Holly Bishop
2013-14 Outbound to Brazil

Hometown: Clermont, Florida
School: Lake Minneola High School
Sponsor: District 6980, Florida
Host: The Rotary Club of Indaiatuba-Voltura

Holly's Bio

Hello! I'm Holly Bishop, from Clermont, Florida, and I'll be spending my Junior Year in Brazil. I would like to start by saying it is doubtful that I have had a larger abundance of excitement, anxiety, hopefulness, and curiousity swelling in me ever before. I currently attend Lake Minneola High, and live with my two sisters, two parents, two dogs, and a snake. My older sister, Nicole, was an exchange student in Spain last year, and really inspired me to follow in her world-traveling footsteps. At her going-away party, everyone asked me "Is this something you'd like to do?", and the answer was always "I don't know... Maybe.." but when she left, and she started taking pictures, telling about her friends, and could rant in Spanish, I thought "Yes! Yes! Yes!" and now I can't even rationalize or remember why I or someone else wouldn't want to do it. It is amazing to me the opportunity, I and all the other exchange students, have to be able to leave everything we love and dislike about our home country behind, and put ourselves in the shoes of someone across the globe, for an entire year. Sure, I'll miss swimming for my school's swim team, being class president, being in my school's Interact, being in my mom's Girl Scout troop, babysitting for my neighbors, spending time with my sisters and parents, hanging out with my American friends, worrying about American boys, and playing on my school's soccer team, but to think, in a couple months, I'll be able to do some of those things and many others in BRAZIL sounds extraordinary. I know that some days won't be as great as others, but I also know that the people I meet, and plans I make are going to positively shape me, and I can hardly wait to be molded. I want to learn to dance, and speak fluent Portuguese, and absorb Brazilian culture, and find out what I'm missing, and so my phrase going into this, and for ever challenge here on out is "Deixe A Aventura Começar" Let the Adventure Begin.

Holly's Journals

September 11, 2013

And this is how it starts, one day you have an insane idea to leave everything you know behind to go to a place you’ve never been where people speak a language you don’t know and stay there for one year. And you fill out an application, and you nerve your way through an interview, and you meet other people with the same crazy idea and you spend two weekends with them, and you learn what you can, and study the language, and contact your new families, and say goodbye to your current one, and then it happens… you board a plane, you try to sleep but you can’t, your palms sweat for hours, and you step off, and with that first breath you think it might not be that different but then the second one, when the voices of scrambling people speaking rapidly in gibberish starts to enter your ears and you think what the heck am I doing, you realize how different it is, how insane you are, and how exciting and freeing and freaking aw esome and essential this is, and then you realize the person behind you actually wants to get off the plane too so you have to take your first step and then your third and fourth and then you better run to find space on the shuttle to check in to customs and find your bags. For a while, it is really scary. All the signs spelled with English letters in the wrong order aren’t taking you where you want to, and you can’t find your bag because you don’t know where to look and God knows you can’t carry them so you have to find a cart and then try to navigate around and try remember the words for “excuse me”, “sorry”, and “thank you” even though you studied them and showed off to your friends a million times and felt really cool, but now you think everything is wrong and you just want to find your family. And so you go through customs, and people smile at you, and then when you realize a whole group of people are saying yo ur name in a really cute accent while holding a banner that has your flag and your new country’s flag and your name and you know, you just know, from all of that combined that it’s going to be worth it.

I have been in Brasil for 16 full days now but it totally does not feel like that. It feels like I have lived here before and just woke up again. There are so many things you can say to describe what being on exchange is like or what going to a new country is like and each of these descriptions are in their own way pretty accurate but they never can sum it up completely. It is essentially impossible to describe the life of an exchange student in words to make it 4D for all you who are not experiencing it but like all exchange students write in their blogs, I will try (Mostly because RYE Florida would kill me if I didn’t and also because I know it will be worth it later and also being I am sick and can’t really do anything this week so I might as well). However, if you know me at all you, you know that I talk a lot and don’t write short messages so if you are running out of time or patience, I included a few key points via a bulleted list at the bottom and al so pictures.

Anyway, one of the best ways I have heard the life of an exchange student described as was being born again. Being born again and being an exchange student are similar because in both situations, you learn how to speak again, you relearn the alphabet, what words to say, how to be polite, how to walk right, how to dress, you meet your family and all its members, you have your first day of school, etc. It is totally accurate to describe those things and a lot of the time it feels that way especially when you can only speak a few words and point and make noises like “ahhh!” to get your point across, and also people tell you and your parents how cute you are when you speak and that they are impressed with how well you do so. Another way that similarly captures these things is to say being an exchange student is like being in a coma, and when you wake up you only remember some things (the things that are the same in your host country as they were in your home country). You just have to go off what you know so you can relearn the things you don’t. Also people give you a break if you do something wrong because you kind of have an excuse even though you still get mad at yourself when you mess up or don’t know something. Despite all this not-knowing and re-learning, being an exchange student is basically THECOOLESTTHINGYOUWILLEVEREXPERIENCEOHMYGOSHWHYWOULDANYONENOTLIKEITOREVENTRYTHISIDONOTUNDERSTAND.

When I arrived in Brasil, I was greeted by all three of my host families, and after getting everything settled at the airport, we drove over to a restaurant where I had my first Brazilian food and I ate a lot even though I was not hungry which I later realized would happen often. I had coxinha and Guarana and at a popular restaurant/grocery store called Frango Assado. I also sampled everyone else’s food and some candy. One of my host dad’s offered me this brown “banana” candy that my host sister warned I wouldn’t like but I tried it anyway since I like bananas but she was right and it was awful. My first host family really likes that candy though and they had bought a bag, and now every day they pull out the bag and jokingly offer me one. I have come to find that no matter how bad a moment is, better moments will soon follow. So as bad as the candy was, it was worth it because now it is an inside joke with my families and it is nice to have insid e jokes, it is something that can bring us closer and that we can bond over, even if it is nasty candy.

