Hayden Hurlbut


Hometown: Fleming Island, Florida
School: Fleming Island High School
Sponsor District: District 6970
Sponsor Club: Orange Park Sunrise, Florida
Host District: District 4650
Host Club: The Rotary Club of Joinville - Cidade das Flores


My Bio

Oi! My name's Hayden Hurlbut and I'm currently a senior at Fleming Island High School. But next year, I get to spend my gap year in Brazil! First off, I want to thank Rotary again for giving me this once in a lifetime opportunity. Right now I live with my sister who is only 15 months older than me and my parents. I'm also really close with my brother who is 26 and now lives only about 30 minutes away from us. During school days I'm usually extremely busy. I'm at school at 7 am if not earlier to edit videos for the TV production program I'm in because we have to make the news everyday. Then after school, I usually have soccer practice for about 2 hours and then I go and film whatever I need to for TV production again. When I have free time, my friends and I love to just hang out and play some video games, go eat something, or if we have enough time, head to the beach. The beach is probably one of my favorite places to be, I love surfing or just hanging out there. The main reason I wanted to do an exchange is because one of my best friends went to Thailand for a year and came back absolutely loving it and then we hosted an exchange student for Denmark for a year which just made me want to do an exchange even more. So I can't wait to see what Brazil has in store for me and I'll see you guys soon. Tchau!

Iguaçu Falls

Iguaçu Falls

Some friends from school

Some friends from school

Journals: Hayden - Brazil

  • Hayden, outbound to Brazil

    First of all, I’d like to apologize to Rotary and to everyone reading my journals for taking so long to write a second one. However, I will be sure to be much more punctual with my submissions for the rest of my exchange.

    I don’t think I can truly express my feelings and how amazing the experiences I’ve had in one simple journal, but I will try. Over the time I’ve been away I’ve made memories and friends that will certainly last me a lifetime.
    From the time I’ve been away I’ve changed host families and I’m now living with a couple that has never had kids and only wanted to receive an exchange student. They both work the whole day almost everyday. Therefore, I have the house to myself until about 8 o’clock everday. This has been quite the new experience for me because I’ve always grown up with an older brother and sister being around and also in my first host family I had two host brothers. This led to me being extremely worried about this host family as I thought they wouldn’t really pay any attention to me and that I’d be lonely most of the time. However, I could not have been more wrong. I absolutely love my host family here. They’re both extremeley sweet and funny people and this has turned out to be my favorite host family so far. If I had the choice, I would stay here in a heartbeat. I also am almost never bored due to the fact that one of my best friends from Mexico lives right down the street from me.

    Other than my host family changing in the time I’ve been away, I’ve also been on the trip of my lifetime… The Northeast Trip! I couldn’t have asked for a more amazing experience. I spent 30 days traveling the Northeast of Brazil with 35 exchange students. For those of you who don’t know, the Northeast of Brazil is full of beaches and some of the most beautiful areas I’ve ever seen. The complexity of the landscape is astonishing. In one city you will find mountains covered in deep, green forest and then a city 20 minutes away is right on the beach with crystal blue waters. I made so many friends on this trip and the fact that I probably won’t see many of them again makes me sadder than I can say. It’s a really strange feeling becoming so close to someone and seeing them everyday for 30 days and then just saying bye.It’s almost like doing a mini exchange during your exchange.

    Finally, I’d like to talk a little bit about learning Portuguese. I told myself before exchange that I wouldn’t consider myself fluent in Portuguese until I actually dreamed in Portuguese. And what do you know, one week ago I had my first dream in Portuguese. I could have screamed I was so happy. Finally being able to think in another language without having to try, finally reaching the goal you’ve been after your whole exchange year. It’s just a feeling that leaves you smiling and you can’t stop. I could’ve screamed when I woke up from that dream just because I was so excited. So if I can offer any advice to the next outbounds it’s to not give up. Learning another language is not going to be a straight line up where you see yourself getting better every single day. Not everyday you’ll wake up with excitement about having to think in another language. But it’s all worth it in the end. I can promise you that.

