Veronika Suyupova

Brazil

Hometown: Saint Petersburg, Florida
School: Saint Petersburg Collegiate High School
Sponsor District : District 6950
Sponsor Club: Rotary Club of St. Petersburg, Florida
Host District: 4760
Host Club: The Rotary Club of Paracatu


My Bio

Olá! My name is Veronika Suyupova. I am 18 years old, and currently a senior at Saint Petersburg Collegiate High School. I am beyond excited to travel abroad to Brazil for the whole year! I was born in Volgograd, Russia, and moved to Saint Petersburg, Florida when I was 9. I have already undergone one culture shock when I first moved here but I adapted fairly quickly because I was still pretty young. I have learned to make connections with diverse populations and adapt to different environments from having to constantly move; however, my experiences have made me appreciate the world around even more for its various cultures and languages. I love my family for being my biggest supporters and helping me throughout my journey. After school, I plan on applying to the University of Florida and majoring in World Languages and Literature, along with Psychology. For my hobbies, I like to ballroom dance, rock climb, and spend time with my friends by going on road trips or simply exploring our own little city's coffee shops and boutiques. I love traveling and meeting new people. Every person has their own story and experiences of enlightenment so I really appreciate making small talk with them about their origin or any life-changing occurrences. I am very fortunate to participate in such a powerful organization which will allow me to meet new people, make lifelong friends, and get close to people who I will call my second family. I can’t wait for this year abroad to bring me new challenges and experiences, a whole new language, and unforgettable memories!

First Day of School

First Day of School

Arrived in Brazil

Arrived in Brazil

CrossFit Family

CrossFit Family

Waterfall in Paracatu

Waterfall in Paracatu

First Orientation in BH

First Orientation in BH

First Rotary Meeting

First Rotary Meeting

My Family in Ouro Preto

My Family in Ouro Preto

All the Inbound Students From US

All the Inbound Students From US

My favorite senior year class threw a picnic at a pool for their graduation!

My favorite senior year class threw a picnic at a pool for their graduation!

One of the waterfalls in Pirenopolis

One of the waterfalls in Pirenopolis

Enjoying the Brazilian beaches, currently in Ilhabela

Enjoying the Brazilian beaches, currently in Ilhabela

	 Like I wrote in my 3 months blog, the weather in Campos do Jordao was in the forties and all I brought with me was one thin jacket!

Like I wrote in my 3 months blog, the weather in Campos do Jordao was in the forties and all I brought with me was one thin jacket!

The Swiss/German town called Campos do Jordao. Now don't tell me that doesn't look like Europe.

The Swiss/German town called Campos do Jordao. Now don't tell me that doesn't look like Europe.

Wedding in Sao Paulo! Was truly a wonderful night where I got to be in my element because Brazilians think I'm Japanese.

Wedding in Sao Paulo! Was truly a wonderful night where I got to be in my element because Brazilians think I'm Japanese.

My best friend in Brazil, Alexa, an exchange student from Mexico!

My best friend in Brazil, Alexa, an exchange student from Mexico!

Observing the turtles hatch!

Observing the turtles hatch!

Christmas on the beach was a SUCCESS!

Christmas on the beach was a SUCCESS!

All of the inbound students enjoying our second orientation which was held in Ouro Preto, MG

All of the inbound students enjoying our second orientation which was held in Ouro Preto, MG

My second family and I in Salvador celebrating Christmas and touring the city

My second family and I in Salvador celebrating Christmas and touring the city

Journals: Veronika-Brazil Blog 2018-19

  • Veronika, Outbound to Brazil

    The school year has come to an end… that means it’s time for SUMMER BREAK! This month was filled with so many end of the year festivities, parties, and of course… graduation! Although throughout the entirety of this school year I did almost nothing (besides doodle and use class time to write down all of my experiences in my notebook instead of taking notes) I did get to make some friends from school who helped me navigate through my first four months here and accept me for who I am. Some of them read my blogs, so shout out to you guys for being there for me when I felt like I had no one. Graduations here are definitely different from the ones at home, speaking from personal experience being a high school graduate student before arriving here, because the after party (“Prom”) here is a family event. The school provides dinner at a beautiful venue after graduation and gathers together all of the graduating students and their families for a long night of dancing and partying.

