Summer Marsh

Brazil

Hometown:Wellington, Florida
School: Alexander W. Dreyfoos Jr. School of the Arts
Sponsor District : District 6930
Sponsor Club:Wellington, Florida
Host District: District 6930
Host Club: The Rotary Club of Guabirotuba

 

My Bio


“To travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world”; Gustave Flaubert’s quote remains dear to my heart as I start one of the most sensational adventures of my life. Olá e Hello, my name is Summer and I will be embarking to the beautiful and exciting country of Brasil. Words cannot describe how ecstatic I am to be studying in another country, especially one as enchanting as Brasil. I’m a sophomore at Alexander W Dreyfoos School of Arts in West Palm Beach, majoring in communications. I plan to pursue a career in international studies and working in the United Nations or becoming a US diplomat. I’ve been studying Spanish for three years, so hopefully it can aid me in my new study of Portuguese. I swim for my school and the Lake Lytal team; I also dance 3 days a week. I was born in Key West but raised in the equine utopia of Wellington. Both of my parents are flight attendants; hence I’ve grown up with a longing to travel. I’ve dreamed about being an exchange student since my middle school years, but now it’s becoming a thrilling reality. I cannot wait to see how grand the world really is. Até logo!

Train Trip

Train Trip

I love old buildings.

I love old buildings.

Math Class

Math Class

Jardim Botânico

Jardim Botânico

Outside my school

Outside my school

Festa Junina

Festa Junina

The exchange group on the NorthEast3 in Maceió

The exchange group on the NorthEast3 in Maceió

Chilling in the ocean

Chilling in the ocean

Rotary Day in Park Barigui with Piotr from Poland

Rotary Day in Park Barigui with Piotr from Poland

The Rotary Club of Guabirotuba in action

The Rotary Club of Guabirotuba in action

My amazing friends from school

My amazing friends from school

Maracanã in Rio de Janeiro

Maracanã in Rio de Janeiro

The view from my room in my third family

The view from my room in my third family

Journals: Summer - Brazil

  • Summer, outbound to Brazil

    I have become much more of a violent sleeper, often waking up with somewhat nightmares about returning to Florida. Don’t get me wrong, I love my “patriá,” but when I leave Brasil, I will be leaving this life forever. Yes of course, I can always come back and visit my new home and the people who live here, but the exchange will be over and the other international students back in their own “patriás.” This is a life that will be frozen in my memories.

    Looking back, I realize how precious each photo I have taken is, each scar (ranging from bug bites to a falling sink back on the North East trip). Other than my ever growing weight, I’ve noticed changes in my habits, like how nail polish is now one of my necessities and that I’m never barefoot inside the house—god bless socks. On the converse of the Northern Hemisphere, the weather here has started to sink (and when I mean sink, I mean plummet to about 13 C in the beginning of autumn). School is up and running, but each day feels like the shortest eternity. I have less than 90 days until I return and I couldn’t be more panicked. (July 1st)
    On a brighter note, a definite highlight of my exchange was The Northeast 3 Trip across the—you guessed it—north east of Brasil. We departed for our adventure from Curitiba and arrived in Belo Horizonte the same day. Cities we passed include Lençois (Diamantina Chapada), Maceió, Vitoria da Conquista, Natal, Estância, Salvador, Praia do Forte, Rio de Janeiro, and Angra dos Reis. During those 21 days, our group snorkeled in caves, relaxed on beaches, danced until the sun rose, watched traditional performances, ate amazing food, and had a truly unforgettable time with our amazing consulars.

    I have seriously thought about starting another life here in my city but only time will tell. I still have so much of the world to see and explore, but Curitiba, Brasil, will always have a place in my heart. The Jardim Botânico is my castle and the streets of Rua XV are etched in my skin; este ano é a madrugada das nossas vidas.

    Here’s to the exchange student family of District 4730 (2014-2015).


  • Summer, outbound to Brazil

    Preparing for my exchange, I plunged myself into the idea that I would be the ideal exchange student, always updating my posts and blog and keeping in contact with my parents and loved ones back in Florida.
    Having the first free time in months, I realized that maintaining a monthly journal on an exchange is harder than perceived.

