Hannah Goldfarb

 Brazil

Hometown: Fort Myers, Florida
School: Salem Academy
Sponsor District : District 6960
Sponsor Club: , Florida
Host District: 4760
Host Club: The Rotary Club of Santo Agostinho


My Bio


The name’s Hannah. Hannah Susanna. And Hannah Susanna is officially going to Brazil! I was born and raised in Fort Myers, Florida, where I have had the pleasure of spending much of my life. At 13 I was given the opportunity to attend Salem Academy, where I have gladly been since. I am heavily involved with the arts, taking on projects as a painter, drawer, and sometimes a photographer. I adore history and politics. I've interned multiple times with the Holocaust Museum & Education Center of SWFL, which led to a human rights project abroad. To go a bit further, I love foreign policy and cooperation (or understanding) between countries, resulting in many Model UN conferences, where I have had the pleasure of representing the countries of Egypt, Australia, and the United States! I am eager, excited (and a little scared) to represent the United States once again, this time in the real world. I cannot wait for the incredible people I’ll meet, the food (of course), the language, and all of the memories, good and bad, that will come over the next year. I cannot wait to be in Brazil absorbing bits and pieces of a culture I know I’ll one day consider my own. Well, you know how it goes. Até breve! Happy trails to you! Tchau!

	 My room, which I love

My room, which I love

	 “A Brief History of the 20th Century,” given to me by minha mãe

“A Brief History of the 20th Century,” given to me by minha mãe

	 The view from the back seat of the car. The number of buildings is insane

The view from the back seat of the car. The number of buildings is insane

	 A sign on our porch that reads: “In life, I don’t want much, I only want to know that I tried everything I wanted, I had everything I could, I loved everything that mattered, and I only lost what was never mine”

A sign on our porch that reads: “In life, I don’t want much, I only want to know that I tried everything I wanted, I had everything I could, I loved everything that mattered, and I only lost what was never mine”

	 Meus pais

Meus pais

	 My US family and I moments before departure

My US family and I moments before departure

Food from our informal school potluck

Food from our informal school potluck

	 My classmate Izabela and me

My classmate Izabela and me

A page from a textbook discussing Brazilian politics.

A page from a textbook discussing Brazilian politics.

	 Notes from Chemistry class. Barely anyone takes notes and technically I don’t need to, but I figured it’s a good way to learn.

Notes from Chemistry class. Barely anyone takes notes and technically I don’t need to, but I figured it’s a good way to learn.

  • Hannah, Outbound to Brazil

    Click HERE to read about Hannah and all her blogs

    If you’ve seen Mean Girls, I’m sure you’re familiar with the following (cliché) exchange:

    “I like math Damien”

    “Ew why Cady”

    “Because it’s the same in every country”

    Now, I still hate math, as has been confirmed by the last two days of class, but the principle is the same: being an exchange student is hard.

    I’ve gone to school with exchange students for the last four years. We’ve had people from all over: China and Spain, Korea and Brazil, Ghana and Albania. Despite this, I never understood what they were going through. My friend from Ghana, Adwoa, said she cried the first few days and hated things, and I can understand why. It’s hard to transition from one school to another, but especially a school with completely different customs from the previous one.

    My transition period has been difficult, but it could be much worse.

    I am one of four exchange students in my class of about 25 people. Besides me, there’s Alberto from Taiwan, Camilla from Italy, Andy from Colorado. I was very relieved to have another student from the US in my class.

    My school is called Coleguium and it is bilingual. In this aspect, I’m both lucky and cursed. It’s nice to be able to understand things, as other students can help when I don’t follow a conversation, but it also means it’s easier for me to avoid speaking Portuguese at school. So far, all of my classes have been in Portuguese, which I like a lot.

    I have a much harder time understanding students when they speak. They tend to speak all at once, very loudly and quickly, so the words and sentences blend together more than in any other situation I’ve been in. For this reason (and the fact I can never hear), I almost never know what they’re saying.

    Here are some basic differences between my Brazilian school and US school:

    Students stay in one class and teachers rotate around each period.

    It’s appropriate for students and teachers to curse or be vulgar around each other.

    There is no lunch at school, but there is a cafeteria open all day for students to buy food during breaks.

    There is about five minutes between each class and then an extended break, which lasts about 20 minutes.

    The school is literally in the middle of the city. From the top of the building, where PE takes place and where students go during breaks, you can see a lot of buildings around. It is very beautiful.

    All of my teachers are very young. I’d say the oldest is only in her 40s.

    Most classes don’t have homework (yet, at least) and if they do, it’s relatively short. (Tonight’s is 10 math questions)

    It’s acceptable for students to not pay attention at all, which is a bit of a shock coming from Salem where we stand when a teacher enters the room, never talk when the teacher is, and get woken up if we sleep.

    My classmates are very friendly and generous. They always share their books with me and take me with them when they leave the classroom, although I’m sure I contribute nothing of substance to their days (yet).

    There’s a girl named Izabela in my class who has taken me under her wing. She is very good at English and helps translate some words in lessons (like “fixo,” which refers to the Axis powers in WWII) or just translation in general. She’s also helped me with grammar a lot. Today her and another boy helped me say the alphabet, which will be vital to understanding better and also being able to pronounce things the right way.

