Emily O'Day

Brazil

Hometown: Dunwoody, Georgia
School: Dunwoody High School
Sponsor District : District 6900
Sponsor Club: Rotary Club of Dunwoody, Georgia
Host District: 4580
Host Club: The Rotary Club of Viçosa


My Bio


Oi, my name is Emily O’Day and I’m 17 and a senior at Dunwoody High School. I am so happy and grateful to say that I will be going to Brazil next year. I live in Dunwoody, GA with my parents and an older brother who is a sophomore at UGA- Go Dawgs! Unfortunately, I have no pets, but I am certain I will have two dogs when I grow up. My favorite subject in school would definitely be math, but that doesn’t reflect my love for books and fictional worlds! I adore playing club and school volleyball as a libero and outside hitter. I started playing volleyball when I was in middle school and once I reached high school I started to play club volleyball at NAVC. I also do Taido Karate and have been attending since I was 5 years old. I received my black belt in 2015 and love performing and competing in tournaments. Actually, my father and brother have also been attending the same karate for years and received their black belts as well. I also love cooking. Whenever I’m stressed I always run straight to the kitchen and bake away my worries. Though another room I often find myself in is the ceramics room. I specifically love throwing on the wheel and making abstract pots. I am incredibly excited to become an “estudante de intercâmbio” (exchange student) for an experience of a lifetime in one of the most beautiful and cultural countries in the world as well as become a part of the awesome community that Rotary International has created. I look forward to keeping you updated, but until then... Beijos, tchau!

My first and second host family and I at my surprise birthday party!

My first and second host family and I at my surprise birthday party!

Some of the exchange students and I after the color party at the EMIC Interact Event

Some of the exchange students and I after the color party at the EMIC Interact Event

Journals: Emily-Brazil Blog 2018-19

  • Emily, Outbound to Brazil

    Wow, yet another month has gone by in my journey through exchange. It seems as if it was just last week that I was writing my first journal entry. Life here in Viçosa has sped up a bit as I have accustomed even more into a daily and weekly routine. That means days are passing by even faster. Sometimes I have to stop and remember to enjoy every second and cherish every minute.

    What has happened in the past month? Many things. The 2018 Brazilian elections occurred last week and a runoff will be happening within the next few weeks to determine once and for all the president. All around me I hear debates and political banter about the current climate in Brazil and may I say, Wow! What a time to be exchanging in Brazil. I have been able to learn new political terms, learn about foreign politics and even have deep discussions about how the country should be governed.

    Another big thing that has happened recently was the state-wide Interact convention that I was lucky enough to attend along with a little over a dozen other exchange students from around the state. The convention was called EMIC and was in the city of Mario Campo, a few hours from my city Viçosa, just outside of Belo Horizonte (the state capitol). This four day convention was packed with dance parties, lectures, group activities and games. Each morning after breakfast we received a lecture from Rotarians and Rotaract members about the difference Interact club can make in a community and the world and how to better organize the club itself to be more productive. Each night we were able to dress up in themed costumes and just enjoy each other’s company.

    The weekend was incredibly memorable for me as I was immediately able to click and become closer to many of the exchange students around the states. I was able to make a friend out of each and every one of them. On the other hand I was able to become even closer to many of the Brazilians. It just solidified my belief that Brazilians are the most receptive and excited people I’ve met. Each and every Brazilian I met was eager to hear my story, just as I was to hear theirs, and help with any Português doubts that I had. In just this one weekend I know that I made friendships that I can count on for the rest of my exchange and maybe even longer.

    I think one of the most memorable events that happened was the color party. This entails that everyone dress in all white. Then neon colored powder packets are passed out to the crowd. Everyone counts down to one and throws up the powder into the air screaming and laughing. By the end everyone is covered in every color combination imaginable. For the rest of the night we danced and talked in the now far from white clothing.

    It’s these types of memories that make exchange “vale a pena” (basically meaning “worth it”). It’s these types of memories that I cannot wait to write about in my diary, and it’s these kinds of memories that I will remember for the rest of my life.

    I can’t wait to see what happens next on exchange and tell you guys. By the chance that any student thinking about joining exchange is reading this, I write this directly to you. Exchange changes your life. A year ago this time, I had no idea that I would be living halfway across the world. Exchange was only a dream; I never truly thought it was attainable. I made excuses that I don’t have time to stop my life in the US. Whatever the problem or doubt you have that may be impeding you from applying, just apply and see what happens. There are so many Rotarians, Rotex and people around you that you may not even know willing to help you get there. Because exchange doesn’t stop your life, it starts it.

    Click HERE to read more about Emily and all her blogs

  • Emily, Outbound to Brazil

    It’s hard to imagine that only a few weeks ago I was sitting at home daydreaming about Brazil. Before I arrived, I had no idea what to expect. I had formed many ideas in my head about what exchange would be like, but in reality, I was clueless that I would be living what is now my day to day life.

