5 Months In

I’ve been meaning to write this blog update for… a while, now. I wasn’t sure what to say or how exactly I could represent my time here in Brazil as honestly as possible, and despite starting to write this post I still don’t really know.

But we’re coming into these last two months in-country- the final section of the GCY programming- so I thought I’d take the chance to reflect back on this past incredible, challenging time. It’s been just over 5 months since we landed in Brazil with our packed bags and anticipation, and trust me when I say that that doesn’t sound real to any of us either.

It feels like I’ve been here all of a few weeks; while simultaneously, the routines and relationships I have created almost make it seem like I’ve been here forever.

I’m not going to sugarcoat it; this is not a program for the faint of heart. Between your apprenticeship and your host family, and the many, many problems that can arise with either, as well as your relationships with the other fellows and GCY staff themselves, and just general life things as you prepare for university and life as adults in your home country, there is no shortage of things that can cause stress.

And, to be entirely honest, being in a new community, where the only people you interact with daily speak a different language than you, doesn’t help. There were moments here that I can count among the most difficult moments of my life.

But, despite all of this and the frankly ridiculous heat, I’m still glad I chose to do this.

Brazil is undeniably beautiful. Every time I take the bus (which is at least six days a week) I am reminded of my eight-year-old self who always said Brazil first when asked where she wanted to travel to in the world.

My host family are amazing. My host mom and I have simply incredible conversations, despite the language barrier and age difference. We make do with the Portuguese I know and hand gestures, yet I have a dozen memories of laughing through meals and hugging over the kitchen table all the same.

Learning a new language is something I’ve always wanted to do, and although I am very far from fluent (like, very, very far), my comprehension increases every day. Experiencing that growth is an especially unique experience, and even though my ability to speak the language isn’t quite as good, I love being in an environment of constant learning.

I’ve learned a lot about myself since being here, more than I thought I would. Any experience that causes you to challenge your preconceptions of yourself can be nothing but valuable, and going forward post-GCY I have no doubt at all that the things I’ve learned will help me be happier, healthier and generally a better person.

Outside of that, I’ve also started learning how to play the guitar, caught up on Netflix shows I’ve always wanted to watch, read some truly amazing books, met people I’ll be friends with my entire life, started some healthier habits and found the time to do some writing as well.

While I may not have had traditional 9-5 work or school to do every day, I have chosen to fill my time with things I chose, which in itself is a new experience for me.

This is not a perfect program. And these past 5 months have rarely been easy. But it’s in the challenge that I found the parts I love the most, and it’s the difficulty that I’ll carry forward with me, along with the knowledge that I got through it once and can do so again.

I have been so lucky to have been given this opportunity, and I intend to make the absolute most of the time I have left here.

This means finally getting this blog post finished, enjoying the torrential rain-storm happening outside the living room window right now, and practising my Portuguese some more.

Overwhelmingly, GCY, despite all its faults, is what you make of it.

And I intend to make it incredible.