The next day, I mostly slept through and did not wake up until lunch which is eaten around 1:30pm with my host brothers Felipe (13) and Renan (8), and prepared by my mother, Susana. Here in Brazil, school starts at 7 or 7:30am for every grade, depending on which school you go to and ends around 1 so that the students can go home to eat lunch with their families but there is also an option to stay at school to eat which I have not done yet. My mom, Susana, makes the most delicious meals so I try not to miss them. Usually, lunch is the biggest meal of the day and always includes rice and beans. Having rice and beans on the table is like having salt and pepper on the table, it is always there and it goes with anything. In addition to rice in beans, there will usually be a meat, most likely chicken, and perhaps another dish or leftovers from previous nights. For example, today for lunch we had rice, beans, chicken, and a reheated sausage bake dish from the night before. Typically , one will put rice in the center of their plate, cover it with beans and bean sauce (juice?) and then cut up chicken or the leftovers or whatever else is on the table and eat a little bit of everything in each bite. The knife is always held in the left hand and the fork in the right, and the knife is not only used to cut but to push food onto the fork as well which is way more polite than using your fingers. I still have not perfected my cutting-with-the-knife-in-my-left-hand-method but I am trying at every meal and there has definitely been an improvement since the first time I tried it where I looked up to see all of my host family looking at me and having my host father say, “having troubles, Holly?”. After lunch, I help my host mother clear the table and then I catch up with my host brothers. On my first day, I played FIFA with Felipe (and lost terribly) but I still enjoyed it. Later, I was in my room and my youngest host brother Renan came in with his arms full of Legos, put them on the floor and asked me to play. It was probably the cutest thing he’s done and we played for about an hour with these little spinning tops that you put in a bowl-shaped thing and whichever one spins the longest win. Renan comes in my room pretty much anytime the door is open, hops on my bed, and immediately reaches for my phone or camera to take pictures of himself and also anything else such as the corner of my bed, his sock, or the inside of his mouth. Renan has helped me a lot with my Portuguese because he never stops talking and he likes to point to things and slowly, syllable-by-syllable say what the word for it is in Portuguese. On my first day, I learned the words for things like lunch, bad, flag, win, hiccups, and beard. I know because I keep a little notebook that I take everywhere and each day I write translations for the words I have been taught that day and date the page at the top. It is a great conversation starter and a great w ay for me to prove that I am trying really hard to learn the language. Also it is an object that is guaranteed to get someone to call you adorable when you pull it out to write down words. I only write down words for translations though because I have found that anything I put out in the open is automatically everyone else’s too. Like even my hair. At school, people will pick up my book, or lean over to see what I am writing and then show their friends. Also at school, on my first day, the girl behind me gently tugged my hair from where it was stuck between my back and the chair, then pulled a brush out of her bag and just started brushing it. Then, when she was done brushing it, she put it in a nice braid down my back without me even having to ask her (or give permission). But I have never really minded when people play with my hair, so I smiled at her, laughed to myself, and decided that she and I are going to be good friends.

I arrived to Brazil on Sunday, the 25th of August, but did not start school until Friday, the 30th of August. During the day while my host brothers were at school, I would run errands with my mom and help her around the house or upload pictures, and then when they came home we would eat lunch together. After lunch, I would play with my host brothers, and then about an hour after lunch my mother would call us down to eat a snack which is usually the same selections as breakfast- breads, spreads, and cookies. Then, my host brothers usually can hangout (watch TV or play a game or skateboard or learning new phrases via Google Translate) for a little bit until they have to study and I can sleep or go on my computer. Some days after lunch, we go out. Such as on my third day, when my host mother and brothers and I went on my first trip to the mall and they bought me my first pair of Havaianas, a Brazilian flip flop that literally everyone here has a pair of or 7 pairs. Like even gra ndparents and boys. It is a phenomenon. I love it.

On my second and fourth day, I actually got to watch Brenda, my host sister from my third family, dance. She is just a year younger than me and even though I have only been here for about 2 weeks, she is already my best friend. I went to watch her dance class to see if it is something I might want to do and even though I have never done a competitive dance class like that before, I think I might try it. Brenda is one of the most graceful, beautiful, artistic, humble dancers I have ever seen and I am not biased or anything but I think she is the best in the class. I am glad I will have her as my host sister when I join the class because I will be learning from the best! Brenda speaks practically perfect English but she only uses it when necessary which I love. She has also definitely helped me learn a lot and meet a lot of people. At her dance class, I met two of her best friends, and her friend who is my class at school. Everyone that I have met has been super nice, told me a t least 4 times that they are there for me if I need anything and also I have beautiful hair and eyes. However, I cannot give all the credit to Brenda because a lot of things have been made possible by her super excitable, slightly crazy, incredibly caring mother who claims that she is my real mother. God bless that woman, I love her so much. She messages me about 10 times a day when I am not with her and stops by to take me to dance class with Brenda or to bring me a brigadeiro. In case you don’t know what a brigadeiro is, allow me to describe it in one word for you: HEAVEN. No matter if it is brigadeiro balls, cake, pudding, or even if it was covering asparagus it is still one of the most delicious things I have ever encountered. Basically, it is a chocolate fudgy-caramel type substance that is super common here in Brasil and something that I have eaten in various forms at least once a day since I have been here. Another delicious food that I have had here that we do n’t have in America is Açai. Açai is a yummy berry that is found here in Brasil and also has its own smoothie-type drink named after it. This smoothie-type drink is personalized by order and my first one consisted of bananas in a little bit of banana pudding on top, some dry powder mix that tasted like vanilla cake mix, a layer of slushy açai berry, more banana slices in pudding, another layer of the cake mix powder, another layer of the açai slushy, and then bananas in pudding at the bottom. Now, I’m not exactly sure this is what it consisted of but that’s what it tasted like and it was scrumptious. You can get different flavors and layers but I think every Açai has 2 layers of the açai berry slushy. I had my first one with Brenda and a few of her best friends and the experience was really scary at first because they all talk so fast and about things I haven’t talked about in Portuguese before because the con versations of a group of 3 teenage girls is completely different than the conversations of 8 year old boys or the ones you have with your parents. However, it was a lot less scary when I actually listened to the words that they were saying and realized that I could pick up on a lot of what they were saying and if I didn’t understand the words, body language can tell you a lot about what a person is talking about and also Brenda could translate the things I didn’t understand. But seriously, like I could probably make a pretty good guess about the conversation between people who speak a language I don’t know just based off of body language and tone, it does most of the talking. After the acai, I watched Brenda and her friends dance, and then I went home and got ready for my first day of school the next day. I was not really all that nervous, and I did not have a reason to be. Brenda and I arrived at school at the same time, so she took me to where my class wa s and introduced me to her friend that was in my grade and who I have sat next to every day since. The moment I walked into school, it literally felt like everyone’s eyes were on me and somehow everyone knew who I was. When I sat down in my desk, it was not long before flocks of curious Brazilians teenagers swarmed my desk and kissed me on the cheek, said hello, and attempted some English but spoke Portuguese and tried to translate if I did not understand. I think I became friends with everyone that first day but I can only tell you about 5 names because they are a lot different than American names besides the common ones. Most boys are named Marco or Leonardo, and most girls are named Isabela or Julia, but then everyone else is named long, interestingly spelled names with little lines over the a’s and other accent marks and I cannot even remember one or say one write to give you an example but I have been working on it! As a matter of fact, every day when I sit down at dinner, my family asks me about my day, quizzes me on some words, and then asks for the name of one friend that I remember from the day. My friends at school are all really nice, and totally make going to school worth it. I assumed that learning in another language would be a challenge but it has proved to be both easier and harder than I imagined. Brazilian school is a lot different, and in a lot of ways better, than American school. Every grade starts and ends at the same time, and each grade has its own classroom filled with about 30 students who stay in the same classroom all day and the teacher and subject change around every 45 minutes. The teacher and subject depend on the day and time but I have included a picture of my schedule and also a brief summary of the classes.

Here are the translations and descriptions of my classes:

Geografia = Geography: essentially the same thing as history, and all information I have already learned thanks to AP World History last year and my incredible teacher Mrs. Kovascev. I am so glad I paid attention because for once it is actually paying off.

Fisica= Physics: Don’t even ask me about this one because I thought it was math but he also talks about Voltages and other things and I’m not even sure.

