Veronika, Outbound to Brazil

Every day here brings a new experience and new knowledge. Have I not been sent to Brazil, I would have never learned that Brazilians eat avocados with sugar, threaten to beat their kids with a flip-flop, and hold their knife in the left hand and fork in the right. Brazil is just as wild as I imagined. They have free roaming parrots, tall banana trees, and limitless supply of coconut water. Talking about coconut water (and everything “organic”), it is very popular in Brazil to drink freshly squeezed juices. They made them out of every single type of fruit here, maracuja, tamarindo, jabuticaba, and orange colored lemons… the possibilities are endless! What’s really weird is the way they peel and eat their oranges AND mangos. Oranges, they cut off the peel using a knife and then cut the orange in half, eating only the juicy insides of the fruit and leaving the skin behind. Mangos, they peel the skin off usually using their hands, but a knife works just as well, and then bite into it letting the fibers be stuck in their teeth. As much as this culture shocks me sometimes, the feeling is mutual when I tell them about things we do in the United States and Russia. Like, in the US, our dogs say, “woof, woof”, here, their dogs say, “au, au”. Or the fact that in Russia kids get punished by getting hit on the head with a wooden spoon and here, kids have a universal fear of flip-flops.

You guys were probably wondering, “Veronika, how’s the weather down there?” As all of the other exchange students who got sent to countries on the northern hemisphere are familiarizing themselves with the “true” colors of fall, here in Brazil it reaches 100ºF (38ºC) almost every day and IT’S NOT EVEN WINTER YET! Winter is their hottest season here, also the same season where they celebrate Christmas and New Year’s (no one cancelled these holidays because of the heat). Their longest “summer” break is also held between the months of December to February ← this should be another reason to motivate future exchange students to come spend their year abroad in Brazil. BUT, there is a slight disadvantage… air conditioning is very limited. In my case my family doesn’t have air conditioners in their home so I am left with a fan, an open window, and hope that it will rain again soon. I remember my family asking me in a joking manner if we have air conditioners in our bathrooms and with the straightest face I responded with, “Yes… of course”. They all started hysterically laughing (1) in pure disbelief (2) because they felt bad for me, calling me “tadinha” because no one in Brazil has air conditioners in their bathrooms… that seems absurd to them. They started laughing even more after realizing that we were talking about air conditioners while being stuck in the living room because it was the only room at the time that had a fan. Now, whenever I complain about it being too hot in Brazil, they always bring up my anecdote and say, “SORRY we don’t have air conditioners in our bathrooms!” calling ME the crazy one.

Calling someone “crazy” or a “clown” is completely normal, it’s the way they joke here; however, calling someone “boring” is considered to be the biggest insult. This basically summarizes the Brazilian culture. Coming here, you will find the best people who accept everyone with open arms and are always ready for a good time! They especially love foreigners, their “gringos”! A quote from my classmate, “You are very lucky you got to come to this country” and I couldn’t agree more. It’s extremely easy to make friends here which will help you get through this exchange and introduce everything they can to you, the food, parties, their friends, parents, aunts and uncles, you name it. Everyone and everything!

P.S. Some places I’ve visited this month:

- Belo Horizonte: Inbound student orientation where I got to meet exchange students from all around the world and exchange pins

- Caldas Novas: Visited waterparks with my family.

- State of Goias, Pirenopolis: Got to explore waterfalls and jump from a cliff

- Brasilia: National Zoo and Park Shopping

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