  • Hayden, outbound to Brazil

    Sing, dance, eat, learn to live like a Brazilian!

    Wow… Already a month and a half has past… Time in Brazil slow down! I’ve done so much in Brazil so far and seen so many things that it’ll be hard to put it all into one little journal; but I’ll try.

    Arriving in Curitiba, Brazil seems like such a distant memory now. I remember being ridiculously nervous as soon as I landed and all that I was hoping for is that my bags weren’t lost and I would get through customs easily. Well, I waited at the bag terminal for 30 minutes until my bag finally came out because it was the LAST one. That was probably the most stressful 30 minutes I’ve had in Brazil so far to be honest. But after I finally received my bag, I proceeded to customs where I started getting much more excited than nervous and said “Oi, tudo bem?” to the customs officer who was so impressed with my limited knowledge of Portuguese that she practically just let me walk right through. Then finally I walked through the gate, where my family greeted me with hugs and kisses. From that moment, I knew I’d love Brazil.

    My first two weeks in Brazil were almost non-stop. My host family wanted to show me as much of Brazil as they could as soon as I arrived. We went home for one night where I pretty much just dropped off my big suitcase, put some clothes into a smaller one and then left again for São Paulo. São Paulo is an absolutely stunning city that sits on top of a mountain overlooking Santos, another city that’s right on the beach. It’s very crowded in the city and a little bit dirty but I was way too amazed by the fact that I was finally in Brazil to care at all. That night my family took me to my first churrascaria, which is restaurant where you pay one price and then waiters just bring you every type of meet in the world and you say yes or no to if you want it or night. Churrascarias are by far my favorite food places in Brazil! We spent about 3 days in São Paulo and then ended up driving back to Curitiba to catch a flight over to Foz do Iguaçu.

    Foz do Iguaçu is a little city that sits right on the border between Argentina, Parguay and Brazil. We spent almost a week and a half there and my family even took me to see Iguaçu Falls! Iguaçu Falls is one of the 7 wonders of the world and the most beautiful place I’ve ever been to! I was literally being showered with so much love and gifts from my family that it was practically impossible for me to stop smiling, which my family absolutely loved.
    Brazilians are probably the nicest people in the world. They will always want to help you, feed you, and kiss you. All they want to do is have fun, dance, and sing and you can’t help but sing along and dance with them! (Even though I’m very bad at singing and dancing.) The only thing that Brazilians want you to ever do is to enjoy yourself. As long as you smile and have fun, they will love you.

    Alright, so I guess I should talk about the language here… It’s fast. When I first arrived in Brazil I did not understand ANYTHING. I actually felt pretty comfortable with my knowledge of kitchen utensils right before I left and everything but that was not the most helpful thing to know in a conversation. My go to phrase was, “Muito legal.” Which means, “Very cool” in Portuguese. This was literally the only thing I would say for the first week I was here because I didn’t understand anything and I felt bad sometimes asking my parents to repeat things 4 times extremely slowly before I understood anything. But all I can say to you future exchange students out there is to stay with it!

    My host brother was the only one in my family that spoke English but he left about two weeks after I got there. There is no doubt in my mind that all of the exchange students have been in the same place and because I kept speaking Portuguese and trying I am actually not bad at it now. I understand most of what is being said and can communicate a response much more intelligent than, “muito legal.”

    The final thing I want to talk about is my school. Here I was practically a celebrity the first week because everybody wanted to meet the “gringo.” But everybody is very nice and helpful too and when you make a mistake in Portuguese (which happens a lot) they will just help you out. Also, soccer is huge in Brazil and they play it as much as they can in school. I love soccer and play it all the time after school with them and it’s been a great way to make friends here!

    I also, really just want to thank Rotary for this once in a lifetime opportunity and for definitely preparing me for exchange, because without them none of this would be possible! Well, that’s all I have to say for now. I can’t wait to see what the coming months in Brazil have in store for me! Tchau!

RSS Feed