Inglês = English: ENTENDO! ENTENDO! I actually know the majority of what goes on in the class and the teacher is super nice and I feel like a genius. One of my favorite moments so far was when the teacher asked each student to read a sentence of the passage we were looking at in our books and when it got to me I happened to get the longest sentence and I read it at normal speed but when I finished everyone gasped and was so amazed because I read it so fast to them and it was perfect. Like people even started clapping, it was hilarious, and I look forward to Mondays and reading aloud because it is so much fun and really boost my self-esteem.

Filo / Socio = Philosophy and Sociology: The teacher is really animated and I think I would find the class interesting except she talks so fast about things I haven’t learned that I don’t really understand much of what is going on. Except one class she was talking about anarchy but that’s all I know.

Química = Chemistry: Yeah, good luck trying to teach me chemistry in another language and I don’t have a clue what the heck all those number and words mean, and probably wouldn’t in English either.

História = History: I love this class because it is exactly like the AP World History class I took last year, like even the same video clips like of the Chinese guy who stood in front of a tank that was trying to go through the streets. Most of the words I have written in my notebook of translations come from this class since I know the material in English I can translate it into Portuguese. Also, in the class is also when I realized that other languages have different names for countries which really confuses me because if brand names are the same in all language why can’t country names be the names that the country gave them in their country’s language? I don’t know. But that’s the way I think it should be, please tell me you all agree.

Biologia = Biology: Also another class that I have taken before and am grateful to have had a wonderful teacher (shout out to Mr. Jones for being awesome) so that I know all that they are talking about like mitosis and meiosis. Even though I have two different teachers for this class, I have learned the material for both and I am really grateful for that.

Gram. / Red. = Grammar and Reading: Since I am at like 1st grade level of Portuguese, I really have no clue what is going on in this class but the teacher seems interesting.

Matemática = Math: Some days I think I know what is going on, and I have always been pretty good at math so this has been the easiest to pick up but it is really hard to ask questions and see the explanation sometimes because I am not yet fluent in Portuguese. But I think if I took a test, I would score second best in this subject, with both teachers and areas of math.

Espanhol = Spanish: hahhahahahahahaha. No.

Literatura= Literature: I have a really theatrical, beautiful young male teacher who I know for a fact I will love once I figure out what he is talking about but I don’t yet so he’s just really fun to watch. On my first day I had his class and he read a poem and used gestures and it was really entertaining but I only understood some lines about a man being angry and something about the sun on the horizon.

Ed. Física= P.E: I love the way that my school does this. On Thursdays, you go home at 1 to eat lunch with your family and then change into leggings and a t-shirt, and then come back to school at 3:30 and play a sport with just the members of your gender in high school. I have only been once and we played basketball and I actually did really well and was pleased with myself and it was nice to see my classmates in a different atmosphere so I can try to figure them out a little more. Since I don’t understand most of the conversations, I have been relying on body language, tone, clothing, and friends to try to categorize the people at school but not in the least in a judgmental way. I have come to find that in a lot of ways, people act the same and will always have groups no matter where you go, there will always be the reckless popular kids with the cool clothes, cool speech, and cool friends. There will also be the crazed teenage girls who scream over One Directio n and Justin Bieber and swear on their lives they will marry at least one of them one day. And of course, you have the quieter, slightly gothic/punk kids, the nerdy kids, and the ones that just float around between the groups. And then there is me, who is the cute, foreign exchange student who can fit in any group she wants to be in and is automatically accepted, it is super awesome.

Intervalo = Intermission?: Basically it is 20 minutes of free time where you can wonder around campus, eat snacks you brought or buy from the school, talk, listen to music, do whatever, and you just have to be back when your teacher gets to the classroom, although most classes don’t start until 10-20 minutes in because the teachers socialize with the students and also the teachers have to write down the beginning of their lesson on the board and whatever teachers normally do before students arrive but they can’t hear because they share the class with about 15 other teachers. And on the subject of the school food, they have this concession stand where they sell all types of delicious, typical Brazilian foods like cheese bread pocket things, and little mini samples of Nutella and other treats made by Nutella people like chocolate bars with yummy stuff inside. Previously I mentioned that anything you have is also shared by everyone around you and that is true especia lly when it comes to food. Most people bring a package of cookies to school to enjoy themselves and also share with everyone else and it is 100% normal, like why do people not do that more often in America because I totally love being offered 9 different kinds of cookies per break and also bites of various chocolate bars. I should also mention that when you share your food with someone, you don’t break off a piece for them, they just bite right off of it, even if you are a complete stranger. The same goes for drinks, there is no such thing as water falling. I think that is really great except if there were a disease going around, Brasil is not the place to be because I am sure germs spread more quickly here than most places. But Brasil is definitely not dirty because it is like a requirement to take like 2 showers a day, one at night and one before you go anywhere.

So I realized that I kind of went off on a tangent or 6 so I think I should move on…

Afterschool! Afterschool is my favorite time of the day because it is amazing the amount of things you can pack into one day. Also the weekends are awesome because I am always invited to do interesting things. After my first day of school, I came home, ate lunch, and napped a little bit because it is really exhausting even though only about 4/6 hours you are actually learning because a lot of it is the teacher stopping to look at the class and realize 18 of the 30 students are completely passed out and then waking them up, or the schedule saying the class starts at 7:45 but your teacher doesn’t come in until 7:55 and then talks to a few students, writes stuff on the board, pulls up a PowerPoint on the Smart Board and then begins. And I am not exaggerating about the 15/30 students sleeping like even the really excellent students fall asleep and it takes everything in me to not fall asleep when my teacher is talking endlessly in a quiet voice in a language I don’t y et understand, with all the lights out and blinds closed and everyone around me passed out. I won’t lie and say I have not dozed off a few times, but my classmates are kind enough to wake me up if I do and I started bring crayons and Portuguese workbooks to school to keep me busy and awake. Oh look tangent number 302, but it’s just really nice to talk this long without trying to think of the translation for the words I want to say. Anyway, afterschool on my first day, after eating and napping, Brenda invited me to walk with her friends to another friend’s house to hangout. Brenda walks home from school, and so she just walked to my house after school with her best friend, Clara who I cannot wait to be really good friends with because she seems really funny, carefree, and looks like an Egyptian/Brazilian princess and is super beautiful but also doesn’t act super flamboyant about it and I love it. Another one of her friends was with them but his name ha s slipped my mind… Sorry kid, don’t take it personally because I don’t remember most people’s names. We walked to their friend, Thias(I think that is how you spell it)’s house, which was only 5 minutes away where there were about 9 other of their friends, and we talked and shared music and played FIFA (yay! But again I lost terribly), and a few of their friends tried to speak English to me but it was really not worth the trouble but really hilarious for me. Being in Brazil and not having perfected my Portuguese yet has really made me appreciate things like music and video games because even if you don’t speak the same language, you can still bond over them. A great way that I have been able to talk to people and share about myself is to ask to see their iPod and tell them which songs I like and laugh at some of the songs they have but not in a criticizing way because I hate when people criticize other people’s music choices. I also love to hear how they pronounce artists’ names liked the way they say Avril Lavigne or 3oh3 and Skrillex. I also have come to the conclusion that America makes really good music and that’s something we can take pride in. Even people who have no clue what the song is talking about, they can appreciate still. It makes me feel really proud of my country when most of the music on the radio was made in America by American artists and I used to think that America just borrowed from other countries mostly because everything has a “Made in China” sticker but it has been really cool to see what other people borrow from us.

