makes everyone more relatable. The people I have met have made mistakes, been confused about their place in this world, struggled with emotions and relationships, and just come out the other end differently. That’s all it is.

Once I opened my heart and more importantly my mind to learning from and experiencing the real Ubud culture, my innate curiosity took over. I have experienced massage exchanges, life model sketching sessions, chanting exercises, meditation, Watsu water therapy, ozonation, and a state of peace, calm, and acceptance that I never knew existed. As the sun set over the picturesque landscape of rice paddy fields last night, I gathered around a fire pit, mediated in a sauna, and basked in a steam bath while the DJ guided us through a night of new friends, knowledge, and relaxation. I questioned myself about a million times where I fit into this picture of Ubud expats. The interesting thing was, no one was questioning me. They were teaching, sharing, and not once put off by my naivety. There are not many other places I have experienced that level of acceptance. So here I am, listening and taking it all in and deciding that I just might call this place home for a little bit longer.