I am staying in the beautiful city of Florianopolis for my first month in Brazil. With more than 90 beaches and palm trees lining the streets, I’m sure you can imagine its grandeur. My homestay is in the bairro (neighborhood) of Lagoa Da Conceicao. Translation: Lake of Conception. It’s a beautiful, and very tropical neighborhood. There aren’t too many people to make it overwhelming and not too few people which would make it boring.

The Brazil cohort of 2015 has been here for one week. We started out our journey here at the Floripa Surf Camp hostel. It was a nice place to stay for couple days before we would be introduced to our new family and month long homestay. Right across the street from the hostel was the Lagoa, the most beautiful lake I’ve ever seen. If you walk out of the hostel and down the street for about five minutes you’ll come across the downtown area of Lagoa. This is where we participated in an enthralling scavenger hunt on our second day, and where I travel to everyday to attend language class, grab lunch, and engage with the locals. This is pretty much my everyday schedule except for Mondays, Fridays, and weekends.

Portuguese language class from 9-12.

Lunch from 12-2 at Querubim (a great buffet lunch spot).

Debriefing and cohort building at the ACIF building from 2-4:3.

Then I have the rest of my day free to go down to the Centro, explore Lagoa or even hang out at other fellows homestays.

A homestay is probably a somewhat foreign idea to most people who haven’t done it. It may sound scary or dangerous. In reality, I wouldn’t want to have it any other way. I enjoy having time and space away from the other fellows and the opportunity to practice my Portuguese with my host parents Caio (28) and Melissa (32). They are about a decade and some change younger than my own parents but I am really enjoying staying with them. It helps that my host dad, Caio cooks like a chef. The first meal we cooked together was a delicious four cheese veggie lasagna. Caio is pretty much fluent in English and we can engage in conversation about anything from Religion to Brazilian cinema. Melissa is so kind and helpful and they’re both adventurous. We plan to go hiking next weekend. Melissa also speaks English but I appreciate her efforts to only speak to me in Portuguese. Last night they took me and a few of my friends to a dance party at a Samba club in Lagoa called Casa Di Noca. I had a great time and really enjoyed learning to dance like the Brazilians.

My first week in Lagoa da Conceicao has been a great one, one of the best first week experiences I’ve ever had and I won’t forget it.

About the Title:

As mentioned above, the English translation of Lagoa da Conceicao is Lake of Conception. If you go on to the online Merriam Webster Dictionary and type in the word ‘conception’ at least three main definitions will pop up, along with their sub-definitions. The definition of the word that I feel that I identify with most is number three: the originating of something in the mind or in one word, a CONCEPT.

In Portuguese, CONCEICAO.

In school, I always had many concepts thrown at me at once, my brain forced to try and memorize them all. I do think that learning and mastering concepts is a staple of education, but I believe that the student should also be granted the opportunity to introduce and live by their own concepts. Inspired by this thought and the name of my bairro (for now) I came up with the concept of Independent Positivity.

It is broken up into two halves. The first half is Independence. Away from my family and all things comfortable and familiar I must gain and live by independence. I have to be okay with the fact that sometimes I may have to be the one there to catch me when I fall. Often times, with independence there also comes fear, so I must remain positive in my independence. This introduces the second half – I must always make sure that I keep a positive thought because positive thought cannot be denied.