Luke, outbound to Brazil

Ola todo mundo! Tudo bem? Hello everyone, greetings from the beautiful city of Santos, Brasil! It has been a real whirlwind since I arrived here two months ago. I’ve already had so many amazing experiences that I will carry in my memories forever. I feel like the luckiest exchange student ever.

My flight and the travel went smoothly. I arrived at about 5am in Sao Paulo. Circling the city and seeing the massive sea of lights, it finally hit me that this was it. What I had been working towards for so long was about to begin.

I can’t say enough praises about my host family and city. My family has been absolutely wonderful to me. We get along so well. They just had a baby 8 months ago so it is nice to have a cute baby to take the attention away from “the exchange student” at family gatherings and events. My host mother slaves in the kitchen so many hours a day to put wonderful fresh meals and delicious fruit juices on the table. She is a saint, I love her. While it took me a little while to get adjusted to the cuisine (rice and beans at least once every day), now I feel like I can’t live without it.

Santos is a large port city located 2 hours outside of Sao Paulo on the coast. It has about 430,000 people. It has been an incredible change to live in an apartment in a big city. There is so much to do here in Santos. From cheering on my local futebol clube, going to concerts and baladas, or just enjoying a nice coconut water and pastel on the beach with good friends, there’s hardly ever a dull moment here. I have those “pinch me I must be dreaming” moments all the time. This past weekend I took a bus on my own to a suburb of Sao Paulo and cooked a Churrasco (Brasilian bbq) party with a bunch of exchange student friends. It was an accomplishing feeling to finally be able to communicate and travel on my own speaking Portuguese. It was also very cool to actually cook Churrasco this time after observing many Brasilian dads teach me their secrets.

If you weren’t an introspective person before exchange, you certainly will become one during it. So many times when you’re sitting clueless as to what people are talking about. So much time left to your own thoughts, wishing you could communicate. It’s nice to take a long run down the beach to clear my head. I’m finally starting to understand most all of conversations and can communicate, but it wasn’t easy. I’ve had to work very hard to learn this language. It is very different from English. The education system in the United States really does a poor job of preparing students going into international settings. It is pretty embarrassing to be surrounded by trilingual/quad-lingual European exchange students and all I know is English and broken Portuguese.

I can’t believe that almost 2 and a half months have already gone by. I can’t begin to thank Rotary enough for everything they’ve done to build this program. Both RYE Florida and Rotary Club de Santos have been very professional and devoted to my success and wellbeing. I feel incredibly fortunate to be where I am. I am especially thankful to Rob Overly for giving me this opportunity to live in Santos. I now understand why it is so fiercely defended by Rotex who lived here before me. I can’t wait to see where this year takes me. Thank you so much to everyone who has supported me thus far!

To see my home page and some photos click HERE