    So soon after that, in the month of December, right after our second inbound orientation that took place in the historic city of Ouro Preto, I switched my host families. I would describe this as one of the most exciting yet bittersweet moments you will get to experience. It hurt to leave my first host family because they were the ones who helped me get on my feet since the day I landed in Brasilia, yet I was thrilled to move into one of my school friend’s house who just got back from her exchange in Alaska. It didn’t feel weird transitioning from one house to the other because I knew that I will still get to see my other host family since we live in the same city.

    My second host family, the “Pois é” family, has already brought me so much joy into my life, we even have our own inside jokes already. I don’t pass a day here upset or homesick because they always make sure to include me in anything it is that they’re doing. With them, we have already been through everything from lighthearted conversations to tears and more serious topics like the politics and the environment. They were kind enough to invite me on a trip to Salvador, the capital of Brazil’s state of Bahia known for its “Portuguese colonial architecture, Afro-Brazilian culture and a tropical coastline”. This trip has really helped bring us closer together in the first two weeks and everyone felt more accustomed to each other and their habits. During this nine-day trip, we have traveled to different parts of Bahia, one of them being Praia do Forte where not only did we get to enjoy actual paradise, but also learn from Projeto TAMAR, a nonprofit organization to protect sea turtles from extinction in the Brazilian coastlines. Bahia receives 4/5 species of turtles that nest on the Brazilian coasts: leatherback, green, olive ridley, loggerhead, and hawksbill, and the project helps the turtles reproduce, as well as, inform the citizens about the importance of preserving our oceans and the marine life (LIKE NOT USING PLASTIC STRAWS, pelo amor de Deus, please stop). The whole point of this trip was to pass Christmas on the beach which is their family’s tradition. Truly an unforgettable experience! I personally didn’t feel too homesick celebrating holidays away from home mainly because my family always occupied me with things to do, or I FOUND things to do myself. However, it wasn’t until New Year’s came around when I started missing both my family in the United States and Russia simply because it is one of the most important holidays for me and my family, a day filled with traditions and the feeling of wholesomeness. Although it hurt to call back home to see everyone happily celebrating without you, I went to the best New Year’s party of my life and got to make the best memories with my best friend here, Alexa, the other exchange student in my city from Mexico. I quickly forgot about my homesickness because I was surrounded by love from my Brazilian friends who taught me new traditions from their country which I will gladly take back home with me, like wearing all white on New Year’s!

