Colson, Outbound to Brazil

Howdy hey y’all, I’m here with a great update on everything I’ve been getting up to here in Brazil. So it’s been about a month since I arrived, I wanted to have this posted on a month exactly, but one month fell on a friday and my weekends are literally ten times busier than weekdays so this got put off a little. But the weekend is over and I’m ready to crank out this journal so y’all know I haven’t dropped dead.

I’m gonna start out with a little comment that my friends would greatly appreciate being mentioned. They want everyone to know brazilians do wear clothing and there are not monkeys hanging out everywhere. You would be astounded how many people have asked me “Did you think all brazilians are naked living in the jungle with monkey best friends?” So I really just want to make sure everyone is aware Brazil is just as advanced as the rest of the world. That being said one day there was a monkey at my school and literally everyone was hype and busted out snapchat to brag to their friends (myself included of course).

Now that the formalities are out of the way let me just say, exchange is weird… Like all the little things that I took advantage of at home are just slightly different and make me do a double take. School works differently and not seeing the same teachers everyday or doing the same subjects is weirdly disconcerting to me. Three reais are worth one dollar so I look at price tags and have a mini heart attack before realizing that I’m actually getting a decent deal on most things. The showers are different too and luckily I did manage to figure them out after a few tries.

“If we made fun of you we’d do it in English so you would understand” -A quote from my friend my first week of school. My friends are really similar to my American friends, they’re really sweet but also we bully each other for fun. I’m so thankful that my principal's daughter is in my class and did exchange before. He essentially had her round up her friends to be an impromptu welcoming committee for me on my first day of school, AKA my second day in Brazil. They’ve quickly become my best friends and also are probably the best Portuguese teachers out there. My “studying” was haphazard at best before I came and now I can carry on a fullish conversation with people. Also brazilian are super outgoing and forward, and they expect the same from me which is not also super in my comfort zone. But being on exchange is all about being outside of your comfort zone so I’m just trying to do as they do and hoping for the best.

Side note for all the future exchange students who may end up reading this: just trying to speak the language impresses people so much, they love seeing someone put in effort and will be way more likely to talk to you if they see you care.

My host family is so nice here and they are so adaptable. I’m not sure if it’s misunderstanding the language or it’s the culture or it’s a continuation of my old bad habits, but usually I have no idea I’m going somewhere until the day of and I end up springing it on my family that I need a ride. They’re always super chill about it and usually send my host brother to shuttle me around the city to get to somebody’s house. Or more importantly, shuttling me home at midnight with minimal notice. Apparently that’s an early night here though so they have no problems whatsoever. Or they haven’t expressed any I’m not sure. I swear I’m working on figuring out my plans in advance and I’m not going to do this to them all year, I promise. My host brothers are super nice and have gone out of their way to include me and take me with them to parties and to soccer (futebol) games. FYI parties are just part of life in Brazil they aren’t anything special like in the US, I’ve been to at least 2 a weekend since I got here. And as great as that sounds in theory, it’s actually exhausting in practice. This weekend I was at a family party and was actually visibly exhausted they just kind of showed me a bed and I ended up waking up right when clean up started, whoops.

My interactions with Rotary here have been… scarce. I’ve been to like 3 different Interact clubs and to Rotaract but I’m not positive if I’ve actually been to a legit club meeting for my host club. I went to this like “world fair” that was put on and there were like 7 or 8 other inbounds and a couple of rebounds and we represented our countries to a Rotary club, but I don’t think it was mine. Our district was supposed to have an inbound orientation in mid August, which has now been set back twice and is going to be at the end of September. This is fine because now I just have that much more time to work on my Portuguese to try and make myself look brighter than I really am to my District Chair. I’m going to figure out this Rotary situation I swear.

I’m blessed by the fact that I live in a city with so many inbounds, especially because they all are desperate for something to do so there is always someone who wants to meet up. Last weekend we played paintball, which I have never done before. I ended up getting shot in the face protector twice, luckily that had the most protection so I’m not walking around covered in welts. We have a running joke between us now, “Pray that I will be rich and be able to visit your country”. Unfortunately I have had to say the first of many goodbyes. In my class there was a girl from Germany doing the STEP program and Sunday was her last day here in Brazil. Goodbyes are never fun and she was always saying she wished she did the long term program because one month just wasn’t enough time. This is a reminder to me about how short exchange really is and how I need to take advantage of this great opportunity, it’s too easy to let this go to waste.

Now that my very brief recap of the many many things that have happened in this month is over I want to say thank you. Thank you to Mrs Paula and Mr David for coming to Pedro and showing me this great opportunity. Thank you to my parents for both allowing and funding a majority of my exchange, none of this would be possible without y’all. Thank you to my friend Nikki Johnson who went before me and showed me and my parents that it could be done. Countless Rotarians and Rotexes put in work every year to make this program as a whole possible so thank you for facilitating the Rotary Youth Exchange Program. Also thank you to whoever designed the RYE Florida training system, I was talking with other inbounds and they didn’t have anything similar and I honestly feel like the constant motivation from Florida really has helped me out tremendously.

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