Hayden, outbound to Brazil

Sing, dance, eat, learn to live like a Brazilian!

Wow… Already a month and a half has past… Time in Brazil slow down! I’ve done so much in Brazil so far and seen so many things that it’ll be hard to put it all into one little journal; but I’ll try.

Arriving in Curitiba, Brazil seems like such a distant memory now. I remember being ridiculously nervous as soon as I landed and all that I was hoping for is that my bags weren’t lost and I would get through customs easily. Well, I waited at the bag terminal for 30 minutes until my bag finally came out because it was the LAST one. That was probably the most stressful 30 minutes I’ve had in Brazil so far to be honest. But after I finally received my bag, I proceeded to customs where I started getting much more excited than nervous and said “Oi, tudo bem?” to the customs officer who was so impressed with my limited knowledge of Portuguese that she practically just let me walk right through. Then finally I walked through the gate, where my family greeted me with hugs and kisses. From that moment, I knew I’d love Brazil.

My first two weeks in Brazil were almost non-stop. My host family wanted to show me as much of Brazil as they could as soon as I arrived. We went home for one night where I pretty much just dropped off my big suitcase, put some clothes into a smaller one and then left again for São Paulo. São Paulo is an absolutely stunning city that sits on top of a mountain overlooking Santos, another city that’s right on the beach. It’s very crowded in the city and a little bit dirty but I was way too amazed by the fact that I was finally in Brazil to care at all. That night my family took me to my first churrascaria, which is restaurant where you pay one price and then waiters just bring you every type of meet in the world and you say yes or no to if you want it or night. Churrascarias are by far my favorite food places in Brazil! We spent about 3 days in São Paulo and then ended up driving back to Curitiba to catch a flight over to Foz do Iguaçu.

Foz do Iguaçu is a little city that sits right on the border between Argentina, Parguay and Brazil. We spent almost a week and a half there and my family even took me to see Iguaçu Falls! Iguaçu Falls is one of the 7 wonders of the world and the most beautiful place I’ve ever been to! I was literally being showered with so much love and gifts from my family that it was practically impossible for me to stop smiling, which my family absolutely loved.
Brazilians are probably the nicest people in the world. They will always want to help you, feed you, and kiss you. All they want to do is have fun, dance, and sing and you can’t help but sing along and dance with them! (Even though I’m very bad at singing and dancing.) The only thing that Brazilians want you to ever do is to enjoy yourself. As long as you smile and have fun, they will love you.

Alright, so I guess I should talk about the language here… It’s fast. When I first arrived in Brazil I did not understand ANYTHING. I actually felt pretty comfortable with my knowledge of kitchen utensils right before I left and everything but that was not the most helpful thing to know in a conversation. My go to phrase was, “Muito legal.” Which means, “Very cool” in Portuguese. This was literally the only thing I would say for the first week I was here because I didn’t understand anything and I felt bad sometimes asking my parents to repeat things 4 times extremely slowly before I understood anything. But all I can say to you future exchange students out there is to stay with it!

My host brother was the only one in my family that spoke English but he left about two weeks after I got there. There is no doubt in my mind that all of the exchange students have been in the same place and because I kept speaking Portuguese and trying I am actually not bad at it now. I understand most of what is being said and can communicate a response much more intelligent than, “muito legal.”

The final thing I want to talk about is my school. Here I was practically a celebrity the first week because everybody wanted to meet the “gringo.” But everybody is very nice and helpful too and when you make a mistake in Portuguese (which happens a lot) they will just help you out. Also, soccer is huge in Brazil and they play it as much as they can in school. I love soccer and play it all the time after school with them and it’s been a great way to make friends here!

I also, really just want to thank Rotary for this once in a lifetime opportunity and for definitely preparing me for exchange, because without them none of this would be possible! Well, that’s all I have to say for now. I can’t wait to see what the coming months in Brazil have in store for me! Tchau!