Nouni Nasser

 Brazil

Hometown: Lake Mary, Florida
School: Lake Mary
Sponsor District : District 6980
Sponsor Club: Lake Mary, Florida
Host District: 4500
Host Club: The Rotary Club of João Pessoa Norte


My Bio


Oi, meu nome é Nourhan Nasser. I live in Lake Mary, Florida and I'm going to be an exchange student in Brazil. I moved to the United States about four years ago from a tiny country called Lebanon. I am the youngest of three children and currently live with my mother and sister. My father and brother live back in Lebanon where my family is. I am a very extroverted and loud person and I enjoy hanging out with my friends in my spare time. I am very involved in school academics and extracurricular activities. I am a four year varsity waterpolo player and swimmer and a member of National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, Art Appreciation, and the Biology and Medicine Club. I also currently have two part time jobs; working at Chikfila and my family's pizzeria. I have always been interested in learning about different cultures and languages because I am bicultural and have always wanted to expand my horizons. By learning a new language I will be able to experience a completely different way of life and become exposed to a different perspective of the world and Brazilian culture. I am going into this program with only what I have learned online and from other people but I can't wait to actually experience everything firsthand. I am so thankful to Rotary for allowing me to embark on this once in a lifetime experience and life journey.

The exchange student in my city (1 German, 1 Slovakian, 2 Finnish, 1 Taiwanese).

The exchange student in my city (1 German, 1 Slovakian, 2 Finnish, 1 Taiwanese).

Some of the exchange students in my Norbrex district during our orientation weekend in one of the most beautiful places I've ever been.

Some of the exchange students in my Norbrex district during our orientation weekend in one of the most beautiful places I've ever been.

Meeting my host family at the Recife airport.

Meeting my host family at the Recife airport.

A very common looking dish. We almost have rice and beans with chicken or beef for lunch everyday.

A very common looking dish. We almost have rice and beans with chicken or beef for lunch everyday.

Inbound orientation meeting at Maragogi.

Inbound orientation meeting at Maragogi.

Some of the kids on my swim team took me on my first beach day in my city.

Some of the kids on my swim team took me on my first beach day in my city.

A college field trip to Instituto Ricardo Brennand.

A college field trip to Instituto Ricardo Brennand.

One of the manyyy beaches surrounding my city. They are all so unique and breathtaking.

One of the manyyy beaches surrounding my city. They are all so unique and breathtaking.

Journals: Nouni-Brazil Blog 2017-18

  • Nouni, Outbound to Brazil

    Major Events:

    Swim meet: Got to travel to another city with my team for 4 days. To any future outbounds, I highly recommend becoming involved in a sport or an activity because it gives you the chance to make a bunch of new friends who you share a common interest with.

    Beach swim relay: Each relay consists of people from all ages, starting from pre-teens to master swimmers so its a lot of fun because everyone gets to meet new people and cheer them on. Since my city is on the beach, my team started to organize different swim events at the beach to keep everyone involved and engaged.

    Summer Concerts: AMAZING.. I never thought I would fall in love with Portuguese music given the fact I hated it before leaving. Saw all my favorite Brazilian artists and actually cried at one of the concerts.

    RIO: Best travel ever! One of the most beautiful places i have ever visited in my life. Going into Rio I was actually really scared because ever since before my exchange everyone has been warning me about how dangerous the city is. Thankfully i had a very smooth experience there. It actually super funny to hear the different accent they have in different regions in Brazil and the different jargon they use. You can 9/10 times guess where someone is from in Brazil based on their accents and even the exchange students are able to notice the difference.

    Christmas: Spent Xmas day visiting family and ended with Christmas dinner at my exchange students house with her family and mine. X-mas dinner started at 11 PM ! I was starving hahahaha. Christmas really depends on your family more than your host country. My Brazilian Christmas experience was completely different from other exchange students in Brazil, let alone form the other exchange students in my city. This is also an important time to remember that everyone's exchange is different and you shouldn't compare your exchange to others.

    Rotary Christmas Celebration: Rotary organized a Xmas weekend with all the exchange students in my multi-district. Left the hotel in the morning, rode buggies everywhere around the city, visited historic monuments, went to beach via ferry, watched the sunset on a boat, and came back for a Xmas dinner with gift exchanges and give aways.

    New Years: Best new years celebration ever. Beach followed by a concert (More about this below) I want to spend every single New Years Eve in Brazil.

    Family change: Who knew that leaving a bunch of strangers would be so hard? Changing families was one of the most heartbreaking parts of my exchange so far. I've created a certain type of relationship with this family that is hard to explain. Like family lunches on Saturdays at grandmas house ending with everyone singing and dancing and telling jokes. I became really close with my host mom's family especially with my cousin and my mom's twin sister and her younger brother and his family and of course his wife who is absolutely insane and one of the funniest people I've met on this exchange. So the day before switching families I packed up all my stuff and we put everything in the car and head out to grandmas for a farewell lunch with my favorite meal. The afternoon ended with a full stomach and a bunch of hugs and kisses saying goodbye to everyone. It was very difficult and I was very reluctant to change but I ended up liking my new family a lot. At first I was frustrated with Rotary for making us do this and change families. I spent my first five months with my first host family and truly became part of the family. I truly believe that they will always be my family. However, I honestly believe that family changes allow you to experience a lot more from your exchange because it forces you to step outside your comfort zone even more than you already are. My first family reunion with my new family i was so nervous and wouldn't talk to anyone because there were around 50 family members. However, I got to meet my host cousin who is around the same age as me and her friends who are practically family. So changing into this family allowed me to become really close friends with around 8 girls all my age who I started going out and having game nights with. Another positive to changing host families is host siblings. I come from a family of 4 kids and I am the youngest so I was really excited when i found out that I was going to have younger host siblings in 2 of my families. So far I have loved being an older sibling, it's something i have always wanted to experience. I became really close with my 9 year old brother; he helped me improve my Portuguese more than most people I have met on my exchange by listening to Brazilian music with him and singing along during car rides. Its the small things in my exchange that i am beyond grateful for.

