I wrote a journal…

Fernanda Tornell - Brazil


May 18, 2017

Its over! I am back from Brazil… 

Throughout my time there I decided to write a journal, I have never kept a journal or a diary before but since this experience was so unique and GCY encouraged it a lot I decided to try and write one. I did not religiously write every night before I went to bed. Only when I felt like I needed to document something so that later on I would remember. Yesterday I wrote my last entry, and stayed up until 3am reading my entire journal. I decided to share some of these with you all (I am not sure if there’s anyone reading my blogs, and if you are, sorry I am terrible at them.. haha). Anyways, whoever is reading, thank you for being interested in my experience and for sticking with me all the way to the end. This is officially my last blog so enjoy, and goodbye!

Keep in mind that I typed these exactly as I wrote them on my journal so this is not a formal writing at all. It’s mostly me ranting nonsense… buuut enjoy!

-(the words in parentheses are the only ones I added so that the text would make sense for whoever is reading this:)

-(the “…” are me cutting out my rants)

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Feb 8 

Today I got accepted to Global Citizen Year and it was so unexpected cause I genuinely thought I wouldn’t get in! I opened my email because Leila needed help with her resume and as soon as I spotted the line that said “Congratulations!” I couldn’t believe it! My

 emotions were all over but I couldn’t cry and I was home alone so I called Rena…

I am so excited to embark on this journey and see all of the opportunities this will bring for me. This dream is starting to become a reality and I am so beyond excited to see what the future holds.

August 13

I am officially 6 days away from leaving to San Francisco and it is starting to hit me how much I will miss my life here (California).  I haven’t really been that nervous about leaving because it always felt so distant but now it is so close, it’s starting to feel real. 

I’m excited to meet everyone. I have been talking to this girl, Kenya, on FB. She seems fun and I am glad I got to talk to her so that I have someone right away.

August 19

I am currently sitting down at the gate from which I will be departing to San Fran. I am beyond stressed and tired, mostly because I didn’t get any sleep last night… I haven’t cried in any goodbye and I am honestly scared that I will break down at any moment…

 It’s scary to think that I will be away from everything I know for 8 months, but at the same time that’s what excites me the most. I am so nervous. I am definitely having second thoughts about this because I don’t know if I’ll be able to handle the pressure.

 But one thing I know is that one of my goals for Brazil is to be more confident in myself and to have faith that I can do something like this. That I am strong enough and in the end I know everything will be worth it.

October 15

Perto de toda positividade

My mom is amazing. (my host mom). She has opened my eyes to so many new ways of thinking. She is always saying that our energies attracted each other and thats why we get along so well and honestly I couldn’t agree more. She always says that it is my attitude towards this experience why I am handling it so well and why I am getting so accustomed to life here without struggling that much.

I guess I never realized that I also think this way until she put it into words: A good attitude towards everything you do will always attract good things in return. Today I was gonna write a caption for a picture “longe de toda negatividade” (far away from all the negativity) I asked my mom if I had spelled it correctly and made sense and she said yeah but that it was better to say “perto de toda positividade” so that I didn’t use negative terms. And I loved her perspective… the moment when we stop being so negative will be when we live a happier life. 

October 25

Today was great. Apart from the morning that I had to clean pool 5 fand literally got soaked from the knees down. But honestly that wasn’t even bad because if I cared about every little thing I would legit be miserable. But anyways that’s not what I wanted to write

 about. 

All night yesterday and this morning as I was riding my bike I was preparing to do my monitoria  for Du (a monitoria is a tour around the pools where I worked. Du is my supervisor). I was a little nervous to do it but at the same time I was surprised at how little I was freaking out… But yeah I was really proud of myself when I finished. I overheard Penna ask Du how it how it went and Du said “Me impressionou cara, ela estava falando coisas que nem eu sabia quando comecei” (she impressed me, she was saying things I didn’t even know when I started). That felt nice to hear. I am very proud because before I just wanted to give up and not do it. All morning I was wishing that he would forget I even checked his “ponto” to see if he had shown up to work hahaha… I’m actually very happy with myself because I accomplished something I was afraid to do and in the end it was no big deal. Next feat is overcoming the actual monitoria which will be soon. It also feels awesome to have more responsibilities at work like “pesquisas and temperaturas”.