    Click HERE to read more about Veronika and all her blogs

  • Veronika, Outbound to Brazil

    After 3 months I have learned how to appreciate the little things in life. I live in a relatively small city; there’s really only so much you can admire here. Like, an occasional rain in the middle of a hot day, or a cup of coffee with the people you care about the most… or better yet, when you get presented with an opportunity to travel! I cherish these beautiful moments the most. This past month alone, I got to go on a road trip to the state of São Paulo. Inside the state, we stayed in four different cities: São Paulo, Campos do Jordão, Ubatuba (Ilhabela), and Poços de Caldas. Initially, the trip was only to go to a wedding in the city of São Paulo, the biggest city in Brazil, but instead, that trip got extended to a nine-day vacation. Inside of São Paulo, we stayed in a neighborhood called, Liberdade. Liberdade is located in the heart of São Paulo and is considered the city’s Japantown. Filled with Japanese, Chinese, and Korean markets and diners, I got to experience all kinds of new foods... from dorayaki, a pancake filled with a sweet paste made out of red beans, to authentic green tea flavored boba tea. On the streets, you will encounter tall, red torii arches and hung up lanterns that light up the streets during the night. The wedding was incredible! Everyone left with a sense of happiness, fulfillment, and a slight feeling of tiredness... yeah, go figure, we all danced like no one is watching and returned home around 4:15 am! Our next stop was Campos do Jordão. The highest city in Brazil with an elevation of 1,628 meters (or 5,341 feet) inspired by Swiss, German, and Italian culture and architecture. Definitely looks like an “outro mundo” (another world)! The streets look NOTHING like Brazil. The most popular foods I was able to find were fondue and hot chocolate, they were practically on every corner. Our program included staying in a castle, taking the cable car to the top of the highest peak, and taking an all-inclusive trolley trip around the city! After we experienced what “cold” really feels like (9 degrees Celsius in the “summer”) we decided to change up the scenery and travel more North to the coastline. We stayed in a hotel on the Ubatuba Beach where we got to enjoy the sunny, touristy city. However, one beach wasn’t enough for us so we traveled across the bay to an island called, Ilhabela, literally meaning a “Beautiful Island”. This island was filled with rich villas and crystal clear water. The biggest difference between beaches here and Florida is that here, they are surrounded by mountain ranges across the horizon which makes the whole experience just THAT much more breathtaking and unforgettable. The centers of the cities are filled with boutiques of colorful bathing suits and clothes for surfing. The atmosphere was very laid back, the only thing I wanted to do was lay under a palm tree by the ocean and drink coconut water, you know? But the want to visit the last city made us get up and travel some more. This time we were headed to one of the most southern cities in my state of Minas Gerais, Poços de Caldas. Here we got to stay in the oldest hotel that the city had to offer, take a cable car (yes, again) to see the statue of Jesus overlooking the panorama view of the city, visit the Japanese garden and the Fonte dos Amores (the Fountain of Lovers). The two days we spent there felt the most normal because we had the comfort of staying in our home state and eating the “Mineiro” food. Didn’t think I would actually start missing Paracatu but the crammed week and a half of traveling did make me miss the comfort of my own bed that my family has provided for me. Moments like this make me thankful for everything I own in life. Be kind. Beijos.

    Click HERE to read more about Veronika and all her blogs

  • Veronika, Outbound to Brazil

    Every day here brings a new experience and new knowledge. Have I not been sent to Brazil, I would have never learned that Brazilians eat avocados with sugar, threaten to beat their kids with a flip-flop, and hold their knife in the left hand and fork in the right. Brazil is just as wild as I imagined. They have free roaming parrots, tall banana trees, and limitless supply of coconut water. Talking about coconut water (and everything “organic”), it is very popular in Brazil to drink freshly squeezed juices. They made them out of every single type of fruit here, maracuja, tamarindo, jabuticaba, and orange colored lemons… the possibilities are endless! What’s really weird is the way they peel and eat their oranges AND mangos. Oranges, they cut off the peel using a knife and then cut the orange in half, eating only the juicy insides of the fruit and leaving the skin behind. Mangos, they peel the skin off usually using their hands, but a knife works just as well, and then bite into it letting the fibers be stuck in their teeth. As much as this culture shocks me sometimes, the feeling is mutual when I tell them about things we do in the United States and Russia. Like, in the US, our dogs say, “woof, woof”, here, their dogs say, “au, au”. Or the fact that in Russia kids get punished by getting hit on the head with a wooden spoon and here, kids have a universal fear of flip-flops.

    You guys were probably wondering, “Veronika, how’s the weather down there?” As all of the other exchange students who got sent to countries on the northern hemisphere are familiarizing themselves with the “true” colors of fall, here in Brazil it reaches 100ºF (38ºC) almost every day and IT’S NOT EVEN WINTER YET! Winter is their hottest season here, also the same season where they celebrate Christmas and New Year’s (no one cancelled these holidays because of the heat). Their longest “summer” break is also held between the months of December to February ← this should be another reason to motivate future exchange students to come spend their year abroad in Brazil. BUT, there is a slight disadvantage… air conditioning is very limited. In my case my family doesn’t have air conditioners in their home so I am left with a fan, an open window, and hope that it will rain again soon. I remember my family asking me in a joking manner if we have air conditioners in our bathrooms and with the straightest face I responded with, “Yes… of course”. They all started hysterically laughing (1) in pure disbelief (2) because they felt bad for me, calling me “tadinha” because no one in Brazil has air conditioners in their bathrooms… that seems absurd to them. They started laughing even more after realizing that we were talking about air conditioners while being stuck in the living room because it was the only room at the time that had a fan. Now, whenever I complain about it being too hot in Brazil, they always bring up my anecdote and say, “SORRY we don’t have air conditioners in our bathrooms!” calling ME the crazy one.

