Segah Yildirim
2009-10 Outbound to Brazil

Hometown: Hallandale, Florida
School: Hallandale HS
Sponsor: Hallandale Beach - Aventura Rotary Club, District 6990, Florida
Host: Londrina Universidade Rotary Club, District 4710, Brazil

Segah's Bio

Who am I? I’m Segah Yildirim. I was born in Brooklyn, New York on November 14, 1992. I lived in New Jersey, and I was raised in Hallandale, Florida. Both of my parents are from Istanbul, Turkey.

I am always an "A average" student. I currently am the valedictorian of my Sophomore Class in Hallandale High School. After school, I'm part of clubs such as the National Honor Society and the soccer team.

My goal in life is to complete a prestigious college with a degree in business. When I grow up I plan to open a business of some sort, or possibly be a journalist. When I’m not in school, I enjoy playing soccer, cooking, going to the beach, mall, or movies with my friends, and traveling. Even though I don’t travel much, it’s my favorite thing to do, especially when it’s a road trip, that way I get to drive.

My favorite sport is soccer. I'm on my school's team and I play as a goalie. I think it’s the most fun position, but there can be a lot of pressure on you, as if the game is on your hands.

I really enjoy listening to music. I listen to everything but country. Whether it's rock, rap, or techno, I love it all. I mainly listen to the classics...Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Hendrix, The Beatles, The Doors, The Police, etc.... Because I liked music so much, at one point, I wanted to make my own. I tried playing guitar, but that didn’t work out.

So I recently found out about this foreign exchange program. When I first heard about it, it was something too good to be true. I thought it was something I could just dream about, something so out of reach. But a few weeks later, I found myself buying an English-Portuguese dictionary, going to interviews and orientations, and writing my bio. It was a dream come true, all thanks to the Rotary Club. I would be living in a whole new world on the same planet. Everything would be new, the language, the food, the people, the streets, everything! This would be the opportunity of a lifetime, opening new paths of knowledge and opportunity every step of the way.

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Segah's Journals

August 13 Journal

A week has passed and I already feel like a brasileiro.

I arrived on the 1st of August. As soon as I arrived at the Londrina Airport I found about 20 people awaiting my arrival. From Rotarians, to my new family, to the kids from the block (we took about a bajillion photos). Then to the house, and before I could unpack, my family rushed me to the neighbor’s house, where I found a rock band! They were amazing. The house is huge!!! There are 5 bedrooms and a huge backyard with a hammock and pool and a dog. They also have a maid. The house is next to a beautiful lake called Igapo.

After my arrival, I quickly made many friends. Brasilian people are very friendly. My sister takes me everywhere. We always have movie nights. I love movie nights. The movies are always in English with Portuguese subtitles so I can understand something for once :)

I’ve been here a week and I already been to 2 churrascos, brasilian bbq's. I can’t explain how much better it is than American bbq's. While we eat, one of our friends always have a guitar and tambourine handy so we listen to live music rather than a radio :)

The other day it was my friend’s birthday, we went to a restaurant where they had a pizza buffet. It was quite different. They had every pizza imaginable, from corn pizza to ice cream pizza.

The day after that we had a huge family/friends party where they cooked feijoada, which is the national dish. It was OK, actually better than I expected. It's basically a stew of black beans, sausage, pig ear, pig feet, pig skin, pig nose, pig tail, etc. yummmmmmy

Yesterday I had my first sleepover with my friend Gustavo. He's the drummer for the band I mentioned earlier. We stayed up all night listening to music, playing mortal kombat, and eating foooood.

Today I was at the local sports club. I go there often. There’s a huge swimming pool, tennis court, basketball courts, saunas, soccer courts and fields, and a cafeteria. It’s pretty cool. It’s a place where all the kids go to hang out, it’s way cooler than a mall. Well, my friends asked me to go to the saunas and I thought "why not"; when I entered, I saw about 50 old hairy naked men. It was a huge place filled with hot air, sweat, steam, and old hairy naked men. We also had to strip down. But after it was over, it actually felt quite refreshing and relaxed.