After I came home from hanging out with Brenda, I ate dinner and talked about my day and went on Facebook and Skype a little bit and then went to bed. The next day was one of the best days I have had which is not really fair to say because pretty much every day has been the best day ever.

My biological dad used to respond to the question “How was your day?” with “Best day ever!” slightly sarcastically but mostly to be funny because he’s a pretty funny guy and the responses he gets are pretty great and now it’s part of his legacy, but anyway, I can usually honestly respond that way because I have had the opportunity to do some pretty spectacular things since I have arrived. I am not saying that every moment is great because a lot of moments are really tough and frustrating when you don’t know what is going on or how to respond or if you are doing something right, and sometimes you do things just to try it because you want to be open minded and not miss anything even though you are really, really tired and you miss your family and YOUJUSTWANTTOBEFLUENTALREADY. However, those moments are spread between hours of laughing and learning and meeting incredible people who all just want to be your friend and so overall, life is wonderful. Really, really, really wonderful and I will endlessly thank my biological family, Rotary, my host families and everyone else for making this possible because being here is like living a dream with a few drops of reality now and then but mostly lovely sunsets, smiling faces, and as much chocolate as I want and I adore it.

As I was saying, on one of the best days ever, I went on a walk with my mom on a beautiful bike trail that is 10x more interesting and lovely than any bike trail I have been on before. While walking on it for approximately 1-2 miles I passed:

-3 public fields filled with beautiful trees sprouting various colors of trees and scattered in between were families laughing and eating a picnic together, couples sitting together looking out onto calm water reflecting the gracious sky above, and fathers flying kites with their children

-an area with a dirt path filled with mini hills created for the free use by the public for remote controlled cars

-a more life-size version of the dirt path with larger hills for the free use by the public for dirt bikes

-a couple bridges that cross the calm water that the couples stare captivatingly at

-a skate park where anyone from ages 3-32 (guessing) come to show off their cool tricks on roller skates and skateboards and again, this is free

-about 5 soccer fields with goals without nets that I was hoping to find in Brasil. In America, at places like Waterfront in Clermont and beaches, usually there are volleyball nets set up, but here, those are replaced by soccer goals, and some are grass fields and other are sand fields but either way they are everywhere and I CANNOT wait to play on one of them

-a group of people holding up signs that translated to “Jesus loves you, free hugs!” that covered the width of the bike trail but it was only on the walking section. There are two different paths that run parallel and one is for bikes and the other is for walking and there is also a part of the road that is for bikes (like in America) but I don’t see a lot of people using it. I have been surprised to find the number of people who use bikes and motorcycles as a mode of transport to go to places like work, and the store but I have found that it is not just leather-jacket-wearing, Harley-Davidson-loving men with beards and their tough wives who ride motorcycles but really anyone, like 20 year old women with light blue tank-tops and pink helmets going to the mall. Which brings me to my next observation that I have not seen a single person wearing a helmet while riding a bike but everyone who drives a motorcycle wears a helmet.

Anyway, the point of the walk was to end at the skate park where my host brothers showed off on their skateboards and I got to meet Felix, another exchange student in my area from Germany. He was super nice and we bonded instantly over the people falling on their butts while trying to skateboard and the number of pictures our host parents wanted with every possible combination of people with the two of us in every one. After the skate park, we went to McDonalds (pronounced MAC-donalds here) because at the mall they were having an event (like a spirit night) to benefit cancer patients and there was also a DJ and a couple dance schools. We ate and then afterwards, a samba school preformed and then asked couples to come up to learn a dance. Of course, Felix and I were pushed up their by our host families, but I kind of wanted to go anyway. It should have been super awkward because Felix and I met like 4 hours prior but it was still fun. When we got up there, his club counselor t old the instructor/DJ that we were exchange students, and that we didn’t speak that much Portuguese, so the instructor got a partner to demonstrate the moves for us. It was a little embarrassing because we already stood out enough as the only naturally blonde people as far as I could see, and when we started dancing, we were awful. I mean, I was pretty good, and he was alright, but together was a train wreck but it was nice nonetheless because we laughed the whole time, and actually got it together for about 30 seconds. After the dance lesson, the instructor came up to us and offered for us to come to a class once a week to get better and a few other people came up to meet us and offered to hangout and it was really nice like going to the mall as a celebrity and being asked for your autograph and pictures. About 20 minutes later, we stopped at a churro stand inside the mall (YES A CHURRO STAND IN THE MALL, AKA HEAVEN) where you can buy a churro and then pick either cho colate, caramel, or another sugary substance to go inside and ontop of the churro and then a topping like sprinkles or coconut. I ordered a churro with chocolate and coconut and it was one of the most pleasant-tasting foods I have ever eaten (Florida Mall and Mall of Millennia: PLEASE HAVE ONE OF THESE WHEN I COME BACK, THANK YOU).

On Sunday, September 1st, was my first week anniversary in Brasil and I spent it by doing several more firsts as well as messaging my friends saying “OHMYGOSH ITS BEEN ONE WEEK AND IT FEELS LIKE FOREVER AND I MISS YOU A LOT BUT ALSO I LOVE IT HERE.” To start the day, my family and I went to catholic church, which we were accidently late too so we didn’t get a chair but ended up standing next to the fountain of Holy Water which was really interesting because a little boy kept putting his hands in it as well as my host brother and playing around which was funny because I am not Catholic but I know that you aren’t really supposed to do that. Catholic Church was definitely not the most fun experience I have had since I do not fully understand the religion or the language that it was taught in but it was not that long and everything else that day was super fun. (I am Christian by the way, nondenominational, and used to attend Mosaic Church with the most ene rgetic, relatable pastor, Pastor Renaut, who I miss very much). After church, we went to a super market where Felipe talked from the end of church until we got to the grocery store, the whole time in the grocery store and the majority of the ride home, and I could not imagine what he had to talk about that was so long until my host dad explained that he was describing a movie to my host mother and I was really impressed with her patience because I don’t know many people who would let me ramble on for that long about a movie, yet again I am on nine pages and you are still reading, so thank you for that. I really appreciate it.  I do not really remember much of what I did that afternoon, but at 6pm I went to my first Interact meeting which I did not really enjoy much at first because it was a lot of fast Portuguese about things I did not know about, but then it got better. The Interact Club here has a rule that if it is your first time at a meeting, you have to stand up on a table in the middle of the room and answer questions that your audience has for you, and then to get down, you have to do something special like sing a song or dance. I did not get very many questions since I could only answer the ones I understood or that people could translate but it was really fun and I got down by being taught to samba (which I suck at) and in return, I promised to teach the wobble at the next meeting. After the meeting ended, almost every member of the club wanted to talk to me, and I wanted to talk to them because they were all really friendly people who wanted to be my friend and take me places and I love those kind of people.

