October 13 Journal
September 1st ... MEU DEUS, today marks one month in the unfamiliar city of Cascavel.
I really don’t know where to begin!
Do I start with the fact that my emotions are as inconsistent has the “winter” season in Brasil?
Do I talk about how bad my português truly was and how with every second I spend here, it grows to flourish into what people call fluency?
Or…… Do I talk about my amazing host family and their beautiful home? That I now call my own.
Eventually I have to start somewhere. So I will start with my WELCOME PARTY! Pricila (my 16 yr old host sister, who just got back from GERMANY) planned the little party, with a bunch of her friends and other people who were curious as to meeting me! YES MEETING ME! The party was a blast ……… LOTS of fun and my first chance to realize HOW BAD I WANTED TO BE FLUENT IN PORTUGUESE. Mostly because everyone else was speaking Portuguese about OoO say 98 % of the time. But, all is well because I met 4 amazing/friendly people who I hang out with almost every weekend. (LOVE YOU GUYS) But, the one thing I wasn’t prepared for, was how late brasileiros start parties & end them. Because the next thing I knew, I was coming home at FIVE o’clock in the morning !! Shocked at what time it was! And at the fact that for once I actually like people calling me “Jenni” - maybe it’s the accents. I don’t know but I LOVE IT!!
Then later that week, I went to my first Rotary meeting with the Cascavel Primivera Rotary Club. It was a nice dinner where I exchanged flags, ate some interesting foods, and met my second host family “the Darcy’s.” And, I also discovered the best dessert EVER!!!! I don’t know what it is called but it’s some kind of fruit with vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry ice cream in it. But, don’t let the fruit part deceive you because it balances the sweetness of the ice cream & adds amazing flavor.
0o0o0….. yea…. I must say I’m one of the Luckiest exchangers ever!! Because my summer starts in December (YAY!!!) lasting till the end of February and the 1st two weeks I was here. :DDD School, just so happened to be out due to GRIPE/PIG FLU/SWINE FLU. To me it seemed like everyone was over-reacting with all the germ-x and saying OoO… NO!! you can’t go anyyyywhere! YOU’LL get the Pig Flu!! People would wear these white masks like doctors wear which really made the whole epidemic more of a joke. (kinda of)
Also, I have become an unofficial member of one of the local Interact Clubs. Which is fun because I have met tons of Friendly & Fun people through it, so far! Plus, after the boring meetings we all go ROAMiNG around the city together to get ice cream or hit up the ONE & ONLY McDonalds in the city. FUN FUN!!
Now, there’s my host family who seems to be very nice, open, and FUNNY! But, my host parents live busy lifestyles because they own their own electric company that installs lights and stuff like that. Plus, my host mãe goes to night college right after work during the weeks and my host pai is involved in extra activities like the Rotary Club. So I spend major of my days after school at the house with my host brother Thiago (CHEE-ah-go) who’s 14 and my sis Pri. It’s very challenging at times because there is nothing to do in the house! NOTHING! We literally have two TV channels and well JUST MY LUCK my computer broke the fourth day I was here. -_- yea….. so dealing with the fact that I don’t have a car to go out with friends or go wherever has become more of an adjustment for me. But, on the BRIGHTSIDE of things…… I rode my FIRST city bus and have learned how to go to and fro on it. I must say that I’m SO PROUD of me!
WELL Beijos Beijos :*
October 7th ...
68 days or two months & one week. Things actually started getting hard here. I’m feeling the pressure to speak português from my host family, Rotary Club, and friends. All I ever here is “Fala mais português” aka SPEAK MORE PORTUGUÊS!! It’s just I don’t know what to say …….. Do I go up to random people and be like “What is your favorite color?” and what about my family…. I find it awkward to just go up to them and say random stuff like that. And, I know so much, but I made the biggest mistake of ALL! I started talking to my host sister Pri in English. At first it was helpful because he helped me learn how to say things and understand. Some uses of words that made ABSOLUTELY no sense to me when translated into English. But, regardless of how hard I try to speak to her in only português. I FORGET!! It has turned into a bad habit to speak to her in English.
Then, there’s the fact that they watch A LOT of English movies with português subtitles and they listen to English music from 50cent, Eminem, Biggie Smalls, Tupac to Lady GaGa, Britney Spears, Rihanna, McFly. So………….English is all around me. Despite the fact that I study português every week day for 3 hours or more. I feel like I’m missing out because when I go out with friends they speak in português.
And, to be frank, I’m obviously not fluent in português yet. So at times they speak so fast that I’m like “What?.? Huh??” or I understand a few words. Uhhhh!!!!! It is SO FRUSTRATING! But, the frustration is what pushes me to study more and want to learn more. I swear learning a new language is like losing weight!! It takes time, effort, and focus. And, it DOESN’T HAPPEN OVERNIGHT!
