Savannah, outbound to Brazil 2015-2016

Being half way through my exchange I want to go back and explain my process of how I got to where I am today. Sometimes it amazes me to look back and realize how fast life goes. I got selected as a student to study abroad in November of 2014. The time of waiting from the interview to the call from Scott was horrible. Every day my stomach turned more and more. I was pulling into Chipotle to get lunch when I received the call from Scott telling me that I got accepted. I walked into Chipotle with puffy eyes and the biggest smile on my face. When I got back home I told my mom “you’ll miss me next year” and she automatically started crying (at the time I’m pretty sure they were tears of fear).

Reveal dinner was a night full of smiles and strangers. So many kids that barley even knew each other’s names. Then came my first outbound orientation, which was fun and boring and stressful all in one. Little did I know that was just the beginning. We started having monthly district meetings, which brought all of us together. Having a group of people go through the same thing as you makes the whole process much easier. Managing the assignments and high school and work got really difficult for me but I figured it out. I didn’t realize how important the assignments were until I arrived in Brazil. (If you’re reading this take the assignments seriously!!) When I finished school and my departure came closer I did as much as possible with my family. It all seems so surreal until you are in the airport saying goodbye. My goodbye was easily one of the hardest most exciting moments of my life.

I strongly feel that Rotary gives you two major things... a family and new start. I have formed such a bond with so many people that I honestly cannot see my life without. My best friend is from Denmark and Denmark is really far from Florida (We are already planning dates for her to come visit me next year). My host sister has grown such a place in my heart as well as my host mom and dad. I have been fortunate enough to stay with the same family all year (something I asked for). I was matched perfectly to this family and I cannot wait to finish out my exchange year with them by my side.

Recently I went on a trip to Rio de Janeiro, which was arguably one of the best experiences I’ve had on my exchange so far. I saw and experienced a different part of Brazil from the thousands of people, the STARBUCKS, the different culture, to the style of dance (I cannot samba). The last night there my phone was stolen out of my room while I spelt from one of my fellow roommates. As upset as I was I didn’t let that ruin how amazing the overall trip was. I am very thankful to have had my gopro videos and pictures. New Years was amazing because of the different culture and traditions that correspond with the holiday. Everyone dresses in all white and jumps 7 waves for good luck when the clock strikes 12. The holiday is very family orientated and special. I loved having my whole family around and celebrating with them (and the food). I just started school again and I will start gymnastics again next week. Life is great here in Brazil.

One of my biggest goals that I wanted to accomplish while on exchange was to find myself. Taking that leap of leaving everything for a year to study abroad was one of the hardest and most rewarding decisions I’ve ever made. I have learned more about life in the past year than I did in all of high school. I have made lifelong friends and been experienced to a culture and whole new world that only few are lucky to experience. With all of that being said… Happy 5 months (and 3 weeks) and thank you so much Rotary for changing my life.

To see my homepage and some photos click HERE