    My flight touched down in Belo Horizonte, the capital of my state, Minas Gerais. From there, my host family picked me up. Immediately I felt a part of the family as if I had known them for years. We then went to eat dinner where I had my first tastes of the Brazilian cuisine. I ate rice and beans with with farofa, mandioca fries, steak, and chicken hearts on a stick. Now every exchange student talks about their experiences trying “exotic” foods, so for me, this was definitely one of them. I’d say out of all the things that I’ve tried, I’ve especially liked the fresh acai and salgados (various Brazilian pastries).

    My second day in Belo Horizonte my host family and I visited some extended family where we all sat on the rooftop balcony and talked the entire night. This was an absolutely amazing experience and introduced me to the Brazilians’ love of simply being in each others company for hours on end. As we sat of the rooftop and watched the belo horizonte (Portuguese for beautiful sunset) in Belo Horizonte, I had my first aha moment. My exchange had started. I was to be living, eating, and speaking Portuguese like a Brazilian for the entire next year.

    After four days of exploring Belo Horizonte, my family and I drove four hours to Viçosa, my new home. My bedroom window opens up to a huge Ipe tree (the national tree of Brazil) that is currently in bloom with yellow flowers. I share a Jack and Jill bathroom and closet with my host sister, which is great because makes it really easy to hang out.

    My typical week has come to vary a lot, but it is loosely structured with a routine, something I believe to be really important in having a successful exchange. Three days a week my host mom drops me off at ensino médio (high school) by 7 AM. I’m currently in the second year of high school and have six classes a day with a twenty minute break in between. Another thing I like about my high school is that we stay in the same classroom with the same classmates while the teachers move between subjects. This made it a bit easier for me to get to know my classmates and make friends. One thing I love about my experience here so far is that everyone is very animated and curious to know each other. My classmates are always very accepting and willing to help if I don’t understand something.

    The other two days a week I go to Univiçosa, a university less than a 15 minute walk from my house, with my host sister. She goes to Univiçosa full time for psychology. Therefore I have been privileged to audit classes with her, get to know her friends and classmates, as well as understand a piece of university life here in Brazil.

    I always love telling the story about my first day at Univiçosa. When I arrived to class, the professor immediately started to lecture about the upcoming semester and what the class will be like. I was understanding bits and pieces of the lecture, but definitely was missing something. The professor kept saying this one word “comportamento,” probably about 50 times. I had no idea what it meant and for the rest of the class it became sort of a mystery game to figure it out. I finally discovered “comportamento” meant “behavior.” Ironically enough, I later found out the title of the class was Behavioral Analysis and that the entirely of the class was about “comportamento.”

    I’d say this story encompasses a lot of experiences I have had since the beginning of my exchange. A lot of things are lost in translation and many times I have no idea what is going on, but slowly day by day I’m learning more and more about Brazil and the Portuguese language. I’ve found that I can hold longer and more profound conversations. I’ve found that it’s getting easier to connect with people and forge deeper relationships with those around me. It all depends on me being open to putting myself out there, unafraid to make mistakes.

    I’ve also learned to appreciate my host family and each and every friend I’ve made, because those are the people who are supporting me. Something as simple as going to the open market with my host mom to buy groceries is valuable. I’ve also learned to be more flexible and malleable, because not everything is going to go as planned. I have had to accept that and realize it’s inevitable, but on the other hand, things I never even fathomed before exchange have also happened. That’s what I think is absolutely incredible. Yes, I won’t lie. There are days that are harder than others, where I may feel alone, miss things, or make mistakes with my host family. But these are the things that make exchange matter, that make exchange significant. It’s a chance to seek discomfort. It’s the opportunity rotary gives you to change your life forever.

    This past weekend D-4580 had its first orientation. The ten exchange students in my district met in a city called Juiz de Fora. From there we drove to our coordinator’s farm in the countryside. It was an absolutely incredible weekend. It was my first time meeting the other exchange students in my district and we all immediately hit it off. At the farm we hiked, rode horses, had a churrasco, picked farm fresh eggs and mandioca, and much more. I will never forget the trip and I got to meet many Rotarian in the district who are supporting me. Our last night, our coordinator, Juliana, and her husband told us the history of the farm, showing us tools and objects they found over half a century old. One object that was especially interesting was an unopened glass bottle of snake venom antidote that had expired 50 years ago.

    Over all I’d say that my experience here has been beyond anything I could have imagined. I’m not going to lie and say that everything has been easy, because it’s not. Coming here, it has been up to me to adjust, learn the language and make stronger relationships. It has been one of the hardest challenges I’ve faced in my life. But it’s these challenges and slowly overcoming them that is the most rewarding achievement.

    Click HERE to read more about Emily and all her blogs

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