Colson, Outbound to Brazil

Alright so I meant to do this months ago. And I was strongly encouraged to do this about a week ago, so it’s finally here. My second journal about my wonderful life in Brazil.

I’d like to start by saying that I’ve been putting this off because I’ve had a whole lot of events that I wanted to include that were week after week. Actually my graduation/prom is tonight but it’ll just wait until the next journal because I need to just pony up and do it. I also want to say in my last journal I mentioned not going to Rotary, not 5 minutes after posting it my host mom told me I had Rotary that night, and now I’ve been at least twice a month for meetings. I promise I’m not slacking on all of my responsibilities.

Anyways onto the good stuff, what’s actually been going on during my exchange. About 2 weeks after my first journal we had our district orientation for all of the new inbound exchange students. I feel blessed to be from RYE Florida because I knew everything they said before they said it. Extensive training sessions are something to be grateful for! My district has just about 32 exchange students in it, a third of them are Mexican so I got to hear a lot of Spanish that weekend. (Just that weekend because Brazilians speak Portuguese and not Spanish). We stayed in another city with host families that weekend, the family I stayed with were a blessing, they had the cutest son he was only five years old and he loved to talk about Cars. (The films not the vehicles). Overall it was a great chance to meet the other exchange students and make friends that I know will last a life time.

The next big event was the Rotex organized trip to Hopi Hari, an amusement park in the state of São Paulo. Almost all of the exchange students went and we had such a good time. The whole trip cost about as much as the admission to a Disney World park, so I’m glad about that bonus. My group actually spent most of the day tailing the Rotex. They’re actually really cool people and I recommend everyone try and meet their Rotexes and get to know them. About halfway through the day I gave up on rides and became the designated bag sitter, but it was still fun and I got to ride the important rides. The day ended with a huge party in front of the main stage at the park, everyone was involved and some exchange students ended up on stage dancing for everyone to see.

The very next week was Halloween and my school threw a party and I dragged all of my friends to it. I went as a zombie because I’m too cheap to buy a $20 costume and I packed to many T-shirts and could afford to tear one up. My great friend did zombie make up for me and I really looked like a corpse (which was great because by the end of the night I felt like one). My class organized the party and also worked the haunted house. So I went through with other exchange students who were freaking out while I couldn’t stop laughing. That was a great night.

After that my friend invited me to go with him and his family to their beach apartment. Being the good exchange student I am I said yes. We went to a little beach town called Ubatuba and I got sunburnt on the very first day. But it was fine his family was so sweet they went and got aloe even though literally none of them get even close to burning in the sun. My Mexican friend went with us too, I’m pretty sure he ended up burning by the time we went back home. While we were there we spotted a rotary world fair (you can’t escape rotary, they’re everywhere). One night at the world fair all of that districts exchange students went so I got to meet more people from around the world. We actually only got noticed because during the talent show that they were putting on, I obnoxiously shouted USA! USA! for the girl from Texas. The chairmen of that district pulled us aside and took us on stage. He knew not only our countries but also our names, Rotarians know all, keep that in mind kids. The night was fun and we ate tacos that the Mexicans disapproved of. I ate so much food going to a beach in Brazil is essentially going to a buffet.

Then I did a Thanksgiving with my Portuguese teacher’s English class. We ate a lot of popcorn and burgers and said what we were thankful for. I did a lesson for them on what thanksgiving is completely from memory. I would recommend not trying to sum up the entire history of a holiday from memory, take the time to just write some note cards for yourself.

One week later I went with my brother and my Portuguese teacher to Curitiba, a city in the south of Brazil, to learn more about different cultures in the country. We took a historic train tour and got an overview on the region. I had a really great all you can eat Italian dinner there in a restaurant we were all underdressed for.

Last weekend we went to São Paulo with the Rotex and we got a tour of the city. We visited museums and the classic tourist traps. I drank really good boba tea in China Town and enjoyed the classic Mortadella sandwich from Mercadão in São Paulo. It was almost the size of my head and it was so good. We visited a different outdoor market and ended up spending so much time taking photos that no one bought anything.

So if you’re still with me, congratulations, now I’m gonna talk about what I think is more important. What life is like here on a day to day basis. Everyone wants to hear about trips but exchange isn’t all about trips I promise.

I just finished school and I’m on summer vacation, but while I was in school I was getting up at 6 am for class and coming home around 1 for lunch. Now I’m getting up around 11 for breakfast and having lunch at 1 still. Where I’ll be going to school next year is actually up in the air at the moment. My school actually closed this year, the director is going to open a new school so hopefully I’ll be going there but it’s not set in stone. I promise I’ll be going to school I am aware that I’m an exchange STUDENT.

After school I usually spent one of two ways, I either ate lunch and took a nap before an event at night. Or I ate lunch and went to my good friend Pedro’s house (more about him later). I had a couple of things I did at night, primarily because Brazilians just prefer to do things later in the day. Every Monday I went to interact, every few meetings we went around the room introducing ourselves and I always got a laugh from my classic line “Hi I’m Colson from the United States, and I’m a really cool exchange student.” Tuesday and Thursday I have capoeira classes. (Capoeira is a Brazilian martial arts developed by run away slaves that disguised it as dancing practice when it became outlawed). Monday and Wednesday I was taking handball classes, I’m not great but it’s not at a competitive level so it’s a good way to make friends. Fridays I have Portuguese classes so I can keep improving my language. When my mother told me I’d be super busy in Brazil like I was in the US I told her she was crazy. Mothers tend to be right. There’s always something on Friday and Saturday night, someone’s having a party or friends are going to the movies at the mall. I’ve had multiple people complain that I’m impossible to do stuff with because I’m too busy, and I think that’s a mark of a successful exchange, I don’t have the time to be wasting. (I don’t consider an afternoon nap a waste, especially considering my host brother and father take them too, it’s cultural exchange).

About my darling friend Pedro, and the important reason you want to make local friends. I probably have spent more time in his apartment building than in mine, because he’s so active in trying to do as much as possible with exchange students. But one day I was explaining to him that I wasn’t sure what I was doing for my next host families, because the two others I had backed out of the agreement and my counselor thought it’s better I don’t live with families forced into hosting. Pedro didn’t think twice and just said “ok come live with me.” I honestly thought he was just kidding because that’s a big offer, but he went and asked his mom and last night the family met with my counselor. I officially have my second host family now because my friend is really just that great.

This is barely scratching the surface of what it’s like here but I’ve rambled on long enough. All I can say is thank you to Rotary for giving me this chance to build a life for myself in Brazil, the most beautiful country on Earth.

Click HERE to read more about Colson and all his blogs