Tiana, Outbound to Brazil

Oi! Hi! I have been living in Belo Horizonte, Brazil for three months now, and I have enjoyed every second. I’ve been lucky enough to have been placed with an amazing and loving family (who have been absolute angels in helping me adjust to life here, even though they speak NO English whatsoever), made great friends both native and other exchangers, and overall my experience so far has been priceless.

It was really interesting to celebrate the Holidays in a different country. Aside from the obvious fact that we do not celebrate Thanksgiving in Brazil, I found myself surprised by just how different the Christmas celebration here was from home. Christmas is celebrated on both Christmas Day and Christmas Eve here, with a big family dinner and present exchange taking place at Midnight on Christmas Eve. It was really fun to be able to experience a new tradition for the first time. After the Holidays, I traveled to Bahia with my family and friends for vacation time. Bahia is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in all of Brazil, and I had an AMAZING trip. Everything was absolutely beautiful. I have been to lots of different beaches in the United States, but the energy that Bahia had was completely different than anything I had experienced before.

Now that I’m back home, I’m getting ready to switch host families for the first time. Although I’m excited because I already know my second family and I’m excited for the opportunity to live with them, I am sad to leave my first family because my host mom and I grew very close over the past few months. To show my thanks to both of these families, I decided to host a dinner at my house this weekend, and my friends and I are handling everything so that my family can relax and enjoy the dinner.

I am very grateful that I have such a great relationship with my host club here as well. The only real problem I’ve had on exchange so far had been with my school situation, as the school I was enrolled in when I first got here was a high school that didn’t let me participate in anything. My host club has done everything they could to help me find a new school after I reached out to them about this issue, and I’m happy to officially announce that I’ll be starting university classes at FUMEC in the fall, studying fashion textiles!

Since it’s summer break right now, I haven’t started taking any classes at FUMEC yet, but I already have my school schedule and I have visited the campus that I’ll be taking classes at, and I’m very excited for the new school year to start next month. I’m very thankful that I was lucky enough to have a host club that was willing to help me find a school that was a good fit for me.

One of my happiest moments this month was actually a few days ago, on New Year’s Eve. I spent the night on the beach with my friends and family, and we stayed up all night, chatting, dancing, and having an amazing time. At sunrise, we all went in the ocean in our clothes! It was an amazing memory that I’ll never forget.

One of my most challenging moments this month was dealing with homesickness over the holidays. It’s usually easy to get swept up in the craziness of everyday life here, which keeps me focused on my relationships here and not missing everyone back home, but it was a bit difficult to spend Christmas so far away from my family for the first time in my life. However, I do find that I don’t miss home as much as I thought I would.

As for my language skills, I am at the point where I am able to understand almost everything when someone is speaking directly to me, but I am still having trouble figuring out exactly which way to phrase a sentence correctly when it’s my turn to respond. But I’ve made so much progress in such a short amount of time, and I’m really proud of myself. When I got to Brazil, I was able to ask for and understand only the absolute basics. But now, every time I have a conversation about something new or find myself using a word I’ve never used before, it’s the most rewarding feeling in the world. Just gotta keep studying!

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