At the meeting I also meet Nia, an exchange student who lives very close to me here, from Germany as well. She has offered to go a lot of places with me and I was begged to come back to the Interact meetings but I have not been able to do any of those things due to other obligations like family trips and being sick but I am hoping to go to Portuguese class with Nia, Felix, and Juan (an exchange student from Mexico) next week and also get ice cream, and go to Interact next Sunday.

However the night did not end there because Brazilians party until the sun comes up, not until it goes down, so after the meeting, I went to the cinema to see my first movie in Brazil which was The Internship spoken in English with Portuguese subtitles with my incredibly awesome second family, Marcelo, Tiane, Amanda (20) and Leo (14). Amanda and I instantly bonded over Lana Del Ray (which her mom is going to pay for my ticket to see in concert with them I LOVE HER SO MUCH FOR THAT) and the hotness that is Channing Tatum. Tiane and Amanda are also some of the most fashionable people that I have meet and I am hoping they will take me shopping one day because I want to dress as stylish as they dress.

The next day, after only getting a couple hours of sleep, I had school with my first English class that I fell in love with, and then I got to meet Juan, who I mentioned earlier is an exchange student from Mexico. Juan had just arrived so my host dad who is also the coordinator of exchange students for our district went over to explain some basic rules and to greet him, and then the next night he came over and along with all his host parents to go over all the rules and regulations for his stay in Brazil. I had a similar meeting on my second night with all of my host families, and even though I had heard it all before in Florida, I still enjoyed spending more time with everyone. The last few weeks have consisted of a lot of firsts and the meeting of a lot of different people and the trend holds true for Wednesday where I meet my first host mothers’ parents and had lunch at their house. Every Wednesday, my host mom and brothers eat there and I look forward to Wednesday b ecause her parents were lovely people who called be “linda” = beautiful a lot and also they made scrumptious food, and after lunch my host brothers sat on the couch and I scratched their heads and they both feel asleep. It was super adorable and I loved that day because I really felt like part of the family. Out of all the times spent laughing or smiling or hugging or greeting, my favorite moments are the ones that I feel this way, that no matter how short of a time I have been here or how short of a time I have known these wonderful people, we are all still a family and though in the future we might forget names or faces or places we have been, the feeling of being united will live on forever. In one of the books RYE Florida gave us, The Exchange Student Survival Guide, there is a passage that reads:

“In an old story of a long-running war between two kingdoms, the kings agreed to a peaceful exchange. Each agreed to send his son to live with the family of his enemy, to be cared for in the other kingdom as if he were the son of that family. Each put his faith in the other to care for his son, and committed I return to care for the other’s son as if he were his own. These sons also came to understand and became attached to the new kingdom, making it impossible from then on for either of them to raise war against the other.”

I love this passage so much that I have not forgotten it since I read it and I think about how true it is constantly, especially in those moments when I feel a part of this new kingdom of Brasil. I truly believe that through exchange programs, the impossible and the incredible can occur, from simply learning new languages and to preventing wars and creating peace.

Which speaking of incredible happenings, last weekend, I spent Friday night at my first Brazilian club where I felt like the hottest thing since sliced toast and also really independent and proud of myself because it was the first time I had really been around alcohol but I did not even have a sip let alone get drunk. (Thank you D.A.R.E, role-model parents, fellow students who I have witnessed go from sweet to sorrow because of silly decisions, and Rotary for warning me so much that I wouldn’t even dare because I do not want to go back early!) Larissa, Juan’s host sister, took Juan and me, and we came back to their house around 4 am and then woke back up at 7 am to drive to a bee farm about 2 hours away. You’re probably reading this like, that’s not so bad, when I was a kid I only had two hours of sleep and then walked up hill both ways to school, or whatever story you will subconsciously one-up mine with but we only had 3 hours of sleep, and the car r ide was not one you could sleep in because Brazilians all drive stick shift and fast and are aggressive drivers, also there are a lot of speed bumps on every road. Also, to get to the house where we were staying at for the weekend, you have to drive basically on a dirt road trail that is just wide enough for the car that has enormous hills and lots of roots and natural speed bumps and that did not mean we drove slower, but rather drove faster and I cannot believe I am still alive after being driven on it about 6 times that weekend but I am somehow and I am so grateful. I think the house we stayed at was a family house owned by Larissa’s family and relatives, and it was definitely simple living but nothing that I had not experienced in Girl Scouts. Juan slept most of the day but Larissa and I really bonded after spending hours walking around the area, getting water from a pipe that was pumped by a water wheel (super cool) and then bring the water back in a bucket, and t hen Larissa’s uncle and her father cooked the most impeccable meat I have ever had the pleasure of eating. OHMYGOSH. Here, it is called Churrasco, but I like to refer to it as THE-BEST-MEAT-EVER. Brazilians have special wooden/brick oven/grill things made specifically for churrasco where they make several varieties of meat (carne) and cut up and put on a platter, perhaps sprinkle with lemon juice (with lemons that are actually orange) and every eats for a couple hours and drinks Guarana and Coca-Cola. It’s a beautiful thing. Since I have been here, I have eaten a lot of fresh, non-processed food that is heavenly. Saturday night, Larissa’s mother peeled and cut and fried potatoes to make French fries, somebody made chicken nuggets, somebody else made a yummy omelet thing, another relative made fried sunny side up eggs, somebody else made rice, a different relative made beans, and then we sat down to dinner and ate even more food even though I do not know how any of us were hungry. Oh and then later they pulled out some sort of luscious, milky pudding that you top with fresh syrup and some kind of fruit that resembles a prune. In between meals, we drove around the trail in a jeep without a hood or roof or back that was crafted by Larissa’s dad, it was magical. While standing in the back of it with Larissa and Juan, with their parents in the front, I finally really understood the line in Perks of Being a Wallflower when Charlie says while riding in a pickup truck, ‘In that moment, I swear we were infinite.”, because I felt infinite, also like I was getting a lot of dirt in my hair and mouth, but mostly infinite. Later that evening, I had another infinite moment when Larissa and I put on old records like Elton John and we were theatrically dancing and laughing, following the lead of each other for about an hour, no matter how many strange looks and giggles we received from the members of her family. Unfortunately the next day I woke up pretty sick and the ride home through the rough terrains also known as roads were not super enjoyable. But I did actually get to put on a white suit like the ones you see on discovery channel to watch bees up close and get honey from them and it was a terrifying as it looks and I didn’t last long but it was worth it because fresh honey straight from the comb is magical. Anyway, I went to school on Monday but afterwards my host mother took me to the doctor where I spent all of this month’s allowance on a doctor’s appointment where I found out that I have some sort of tonsil infection and I am not allowed to leave my house or bed until Monday. So that’s why I have time to write this extensive journal entry, also I have never really been good at talking for short amounts of time or writing short essays or even short text messages, you all probably know that already but I will remind you anyway.

However, below I have included a short, bulleted summary of my experiences in Brazil and I am terrific and I love Brazil and I hope you are loving wherever you are too.

-Leggings are a fashion staple for girls and women here. If you don’t have them, it’s basically like not owning a pair of jeans, like what are you doing?