My Portuguese is getting a little better. Everybody speaks English with me. I guess I'll learn when I start school. Speaking of school, it is shut down for 3 weeks due to an influenza outbreak.

Boa noite

Tchau

September 9 Journal

BRassssssssssssssssssil. I've been here for a little over a month. I'm starting to get accustomed to the culture and way of life. The people here are the friendliest people I've ever met. For the most part, I walk around a lake and take pictures. The lake is so beautiful and it's right by the house.

I couldn't have asked for a better host family, I love them. My host sister is the next Carlos Santana. The sound of her guitar always echoes through the house. But I think my host sister hates me, hahahaha.

I went to my first "15" party. When a girl turns 15 in Brasil, it's apparently the biggest deal in the world. It was pretty cool. We dressed up in suits all formal and what not and then we were off to the party. There I met another intercambista, Mustafa, he's from India, one of the coolest guys I've met here. We danced our socks off that day, it was crazy. The party started at 10 pm and ended at 5 am!!!

The funny part is that the next day, we had our 1st orientation. Mustafa and I couldn't help but reminisce on the night before as we dazed into a tranquil sleep as the speeches went on for hours hahaha. I met a lot of cool intercambistas there. I met some guy from Australia, Joel Jackson. He's a bit older than me but he quickly became my wing man, the partner in crime, haha. At the orientation we learned about all the trips, they all cost about $2000 (I'm sure my mom will be happy to hear that).

At school I have a friend named Alejandro. He is one of my better friends, but he is very shy when it comes to the ladies. Every time he would see a pretty girl (which is always, since we're in Brasil) he would whisper in my ear "OMG this girl is so pretty". And I would shout and point at the girl from across the room to put Alejandro in an awkward position. It's hilarious.

Ohhhh. I haven't mentioned this, but I have a mustache. Well, it's more like fur, above my lip, but none of the girls in brasil like it. Everybody makes fun of it, even my host mom. Everyone pressured me into cutting it, but I refused. I love my fur. But then I met this girl at school called Isa Banks. She's amazing. The first two weeks before I met her, I couldn't stop talking about her (and i still don't). Her hair, her style, her fat cheeks, her smile. Finally I grew some balls and decided to talk to her. It was so awkward. I didn't understand a word she said. I just nodded my head up and down as I stared at her beauty. She's adorable. So after I started getting to know her, she told me I was cute, but my moustache had to go. hahahah noooooo!!!!!!!!!! But I shaved it, just for her.

December 16 Journal

It’s been about 4 months now. I got over the whole, "omg, I’m in Brasil phase." I spend most of my days going to the gym and a local sports club on the weekdays. School is already out, summer break, so I basically sleep in every morning and then hit the gym. I’m so buff.

One day I was walking home from the gym alone and I got robbed. Everyone told me that Brasil could be dangerous but I took it lightly. 3 guys came up to me and cornered me on their bikes. I was stupid enough to tell them that I was an Intercambista and I didn't speak the language so I basically made it even easier for them. They took my cell phone and my money. But it’s all good.

November 14 was my birthday. It was a sad day for me. I went out and all, but I couldn’t stop thinking about my friends in the states. I miss having fun with my friends, and driving around town. Let’s just say it wasn’t my best birthday. But on the bright side, my host mom made a bbq for me and bought me a shirt :)

There was a HAIL STORM. I had never seen hail before! It was so weird and exciting. It was so big, and hurt so much. Everybody rushed outside when we saw it and started throwing it around. It was much bigger than I expected. It was so coooooooooool!

Let’s see... what else....

Well, I went to a soccer game. It was so exciting. It was one of the biggest rivalry teams, Palmeiras vs. Corintias. it was so fun, I went with 3 of my good friends on a bus to São Paulo. Unfortunately, it was a tie. My team is Palmeiras. It was such a good game, the fans went crazy. I got to see two of the most popular soccer players in the world. Ronaldo, which is like the former best player of the world, and Marcos, who is the best goalie of the world. The game ended 2-2.