    Yesterday, they were talking about what foods they should bring to school today for the exchange students to try. During our break today, we had a little pot luck of food. They brought typical Brazilian snacks and I brought some American candy.

    As I mentioned before, I still hate math and don’t care much for science either, but I still like the classes here. When the teachers use powerpoints or write on the board, I can understand what they’re talking about pretty well.

    So far, I really enjoy literature, history, and geography, although literature was a little difficult for me to understand. I’m eager for the day I can analyze Portuguese literature without having to translate so frequently.

    A lot of exchange students hate school or wish they could go on exchange and not go to school, but it’s actually one of my favorite parts of the day. I enjoy getting to know the culture and way of life through the students. I also get exposed to some really interesting content. Today Izabela showed me a portion of the textbook which talks about Brazilian politics. I learned about it a little bit when I was in Argentina from my Juans (I miss you guys) but I’m hoping it’s covered in some of my classes. As I mentioned in my last post, politics are getting a lot of attention in Brazil. This is probably the most interesting topic to me.

    I’ve always loved school. If I could, I would go to school in every country. I think going to school just makes you that much more intimate with the culture.

  • Hannah, Outbound to Brazil

    Click HERE to read more about Hannah and all her blogs 

    Before I came to Brazil, I didn’t know what to expect. People told me about the friendliness of the people and the wonderful food and certain songs that may or may not be relevant anymore, but of course hearing about something and experiencing something is always completely different.

    My first “exchange” moment happened on the plane. I was so nervous. My hands were sweating. I was worried my insufficient Portuguese would get me in trouble (it has, mildly) and my host parents wouldn’t like me for some reason, or something stupid. Welcome to Hannah’s mind! The flight attendant was making rounds. If you’ve ever been on an international flight, they tend to speak the language of the country you’re going to. The flight attendant asked me “frango ou massa” (chicken or pasta) which I knew from Duolingo but my anxiety hindered my understanding. Without even attempting to listen or make out the words , I turned to my neighbor. I’m sure I was white as a ghost and looked like a deer in a headlights. After replaying the moment about twenty times in my head, I finally relaxed and thought about it. I did, in fact, know what he was saying. Had I just relaxed, I could have easily answered the question. So it goes.

    After that cringy situation, I arrived to Belo Horizonte, my city, on Tuesday August 8 at 8 am. I was met by my wonderful pais with a lovely sign!

    I was immediately taken aback by how beautiful the city is. It is much bigger than I thought it would be. Buildings extend on forever and when you’re driving you get glimpses out over the entire city. The city is also surrounded by mountains. That’s why it’s called “Belo Horizonte” (Beautiful Horizon).

    My host parents are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met.

    Meu pai is a graphic designer. Since the moment I met him, he emphasized how much he loves America and wants to learn English. His english is very good but he wants it to be perfect. I told him if he teaches me the rules of Portuguese, I’ll help him with his English. He intends to go to the United States one day, where he wants to go to Florida, California, and New York.

    Minha mãe owns a women’s fashion store. It is incredible. Everything is hand made. The dresses have intricate designs. Everyone there is very nice to me, although I can’t always follow the conversation. There’s a man who works there named Ander and he speaks Spanish, so we were able to communicate.

    I spend most of my time with minha mãe. She is one of the most patient people I’ve ever met. Yesterday after school my brain was fried and around 4 it just shut off. There was a period of four hours where I understood nothing the first time, yet she remained calm and continued to rephrase and explain the meaning of words.

    Some of my favorite moments thus far have been with minha mãe. She actually reminds me a lot of my mom in the United States. She is very religious. In her office at work she has at least seven pictures of Jesus, Mary, and various saints. I personally am not and have never been a religious person, but I envy her devotion to God and the values she upholds.

    We talk a lot about religion, politics, and government. She aligns with Brazil’s conservative values. In the past year, I’ve been called a communist or socialist more times than you count, so I tend to be extremely liberal all around. Although we have very different beliefs, it has been really nice to hear her ideas. Once I get a better grasp on the language, I’d like to ask her more questions about Brazil’s previous leaders, her opinions on current events, ect. Now is a very important time for Brazil because recently there’s been a lot of corruption in the government. It will be interesting to see how they move forward. I very much look forward to the day I can contribute more than a few sentences to a conversation about this topic.

    Because I’m interested in this general topic, minha mãe gave me a book to read about the history of the 20th century entirely in Portuguese. To my surprise, I understand pretty well when I’m reading, although it takes me a lot longer to read.

    Regarding language, here comes the classic line: I wish I had studied more. It’s difficult to remember things because I learn much better in a classroom setting and I’ve never had formal training in Portuguese. Portuguese is written like Spanish but when you speak, the pronunciation of words is VERY different, so it is hard for me to determine when a word begins and ends in a sentence. I attribute much of my confusion to this. When I do understand, I can’t form complete (correct) sentences in Portuguese yet when speaking, so I tend to fall back on my Spanish.

    Despite the confusion, I am so glad I decided to experience this. I am grateful to be here. Thank you to everyone who contributed in making this a reality. This is already one of the best experiences of my life.

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