Nouni, Outbound to Brazil

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I truly believe that you can never be sad when around a Brazilian. Today symbolizes my two months in this under appreciated country that I have grown to love. My exchange started off bumpy, seeing that I left my home city at 8pm on a Monday and got to my host city at 2am on a Wednesday. I had some trouble with my luggage and ended up losing my connection and having to take a taxi to another airport where I lost that connection as well and had to book another flight to a different city because they didn't have anymore flights to my city that day which was another 7 hours wait. In addition to all this barely anyone understood yet spoke English and I couldn't contact my host family because I had an American line. Despite the emotional turmoil I appreciate everything that happened to me because I learned how to deal with an extremely stressful situation.

It's been two months living in the northeast of Brazil in a small city called Joao Pessoa but I feel like I've lived here and known these people my entire life. I was welcomed with open arms wherever I went and greeted with friendly kisses and warm hugs from strangers that soon became my friends and family. I would have never imagined to be welcomed so lovingly and taken into someone's home so easily. At first I hated the thought of going to college where not a single person spoke English but despite the language barrier, I found all my classmates coming to my aid without me even asking for help. I'm not going to lie, not understanding the language of the country you're living in is extremely difficult and frustrating especially when you can't communicate with the people around you. I was very hesitant to speak Portuguese my first month because I had my host sister living with us and she translated for me and was my voice. However, she left for exchange to Poland at the end of my first month and it was heartbreaking because I never thought I'd get close to someone so fast. However it was also beneficial to my language acquisition because i was forced to have to speak and understand everything. I will full heartedly tell you that your exchange is what you make it and how fast you master your host language is solely up to you. You can find people who speak English in your city but you can also choose to practice your host language despite how much more difficult it is.

I later joined a neighborhood swimming team at a place called "Villa Olímpica" where only one person and I mean one person spoke English. She is a past exchange student who went to Ohio and I am so grateful for her because sometimes you need an aid to explain the people, culture, and surroundings of your host country. Excluding her no one else on my team speaks English and my practices are completely in Portuguese which was EXTREMELY confusing at first. I expected to solely learn a language but I have fallen in love with Brazilian people and their culture and I have learned so much from the people I have meant from around the world. I have listened and learned to love German rap, watched Korean soap operas, learned a Finnish cultural dance, and most importantly started to love Brazilian music despite the fact that I hated it before my exchange.

If you're reading this and you're thinking of doing exchange do it because it is a once in a lifetime experience to live a completely different life. If you end up going to Brazil you will be loved unconditionally, invited to random people's birthday parties (there are so many), eat the best food, and learn how to dance to any music.