Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Last 6 1/2 Months

Well, I figured it has been a while so I decided it is time to write another post.  I have just a number of days left now.  I never actually thought this day would actually come, and to be honest I am actually kind of sad.  I made it though all the holidays here, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, my birthday, and now Easter.  Each was very different.  I made my first Thanksgiving dinner complete with mashed potatos and gravy, stuffing, turkey, and some Brasilian foods.  It was delicious, and great to have families together. I did miss the actual homemade traditional American Thanksgiving, but something is better than nothing.  Christmas was very different, we did a secret santa, then had dinner at midnight on Christmas eve and on Christmas day we just ate lunch then sat around by the pool.  This was completely different compared to the weather in Minnesota.  I told everyone this would be my first and last Christmas in a sun dress. A couple days after Christmas, my family and I made our way to Guarapari (a beach city in Esperito Santo).  The weather was awful!  Everyday it was cloudy and most days started to rain, but the beach was still nice even with clouds.  For new years, we watched fire works from the beach, with everyone wearing white to symbolize a new fresh start to the year.  It was incredible!  We spent a week and a half there, and when I arrived home, I went to Sete Lagoas to see my best friend I made in Brasil before he left (back to Australia).  I have to admit after that it all kind of just hit me.  Seeing everyone in the airport crying and seeing how much of an impact people make in your life in such a short time.  You realize how many great friends and people you really do meet here, and for that we are so lucky.  After that I spent a couple days with an exchange from France, which was amazing!  We had a great time, her family was the same as my Australian friend and how close the family was and how important they made me feel, was amazing.  I went straight from there to Salvador, Bahia.  My first of my trips with the other exchange students.  I spent 4 days there and it was incredible! I met so many people and an amazing area with beaches and beautiful cities and culture,  I loved it.  When I arrived home I changed families for the first time.  I have to say I was nervous to adjust to a new house and family but that first night they made me feel so important and at home.  A week or so after that school started up again, I dreaded going, but when I arrived the atmosphere was so different.  Everyone was so friendly and I felt really wanted and like I had many friends it was great.  For Carnival, my family and I went to a secluded beach, Costa Dourada in Bahia.  The beach was great and so was the weather so I would consider that a successful Carnival.  Comm'on everyone loves the beach!  When we arrived home, it was my 19th birthday.  They surprised me with a barbecue and cake.  It was amazing, I had no idea that they would do that for me.  It was a good birthday, and one to always remember.  In March I had a rotary conference in Tiridents, it was super fun to be able to spend those couple days with the other exchanges, not to mention the night I stayed in Belo Horizonte (the day before the conference) I went to Applebees with some of the other exchanges.  Felt just like home!  After that I also went to one of the new natural wonders of the world, Iguassu Falls.  It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen! I also traveled to Argentina and Paraguay for a day.  That trip was incredible.  And bringing us up to the recent future, we just had Easter, it was a very relaxed day with family, nothing too big.  Coming up I am going to visit some friends in a city near here for the weekend, Next week I am going to Rio de Janeiro for the weekend (this time with NO RAIN!), then I have my last rotary conference, my trip to the Amazon, and getting ready to return back to the states.  It is crazy how fast time flies!


New Years in Guarapari



Costa Dourada

My 19th Birthday

Iguassu Falls (Brasil)

Iguassu Falls (Brasil)

Iguassu Falls (Brasil)

Iguassu Falls (Argentina)

Iguassu Falls (Argentina)

Iguassu Falls (Argentina)

The Three Boarders (Argentina)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