January 14 Journal
SUNDAY : DECEMBER 27th : 2009 ...
Riding in a 4-door Toyota Corolla accompanied by silence & my shiny new jig-saw puzzle. Topic: my new Brazilian parents. Calmly waiting for the 10 hour drive to the beach to come to an end. Admiring how close the literally 3-D bubble like clouds look. Glancing out into the distance the clouds begin to blend with the rugged terrain. Which is a patch work of a variety of textures and shades of green with the occasional light brown thrown in. And, unlike the typical I-95 highway I ride down so often to visit family in Virginia. This Brazilian highway goes with the lumpy terrain..... upppp..... and .......dooownn the numerous smooth hills. But, what makes this particular highway so special is that once you exit a city, you're literally surrounded by beautiful county side. Almost as if there wasn't an enormous city trailing it a half mile back. It's nothing but nature and clean fields. The perfect setting to reflect on the past two months.
Becoming accustomed to my new family came fairly easy to me. Even after the intriguing interest and excitement of meeting an exchange student wore off. My new host parents Darci and Elaine were already gifted with the knowledge of how to make sure I felt comfortable, happy, and one of the family. Perhaps this comes when you've already raise your three children and already enjoyed the company of an Taiwanese daughter just last year.
Regardless of their credentials they succeeded in making me feel like their real daughter and actually part of the family. It's been 6 weeks now and the only problem I've had so far is being the typical exchange student who reaches their low point. That is guaranteed to them before they begin their exchange. As Natal or Christmas was approaching, I slowly snapped out of my unfortunate slump. Having my 1st Natal in BRASiL!!! During the summer!!! I didn't have an option.
My 1st Natal in BRASiL was very minimal on the decorations, most Brazilian homes contained a small fake Christmas tree and they left the major decorating up to the city. And, for me Christmas music was non-existent. YEA!!!!!!! Some of you are probably thinking I got lucky on that one. :))) But, I actually love Christmas music!! I actually made a CD of my favorites last year. :D But, here Christmas is more of a time to get together with your family. Enjoy the time you have together, while of course eating Christmas dinner at 12:00 AM on the dot and gathering together the next day for a Christmas lunch.
It was the simplest Christmas I've ever experienced with hardly any presents, if at all. And, somehow just feeling like part of the family satisfied it all.
January 17 Journal
It's been so long since I arrived in BRASiL. 5 Months!.!.!.! May not seem like a lot of time to the average person. As for me 5 months was plenty of time to reach a point where FLoRiDA is\was just a dream. A distant place where I lived in a small town where everybody knew everybody. And, you didn't have to worry about who’s gonna be in your class next year because it's gonna basically be the same people you met in kindergarten. A life I remember having, but can't picture myself in now. Feels agessssssss....... AWAY! BRASiL has become my LiFE! The Brazilian culture has slowly embedded in my brain. Everyday I'm mistaken for a Brasileira..... UNTiL I open my mouth... :DDD haha “my American accent” Never really thought one could have an “American” accent in Português. Sounds stupid, RiGHT?.? But, for some reason I never even considered it. With every passing day, I grow to love the people around me even more and fall in love with the beauty of their culture and language. The simplest things amuse me now. For example, Brazilians always say “né” after statements\questions. Like “That was Funny, ne?” or “It's good, ne?” It's kinda of like saying Right?.... Or how my host dad (Darci) always says “Beleza ! tudo bem! tudo beleza” ME: “tudo” Darci: BELEZA!!
In English for you guys ... beleza means beautiful when translated & tudo bem means like how are you. But, it's so funny because every time he sees me “BELEZA?”... :DD
March 27 Journal
It's Funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back, everything is different.
My Life couldn't be summed up in a better way. Rotary preaches how this year will "change your life," "be the best year ever," or "open your eyes to so many new and exciting things." General response: "yea.... uhhh huh... I know." I never actually gave any thought to the overly popular phrases. I just knew them as facts of what was suppose to happen. It wasn't until yesterday that I truly realized that I changed. One of my best friends Mirjam (from Germany) told me that when she first met me during our 1st months here, she thought I came across as uninterested, unenthusiastic, and well she really didn't like me because of it. So Mirjam and Sally (Australia) didn't ever ask me to hang out with them. But, it wasn't my personality at fault. My problem was the fact that I was going through the motions of life because I was so focused on what I had to do. From one advance placement course to the next, to studying, student council meetings, basketball practice, softball practice, cross country, working, and well you get the picture. Then, I had my close group of friends that I did everything with. I never worried about making new friends, branching out, or doing something new and interesting. I was just so focused and stressed out over everything, that even when I had nothing to be stressed out about; I stayed in that phase of going through the motions. For crying out loud !! I spent a good majority of my time at the Rotary orientations for future outbounds: STUDYING!! I had become just another person in the world who was so wrapped up in becoming successful that they forgot to enjoy the journey that goes with it. And, well Mirjam pointed out to me that I'm different NOW! I've woken up!.!.! I'm attentive, I'm observant, I'm happy, I'm friendly, I'm adventurous, I'm the one saying Let's GO, GO, GO! Let's DO, DO, DO!.!
