You know you want a hug.
You know you want a hug.
Hugging strangers was not on my to-do list for the day.
Walk to the Sample Gates on a Friday afternoon and you might find yourself hugging a stranger. Sound strange? Not to the founders of IU’s Free Hugs campaign.
Tired of being a poor college student, senior Lia Saunders started searching for freebies and product samples. Three years, thousands of dollars, and a bottle of free BBQ sauce later, Saunders created a blog, The Broke Student’s Guide to Stretching Your Dollar, to share her freebie-gathering tips with fellow students.
With his parents’ credit card in hand, Tyler Churchward took a risk and clicked a pop-up banner advertising a free iPod. After completing the requirements, an iPod arrived in the mail. Figuring it worked once, he tried again. And again. Five years later, Churchward, a senior accounting major now with his own credit card, has accumulated more than $22,000 in merchandise, gift cards, and checks from online offers. And he got it all — more or less — for free.
Aim high. Don’t forget to say “thank you.” Count your blessings. Since you were a kid, you’ve probably heard one or all of these phrases from your parents. And when you go off to college, the sentiment behind those statements doesn’t change.
We’re forced to pay for activities, health, transportation, and technology. But when it comes time to fork over our money for safety and sustainability, it’s easy to just say no.
Drive 25 minutes from campus and you’ll come to a spot some Hoosiers call paradise. Check your inhibitions and clothes at the door. Welcome to Fern Hills Club, a world free from clothes.
The assignment: Live free of money for a week. I could cook with groceries purchased during a normal shopping trip the week before, and I could bargain, haggle, dumpster dive, and beg for food and rides. But no cash could leave my pocket or checking account. ¶ I live a comfortable college life. I drink coffee like it’s my job and I’m seeking a raise. I meet my friends on Fourth Street rather than cooking dinner, even if I have enough groceries at home to throw something together. I’m careless about parking tickets. ¶ When I don’t see money, I don’t see how quickly it leaves. I’m not wealthy and I don’t live on my parents’ money, but I’m forgetful enough that I cringe each time someone swipes my debit card: Do I have any money in my account? ¶ I wanted the third week in January to be different. ¶ Sunday morning, I grabbed a few crumbled bills on the way out the door to church. As the offering plate passed from pew to pew, I remembered the assignment and tucked them back in my pocket. ¶ I couldn’t spend any money, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t pay. Here’s what my week cost:
Hugs are the simplest way to deliver a powerful message. They comfort. They warm. They say “I love you.” But the benefits of hugs go deeper than just brightening someone’s day.
We come to college to earn our degrees and — hopefully — prepare ourselves for our chosen career. But classes and homework are only part of the battle. As freshmen, we’re given the key to independence the day we hug our parents goodbye. At some point between parties and pizza runs, the reality sinks in and we realize freedom sometimes isn’t as glamorous as it sounded when we were grounded on that one Friday night in high school. ¶ The four students we profiled come from different cities and backgrounds. Whether they’ve been here for one semester or for four years, they each have developed different answers to the question “what is freedom?” In the end, freedom isn’t hard to obtain; it’s knowing what to do with your freedom that can be a struggle.
The reason we're all here.