Christmas is coming up. It was time to change host families but I grew so close to this family that they asked me to stay an extra month and a half for Christmas and new years. It made me feel so good. I really like this family. The house is all Christmas decorated and the tree is up. The house is so beautiful. Now I just have to go out and buy some gifts to put under the tree. I love the Christmas family atmosphere. I hope the big Christmas will make up for the small Halloween and no Thanksgiving.

Ahhhhhhhhh … A really big thing I didn’t tell you is that I went to the border of Brasil, Argentina and Paraguay. In the border, there is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen in my life. Foz do Iguacu. It is one of the biggest and best waterfalls in the world. It was the magnificent. There are actually places that they built within the waterfall where you can stand on the edge of the waterfall and look down as the water drops. It was crazy. I actually filled a bottle of water from the water of the falls as a souvenir. You could hear the pressure of the waterfalls from miles and miles away. It had to be one of the best experiences of my life. wowwwwwwwwww.

After we saw the waterfall, we went to Paraguay. Paraguay is not a country the people of Brasil go to for fun. The only reason Brasilians go there is to buy stuff for cheap. Basically you can find the same shoes in Paraguay for $50 when they re about $150 in Brasil. It was so different. The poverty. All the people on the streets. The tangled power lines. But it was so fun.

March 1 Journal

CARNIVAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAL!

I finally went on my first Rotary trip. A place called Florianopolis, Santa Catarina. It was so beautiful, by far, the most beautiful beaches I’ve seen in my life. Not to mention those girls in the famous Brazilian bikinis. it was awesome. we went with my district of about 30 exchangers from all around the world which makes it so exciting. the bus ride took about 12 hours, but it’s all good. When we got there I couldn’t believe my eyes. I had missed the beach so much, I live in Hallandale Beach, so I’m used to seeing it every day. And ever since I’ve been in Londrina, I’ve been without a beach for 6 months.

I have to be honest, that the Brazilian beaches are much much much more beautiful than those of Florida. The way that there’s mountains covered by trees along the sides of the beach, the crystal clear water, the beautiful girls, the vendors selling everything from tropical juices to melted cheese, the giant waves and surfers.

Speaking of waves and surfers, one day my whole district almost died at sea. We were all so excited to enter the water so we didn’t care about all the "warning, extremely high tide" signs in the water. So we all entered and went as far out to sea as we could because it was all sand dunes. We literally went about half a mile out to sea and the water was still at our waist and then all of a sudden there was just a big hole in the ground and we all just dropped. Then came the 5-foot surfer waves that hit and pulled us in. We were all so tired and nobody had the energy to swim back. My friend Greta from Germany, got hit with a surfboard of a surfer while she was drowning so she was almost knocked out. Everyone was literally gasping for air with their hands reaching out for help. The life guards came and saved the female intercambistas while the guys had to struggle for their own way. Finally we made it out, thinking about life and death for the next 2 hours. We had a hotel right by the beach, so in the mornings we would swim, come back for lunch, and party at night.

Carnival wasn’t as cool as I expected, but it was alright. There are two types of carnival, one of dancing on the street to loud samba music, and one of watching the parade go by. We went to both types. I realized that after the first 15 minutes, samba loses its taste. All it is is banging drums and tambourine, and that’s all that Brazilians dance to in carnival. It would’ve been much better with techno music, but it’s ok.

Another cool thing that we did was sandboarding. Next to the beach there were huge mountains of sand. I had never seen something so cool. It was one of the most fun things I ever did. Everyone learned how to do it the second they got on, so we got the hang of it fast. It would hurt so much when you wipeout because of all the sand crashing into your face. It sucks especially when you have to climb back up the steep of the sand mountain with sand blowing in your eyes once you did your turn of sand surfing.