An Eclectic Post

Aberdeen Bird - Brazil

October 14, 2015

Hey everyone, it has been a little while but I’m still alive and well.

(forewarning: this blog is eclectic and not well put together.  I’m tired and binging on chocolate and just wanted to give you an update, I will try to put more organizational support in my next post, Thank you all for reading and being interested 🙂

 I hope those of you reading this are enjoying whatever patch of the world you’ve found yourself on today.   I’m serious, please take a moment to just appreciate wherever you are because odds are it has some unique aspect of it that isn’t present in any other part of the universe.  I think we often get wrapped up in our emotional states too much to appreciate our physical surroundings and the people around us, at least this is something I have struggled with.  If you can’t find anything to appreciate in your surroundings well, a) I’m truly sorry, you can always keep trying b) just realize there is a whole world surrounding you and there are ways to travel without much of your own money being spent.  Speaking of which, here is a link to an article someone wrote on travelling frugally which I think you should look at if you’re interested in seeing the world.  If you’re unsure if you want to travel, just do it.

As I’ve been learning how to cope with homesickness some thoughts have crossed my mind that don’t have any real importance but are just small trails that could lead somewhere but are more just me tossing ideas around in my down time.  (Speaking of which, I’ve had a lot of down time these past two weeks… I’ve read four books in the course of two weeks… anyone have more recommendations, preferably something Brazil related or in Portuguese?)

Here was something I was thinking about: it’s interesting that we often look to the sky and stars to feel closer to those at home when we are far away.  You know that saying “Look up and know we are seeing the same sky”?  I know that I’ve used it before, despite how cliche it is, but the point is that it has recently struck me as odd.  Why don’t we think of how we are sitting on the same earth as someone we miss?  We are literally grounded by the same thing… I dunno, see? Doesn’t really go anywhere but it passed through my mind.  

I was also thinking of the big bad FOMO, or “fear of missing out”, as I scrolled through my facebook feed and I thought of deleting my facebook for this year but then realized all of my aunts would probably mass together in protest and demand I reconnect to let them know I haven’t been attacked by another stray dog.  Yes, another… I guess when some people think of Brasil their minds go straight to the rain forest and the Amazon so they think of all these exotic and strange animals.  They are here, and I’ve seen some, but nothing like a 38 foot snake or a six foot long river otter (yes these do exist).  So, with that in mind, I’m sorry to say that I have not yet had to fight bare handed with a cobra. I have, however, had a run in with a stray dog.  

This is not a story of me almost being attacked by a stray dog.  This is a story of an abuse of trust.  

This. Is. Sparta.

Okay, I’m sorry, this post is getting a little out of hand.  I think it’s because my host mom has gone out for the evening and I had free reign over the kitchen and some reals burning holes in my pocket so naturally I set out to make as many microwavable mug cakes as possible and I may or may not have gone through a lot of sugar in my experimentation.

Verdict on mug cakes: kind of lame.  They’re really hyped up but I would rather just make a real cake.  Perhaps I just used bad recipes.  Let me know if I should ever attempt to restore my faith in these pinterest celebrities.

Ok, back to the falling out between me and this dog.  For the time I’ve spent in Itapiruba, I thought I made one truly loyal friend here.  He didn’t have a name and he was a sandy stray dog with a goofy face.  Whenever I walk on the beach he always used to trot beside me in an unspoken companionship one can only have with a dog.  I’ve never really interacted with him besides just walking and existing on the same beach as him.  Until the 12th of October, 2015.  

There I was doing my thing.  Walking. When all of a sudden I hear barking from behind me and see my canine “friend” barreling at me until he looped around me with his hackles raised and started barking and growling at me and forcing me to step backwards.  Then he went for my leg which, to my luck, he missed and only got my pants.  I yelled at him but he didn’t go away and I’m grateful for some surfers that were walking behind me that also yelled and clapped at the dog and so he ran over to them and didn’t seem to attack them.  

It was pretty bizarre given that I hadn’t even looked at the dog before he came at me and then he had no problem with the surfers.  Maybe he was mad at me for not walking with him the other day.  Jealous brat.  

So now, I’m not such a huge fan of all the stray dogs here, although I do still feel bad for them as they have no homes and probably just want some lovin'.  

I would like to say I have many more things to report on but it’s been too rainy for me to go out and do much besides run.  Work with the Whale project keeps being called off for me because it’s been rainy so much (damn El Nino) and you cannot see the whales if your binoculars are drenched in rain.  I’ve mostly been reading, as I said, and trying to take opportunities as they come to me.  I really would love to get out and do something and learn more about Brazilian culture but it’s proving difficult in a sleepy fishing village when you don’t speak much Portuguese.  I am going to try and look into this fishing scene more as some of my host family relatives are local fishermen and this is a really unique part of this town.  

I’m also getting increasingly more frustrated when people tell me that I don’t understand although I know frustration isn't the best way to channel my feelings.  “Pfft she didn’t understand ANYTHING I just said”, interestingly it’s usually older men that say that.  I always speak up if I don’t follow what people are saying because what is the point of trying to learn a language and passively accept defeat?