    To say that time is flying is an understatement; the moments that have passed in Brazil feel like seconds of simply one day or even one dream. So much has fluctuated and changed (from other exchangers, to emotions, to taste, and to my weight gain) to the point that each day is a complete metamorphosis of the next. At the same time, it feels like a blurred painting, not able to see where one stroke ends and another begins.

    The major highlights since my last journal are:
    -First Rotary Project
    -“Passing” the Vestibular
    -The Exchange Dinner of the Rotary Club of Bom Retiro
    -Tibagi Trip

    First Rotary Project
    All of the exchange students living in Curitiba are staying in middle to upper family households with wifi, plumbing, and heated water. In order to expose us to other sides of Brasil, the Rotex of District 4730 arranged a day for us to travel to a “casa lar” (House home); a casa lar is a program relying on donations that takes in and cares for children while families deal with legal matters.

    Our task for the day was to paint the outside of one of the building where the kids stay and the interior walls of the small basketball court. The exchange students spent the sweltering day outside, laughing and sometimes painting each other more than the walls. The kids were shy and stayed in the house for the first hour, but by the end they knew all of us by name. By the time we had to board the bus to return to our homes, they hugged us and the goodbyes were beyond heartbreaking.
    We have an upcoming project in May where we will hopefully return  to the same place.

    “Passing” the Vestibular
    As I mentioned in my previous journal, the third year students spend their entire year studying to pass a single test administered once a year. No do overs, no make ups, if you miss it you need to wait until next November. Each university has it’s own Vestibular and speciality tests (for example, economics, mechanics, medicine, marketing, etc).

    If you’re lucky enough to pass, it’s very traditional to do some rather wacky things, such as draw on your face, or if your a boy, bleach your hair and/or shave it off.   One day, I met some of my third year friends at the mall. When I arrived, they were screaming, dancing, and scribbling drawings on their arms and faces (with black eyeliner). They invited a fellow exchanger and myself to go to PUC-PR (Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Paraná) to celebrate their passing. After some convincing, we let them draw on our faces as well; imagine five overexcited teenagers boarding a bus with colorful faces.

    As soon as we arrived at PUC-PR, we leapt out of the bus, ran past the gates, and into one of the messiest celebrations I’ve ever been. At least 300 people are their friends were outside in the giant truck sprinklers, the mud baths (actual pits of mud everyone runs into), and soapers. Music blasted, screams of “Passei!” or “Eu sou filho de PUC!” filled the air. Eddie and I had told ourselves that we would stay clean and relax on the bleachers while our friends ran through the chaos, but in less than five minutes, we changed our minds and joined them. By the end of the day, we were caked in mud, sweat, and endless smiles.

    When I retuned to my house, my host mother explained her tradition of the “ice bath” after the mud bath, which involved me standing outside while she sprayed me with freezing water from the garden hose (I have pictures to prove it).

    The Dinner

    The Rotary Club of Bom Retiro hosts a beautiful ceremony and an annual dinner for the exchange students, and this year was just as lovely. After singing the Brazilian national anthem, each exchange student was presented in front of friends and family and greeted with warmth. After a few speeches by the District Governor, District Chairman, and some sponsors, the traditional food was served:
    stroganoff with a superabundance of vegetables and a dessert of bananas fried in cinnamon. This was a perfect time to learn more about the Rotaries in District 4730 and their history of hosting exchange students.

    Tibagi Trip

    The Rotex of our district also organized another escapade, this time to Tibagi, a city known for its ecological tourism. Although we had a late start, we arrived just in time to white water raft on Rio Tibagi.
    After the thrill of being doused in the frigid water, lunch was served on a traditional farm consisting of, guess what, rice and beans. Then came the 500 meter trek to one of the most beautiful waterfalls I have ever seen. It is a moment I would never forget, standing in the almost polar water with fellow freezing exchangers, grinning like mad men.

    The next day arrived swiftly after a night of games and relaxing in the farm. Straight after breakfast, we departed to Canyon Guartelá. Despite the aching uphill walk, there was a certain serendipity that filled the air. I don’t know what was more breathtaking, the view or the strength of the rickety porch that was able to support thirty exchange students. Returning to the farm for lunch, we started the path back home, everyone exhausted but content.