    DECEMBER CHRISTMAS

    As Exchange students ROTARY prepares us for the year ahead by explaining the different stages an exchange student goes through throughout the year. So going into December I was a little bit nervous because of feeling homesick during the Christmas holiday and missing New Year's tradition. However December was by far my best month so far. Learning about a new culture doesn't mean you have to let go of your old one. Around the third month of my exchange my host parents decided to get a divorce and given the fact that my host mom's parents were divorced my Christmas was a lot of jumping around. It was mainly me, my host mom, and my nine-year-old host brother and we went to different houses and congratulated everyone before going to another exchange student's house to celebrate Christmas with her family. It wasn't the traditional Brasilian Christmas but it was one to remember and I'm glad I got to experience something different this year.

    NEW YEARS EVE

    This New Years Eve was by far the best New Year's eve I've ever had. I actually never want to spend another New Year's eve outside of Brazil. Brasilians really enjoy celebrating New Year's eve and have several free concerts on the beaches, which everyone goes to and usually leaves around 5am in the morning. Spent the day at the beach with my family and my exchange friend, then i spent the rest of the day with my swim mates, and for the count down the five exchange students in my city met up at the beach to celebrate together. It's so simple but so perfect at the same time. New Years in Brasil is something else. I'm completely in love with the Brasilian tradition of wearing white for New Years as a symbol of peace and happiness. They also have a superstition on the color of underwear you wear on this day in which each color represents a resolution for the new year; like pink is for romance and yellow is for money. Another superstition is jumping seven waves at the beach and making a wish for each. We ended the year at the beach with friends and family and we got a panoramic view of all the fireworks going off in my city. Finally ended the night at a New Years concert and got home around 5am. I am beyond blessed to be on this exchange and cant thank the people who made this possible and keep making this possible enough.

    I am completely satisfied with how my exchange has been so far. I was sad that I had to change families but I feel like it was for the best because this family fits me just as well as the other family did. Playing dominoes till 4 AM with my host parents and host brothers, crazy competitive monopoly games until 2 AM that end up with my younger brother cheating and stealing the money out of the bank and hiding the houses, sunrise watching every morning that end up with the best grilled cheese sandwiches. I'm around halfway or a little bit more than halfway through my exchange and I couldn't have asked for anything different it has actually been better than I even imagined. All the little stuff make it so much better and make me proud to be the person I am today.

    Click HERE to read more about Nouni and all here blogs

  • Nouni, Outbound to Brazil

    100 DAYS

    I can not believe how fast this exchange is passing by and how fast I'm learning my host language. Within 100 days of living in Brazil I have achieved a level of fluency that allows me to smoothly communicate and understand what is going on around me. Exchange truly brings out the true version of yourself because you get the chance to start with a blank slate with whatever version of yourself you choose to be. I have had crazy and adventurous days that will always be imprinted in my memories and bring a smile to my face but I have also had many normal days that have made my exchange what it is. Moments like sitting in the kitchen with my host mom and having a conversation about my day or car rides with my Brazilian best friend that always end up with us eating Acai or the sing alongs after family lunches at grandmas house that bring the entire family together. These are moments that have molded me into a different person, into a happier person, into a Brazilian by heart.

    A part of exchange is making mistakes and bursting into laughter days or months later after remembering what you've done. At first I was afraid to speak my host language in fear of messing up and being made fun of but after I started communicating with people, no matter how wrong my grammar was, I started to make stronger connections with people and they genuinely wanted to help me learn their language. Very common exchange student things is mixing up similar sounding words. This one time after practice my teammates and I decided to get some Acai and as I was ordering mine I asked for "leite em pau" instead of "leite em po". "Pau" is the Portuguese word for penis, so you can see where that went. Another time I tried asking my guy friend for a ride home which is "carona" but I asked if he could give me a "carinho" which is "affection" in Portuguese. Of course at the moment I was confused and my face turned red but these are all memorable moments I will always remember and laugh at.

    I full heartedly believe that your exchange is what you make it out to be. Starting with how close you get with your host family, to how hard you try to speak your host language, to the extracurricular activities you participate in. The fact that my host mom knows exactly what I'm thinking without me saying anything shows how close we have gotten in the past 100 days. The mere thought of leaving my first host family brings tears to my eyes. You can live in the same city as another exchange student, with the same family, go to the same school and still have a completely different exchange. I am lucky enough to have made many Brazilian friends from various background that have all taught me various different aspects of Brazilian life. I look forward to seeing where this exchange takes me.

    Click HERE to read more about Nouni and all her blogs

  • Nouni, Outbound to Brazil

    Click HERE to read more about Nouni and all her blogs

    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.

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