Elle, outbound to Brazil

Christmas and New Year's was rough to be without my family for the first time. On Christmas Eve my parents in Florida were at my cousin's house where all my family was, and I got to talk to my aunt, uncle, grandparents, and other more distant relatives in my family. This is a time we always spend every year eating and exchanging presents together. I got to video call with them for a little bit and experience that time with them from a far. All my family had sent me packages for Christmas, so the next morning I video called with my parents and brother as I watched them open their presents and they watched me open mine. It was an emotional morning, some tears were shed, for it was so meaningful how much effort they made to keep me involved and still feel together, although I was missing that Christmas morning hug and kiss from them. This is the hard part of being on exchange. But this is the part of exchange that also makes us grow up and mature so quickly. We grasp on tightly to our new independence.

For New Year's, I got to go with my host family on a road trip to Sao Paulo city, one of the most famous cities in Brazil, where I got to see some tourist points of the city and also have the opportunity to meet up with my friend Kam, from Orlando, Florida, making his exchange there! He introduced me to some of the other exchange students living there as well, which is a neat comparison to see how life in a different city can be for them.

For the actual celebration of New Year's, we went 3 hours more to the city of Sao Sebastiao, where I got to swim in the ocean at the beach for the first time on my exchange. Being a Florida girl, I was ever so grateful, for that may have been a cure for any homesickness I may have had. New Year's Eve night, the tradition for Brazilians is to wear white clothing as a sign of purity or peace for the oncoming year, wear brand new underwear to start the year fresh, and then jump over 7 waves in the ocean and make 7 wishes. On the beach there was candles set all around the ground, and people had white flowers to send out into the ocean to a sea god. To top it all off we went swimming in our white dresses under the sky of marvelous fireworks. It was a New Year's Eve I will never forget.