I’m currently sitting on the top floor balcony of my apartment building, overlooking a city in the mountains. I am surrounded by strangers who turned into family, understanding a language I never could have imagined being able to learn. It’s night time here right now and the whole city is beautifully lit up with dancing lights, for as far as I can see. There is probably over 50 family members and friends gathered together here for a “small weekend get together” I smell the most amazing food on the grill cooking and I already know it’s so amazing because the family is making a Churrasco, which is Portuguese for a barbecue.
It’s already almost time for me to go back to the United States. It has been seven months since I left the United States to live for a year in Brazil. It might have been seven months but it really only feels like seven seconds.
Fast forward to the day I arrived in Brazil it was August 1, a day I will never forget. At the airport I was a nervous mess, I was alone and in foreign country for the first time. I got off the plane and then the time just passed so quickly from there. I was greeted by over 15 people holding up signs and yelling my name. It was the most warm and indescribable feeling I have ever felt, but it only got better from there ....
If I could describe the Brazilian way of life I would say laid back. I immediately noticed how relaxed and friendly everyone was.
This made for a very easy transition into a very different life.
I have been very fortunate to have such awesome host families. My first host family took me to Rio de Janeiro four times in four months. Rio de Janeiro is what everyone dreams it will be, but even better then that, much better actually. I couldent believe my eyes when I first arrived there. The atmosphere is like that of no other. You can’t walk without stopping to take in all the things going on at once. It’s something you would have to see to believe!!
I have been able to travel to many different beautiful cities in my state ( Minas Gerais ). I have had the opportunity also to travel to Rio and the northeast of Brazil which includes Bahia, Salvador, Porto Seguro, Victoria, etc. All these cities are unique and different in many ways. I am also looking forward to taking a boat down the amazon river in May!
The food in Brazil varies also depending on which region you go to , but no matter where you are it’s guaranteed to be amazing.
Lunch is the biggest meal of the day here followed by breakfast and then dinner. The food is so much healthier and very fresh. A typical lunch here includes rice, beans, meat and salad, eaten with many other things as well.
My favorite food here by far is Acai. It’s a superfruit, that comes from the Amazon jungle.
I admire the culture in Brazil. People are so open and friendly. People here seem to have much deeper connections and relationships with family and friends and this I admire so much.
The time I have spent so far in Brazil I know will come to an end one day. Maybe that’s the reason I put off writing this journal for so long, is because I don’t want to remind myself that I am only here for a year. I have truly fallen in love with this country, this city, my Brazilian friends and family, the culture and my life here. No words can describe what it’s truly like to live abroad for a year until you do it yourself. The ups and the downs and everything in between is all worth it. I have changed in so many ways and have grown so much as a person so far. I can’t thank the Rotary enough for this amazing experience, because without them none of this would be possible. Rotary has been able to open my eyes to a world beyond what I could haven imagined. Brazil has a permanent place in my heart and one day I want to live here. I realized the importance of communication and family and friends. I have made memories , family and friends that will last a lifetime. When I look at a map and see Brazil now , not only do I just see a country, I see my second home.
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