    Some smaller, random quirks include the development of the language to the point of I can read Harry Potter, stretch marks, the influx of adventures, and the beauty of blooming flowers. (And I ate raw meat.
    RAW MEAT.)

    Of course this exchange is not a walk through a tea garden, there has been a roller coaster of highs and lows, especially with emotions.

    Halloween was a hard day to get through, but Thanksgiving was better, especially since everyone at school that day brought a surplus of food to celebrate. No matter how alone I was feeling, I’ve always had a support group here and in Florida, pushing me to continue on my bluest days. Every day is a lesson, and through these days, I have became the Indiana Jones of going with the flow. The midpoint of my exchange is nearing and I still can’t convince myself it’s arriving with such velocity.

    I’ve began to understand the meaning of “carpe diem.”

    Until next time, gente, beijos.--


  • Summer, outbound to Brazil

    Here I stand, not knowing whether to be nervous or excited, but I guess this is what they call adventure. 

    As I write this, it has been exactly one month, one week, 8 hours, and 28 minutes since I made the best decision of my life: to board the plane heading to Curitiba, Brasil. When the Rotex were reminding us to savor the time here, I thought they were exaggerating; the time I’ve spent in Brasil feels like days, not a whole month.

    Since that fateful day of July 20th, I have:

    -Met new friends from around the world
    -Started my Brazilian school
    -Gotten lost and found my way out
    -Danced at a music festival
    -Eaten chicken heart, maracujá, brigadeiro, coxinha, quindim, and many other traditional foods
    -Learned (and still learning) to navigate the bus system
    -Visited glorious landmarks such as Jardim Botânico and Rua 24 Horas
    -Gorged at my first churrascaria
    -Cooked a german cake
    -Went to Orientation
    -Traveled to other cities such as Pinhais and Morretes
    -Met and took a selfie with the mayor of Curitiba
    -Partied in a traditional Festa Junina

    I cannot begin to explain how hard it is to describe a new life in words. Since going abroad, I’ve began to notice that life and culture are less about words and more about subtleties, like the constant chatter in our house or the smell of fresh pão de queijo and feijão e arroz. Coming from a relatively small family, it has been a dynamic change to share a house with four family members. When I stepped off the plane, I had not expected my family, extended included, to be so grand.

    Being the only American in my school, the questions have ranged from, “What do you think of Obama?” to “Can you twerk?” The best adjective I can use to describe my first few days in school is chaotic.

    As for the school functions, my classes start at 7:20 (more or less) and end at 12:35. Each day, we have 6 different classes that rotate throughout the week with a 10 minute break in-between the 3rd and 4th. My classes include Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Philosophy, History, Math, English, Portugese, and Physical Education. I am a second in Ensino Medio; there are a total of 3 years, unlike the American 4 year style. The first and second year classes are more relaxed while the 3rd year class is much more intense since they are studying for the Vestibular, a test taken at the end of their school year in November. Each year is divided into letters, for example 1A. My class name is 1B and my class number is 44. Classes here don’t stay in a single classroom, instead they rotate into other classrooms as a whole.

    As for the food, it is more gostoso than you can imagine; a few of my favorites include pão de queijo, brigadeiro, pão de batata, but the fruit here takes the cake of being the freshest and most mouth watering temptations. My bus stop is right in front of a fruteria, a shop that sells fruit, vegetables, and grains, so almost everyday I’m eating fresh fruit. I have yet to try açai berries but they're next on my list.

    Coming from a vegetarian household, eating meat was a huge step. I have tried chicken (not just the heart), beef, fish, and so my next stop is pork. I have to say, they were all delicious. I am excited to try more foods as my time continues. Another meaty meal I’m looking forward to is Barreado, a creamy meat served with bananas from Paraná.

    Each day is an adventure that claws at your curtains with the sun and chases you around until you’re absolutely insane and sleeping, only to greet you again the next day. What I have noticed is that the more I think, the quicker this exchange is going to be. That can be misinterpreted but already, it’s been almost two weeks since our first meeting yet the exchange students have already bonded. Time is flying and slipping past my fingers like water.

    Here I stand, not knowing whether to be nervous or excited, but I guess this is what they call adventure.


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