It has been so long since I have done this I do not know where to start. I just recently traveled to the state of Rio de Janeiro. I went with my aunt and uncle to stay with there son for a week. While I was there we went to Penedo ( a little Finish city about 2 hours away from the city I stayed in, which was Volta Redonda). Penedo was so adorable. They had Christmas trees up and they had snowmen and Papai Noels house (santa), it was so crazy to see that in the middle of the mountuans in Brasil. I also went to the "Marvelous City" of Rio de Janeiro. The city I have been dying to go to since I knew Brasil was my destination. I wanted to see Christ the Redeemer more than anything, just one problem, this "marvelous city" where the "weather is always amazing" was too cloudy and rainy to see anything. Dream crusher? I think yes. It was an amazing city do not get me wrong I loved everything about Rio, the buildings, the beaches (yes the beaches in the rain, crazy huh?), But Rio is by far my favorite place I have been in Brasil by far. Traveling here is the thing that keeps me sane and happy (other than talking to my family and boyfriend) and I am so lucky that I get to travel as much as I do ( which is at least once a month). Next month there is a major holiday coming up in the U.S. one of my sisters favorites, and mine as well. Thanksgiving. Thinking about spending these holidays away from my mom, dad and sister for the first (and last) time in my life brings tears to my eyes. Coping with this will be one of the most difficult things I will have to overcome on my exchange. But I am hoping making a Thanksgiving dinner for my family here will help. Except for the fact that I need to make everything my hand, and for 20+ people. I do not know what I got myself into. But I am not excited for the holiday season to come, and I have never once said that in my life. It is everyones favorite time of the year and as of now  am dreading it. But time is passing fast which is both good and bad. I cannot believe it has already been three months. I remember when my mom always told me how immature I was when  I was home, and for once in my life I feel so much more mature. I do things I would never do at home, like go somewhere alone. I have put myself out of my comfort zone so many times and have over come so many things that I cannot wait to see how much of a better person I will be when I arrive home in 7 months. But the person I do not want to be is me but fatter, yes everyone says over exchange you gain weight, but I do not want to (even though I already have). I am such a lazy person that is the next thing I need to overcome here. But by the way, many people say I am fluent and I would say I am pretty dang close. 3 months and reaching fluency in a completely different language? I would say that is quite the accomplishment. Wouldn't you?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

day 50

So, I have been in Brasil now 50 days and I have learned so much.
For starters I have learned the highs and lows in living in a 3rd world county. 1% of Brasil's population has 50% of the money. Which means that the other 99% of the population has the other 50% of the money. Seeing all the favelas and seeing how poor some areas and some people really makes you appreatiate what you have at home, which I know for sure I have been taking for granted.
That brings me to my next point, things that have been taken for granted. The things that I took for granted the most were having eye contact with my family when talking to them, and being able to sit in the same room with them. Skype is amazing yes, and has helped alot but is not the same. I miss being able to sit in the same room with my family and just sit there, not saying a word but knowing that they were there with you. I took for granted the times my dad would come in my room and talk to me before I would go to sleep and in a way I would always blow him off, or how my parents would talk to me and being a teenage girl not wanting that. And yes I even miss fighting with my sister, I miss the yelling at eachother, the silent rides to school, us freezing our butts off in the car and all of our good times. But the thing most exchanges and I have to agree on that we miss the most is being able to hug your family. That is the one thing every exchange is excited to do when we first step foot into our home countries.
As other exchanges go, I spent the last week in Sete Lagoas (seven lakes) a city that is about 5 hours away from my city (depending on how fast you drive) at an orientation and a language camp with about 14 other exhchanges from all over the world.  There were 4 Australians, 2 Tiwanese, 2 Americans (the other is from Washington State), 2 Germans, 2 Mexicans, 1 French, 1 Hungarian, and 1 from Denmark. It was so nice to be able to speak to everyone in the common language of English! (you also take that for granted when you only speak and listen to portuguese in your house). Everyone was super nice and we all got along so well. I cannot wait to see them again and hopefully have many more good memories before the Aussies leave in January. Sete Lagoas was such a fun week I enjoyed it so much!
My first 50 days in Brasil have flown by, and lets hope these next 255 bring me a lot of happiness, travel, sun, bronze skin, and some life long friends!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