    Calling someone “crazy” or a “clown” is completely normal, it’s the way they joke here; however, calling someone “boring” is considered to be the biggest insult. This basically summarizes the Brazilian culture. Coming here, you will find the best people who accept everyone with open arms and are always ready for a good time! They especially love foreigners, their “gringos”! A quote from my classmate, “You are very lucky you got to come to this country” and I couldn’t agree more. It’s extremely easy to make friends here which will help you get through this exchange and introduce everything they can to you, the food, parties, their friends, parents, aunts and uncles, you name it. Everyone and everything!

    P.S. Some places I’ve visited this month:

    - Belo Horizonte: Inbound student orientation where I got to meet exchange students from all around the world and exchange pins

    - Caldas Novas: Visited waterparks with my family.

    - State of Goias, Pirenopolis: Got to explore waterfalls and jump from a cliff

    - Brasilia: National Zoo and Park Shopping

    Click HERE to read more about Veronika and all her blogs

  • Veronika, Outbound to Brazil

    One month…

    It has officially been a month since I have arrived to Brazil. What can I say, time flies when you’re having fun…

    This has already been such an incredible journey. Brazil never stops surprising me! Everyday feels like a blessing and it is all because of my amazing host family, my colleagues at school, and the brand new culture which I’ve given into to teach me valuable lessons and help me adapt to a different way of life.

    My family here makes me feel like I won the golden ticket. They are simply the best. My host mom and dad are both of a Japanese descent so I have the luck of experiencing two different cultures, Brazilian and Japanese! I have a really big family here which I am not used to because my family back home is really small. I have two uncles and one aunt… All three of them already have families of their own. I also have a cute little brother Matheus who lives with us as well. My family here is nice enough to take me on road trips to some of the most beautiful places in Brazil. During this one month I have already visited Brasilia (the capital of Brazil), Belo Horizonte, Ouro Preto, Ouro Branco, Lavras Novas, and Caldas Novas, along with experiencing beautiful waterfalls across Brazil.

    Brazil is incredibly large; however, I live in a very small city called Paracatu in the amazing state of Minas Gerais (MG). Apparently, Minas Gerais has the best food in all of Brazil! This is the state where the famous pão de queijo originated. The food here is incredible and very easy to get accustomed to. People in Brazil eat rice and black beans EVERYDAY. It sometimes feels like they don’t really have a variety of different foods but it’s the churrasco that makes the world of a difference. Churrasco is a famous Brazilian barbeque and people in Brazil have them whenever! You get married – CHURRASCO. You get divorced – CHURRASCO. Someone is born – CHURRASCO. Someone dies – CHURRASCO. School ends – CHURRASCO. School starts – CHURRASCO. Friday – CHURRASCO. Sunday – CHURRASCO. MONDAY – CHURRASCO! No occasion is too frivolous for some cooked meat. To put my experience with food in simpler words, I haven’t tried anything I didn’t like yet. The restaurants here are very different! Instead of waiting for a waiter to bring you the menu for you to order from, you are presented with a variety of foods in a self-service style and after you just put your plate of food on the scale and receive your total. It’s that simple and convenient. Brazilians eat A LOT of food, so this is the perfect way for them to bring service to their clients. After every meal, Brazilians like to finish with a cup of black coffee with sugar. The other surprising thing to me regarding food in Brazil is the variety of different fruits they have here. My personal favorites are papaya (mamão), Brazilian pinha, and pineapple (abacaxi). Brazilians consume a lot of freshly squeezed juices, it’s like water to them. Two other VERY Brazilian things are local soda “Guarana” and açaí! I really wish we had that back home. The açaí here is so much different than it is in Florida because here they add the guarana berry to it… won’t understand the taste until you try it for yourself!

