Summer, outbound to Brazil

Here I stand, not knowing whether to be nervous or excited, but I guess this is what they call adventure. 

As I write this, it has been exactly one month, one week, 8 hours, and 28 minutes since I made the best decision of my life: to board the plane heading to Curitiba, Brasil. When the Rotex were reminding us to savor the time here, I thought they were exaggerating; the time I’ve spent in Brasil feels like days, not a whole month.

Since that fateful day of July 20th, I have:

-Met new friends from around the world
-Started my Brazilian school
-Gotten lost and found my way out
-Danced at a music festival
-Eaten chicken heart, maracujá, brigadeiro, coxinha, quindim, and many other traditional foods
-Learned (and still learning) to navigate the bus system
-Visited glorious landmarks such as Jardim Botânico and Rua 24 Horas
-Gorged at my first churrascaria
-Cooked a german cake
-Went to Orientation
-Traveled to other cities such as Pinhais and Morretes
-Met and took a selfie with the mayor of Curitiba
-Partied in a traditional Festa Junina

I cannot begin to explain how hard it is to describe a new life in words. Since going abroad, I’ve began to notice that life and culture are less about words and more about subtleties, like the constant chatter in our house or the smell of fresh pão de queijo and feijão e arroz. Coming from a relatively small family, it has been a dynamic change to share a house with four family members. When I stepped off the plane, I had not expected my family, extended included, to be so grand.

Being the only American in my school, the questions have ranged from, “What do you think of Obama?” to “Can you twerk?” The best adjective I can use to describe my first few days in school is chaotic.

As for the school functions, my classes start at 7:20 (more or less) and end at 12:35. Each day, we have 6 different classes that rotate throughout the week with a 10 minute break in-between the 3rd and 4th. My classes include Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Philosophy, History, Math, English, Portugese, and Physical Education. I am a second in Ensino Medio; there are a total of 3 years, unlike the American 4 year style. The first and second year classes are more relaxed while the 3rd year class is much more intense since they are studying for the Vestibular, a test taken at the end of their school year in November. Each year is divided into letters, for example 1A. My class name is 1B and my class number is 44. Classes here don’t stay in a single classroom, instead they rotate into other classrooms as a whole.

As for the food, it is more gostoso than you can imagine; a few of my favorites include pão de queijo, brigadeiro, pão de batata, but the fruit here takes the cake of being the freshest and most mouth watering temptations. My bus stop is right in front of a fruteria, a shop that sells fruit, vegetables, and grains, so almost everyday I’m eating fresh fruit. I have yet to try açai berries but they're next on my list.

Coming from a vegetarian household, eating meat was a huge step. I have tried chicken (not just the heart), beef, fish, and so my next stop is pork. I have to say, they were all delicious. I am excited to try more foods as my time continues. Another meaty meal I’m looking forward to is Barreado, a creamy meat served with bananas from Paraná.

Each day is an adventure that claws at your curtains with the sun and chases you around until you’re absolutely insane and sleeping, only to greet you again the next day. What I have noticed is that the more I think, the quicker this exchange is going to be. That can be misinterpreted but already, it’s been almost two weeks since our first meeting yet the exchange students have already bonded. Time is flying and slipping past my fingers like water.

Here I stand, not knowing whether to be nervous or excited, but I guess this is what they call adventure.