Madi, outbound to Brazil

Christmas in Brazil is celebrated on Christmas Eve and the whole family gets together and exchanges gifts and eats lots of food. It felt more like Thanksgiving than Christmas, but maybe because it was about 88 degrees and not a normal cold Christmas Day. I went to the beach on Christmas Day, like it was any other normal day.

New Years here was sooo fun. I spent a week at a friend's house and went to 3 days of concerts and shows on Batuba Beach with thousands of other people. New Year's Eve was one of the best days because I was also with the other exchnage students and we snuck are way into the VIP area where we got free food(very important on exchange). On New Year's in Brazil everyone is in white. White symbolizes the peace everyone wants for the new year. You can also wear yellow, to symbolize you want gold/money, red, for love, etc. However, with everyone in white it made it very hard when asking my friends if they thought "that guy there. In the white shirt" was hot. Overall a great night/morning with friends and fam.

Carnaval in my city was the last weekend in January and it was so fun! It wasn't super crowded like the one in Salvador, and it was much easier to run away when creepy guys tried to kiss you. Basically we just danced in the street all night and followed the music.
Carnaval in Salvador was crazyyy. The first day we(20-30 exchange students and Rotex) were on the ground following a bloc. Following a bloc just means that you follow a trio and by follow I mean you get pushed around in a mosh-pit with matching shirts. Carnaval is NOT for the claustrophobic. You are pushed up against strangers and everyone is just mixing sweat while jumping up and down to the music. And there are quite a few fights that break out(because the majority of everyone is drunk). Although it doesn't sound too glamarous, it was extremely fun. The second day we spent half the time on the ground and the other half on a trio. Being on the trio was fun because you can blow kisses to strangers and never see them again. Also, if you accidentally dump water on someone's girlfriend, the super scary, strong boyfriend can't chase after you because he doesn't have the bracelet to enter. However, if someone is very determined to reach you on the trio, they wi ll. Like in the case of my older siser that was visiting me and came to Carnaval with us; she blew a kiss to a guy on the ground and he managed to climb up the emergency ladder of the trio(a difficult feat) and get his well-deserved kiss from my sister.
I got to go to a 3rd day of Carnaval because I got lucky and the super awesome German family I was staying with, took the 4 of us girls that were staying in their house. We were in Camarote this time, so we just ate a lot of free food and watched the trios and blocs pass from a nice, spacious upper area. When we were leaving we saw a sea of white headed towards ur, and this sea of white were the Sons of Gandhi. They dress in all white and blue with hundreds of blue and white bead necklaces around their necks and a bottle of perfume in their hands. If you kiss them they spray you with perfume and give you a bead necklace. An excellent addition to my blazer.

The next week was my birthday and my sister and her friend came to visit. It was nice to show them around my new home and we went to the beaches and the iate clube.
This past week, the exchange students from my city and the next city over, were on the news and then went to a Rotary meeting where I got to speak a little speech that we all wrote about the influence of exchange. It was my first time speaking in front of a Rotary Club for more than 15 seconds. I was so nervous and could never have been able to do that 2 months ago, but I think my Portuguese is improving and I definitely felt that at the meeting.

Me and two friends got to go to a beautiful waterfall with their mom and swim around for the day, which was awesome and made me forget that vacations already ended.
Tomorrow I will change families for the first time! I will surely miss my family now. I love my mom and little brother, but am excited for a new experience with a family that is super welcoming.

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