-I am pretty sure I belong here because my family eats ribs with a fork and knife and if I did that with my family they would laugh at me until I picked it up at and bit it.

-The fork is always held in the right hand and the knife in the left and the knife is used to scrape food onto the fork.

-When you are done eating or setting your fork down, place them horizontally across your plate, the fork starting on one side and the knife starting on the other.

-If you don’t like Guarana or own Havaianas, you are not Brazilian.

-Always share your snacks. Always.

-Also the same goes with everything else. What’s mine is yours. What’s yours is mine.

-There is no rule that you cannot snack on something because it is almost dinnertime. Eat whenever you want, as much as you want.

-Teenagers who can’t drive actually enjoy and do walk most places, I love this. (you get your license at 18 and can also legally drink at 18)

-Going clubbing is common teenage/young adult activity and is not regarded as a slutty thing as long as you don’t make it that way.

-When you leave or arrive from/to a group, kiss everyone on the cheek, even if you don’t know them.

-As an exchange student in Brasil, some of the hardest situations you will face will occur at 7 in the morning, in the middle of a class called Química with a teacher at the front making noises that sound similar to words but that you cannot interpret while writing numbers that look familiar in unfamiliar patterns while warning you not to fall asleep. Good luck.

-Also as an exchange student, avoid Tumblr and songs that remind you of people you love and miss unless you want to break down and scare your 8 year old host brother and not be able to explain it unless you type through your tears into google translate and then he will still be freaked out.

-Maids are common among higher class families but are not slaves, basically they are friends who help your mom clean your house and smile at you a lot. I love Rosa, our made, she is always smiling, even when she isn’t you can see it in her eyes and I love those kind of people.

-Brazilians like to talk, learn how to listen and also talk back but in a polite way.

-Carrying around a Portuguese dictionary and notebook for writing down translations automatically makes you adorable and also respectable. End of story.

-Learning a popular song in your host countries language can go a long way. Find one and learn it. For future Brazilians see: Ai Se Te Pego by Michael Telo (Pronounced like Michelle Telo)

-Sometimes being on exchange is really hard, like when you watch Despicable Me 2 in your host language and you don’t know if the minions are speaking that language or gibberish, but it’s okay because other moments are great like when your host father is explaining rules in Portuguese and then turns to translate to you but you say you don’t need it because you understood what he said and the look of admiration and pride spreads across everyone’s face makes all those bad moments okay again.

-The same goes for that jerk class clown the comes to you on your first day and slowly, syllable by syllable, tells you what his name is, and you respond with wow, congratulations in your host language, that expression of shock and realization of ignorance and then retreat is so worth the breath you had to spend on him.

-If you do not like to eat or have people touch your arm or your hair or hug you or kiss you on the cheek, you will not survive in Brasil.

-As an exchange student, say yes to everything that is not going to get you sent home. You will not regret it… most of the time.

New adventures occur every day so until next entry, deixe a aventura começar!

January 15, 2014

 Woah. Hold up. They’re already putting the future outbounds for 2014-2015 up on this site? I feel like my exchange is just beginning.

Today marks 144 days/almost 5 months in Brazil, and some days, it feels like I’ve been gone for forever and a year is a lifetime, although other times I feel like I left yesterday and a year is a breath. I would start for apologizing for not blogging in a while, but I’m not that sorry because I’ve been doing things to blog about rather than writing about it. Instead, I’ll start with a “Readers disgression is advised” warning. A. This gets pretty corny and cliché, try not to laugh. B. I wanted to tell Future Exchange Students and well, everyone, who are reading through current exchange students’ blogs (or just my blog) that what we/I have experienced on exchange is not what everyone who goes on exchange, visits, or lives in that country experiences, so take what we/I are/am saying with a grain of salt, and happy reading! We really appreciate you reading our blogs. C. I apologize for my grammar, Microsoft Word keeps reminding me of all my conjunctions, run-on sentences, and the overuse of the words “really cool”.

A Story: Differences. I’ve never really felt like humans are all that different. We all have basic wants and needs, and we’re all just trying to fulfil them. Every country has the moon/sun and night/day, just some more than others and they’re called different things. And I’ve always liked that we have these things that can connect us. However, I’ve also realized that there are a lot of things that make us individually different, and I’m finding that equally as cool. Sure, no matter where you are, you can see the stars at night, but to each of us, that means a different thing. I was watching this really cool video the other day called HitRecord TV (with the beautiful Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and there was a segment of the show that talked about the first time this girl ever saw the stars. She had some eye problem that did not allow her to see at night, so for the first years of her life, she had people describe the stars to her. One of the thin gs she said, that I thought was really interesting, was that everyone described the stars differently to her. I recently returned from a 10 day beach trip with my family where I saw literally the most beautiful places I have seen in my life, and one of them was a place I’ve seen my whole life- the sky. I had been asking to go to the beach at night because we were pretty far away from bright city lights, and the sky was clear and the moon was bright, so the stars looked incredible. We finally went, and I wish I could send the amount of serenity that completely washed over me as I laid down in the wet sand even though I’d already taken a shower, which made my Brazilian family call me louca/crazy, which you have to be OUT OF YOUR MIND if a Brazilian thinks you’re crazy because they’re pretty insane, and thinking back on it- I kind of was. But not because I was laying in the sand, but because of what dawned on me. Stars are an incredible thing. The sky is an incredible thing. The moon is an incredible thing. No matter what language, what country, how many hours ahead/behind other people you are- it’s still true. How cool is it that we all get to see the same thing but also that even if you stand in the same spot, at the same time as someone else, it can mean completely different things. You see, looking at the stars can remind you of all sorts of stories, or phrases, or people, or places and those memories or thoughts that come to mind are different for everyone. For me, it reminded me of all the marvelous people I’ve met in my life(also The Lion King but that’s unrelated), and how I’m so lucky to have my natural set of parents, who are both still alive, and both love me endlessly and both love life and have taught me to do the same. And for my sisters, and for my families here, and for Rotary for getting me here, and for all the friends/family I’ve left behind for a while and all the ones I&rsq uo;ve got to meet here. I just felt (and feel) so immensely blessed and that’s such a great moment to be in.

What I thought about before I came here, but what never really sunk in is that exchange is freaking hard, man. My life was really excellent before I left and then I just left it all behind and came here alone, and a lot of times I feel alone and I am alone and alone gets sometimes lonely even if I’m alone in a crowded room. People don’t always understand me, even in English, and it’s frustrating. I don’t always agree with my friends, or my families, or the rules, or even my previous judgements, and it’s frustrating. I don’t always like the food, and eating peanut butter/ chocolate all the times is not only unhealthy but it gets boring and that’s frustrating. Sometimes I feel so sad, or so sick, or so fat, or so full that I don’t feel like eating or moving or doing anything but crying and that’s frustrating. I don’t always have the right clothes on for the occasion, or know how to paint my nails or do my make-up real pretty like other girls or drag queens or whoever, and my hair is out of whack and that’s frustrating. I don’t always know where I’m going, or what I should be doing, or what I’m doing wrong, or how to do more right and that’s frustrating. I don’t always have motivation and that’s frustrating. Sometimes, I feel like a bad friend for not sending letters or packages even though I think about these people all the time, and they mean so much to me and I can’t express it in words or trinkets and that’s frustrating. I don’t always know if my faith is real, or what I should believe, or if I should do something, or if I shouldn’t, and why this had to happen, and why that couldn’t, and what I like, and what I feel, or who I am, and gosh darnnet, life is so, so frustrating! Yeah, I am surrounded by loving people in a lovely place, and I’ve had the greatest of luck, and I have a smile on my face, but that do esn’t mean I’m always happy. Just because you aren’t living in poverty doesn’t mean you don’t get hungry. I get really sad sometimes, and I just want to burst into tears and I just want to be held by my parents and smiled at by my sisters, and laugh with my friends, for everyone to just be happy.