    The language is definitely hard… My biggest advice is to learn a lot of verbs before coming here. It’s a lot easier to try and explain an object by playing a little “charades” (you will notice using your hands a lot more to help you describe things) but it’s a lot harder to connect words together when you don’t know the verbs. My knowledge of Spanish and Russian has also helped me tremendously to understand people and translate sentences quickly in my head. Going to school has helped me to learn the language as well, although my classmates do try to talk to me in English. They ask me how to say things in English and I ask them right back how to say things in Portuguese. This way it helps both of us out. DO try to speak in Portuguese at school as much as you can! Your classmates are there to help you! USE THEM! I also have a notes section in my phone which I use all the time to write down words I don’t understand and look them up later, or I also use it to write down random, weird encounters I experience here in Brazil as memories to reread later or share with my friends. For example, the fact that people in Brazil brush their teeth after every meal… or how over salted or extremely sweet everything here is. Brazilians have a universal handshake they all know and love, and they also don’t take off their shoes before entering a house… yeah, why would you if you have a maid to clean up after you every day. I totally understand now why Americans are so amazed when they host students from Brazil who tell them they don’t know how to wash or iron their clothes but IT’S TRUE. Here you literally just put your dirty clothes in a bin and they come back the next day perfectly ironed and folded and put away in the closet for you!

    Talking about that “luxurious” lifestyle, I go to a private school here but it’s very different from private schools in the United States. Here, no ne brags about what kind of car they have, or if their daddy is a doctor. Here, everyone is treated equally. Boys and girls are not divided, instead, they all learn how to get along with each other. There are no cliques. The classes here stay together from middle school so you’re stuck with the same group of people until graduation. I like it because it helps unite everyone and build friendships for life. They all hang out together, party together, go to concerts together… you get it. For the uniform we all just have to wear the same t-shirt with our school logo on it. The classes here are super hard! I got placed in their “senior” year because of my age and next semester, after everyone graduates, I will be enrolled in a college! Compared to schools back home, here, students are required to take 5 different math classes, 5 different science classes (biology, anatomy, physics, chemistry, and zoology), world history, history of Brazil, geography, philosophy, humanities, Portuguese, and English. Sleeping in class is totally acceptable! The school knows that students have a ton of subjects and they allow the students to sleep during some classes to help them be more awake and alert for other classes. My school day starts at 7:30 am and ends at 1 pm; however, schools in Brazil have mandatory afternoon classes as well which start at 2pm and can last until 5:30 pm depending on the amount of classes. I personally don’t like to stay for the afternoon classes so I usually go home and get ready for CrossFit. Joining a sport helps me not only to stay in shape (because of all the cheesy bread I’m consuming here) BUT it also helps to keep me busy and not think of home as much. I haven’t felt homesick since I’ve arrived here and it’s all thanks to my family here and sports. It also helps going on exchange after you graduate because you know all of your friends are leaving off to go to college so you won’t see them either way when you come back. I also get away from missing my family by calling them once every week. They are very supportive of my decision of coming to Brazil and are always curious to see new pictures and hear stories from me. Once I told my Rotary Club here in Brazil that we aren’t allowed to talk to our family and friends for a whole month, their faces turned pale. They told me “It is NOT the Brazilian way! Here family stands above any law and it’s ridiculous that you can’t call them”. It was super embarrassing for my club coordinator here to pull me aside at a Rotary meeting and lecture me on how it’s fine for me to call my family if I want to talk to them. She told me that as a mom, she can’t imagine not being able to talk to her child abroad to ask what life there is like. The first month is definitely the most thrilling one and you will want to share everything with everyone! Feeling homesick is totally fine and crying over the fact that you’re not understanding the language is also totally fine! But don’t forget that you came here for a reason. We all come here to make new friends from around the world (at orientations especially), build connections with your families which will feel like home away from home, and be fluent in a completely different language! Everything you’ve worked so hard for will definitely pay off in the end!

    Beijos,

    Veronika Suyupova

    Click HERE to read more about Veronika and all her blogs

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