I often understand what people say but I can’t respond quick enough for them to deem me capable of hearing and thus they repeat exactly what they just said, but louder, at the same speed they said it before, when really I’m only missing one word which would pull a whole sentence together.  I think part of my frustration with all of this is that I absolutely cannot stand when someone is patronizing towards me and that’s the reaction I get a lot when I say I didn’t understand.  Alas, this is what comes with being a foreigner and learning a native language.  I definitely have a new perspective on what it’s like to be a foreigner and have such a respect for all those that do this on their own without programs like GCY and Tufts 1+4 because this is really hard for me and I can’t imagine if I didn’t have these support systems in place for me.  It’s seriously amazing and something I’ll take back with me to the U.S.

This next section of my blog is about long distance relationships, so if you don’t want to read my relationship advice, you can bail out now.  

Long Distance Relationships:

“Aberdeen, why are you writing about your relationship on here?  This is for people interested in your travels and it’s not your diary!” Perhaps that is what you are thinking.  My answer to that is that this is a part of my travels and I feel that many people kind of sweep this part of their journeys under the rug and I want to share my whole experience in Brazil.


Fortunately, my experience with a long distance relationship has been pretty positive thus far.  Yes, I know it’s only been about 2 months, not even, but I actually have full faith in it working out.  

Which is why I decided to be a part of the relationship I’m in.

I had no reservations, at all, and I think that is why lots of long distance relationships fail, people don't acknowledge their reservations. I think this is why there is this stigma that long distance relationships, especially for participants of gap years, are destined to fail and cause more trouble than they’re worth.  People aren't all in.

I came to realize there was a negative view on LDR’s when people asked me if my boyfriend and I were planning on staying together when I went off on my bridge year and he started his freshman year at college.  When I replied “yes” I got some cringes and raised eyebrows paired with warnings that this could take away from my bridge year and that LDR’s just don’t work.  He got similar responses and warnings that I would be “stolen away” by a charismatic Brazilian man.  

I think that people often go into LDR’s halfheartedly and this is where the issues are born.  It doesn’t even have to be halfheartedly, it could be 98%-heartedly and I don’t think the chances for success are very high.  It’s definitely okay to have fears and worries, but when I speak about going in with all of your heart, I mean it in the way that you have to actually want to be in the relationship for a while.  If you aren’t COMPLETELY sure you want to be with this person, then this is like a crack in a clay mug which will eventually spread to the rest of the mug and then your mug doesn’t hold anything because it’s cracked and broken up.  

Like any relationship, you have to have trust, and no, not more trust than you’d have in a ‘regular’ relationship.  It’s the same amount of trust if you’re actually looking for a relationship to be stable and healthy, it’s just that you have more stressors that make the necessity for trust more prominent.  Trust isn’t being in the same place and feeling secure because of proximity.  It’s not trust if you say “Well, I trust you, but I don’t trust that person.”  You should be confident in your partner’s decision skills and desires and if you’re not 300% sure that they don’t want anyone else, then why are you torturing yourself and dating them?  

I think there is a certain level of jealousy that can be healthy but it’s a fine line between being benignly jealous and maliciously jealous where you wish bad upon others or let the jealousy eat away at you.  For example, if your partner tells you that someone has flirted with them and you are jealous in the way that you wish you could be flirting with them, then I think that’s okay.  But the moment you start to feel true anxiety and wonder if your partner is trying to flirt back or hook up with someone else, or you start to develop real anger towards this flirter, then perhaps you need to reevaluate why you feel this way and work on the base of your relationship.  I have to admit, it’s hard to not let my mind wander to all the interesting people my boyfriend is inevitably meeting.  Like of course he is going to meet and befriend some gorgeous, funny, and intelligent people at Brown, I have no doubts in that.  But it comes down to how much I trust in him and my own confidence in myself that he wouldn’t be dating me if he didn’t want to.  You have to give your partner autonomy and know that if they didn’t want you then they wouldn’t be dating you.  If you don’t think they would tell you that they feel this way then, well, your relationship should be over anyway because why are you dating them in the first place if they don’t communicate honestly with you?

What do I want you to take from this?  I want more people that are taking gap years to realize that if you REALLY want to be in a relationship, then do it.  I found it hard to find people who had done this because most people I know just break up at the end of the summer before they part ways, whether that’s when two people go to separate colleges or separate continents.  People just don’t want to do it because it’s difficult and perhaps not what they really want.  I just wanted to put it out there that yes, long distance relationships are extremely difficult at times, but they can just enhance your life experiences if you go about them the right way.  Sharing experiences with someone can help you to understand your own perspectives, learn new things, and have a real support system.  Don’t get too sucked up in another person though, especially if you’re trying to experience a new culture.  Draw your lines clearly and work things out with each other, everyone is different.  

Okay, I think that is enough of my views on relationships.  I wanted to break the taboo on discussing our human relationships because it makes no sense to ignore them.  Of course we love people in our lives, we should be more open about it.  

With that, I will say goodnight.  I will try to include more order and my experiences with Brazilian culture in my next post.  I want to put more effort in to explain my perceptions of Brazilian culture so you can expect that in the near future.  (:

Boa Noite!!

Oh, I forgot to say.  

Turns out that Brazilians refer to attractive people as “gatos”.  For a while I was terribly confused why everyone was talking about cats all the time.  

I don’t let anything past me…

Aberdeen Bird