I have been here in Florianopolis, Brazil for about a month now. Everyone keeps asking me the famous question, “how’s Brazil?” Honestly, even after being here for a month, I still do not know the answer. I am living. I am experiencing, embracing, adapting, anticipating. I respond, “it’s good”. Every time. Not fully sure just how I feel. Soon, Brazil will feel more like a home than an extended vacation.
Onto the good stuff:
This is my host family. The sweetest, funniest, most animated group of people I have met here in Brazil thus far. They speak English quite well which is both a blessing and a curse but as I learn Portuguese, they ask me questions they have about English words… so I guess it’s a win-win. My host parents, Kamila and Michele are ALWAYS laughing and teasing me. I’m always excited for our next conversation and I love being able to teach them things about my culture as I learn things about theirs.
These are my siblings, Kena and Scott; the cutest kids I have ever met. They speak little to no English which has been challenging for all three of us, but definitely brought us closer as we try to communicate with one another daily. Every day I wake up and I am greeted by Scott yelling, “Tia!” (aunt) when he sees me and running up to me to give me the biggest hug. The absolute most precious thing.
The first day I met my family, they took me to look at the island. One of the things that I can definitely say about Florianopolis is that it is absolutely GORGEOUS. Everywhere I go, I am awestruck by the beauty surrounding me. Here, take a look for yourself:
This is just a taste of what I am surrounded by, here in Brazil.
Even though I am spending 3-4 days out of the week assisting at a Creche (nursery) and one day a week taking language class to perfect my Portuguese, I have a lot of free time. A lot of time to think, to bask, to explore, to just be. When people think of Brazil, they think PARADISE!! Beaches, surfers, the whole nine yards. I mean I suppose this is partially true. But for me… at this very moment. At this one-month (more or less) mark, Brazil is so much more than that to me. This is where I will be spending the next 6 months of my life. Where I will face obstacles and changes that will make me rethink my whole life, including this bridge year I have decided to embark on. There have been days where I sit in bed thinking, what am I doing right now? What is this going to do for me? Do I want to go home or do I just miss what I know?
I’m not sure
I try my best to stay positive and attempt to keep my head on straight. I journal about my feelings and talk to my family so I can still hold a piece of home close to my heart. I sometimes feel I could be doing more or that I am doing too much to feel like I belong here. I feel I am too eager. Too ready for something that I am not even sure exists. It’s like I want to be here and there at the same time. I am living my best live here in Brazil but still feel that I am not doing enough.
The other day, the other fellows and I met up again for what Global Citizen Year staff refers to as “closing seminar.” It only lasted for two days but gave us a chance to be around people we knew (and to stop holding our breaths and speak English for a little bit). On the second day of the seminar we went on a hike. I thought, okay cool. I like hikes. This should be fun. On the way to our destination, we were told to stay quiet… to just embrace nature and all of its aspects. To not look back, only forward, and to watch out for snakes or other possible dangerous critters.
We climbed up a steep hill. Then another… and another. Rocks, stones, pebbles rolling down the hill at our feet. Our hearts racing as the sun beamed down on our skin. Our thoughts brewing. No one knew how long the hike would be or what we were really in for so we were all just following the group. Walking together towards the beach. All of us were excited to reach our destination and finally cool off. We reached the top of a steep slope.
We stopped. We were told to now turn around. Turn and look at how far we had come. After struggling and trudging through the heat, we made it to the top. We walked in silence as if we had been holding our breaths, anticipating what was to come. And here we were at the top.
I thought hard about this as we continued our walk. This represented our journey. Our bridge year, growth period… whatever you’d like to call it. There will be so many obstacles throughout these seven months. So many rough patches and so many times when we would be stepping out of our comfort zone or feel like we do not belong here. So many times when we think to ourselves, what the heck am I doing here? When will I reach that point where I feel like I have done something worth mentioning? The point where I feel content?
We eventually made it to the beach. To our destination. Our safe haven, if you will. This was what we had all been waiting for. After rain comes shine. After the storm, comes the calm.
I thought a lot about this hike…still do. About the whole journey. About how far I have made it in just one month. Like… whoa. I’m really here. I’m living on an entirely different continent, guys!! What the ____. It made me realize that I don’t need to rush this. I don’t need to stress about missing out back home or about not doing this or that here. My life is in Brazil now. What is meant to happen, will happen. What is meant for me will come. And what I am meant to do, I will do. Until then, I will continue to take life one day at a time.
Brazilian in the making (;