Emily, Outbound to Brazil

Wow I cannot believe how the time has flown by. I'm arriving towards the middle of my exchange and finding that it's has become ever so slightly harder to talk in English. I take this as a positive boost because it means that I have immersed myself into the Portuguese language enough that my mind is confusing the two languages. For example the other day I was having a conversation with my mom about how my 90 degree F, huge Brazilian family Christmas get together was going. Apparently, I was stumbling on my words and every now and then unconsciously blurting out Portuguese words instead of English.

Every morning I wake up and am at a loss for words at how my mind has transformed on exchange. Believe it or not it is possible to think and talk in another language. Although I´m still conjugating words incorrectly and, at times, frustratingly saying things that make absolutely no sense, every day it gets easier and more natural speaking in the language I have come to love.

Now on to how my holidays have been going. I'm not going to lie, they have gotten off to a pretty sweet start. On the 23rd of December, I left for the capital of my state Belo Horizonte with my host family to spend Christmas at my host grandfather's house. The city is huge and a big change from my cute and quaint town, set the famous rolling hill countryside of my state. The following days were filled with with a series of get togethers with various members of the family (of course always involving some sort of yummy food or churrasco). Finally, the festive celebration ended with a final dinner involving 25+ members of the family where we ate made from scratch Capelliti. Capelliti is an Italian pasta similarly compared to tortellini with a cheese stuffing paired deliciously with a chicken broth soup. Members of the family get together about a week before Christmas to make the dough, stuffing and form the capelliti to be ready for the 25th of December. Then Christmas day is dedicated to perfecting the broth all to be eating that night.

One of my favorite things about exchange is about indulging in different traditions not only unique to Brazil, but also within the families that I stay with. Becoming a part of your host family involves spending the quality time making soup and seeing how the family enjoys the holidays.

After our time in Belo Horizonte, my family and I drove to their beach chalet in Paraty, a historical port city in the state of Rio. There we spent our time exploring islands and going to secret beaches with my host father´s boat. It was a week and a half long dream where I got to bond with my host sister and drink freshly picked passion fruit juice. One of my favorite memories was the day we had a churrasco, a huge outdoor barbeque get together with extended family and family friends. We ate picanha and pao de alho (certain type of meat and garlic bread) until our stomachs were more than full. At the end of the night, our family friend picked up the guitar and we all sang classic Brazilian songs until half the group lost their voices. This night will be a night to remember and on top of that, I got the chance to learn many new songs that every Brazilian must know.

Now as I sit here typing this journal entry, I am preparing and packing for my Rotary trip with the exchange students. Tomorrow I will be catching a flight to Fortaleza, a city in the northeast of Brazil, and from there we will start the descent on the coast of Brazil by bus visiting beaches and cities along the way until we reach Rio de Janeiro. I am incredibly excited for this trip and cannot wait to get to know new exchange students as well as new cities in Brazil.

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