So these past couple weeks have flown by. I honestly could not tell you what I have done most of the days, but here is my best shot.
I have been going to school, and not been going to school. I have gone to school a total of 7 times (leaving early also) in the last month that I have been here. I have missed more school here than I missed the whole time I was in high school. I would say that is pretty sad. In the school I do not understand much. I usually just sit there in my own little world. I usually either study my Portuguese or write in my journal. The only class I put all my attention into is English. Go figure, right?
Tonight I went with my sister's graduation, just recently graduated seeing the differences was insane! From the outfits to the traditions, it was cool to see it from the other side, but having it be a different culture.
One thing that has been getting to me is college starting back up in the states, all of my friends have gone to school, started the new chapter in their lives, except me. For I will be a year behind everyone. But what keeps me going is when I tell myself that yes everyone is in college and yes I will experience it next year, but not everyone has the experience that I have. And for that I am greatful.
For the future, I am heading to the capital of Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, where my host family and I will be saying goodbye to Wesley. It is crazy to think that I will not see him again. But he will have a good time in France. I tried to tell him to study French before he left but he would not listen. So when he goes down he will now feel everything I have felt in the past month not understanding what people are saying to me. Pero agora, eu falo muito portuguese e entendi todo.
Until my memory comes back from what I have done recently this will have to do.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Well this past weekend marked my first week in Coronel Fabriciano, Minas Gerais, Brasil. Many great things happened this weekend
1. I could actually start to understand what people were saying to me!
This was a huge step for my progress of learning the language and becoming more settled here, for this is my home for the next 10 months.
2. I went to my first professional soccer game.
My brother, father, cousin and I attended the Atletico MG vs Figurense game. Having been around soccer my whole life and always enjoying to watch the game, seeing people excited to watch soccer and seeing how the fans reacted was amazing. One thing that confused me more than anything was how bipolar the fans were. One minute they would chant "kill the team, hang them. etc" and the next they would yell "GALLO! you can do it you can pull this game around and win". I will never understand how quickly their minds can change just because the ball was being dribbled close to the goal.
3. I traveled to the mountian.
My brother, interact club, some rotarians, and I traveled to Cocatias (excuse my spelling but that was as close as I could guess would be the correct name). They donated books to the local rotary library for poor families and children along with clothes. It was insane to see how people lived in the middle of nowhere, but again was a totally efficient society with bars, resturants, and a "mini mart". After we were done with the donations to the library we traveled to a waterfall. When I say waterfall i do not mean anything near Niagra Falls in New York or even Gooseberry Falls in Minnesota. This waterfall was running over a somewhat flat rock "hill". Basically, it was natures way of making a waterslide. It was so fun sliding down it, even when Wesley and I went too high, got too much air, and landed on our butts. They still hurt today if anyone was wondering.
4. One thing I will NEVER become accustomed to is how much Brasillians eat. Wesley says he needs to eat every 3 hours because he is always hungry. I do not understand how you can eat a large meal, then a mere 3 hours later be hungry again! I feel like everyone thinks i am loco because I do not like to eat as much as they do. Here is the best way for me to explain Wesley's meal plans: breakfast, lunch, snack, "dinner", snack snack. and mine would be somewhere along the lines of lunch and a snack for dinner.
5. I stand out like a sore thumb.
This weekend whenever Wesley and I left the house we seemed to notice that whenever I open my mouth people start to stare because it is obvious that I do not beling here. Not only do I look different but the fact that I do not speak Portuguese shows them I do not belong as much as a sign on my back saying "Yes, I do not belong here, I am fro Minnesota USA" would. I absolutley hate all that attention.
6. I love having a brother!
Wesley is the first male other than my father I have ever lived with. We get along so well and we are acting as much as brother and sister as a blood brother and sister would. We pick on eachother, but get along great he is hilarious. The other night at dinner he told me "I love you because you are my sister, but I will still kill you". He also likes to shock me with electric fly swatters, but we have an amazing relationship. I do not know what I am going to do when he leaves for France on the 27th of August.

And of course I miss my family and boyfriend, it is natural to miss then when I have seen them everyday for the past 18 years, the language barrier also makes it harder because there are not many people I can talk to. I was always the one person who was always loud and talkative, now is the total opposite. I can only speak very few phrases. My mother (real mother) asked me if I was lonley. I never thought of it as that type of feeling untill she asked and now I have realized how lonley I truely am. The only times I do not feel as lonley are when I am with Wesley or my rotary councler because they speak English and can more easily realate to me and really know how I am feeling when i try to explain it.
I am hoping over these next couple weeks the language barrier will be less of a problem so I can feel like I belong here, and am not just another "intercambista dos Estados Unidos"

Monday, August 1, 2011

day 002

so my first couple days in Brasil have been quite interestng. I arrived in Sao Paulo airport yesterday around 7:45 Minnesota time. To begin this wonderful journey I did not know that I needed to check my luggage in Sao Paulo, so my luggage was lost. They found it but do not know when it will arrive so until it does I am living off the clothes I wore on the plane, yoga pants, a t shirt, and a dress. What a great way to start off the year huh? The first wake up call was on the flight all the passengers and some flight attendents speaking portuguese. But the real wake up call came when i was at the Sao Paulo airport and people would try to talk to me in portuguese and I just gave them a blank stare. That right there was the beginning to a year of nor understanding a word that anyone says. I have been told by many people that i will learn fast and that within a month I will speak a lot of portuguese. I say we can only hope. As of now my host brother Wesley is my savior, he helps me translate everything and helps me speak with people when neither of us can understand what the other is saying. Then my world will come crashing down when he leaves at the end of August. But i am trying to learn and practicing so that is all that counts, right?