Krystle, outbound to Brazil

I am always doing something new, telling myself to say YES TO EVERYTHING even if I am tired or not in the mood. 

I’m a little late on this because I am struggling with words to explain accurately what I have been feeling being here in Brazil, how I have changed, and what I have done so far. How can I explain correctly how much I have fallen in love with Brazil without sounding too cheesy? How can I explain the beautiful differences Brazil has without making this brief entry too long? I can write pages about how amazing this country is but I’ll try my best not to drag on.

On the first afternoon of August, I stepped onto the plane that would take me to Miami with tears in my eyes but excitement in my veins. Seeing my mother cry before I left was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to see and almost made me feel guilty about leaving even though I knew that she was just as excited and happy for me as I was. But as soon as I arrived at the Miami airport, I knew that I was getting even closer to the start of my exchange. Even with a 12 hour delay waiting for me when I arrived in Miami and a sleepless night alone in the airport, I was still just as ready to arrive in Brazil.

My flight to the Sao Paulo airport was a short one (at least to me) and as the plane started landing, I looked over the city lights with such wonder and amazement that the man sitting next me had to ask if I was okay! I rushed out of the plane going straight to baggage claim because my first priority was to make sure that my belongings were safe with me.

The wait for my bags was almost 45 minutes but once I had them both in my hands and was now on my way to see my future parents, the real panic started settling in. What if they don’t like me? What if they aren’t nice? All of that worry went away as soon as I recognized my host sister and the smiles from my host parents face when I found them waiting for me. We hugged and hugged and I felt relieved that I managed to find them and have all of my luggage safe with me.

The drive to my new home was about an hour and half and I somehow managed to use all the energy I had left to talk and get to know my new family. After eating a hamburger on the beach and arriving home at 2 in the morning, I dropped my bags in my room and went to sleep! I ended up sleeping until 4 o clock the next morning! But it was for the best because by 6 o’clock, I was being greeted by my aunt and uncle with their kids who also happen to be my second host family. The house was filled with family who I got to call mine and I felt so welcomed and loved right away.

I spent the remainder of that week doing errands and getting settled into my city while also meeting more extended family and building the strong relationship that I have with them now. We visited the school that I would be going to, took a tour and I even said hi to my future classmates before my first day. My first weekend here, I learned the tradition my family has which is that my aunts and uncles and their kids from ages 12 to 27 come to our home and play cards until sometimes 2 in the morning! The house is always filled with conversations and laughter Saturday night which honestly is so nice to see and is so different than what I am used to. To see how close and connected my family is here is so beautiful and to be a part of it with open arms warms my heart.

My host family here is amazing. My host parents and I get along so well and the bond that we have has been there since we met at the airport. My host mother is a teacher and even teaches beginners English to younger and older students every day. She speaks good English which can be helpful sometimes but also a bad thing because it is easy to talk to her in English when I should be in Portuguese.

My host father on the other hand speaks no English at all and is honestly the best teacher because he knows how to teach me Portuguese and is very patient with me. Even with the language barrier, we have a pretty good relationship. I’ve learned a lot from him and our car rides to school in the morning are always with great conversation and friendly debates.

My host brother is my best friend and we have already spent hours and hours talking about anything and everything with each other when he visits on the weekend. I talk to him the most about how I am doing and what I am feeling and he is honestly like the brother that I’ve never had. You can usually find us laughing or giggling about something!

School here in Brazil is great but so different! The schools in Brazil are not as strict as they are back home. It is totally normal here for kids to be on their phones or talking while the teacher is giving their lecture. On some days, the teacher doesn’t even give a lecture and lets us do whatever we want like move the desks to the side of the room and use the computer to play music and dance for the rest of the class. The kids do not leave to go to a different classroom every period but instead the teacher picks up their books and lessons and moves to the next class they will teach. The classroom is almost never quiet but is always loud with different voices talking over each other which actually is better for me because I’m never bored and it can get very amusing sometimes.

On my first day, I felt like a celebrity because as soon as I sat down at my desk, all of the kids moved their desks to form a close circle around me so they can ask me tons of questions and get to know me. It was so nice feeling so special and wanted and I was just as excited to talk to them as they were to talk to me. My class here is small compared to the other schools because I only have about 20 kids in my class while most of the other schools have 40 or even 60 kids. I don’t mind it however because I get along really well with all of the other kids and I have classmates who I call my best friends. It’s honestly incredible how close you can get to a group of kids who don’t even speak the same language as you.

These short but long 7 weeks have been great, AMAZING, the best 7 weeks ever. I have been spending my time here hanging out with friends every day and also spending a lot of time with my host family. On one Sunday night here, I spent it going through my host family’s old family photos and talking to them until 3 in the morning! On another weekend, I spent the day trying to take as many photos as I can to capture Brazil and its wonderful spirit to show my family and friends back home.

I am always doing something new, telling myself to say YES TO EVERYTHING even if I am tired or not in the mood. Doing that is what is making my exchange as exciting and busy as it has been. Never has my life been this eye opening. I have learned so many things in the short time that I have been here, I have made so many friends already, I love my host family like they are my own, and I don't want to go back home. Sure I have days where I’m not as happy but never would I even consider going back home. Being in another country really makes you think things you’ve never thought about before. It makes you go to places in your mind you never thought you would go to.

As an exchange student, you learn so much about yourself because you are always being asked questions that you’ve never really had to answer before like what you like most about the U.S., what you don’t like, your opinion about political issues today, and so on. Your emotions are always being tested and you realize how capable you are, how much you can tolerate but also when you’ve reached your breaking point. But those weak moments when all you think you need is to talk to your friends and family back home only happen sometimes. I have experienced and learned so much already and I’m excited for what is next in the months to come.