Madi, outbound to Brazil

Bom dia!!!!! Brazil is absolutely amazing. And Ilhéus specifically, is the best place in the world.

Saying bye to my family at the airport was extremely sad but also the most empowering feeling, because once you pass through security, you are on your own. Your heart is almost beating through your chest and you feel like a total badass in your Rotary blazer. The panicking did come though. My first time on a plane and I had 5 minutes to navigate the Atlanta International Airport so I didn't miss my connection. Once in the Brasilia airport it really hit me. I'm in Brazil. I can't speak Portuguese. And why is everyone staring at me? After being given the wrong gate number and waiting there for about an hour, I realized the mistake and rushed to the correct gate and was on my way to my new home. Brazillians are the most welcoming people I've ever met, so naturally there was an army waiting for me at the airport. So many strangers hugging and kissing me and speaking things I couldn't understand. But as an exchange student you just have to go with it. The first few weeks just consisted of smiling and nodding because what else can you do when you have no idea what's going on.

Every day at noon I have lunch at my grandmother's house next door, which I dreaded the first week because the food made me sick and I felt awkward. Now I enjoy going over there because I get to do every exchange student's favorite thing; eat. And I can understand some of what is being said.

I started school my second day here. The school is like a castle and overlooks the ocean. I am in the second year so everyone is about 15-17, making me the oldest in the class. I only notice I'm with younger people when I talk to a boy classmate and they start yelling for us to kiss like in the 5th grade. Other than that, people are pretty cool. The teachers switch and not the students, so we sit in the same spot from 1:30-7 which is extrememly boring and takes up the whole day because the sun goes down at 5ish. Lucky for me, yesterday was my last day of school because everyone else has tests which I don't have to take.

I got to go to Salvador for 4 days because I missed orientation with the other exchange students. This was aweome! I stayed with an exchange student from Saint Louis and his extremely generous family. They gave us a personal tour of Salvador (the mom knew ALL the history) and they took us out on the boat and we island hopped and swam in the clearest water.

I went another trip with my school to Chopada Diamantina for 3 days. This trip was a mix of emotions because I made friends which was good but also felt like such an outsider because I couldn't understand the jokes, the music, the games, etc. But I saw the most beautiful scenery, waterfalls, mountains, crystal clear lakes, caves endless stars and the moon rising over the mountain. We got to snorkel and explore caves, and snorkel in caves. A very cool trip.

My Portuguese is coming along aka I can understand most things but not really respond so well. Speaking in a language you don't know is scary. Mainly because I emberass myself daily. Telling my host mom "I ate bread" but the word for bread is almost pronounced the same exact way as the word for male genitalia, and of course I always accidentally say the latter. I don't know how she doesn't laugh in my face because I started cracking up when she was trying to tell me our zumba teacher was gay, but mixed up the words gay and bit#%.

Some Differences:
1. There are no rules to the road
2. Barely any traffic lights and stop signs are only suggestions
3. You can see the ocean from anywhere you are
4. You see someone you know everywhere you go
5. You have to greet everyone with a hug and kiss on the cheek
6. Everyone is always eating something, making it very easy to gain the Exchange 15
7. People take multiple showers a day
8. I'm "rich" here
9. I have to wash my own underwear and hang them to dry
10. Everyone can dance!
11. Small bikinis are beautiful not promiscuous
12. Brazilian food is NOTHING like Mexican food
13. Beans and rice are an everyday thing

I think that's everything. Thank you Rotary! & FAM Exchange is amazing and I can't imagine what I would be doing if I wasn't here. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU

To see my home page and some photos click HERE