December 12 

It feels so good to be able to say I am proud of myself! About two weeks ago I started to do “monitorias” at first it was very nerve racking because of my stage fright, I would get very nervous. I even cried once after doing an “alimentacao”. But honestly after doing it every day since I started to realize that I shouldn’t run away from my fears, but face them. I realized that “fake it till you make it” is a real thing and that by being confident so many more doors open. I can be anything I want to be. I actually realized that I hate the concept of  “finding yourself” because you are whatever you want to be in that moment. Finding yourself only refers to something in the future, but I should be whatever I want to be now! To think that at the beginning of this journey I was scared to say “qualquer dúvida fica a vontade” ( if you have any questions feel free to ask) to the tourists and now I am talking to groups of more than 30 people. I am proud because there has been so many times where I just wanted to give up because

 it was the more comfortable thing to do. But by always staying in my comfort zone I was not allowing myself to grow. What is the point of life if I don’t take risks and do things that I am not comfortable with?

May 17

I was about to title this “back home” but I unconsciously hesitated because what is home anymore anyways!

Well I am back in Irvine and I haven’t written in a while. As I approach the last pages of this journal, I feel the need to write a sort of write a conclusion or some sort of ending to this experience because I started this journal when I started thinking of taking some time off after high school so it only feels right to describe my last days…

As I am writting about all this (my last days) I can feel my chest become heavy yet empty at the same time. Tears are filling my eyes as flashes of moments I lived through attack my head. Flashes of laughs, cries, hugs, kisses, all project in my memory as if I am living them right now. But I can’t help but feel that I was never there. It’s hard to explain. Sort of like a feeling of nostalgia where I remember every moment perfectly but at the same time it feel so distant.. almost as if I had dreamt it.

The hardest part out of everything was saying goodbye to my family. Everytime mae (mom) and I would think “one week” tears of denial filled both our eyes. As I gathered all my things I had managed to spill throughout the house during 8 months, I could feel Gabriella

 shadowing me from room to room. Asking if I needed help while at the same time singing “bicicleta” (her favorite song).

I miss her. I miss the sound of her voice screaming “Feeeee” every time I would come home. She would hear my footsteps on the tiny rocks outside my house and almost immediately run out of the house to greet me with a huge smile on her face and her arms open ready to embrace me. 8 months ago I was a complete stranger to her. I can still remember when I met her, she probably had no idea what was going on and why I was staying in her house. But only two weeks later she was already saying that we were sisters at heart… My family and I, we grew a bond so strong and so quickly, it is hard to explain to people. It pains me to think that I left them and that I had a huge impact in their life and then suddenly I just left. It scares me that eventually I will become a stranger

 to Gabriella, and she will only remember me as some “gringa” that stayed in my house for a few months and ate all my food.. Maybe I’m wrong and just exaggerating but I am literally going through a rollercoaster of emotions which I really don’t know how to handle or make sense out of. What helps me get rid of these thought is that  for me, they will forever hold an essential part in my heart and always be my family. So hopefully they think the same. What I’m thinking is that we are all human and even though

 they miss me, they can still live without me. And so can I.

People here don’t seem to understand this experience as much, and it is also very hard to explain. So many people have asked me “how was Brazil OMG?” and every time I vaguely reply “It was incredible, I want to go back!” and they don’t really care to ask more, there

 has only been a few people who have actually cared and demanded more answers. But it was so much more than “incredible”.. How do you describe 8 months of your life in only one sentence? You can’t… They only see my experience through the eyes of what is posted

 on my social media. But they don’t really know what it was really like. They don’t know that there were days where I would go to bed early and just cry myself to sleep because I was so overwhelmed. Or that there were days that all I wanted to do was hug my parents or crack up with my brothers. They don’t know that I craved hummus with my entire being (haha). They don’t know that my one goal for the 8 months was to gain confidence and self-esteem, and I am so proud to have done so. Or all of the incredibly-amazingly-loving-beautifully-wonderful people I met. Starting from Kenya who was my partner in crime since day 1 and eventually became like my sister. My co worker Karen who would be the highlight of my day at work and never fail to make me laugh. So many incredible humans who i now miss too much.. all the way to the one uber driver who Kenya and I spent new years with because there was so much traffic, and I continuously got him as my uber driver randomly throughout my stay and in the end we already knew each other. They also don’t know that there were

 days when I felt so overwhelmingly happy I thought I was crazy. They don’t understand why when referring to the people I stayed with I use words like “my mom, my sister, or my family” because that’s how strong of a bond we have…

I never even kept a journal before but somehow before I applied to GCY I started writing on this. The first date I wrote was February 3, 2016. It baffles me how much I have changed since I started writing here and how much i have experienced. I am still trying to fathom the fact that I am back. I have no idea what I am going to do next but I am excited to end this journal with a right state of mind and am ready to start anew. I’m going to leave a few blank pages because I know that this chapter in my life has not ended, and will forever feel unfinished. Also because there is no way to write a perfect conclusion, I could go on for hours.. These blank pages will forever linger, exactly like this entire experience will forever linger in my heart.

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Fernanda Tornell