I'm happier than ever! I'm not stressed over what needs to be done. I just do it and approach everything in a light, but serious manner.
Now!! on a different note. I'm currently in my third and final host family. A month has already come and gone since I arrived. Dangerously close to the end of my exchange year. And, yet I don't feel an inch of sadness. It's not 3 months = yAY!.! I wanna go home and it's not: NoOoOoo, I don't wanna leave. My outlook is simply this: I have 3 months left in the wonderful Brasil, to have the most fun possible and make the best of my time here.
Sure, I get homesick at times and truthfully I just want to go home and speak my OWN language with my family in the personal way that my host sisters do and have that comfort of them knowing me better than they know themselves. Then, there's the want to go shopping where it's my fashion and buy lots of clothes because it's ridiculously expensive here. Plus, my vision of me arriving in the Jacksonville Airport, where I am to be greeted by my family and friends. And, upon arrival surprising all everyone at how different I look as I walk up with my suitcases. Unfortunately I know everything is NOT going to happen the way I play it all out in my head. For this reason, I don't focus on wanting to go home or missing my friends and family like most of my exchanger friends. I want to make the best of my time by going out and doing something everyday. Instead of retreating to TV or the Internet. I'd rather sit around, talk, and be bored with someone else. I mean I worked so hard to learn Português! When will I ever get the opportunity again if EVER to sit around and talk with Brazilians. Gosh, I am going to MiSS the beautiful sound of an Brazilian accent. :( ......
June 1 Journal
That is all I have left of my life in Brasil. I really don't know how to feel, because the minute I sit down to really think about this year, saying goodbye, going home & getting back to my real life; MY HEAD starts to hurt. I am a tornado of emotions waiting to attack & destroy everything in its path. The ending has finally become real to me. Considering I had to see off my best friend Mirjam who went traveling for 3 weeks with her parents from Germany & I had the hope of seeing her again for 3 days and getting to meet her parents when they came to visit our city. Cascavel :)
Before I could blink those 3 days were over and there I was crying, as I said Tchau, tchau for now. Because of course we will still talk every week through skype and we already planned a Euro tour for the summer of 2012. But, in a way it feels as if a friend has died, because how do you go from spending everyday with someone for hours on end and POOF! they're gone! Your only connection is a computer screen; which means it will never be the same.
I have to admit the people I will miss the most other than those who were so KIND to take me in as their own daughter, is the Exchangers from all over the world. My district 4640 and it is like a Big Family. We have gone on two big trips together, with our Chairman Irineu <3 who was so kind enough to pay for the five star trips. :) WE LOVE YOU IRINEU !! There is 44 of us from mostly Germany, Mexico, and the United States with a little bit of Taiwan, Thailand, Japan, Turkey, France, Slovakia, and Croatia thrown in. And, it doesn't matter who you are in our family, you can walk up and hang out with anyone and it is like you're best friends. Back in October was our first trip together to Foz do Iguaçu and then again in March we went to Curitiba and Camboriu.
The best times of my exchange were and still are with other exchangers from my district. We are always traveling to each other's cities and staying with one another. I just went this weekend to Francisco Beltrão for the Birthday Party of Florent from France and 15 exchangers showed up. We were singing Brazilian country music (or Sertanejo as Brasileiros would say) and playing Wii, pool and what not until 8 am in the morning. :) And, just 3 weeks ago; 20 exchangers showed up at EDi for the Interact event in my city. We formed our little group of exchangers and just spent the whole weekend being bored together during the endless amount of boring lectures. :PP Then, Interact threw a little dance party and of course us Exchangers formed a little circle in the middle of the dance floor and just went crazy dancing for 4 hours straight. :D While all the Brazilians sat there and stared at us, but then they would think ... '' OoOoo they are exchangers'' and just kinda of shrug. :DD
I can't wait until our Conference in 10 days on the 11th, 12th , and 13th of June. It will be soOooo MUCH fun! Every Rotary club in my state of Paraná will come. Plus all the Interact Clubs, Rotaract Clubs, inbound exchangers and future outbound exchangers. It will be ultimately the last time all the exchangers from the Family 4640 will be together. I'm so excited to see everyone together again, but at the same time, I am depressed with the fact that this Conference is just another marker in my exchange that screams “EVERYTHING IS ENDING!”
The next couple of weeks I will be very, very busy visiting all the exchangers and spending time with those I love in my own city. Soon, my life in Brasil will end and I will be left forever changed from the experience, but until then I will enjoy every moment I have left.
Beijos :*** Até mais