I also want to scream.

Really loudly.

But then, there’s moments, like the one when I was lying down at the beach, looking at the stars, where everything just seems to make sense; that all these hardships, and breakdowns, and sleepless nights, and absences of an appetite, and lonely moments, and misunderstandings, and feelings of inadequacy are going to end and it’s going to get better, and you had to experience all of those things to be where you are now because you wouldn’t be the same if you hadn’t and My God, life is grand and you are beautiful.

I knew going on an exchange would teach me a new language, a new way of life, tons of cool pictures, and hundreds of new friends, but never did I realize that it would give me the stars.

I am not taking full credit for that line though because I got the idea from the HitRecord TV video.

A Story: Part 2- As we were walking back from the beach, I was kind of walking backwards, still looking at the stars, as we were going through this kind of creepy little path that leads from the beach back to our beach house, and my host brother jokingly dared me to go back alone, and so I did. I did like a cute, little skip walk through the path, and I heard my host family call me crazy, yet again, but I went and sat down in the sand and looked up at the stars. A few minutes later, I realized my host brother, host dad, and host grandpa had come back to make sure I was okay and protect me, I like to think because “this isn’t the United States, those other flashlights of the beach could be thieves and murderers!” They sat there, waiting until I was done, and then I walked over to them and we talked a little then went back, but I just felt like that was one of the nicest things anyone’s ever done for me and I’ll never forget it. It was so simple, and maybe they were “obligated” or whatever, but it really meant a lot and I wish that feeling of safety and protection on everyone because it was just so nice.

Anyway, a lot more has happened besides this since my last post so I have decided to make a list of other interesting things that I have happened upon or realized. Excuse my generalizations.

-Food: Brazilians think Americans are totally weird for eating eggs with bacon or sausage and that being breakfast and peanut butter on bread with eggs is just unimaginable. Breakfast is usually a bread roll with cheese and ham. When I am at my house here, I usually have cookies and a fruit. Cookies and cake are totally acceptable breakfast items. Parents put them on the table with a bunch of other choices for breakfast. Most of the cookies are like different versions of Oreos/sandwich cookies.

- Food: Açai is an excellent berry, (kind of like a blueberry I think), that grows in the North of Brazil, and is commonly used to make a thick icy/slushy and it is really great, especially with Leite Condensado and Leite em Po (condensed milk and powdered milk?). Just do not eat too much. It does not taste as good coming up as it does going down. Trust me.

- And More Food: 99% of the time, you can bet on having one of the following choices for lunch/dinner, and you can almost guarantee it will come with rice & beans and bread: beef stroganoff, boiled/fried chicken with French fries, lasagna, a ratatouille-looking (rolled like a cinnamon bun) pasta with cheese and spaghetti sauce, pão de queijo(delicious, usually warm, bread spheres with cheese inside), a type of seafood, something that has onion on it-a common vegetable choice is raw broccoli that tastes like it has onion on it, pizza, or esfiha( an Arab dish, kind of like a personal pizza but a slightly different taste).

-Beauty Care: Almost every Brazilian girl knows how to take care of their nails, and they have their own kits. I am talking dental looking tools for your cuticles, different lotions for removing/softening them, base gloss-color coat-finishing coat, the whole shebang. If you know me at all, you know that usually my fingernails are short, with chipped, smudged pink paint like 24/7, even if I painted them that day. Also, I am not sure if I am just starting to notice them more or what, but Brazilian woman have super perfect eyebrows. Most of them anyway.

-Brazilian beaches: are freaking beautiful. The ones I have been to have large mountains surrounding them, and were not backed up with city buildings. It is incredible. Also, the water was clear and there were not a lot of jellyfish or stingray.

-Prices: EVERYTHING is expensive here and I am trying to accept it. Even McDonald’s. A Big Mac is around $9 and there is no dollar/super value menu. If you send clothes from the United States to Brazil, the person receiving them in Brazil will have to pay a large amount of money. Either do not tell the mail carriers that you are sending clothes, or just send money. Actually, send money either way. We need money. Plz.

-Gifts: If you are going on exchange, a great idea is to bring brownie/cake/pancake/waffle mix. Your host family/friends will enjoy it (hopefully) and so will you.

-My Birthday in Brazil: I had a SUPERLOVELYEXCELLENTTOTALLYCOOL birthday. So all day, I was sitting in my room, just kind of hanging out. A few of my friends from the USA and Brazil, and my family wished me a happy birthday but I was feeling kind of down because I did not even see a birthday cake in the refrigerator, and not only was it my birthday, but my 3rd month anniversary in Brazil. BUT THEN, my host family asked if I wanted to go out for a birthday dinner, which I was like YES CELEBRATION, so we went to an Arabian restaurant (ironically and I had a cake from a Swedish store, so international I can’t even deal) and we went to a backroom and ALL of my host families, a BUNCH of friends from school and other friends I had met, a few Rotarians were there and I just felt SO loved that I wanted to cry. I am also super grateful for that because it made my birthday super, totally, really fantastic. So thanks.

-Christmas: Brazilians (at least the ones I met) do not open one present Christmas Eve and then wake up early on Christmas to open all their presents, such as the ones from Santa. And I did not see a Portuguese version of T’was the Night Before Christmas but my mom sent it to me in English and an ornament, which was a really good host family gift, they thought it was really cool.

-New Year’s: Brazilian New Year celebrations are 10 times cooler than American New Year celebrations. A. Almost everyone wears white clothes to bring “luck in peace”, and then colored underwear to bring luck in other things, such as red for luck in love, or yellow for luck in wealth/success. (I wore all white because I feel like peace covers everything and I do not like fighting, and also you could see other color underwear under my shorts so I kinda had to wear white underwear. B. In my host family at least, all the married couples had to pay the single people around 2-20 Reais (about $1=2 Reais), and by the end of the night I got 58 Reais. C. We all stood on our right foot from 11:58-12:02 to make sure we were starting the New Year on the “right foot” and I love puns so that was awesome. D. They do not have the kiss at 12:00 thing, so not everyone is posting on Facebook/Tumblr/Twitter on how they wish they had someone to kiss.

-Host families: Host families are a HUGE part of your exchange. Be nice, be respectful, be clean, and be home on time- you will thank yourself later. Exchange is so much easier when you feel a part of your host family’s family and you can do this by sharing things with them and having a personality. I am so eternally grateful for my wonderful families so far who have made me feel like a part of their families.

