Murphy, Outbound to Brazil

And just like that here we are at the end of my exchange. 10 months could not have gone by faster yet felt like a lifetime. I am in the ending stages of my exchange and I have never felt nor expected to feel this way. As of today, I have 20 days left in my new home, Araguaína, Tocantins. I can tell you last year at this time I was not excited about coming here and easily not ready to consider this place a home. Now 287 days later, I am sitting and dreading leaving.

The ending of exchange is such a paradox. You feel excited to return home, see your family and friends and house and life after living abroad for 10 months. But at the same time, you are dreading giving up what you have created. It is exactly how they explain it, learning to live with your heart in two separate homes.

While I could not be more excited to hug my Kaki and my Dad, be with my siblings, or kiss my best friends; the thought of leaving my new sister, my new dad, and my new friends makes me feel equally devastated. Moving away from this newly comfortable, free way of life back to reality is daunting. Now the tables have turned, and the fear of the unknown has become my own home. What has changed? How tall is my little brother? How will things be when I get back? While the constant and comfortable has become the life I had once been asking these questions about.

Since the last time I have written a few more extra-noteworthy events have passed by.

I went on the Amazon Rainforest trip. This was 9 days of traveling, we got to visit the capital of the state of Amazonas. Then we embarked on 3 boats and spent 7 days living in the Amazon Rainforest. It was such a special and amazing experience. We slept in hammocks along the boat and passed each day disconnecting to our phones and connecting with each other and nature. I met new friends from all over the world, I got to see breath taking sights, and so much more. This really is a major “to do” for those exchange students heading to Brazil. Some of my favorite activities were canoeing along the river, planting trees in the rainforest, getting to hold a sloth, and even spending the night in the rainforest!

After returning from the trip I experienced the typical “Post Rotary Trip Depression”. I spent lots of time crying and wishing I was home, but nothing new here. Very quickly after I had returned from my Amazon trip, I convinced my parents to let me visit the city where I had wanted to do my exchange, Curitiba. Luckily things worked out and Rotary gave me clearance to go and visit. I had my final Rotary orientation coming up, so I planned my Curitiba trip right after that. The Rotary orientation was a tear jerker being that I had to say my goodbyes to the rest of the exchangers from my district. The kids who openly welcomed me to this country and kept me strong in my times of need, the ones who were facing many of the same problems I had faced, the ones who had soon become some of my best friends for life. Saying goodbye that early was really hard and really was the start of my heart being pulled in two.

Shortly after I was off on my trip to Curitiba. I cannot put into words my love for this city. I have never loved one place so very much, maybe it was because of my wonderful company I had with me, but regardless I know one day I will be going back. Curitiba is a city full of things to do, places to visit, things to explore. It is an ideal place to have an exchange, those going there are quite lucky. I was able to get a taste of the Brazilian city life and some of the luxuries that I was missing back in my good ‘ole cowboy city, Araguaína. At the end of the day I do not regret my extra trip to Curitiba one bit and would easily do it again if I could.

After coming home from Curitiba, I surprisingly felt very little depression. In my head I was expecting to come home and just be smashed by sadness, but it was honestly quite the opposite. I was refreshed with a newfound respect and love for my small little cow town, Araguaína. Yes, Curitiba is beautiful and luxurious and everything I had hoped for from my exchange… but Araguaína is my home. They say that it’s not about the place you go, it’s about what you do with the experience. Although Murphy from 10 months ago would aggressively disagree and probably start crying hearing that, Murphy now would undoubtedly agree.

Yes, if I could go back and choose a country I had wanted, I would. But at the same time, I do not think I would change a single thing about my exchange. The challenges and hard times I faced and was put through only made me into a stronger person than I was in the past. Not to discredit other exchanges being that each is unique to the person and situation, but I feel that receiving a country that 1, you hardly expected to receive and 2, really did not want to receive creates more of a challenge to your exchange. It forces the exchanger to open their mind and become an even more receptive person. I know it was very difficult for me to accept Brazil and then even more difficult accepting knowing I was heading to live in the middle of no where Brazil. But the sensation of knowing I did it, and did it successfully is 100 times more rewarding than that of going to a tourist city in Europe.

For those of you considering exchange, preparing for exchange, or on an exchange reading this:

Keep going, keep pushing, keep your head held high. Regardless of what you are going through now, know that in the end the outcome highly out ways the beginning. In the moment your current problems and issues may seem like the end of the world or may cause you to feel that going home is your only option. It’s not the end of the world and do not even give yourself the option to go home. Finish whatever you start and do it smiling because each challenge we are faced with only makes us stronger. At the end of the day you will regret not taking these opportunities you are given and who wants to live in regret?

For Rotary, my family, and my friends:

Within a few short weeks I will be home and be with you all. All I can say is thank you. One of the biggest lessons I have learned from my exchange is: Be thankful. Be grateful. Be humble. Saying “thank you” never hurts anyone and showing your gratuity is a beautiful thing. I am beyond thankful for Rotary for giving me this opportunity. I am so grateful for my friends and the support they sent me throughout my time here. And my family, I could never say thank you enough to you guys. The overwhelming love and support you guys provide me with helped me push through each day and continue going to create the best exchange I could.

Honestly speaking, did I think I would ever make it to this point in my exchange? No. Did I feel as though the world was constantly against me? Yes. But did I make it out a survivor and a better person? 110% YES!

Click HERE to read more about Murphy and all his blogs.