Marcela, outbound to Brazil

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So currently here in Belo Horizonte it is 00:34 in the morning, the 14th of November 2016 (yes they use 24 hour time in Brazil) and I was sitting here thinking the same thing I know many of the other exchange students find themselves thinking at one point or another... where the heck did the time go??? My 100th day here just passed last week and here I am thinking I have only been here a month. And also, my 100th day has passed and I still haven't journaled...whoops. But better late than never right? Also since I know I am bad with journaling, be prepared to read a lot because who knows when the next time I write will be...

First I should start by saying that I am in love with the people of Brazil. Everyone is so open and funny and kind. And that was the first thing I learned about Brazil. I don't ever think I have felt uncomfortable, everyone is so receptive and welcoming. So here is my first memory in Brazil: My host brother and his cousin struggle to shove my two *embarrassingly heavy* suitcases into my host moms small SUV. On the inside I was dying of embarrassment thinking, "Really Marcela? Why did you pack so much you idiot?" (BTW for the people coming to Brazil the clothes are expensive, so looking back I am glad I brought all those things). But anyway, my host brother and cousin just made a joke and then another joke, and then asked me about myself and my city, and I asked them and my host mom questions, and we talked about music and bad words in each others language, and then we joked some more, and before I knew it I felt like I had known these people my whole life. They made me feel like I was a part of the family from the first day, and the bond I have with them will last a life time. And that is what exchange means to me.

In the first month I was here I got accustomed to my house and city. I settled fairly easily into my routine of waking up around 10 am (5:40 am once school started) eating a small breakfast of bread and coffee. Everyday I come back home around 1 pm to "almoçar" with my family. I love lunch time because in Brazil it is the biggest meal of the day. Usually you come home and your mom makes you a home-cooked meal and then after it is nap time (the best time of the day).

School here is interesting to say the least. Completely opposite than schools in the U.S. Instead of moving around to classes, I stay in the same class all day and the teachers come. And speaking of teachers, I have a whopping 14 subjects. Of course in order to fit in all these subjects within a 7:15-12:45 school day we have a block schedule with 6 different classes each day and a 30 minute break. And the students are awesome/wild. At first I felt a little bad for the teachers because the students are constantly talking and screaming across the room, or even sleeping. But I soon realized that this was normal and to just hop on board.

But moving on, outside of school I have done so many things here. My second week here in Belo Horizonte I went to the 2016 Olympics. And I have got to say, it was one of the coolest moments in my life. In my city, we have the Mineirão stadium; otherwise known as the stadium where the 2014 World Cup was held, and also where some soccer matches were held in the Summer 2016 Olympics. I attended the men’s quarter final match of Honduras vs. South Korea, and it was so awesome. Honduras ended up winning 1-0, making it a very long and nail-bitting match. Since then, I have been to another soccer match, but in another stadium here in the city. In my state of Minas Gerais (well actually all of Brazil), they take soccer very seriously. The two main teams are Cruzeiro and Atlético Mineiro. And who you root for makes a big deal around here. If you like Galo (atlético) and your friends like Cruziero, you better be ready for some good old fashioned arguing. But in a funn y way, no worries. I am, of course, all for Galo. Which is the match I attended on Brazil’s independence day, with them playing against another team who I’ve already forgotten, but the point is Galo won and it was awesome being in the crowd of the most happiest and loudest people in the world.

I have also visited two different towns, both equally small and quaint; Ipoema and Serra de Moeda. In Ipoema, I spent the weekend with my Rotary Club and we went hiking to a breathe-taking waterfall, and we went to the top of the highest mountain in the area to a church called Morro Redondo, and we went to a country dancing festival. The town was so small that you could walk around the whole thing in about 40 minutes. I would have to say my favorite memory of exchange was at this little town that I fell in love with. The fresh country air, the curious gazes from the townspeople, the authentic food, the dancing and singing in the streets, and that at times I would see more stray dogs than people in the streets. In Serra de Moeda, I spent the weekend at my inbound orientation. There we also went hiking and explored mining caves and walked the same paths slave miners created hundreds of years ago. The thing about the state that I live in, is that it is full of mountains. And in these mo untains they have mines. Hence the meaning of the name of my state, Minas Gerais(General Mines). Because of this, there are many beautiful landscapes of mountains and waterfalls. And going hiking here is a dream. You feel like you are on top of the world, even in my city of Belo Horizonte. The streets are so steep that sometimes the cars have trouble driving up them. But that is my favorite part, especially coming from Florida where some parts are under sea-level…

I should start wrapping things up because I knew I would write too much. Ok so besides these big events, let me list quickly the normal places and things I do/visit. I like to go to the mall or cinema with friends, or talk over a bowl of açaí, or go to the park or museums. I love going to churrascos (barbecues) because, seriously, Brazilian food is phenomenal. I love going to the gym or taking my dogs for walks. I love going to the grocery store with my host mom or going to the central market or the hippie fair every weekend.I love looking at the beautiful graffiti art scattered all over the city. I love sleeping over my friends country homes. I loved spending halloween here with my friends. I love going to Lagoa da Pampulha on the weekends and getting a coconut to drink. I love being able to take the bus or walk wherever I want even though sometimes it takes up to an hour. I love talking with Brazilians and meeting new people. I love living in the center of the 6th lar gest city in Brazil. But most of all I love every single minute spent here. It is nothing like I ever could've expected but it is also everything that I have ever wanted. I can’t imagine me spending my exchange anywhere else in the world. This is just the beginning, day 106 actually, and I am already dreading for the year to come to an end. But until next time...