-There are four things that come to mind when I hear the phrase “Most annoying thing in the world”:

1. Clapping your hands really loudly for the sole reason of pestering me, especially at early hours in the morning. 2. Telling me how I have “changed” since I came to Brazil- WELL DUH. That is what humans do. 3. Saying that my Portuguese is excellent “for the amount of time I have been here”. Just cut off the last part and tell me it is excellent. Also feel free to bring up how my accent is really good and that I do the “ão” and say “todo/tudo” correctly, and that my hair is nice. 4. And probably the number one, most annoying thing is translating for me before I have a chance to translate myself or answer the question, assuming I do not understand and asking the person next to me a question intended for me, or saying, “Oh, she doesn’t understand. How cute and dumb is that.” I HAVE BEEN HERE FOR ALMOST FIVE MONTHS I KNOW WHAT “HOW OLD ARE YOU” MEANS, AS A MATTER OF FACT I CAN WRITE AN ESSAY ON THE SUBJECT AND ASK YOU HOW OLD YOU ARE AND TELL YOU ABOUT MY DAY AT SCHOOL AND NAME PARTS OF THE HUMAN BODY AND SEVERAL RANDOM ANIMALS, NEED I SAY MORE?

-Another annoying thing: You would not believe the number of times that I have had to explain that American high school is not like High School Musical. Yes, some people are better known then others, have nicer clothes, and make reckless decisions. Yes, some kids study more than others study and happen to wear glasses and be in band. But no, that does not mean they are going to be shoved in a locker or tossed in a trashcan. As long as you are nice, you can be friends with anyone and it is not a big deal.

-My Nicknames: Brazilians like nicknames and I have a lot. My favorites are Rapunzel and Luna Lovegood because they are my two favorite characters of all time and to resemble them is an honor, but I am also called: Hollywood, Hollister, Gringa, Americana, and a series of jokes have been made about the fact that “Holly” so closely resembles “holy” and my last name is “Bishop” which is like a pope, and also there are certain expressions that contain vulgar words that begin with “holy”.

-Brazilian Teenagers: When Brazilian friends hangout, they sometimes have a “churrasco” which is like a BBQ where they cook delicious strips of meat, and cubed cheese in brick ovens outside and it is always a lot of fun and super yummy. We also go to the mall a lot. With my friend, Nia, I get ice cream almost every week.

-Music: I used to say that I liked all types of music, because I may not prefer a particular song, but I like that that song could mean something really special to someone and make someone feel exactly how they want to feel, like comforted or something. Although this is still true, I have decided to change that to “I believe every type of music in existence should continue to exist, however, I do not particularly like scream-O or bands similar to System of a Down.” I am really glad that someone yelling at you to “F” the world and everything sucks is music to your ears and makes you feel good, but it scares me. A lot. That is only okay for me when Lilly Allen sings it.

-Movies: Something I did not realize before I came was that other countries watch the same movies and TV shows, but normally have them voiced-over in their language or have subtitles. I am FINALLY at the point where I can watch a movie in Portuguese and understand 92% of what is being said. IT’S AWESOME. However, I prefer originally made English movies in English with subtitles, because Jim Carrey lines are sooo much funnier in his voice. However, it is super cool to watch like Disney animated movies in Portuguese because the songs are different. I have a goal to learn all of Tangled, Frozen, and Lion King songs in Portuguese by the end of the year, although it would probably help if I started.

-Portuguese Update: I’M READING A BOOK IN PORUTUGUESE AND I’M UNDERSTANDING. HALLELUJAH. It’s called One Day/Um Dia, it’s also a movie that I enjoy greatly with Jim Sturgess and Anne Hathaway so that may be why I’m understanding it, but I think it’s best to read your first book in another language that you already know the story because it’s hard.

-Gaining Weight: I have eaten an absurd amount of chocolate and peanut butter because it makes me happy and I read somewhere that you should do more of what makes you happy and that does so I do it. Surprisingly, I have not really gained or lost weight, as of last month, although I have yet to check it recently, but I’m trying not to care if I do. There’s actually a group on Facebook called “I’m Not Fat, I’m An Exchange Student”.

-Mental Bedroom: Before I came to Brazil, my family had just moved to another house in Clermont, and when I came here, after three months, I switched host families, so I’ve only had my “own” bedroom for short stretches of time and they haven’t really become places where at the end of a long day I can just come to and lie down in my bed and take a nap or cry into my pillow and feel better and feel safe because they haven’t and won’t be mine for long enough, well I can do those things but it’s not the same, you know? And, a couple months ago, my real family moved from Florida to South Carolina, so when I go back, I won’t go to a familiar bedroom, we don’t even know what room I’ll be sleeping in so I don’t have a room that I can picture. Instead, I’ve created what I call my “mental bedroom”, and it’s at night, when I see the stars, during rainstorms, and during a really good session of yoga . For some reason, maybe because they are the same wherever, when I look at/do those things, I feel completely rested, and safe, and like everything is okay, like mini sessions of how I felt that night at the beach- it now happens every time I see the stars. I’m actually really proud of myself for creating this because I think everyone needs a bedroom, whether it is physical or mental, everyone needs a safe, comforting place.

-Lovely Things: And because I complained earlier, and believe for every bad thing, there are five times more good things in the world- here are 20 other things that are my favorite (in no particular order although the first is my favorite): 1. My real family. 2. Sunflowers. 3. My best friends: Megan Kimis, Angela McTigue, and Alex Dequevedo. 4. Sunrises/sunsets. 5. Rotary (Specifically, other exchange students, Rotary Club of South Lake, Rotary Club of Indaiatuba-Votura, Rob Overly, and Scott Krogmann) 6. Really nice hugs. 7. Little kids. 8. Letters. 9. Random snapchats/messages/comments of pictures from my friends to tell me they miss me and ask me how I am doing. AKA: Anthony Scott, Tim Senesi, Tyler Duffy, Bailey McTigue, Timmy Russell, Tiffany Astacio, Sana Khalid, Nicolos Disano, Kaitlyn Young, Julie Moore, Aunt Marty, Uncle Scott, and Aunt Debi. I love you guys and I miss you tons. 11. Hammocks. 12. My host families. 13. Chocolate. 13a. Chocolate cake. 13b. Chocolate ch ip cookies. 13c. Double chocolate fudge brownies. 13d. Brigadeiro (A Brazilian chocolate treat) 14. Peanut butter. 15. Paçoca (A Brazilian peanut butter treat) 16. My best friend here: Nia Carstensen. 17. Air conditioning. (most Brazilian houses don’t have it because it’s so expensive and I think that is ridiculous) 18. My Brazilians: Gabi Silveria, Michelle Freitas, Yan Vinicius, Gi Herrera, Lucas Colleoni, Lucas Zolini, Mari Shida, Gimmo Morais, Nicholas Theunissen, Rebecca Soria, Guilia Nicoletti, Larissa Salla, Duda Romero, and Clara Ribeiro. 19. Facebook/Skype/Whatsapp/Megashare.com/Youtube/Tumblr 20. Tangled (Rapunzel), don’t pretend like you didn’t know that was coming.

Until next time- Let the adventure continue/ Deixe a aventura continua.