Hayden, outbound to Brazil

First of all, I’d like to apologize to Rotary and to everyone reading my journals for taking so long to write a second one. However, I will be sure to be much more punctual with my submissions for the rest of my exchange.

I don’t think I can truly express my feelings and how amazing the experiences I’ve had in one simple journal, but I will try. Over the time I’ve been away I’ve made memories and friends that will certainly last me a lifetime.
From the time I’ve been away I’ve changed host families and I’m now living with a couple that has never had kids and only wanted to receive an exchange student. They both work the whole day almost everyday. Therefore, I have the house to myself until about 8 o’clock everday. This has been quite the new experience for me because I’ve always grown up with an older brother and sister being around and also in my first host family I had two host brothers. This led to me being extremely worried about this host family as I thought they wouldn’t really pay any attention to me and that I’d be lonely most of the time. However, I could not have been more wrong. I absolutely love my host family here. They’re both extremeley sweet and funny people and this has turned out to be my favorite host family so far. If I had the choice, I would stay here in a heartbeat. I also am almost never bored due to the fact that one of my best friends from Mexico lives right down the street from me.

Other than my host family changing in the time I’ve been away, I’ve also been on the trip of my lifetime… The Northeast Trip! I couldn’t have asked for a more amazing experience. I spent 30 days traveling the Northeast of Brazil with 35 exchange students. For those of you who don’t know, the Northeast of Brazil is full of beaches and some of the most beautiful areas I’ve ever seen. The complexity of the landscape is astonishing. In one city you will find mountains covered in deep, green forest and then a city 20 minutes away is right on the beach with crystal blue waters. I made so many friends on this trip and the fact that I probably won’t see many of them again makes me sadder than I can say. It’s a really strange feeling becoming so close to someone and seeing them everyday for 30 days and then just saying bye.It’s almost like doing a mini exchange during your exchange.

Finally, I’d like to talk a little bit about learning Portuguese. I told myself before exchange that I wouldn’t consider myself fluent in Portuguese until I actually dreamed in Portuguese. And what do you know, one week ago I had my first dream in Portuguese. I could have screamed I was so happy. Finally being able to think in another language without having to try, finally reaching the goal you’ve been after your whole exchange year. It’s just a feeling that leaves you smiling and you can’t stop. I could’ve screamed when I woke up from that dream just because I was so excited. So if I can offer any advice to the next outbounds it’s to not give up. Learning another language is not going to be a straight line up where you see yourself getting better every single day. Not everyday you’ll wake up with excitement about having to think in another language. But it’s all worth it in the end. I can promise you that.