Wow, I’m finally here! I made it here safely (although the eight hour flight was brutal). It’s hard to believe that after months of anticipation and “preparation,” I’m finally here in Curitiba, PR, Brazil! Now, I’m lounging on my bed, listening to music, and momentarily escaping reality so that I can write this post. My schedule has been pretty packed thus far and this is probably one of the only moments I’ve had to relax and reflect.
So, what’s new with me? My first three days were a blur. They felt like vacation. I moved to a part of the world that I, a year ago, never thought of living in and never would have believed that I would be doing just that. Within these few first days, I’ve been able to cross a few things off of my bucket list: ziplining (check!), asking strangers (in Portuguese) to teach me how to Samba (check!), and venturing to South America (check!). Besides that, I’ve climbed a rock wall, saw some of Curitiba’s beauty, and learned how to navigate Curitiba’s busses. The first few days like mine are incredibly easy when you can act like a tourist, glued to the window seat on the bus watching the world go by and not worrying about the Portuguese language.
However, this ended suddenly by my fourth day – no longer was I a tourist but a resident (even if only temporarily). I guess I could say that was the day I experienced culture shock. Culture shock does not simply mean experiencing a different pace of life, living in a different part of the world, and speaking a foreign language; it is so much more complicated. Culture shock includes speaking a different language and living in a different part of the world but it also includes the ugly mix of emotions that bombard you when you must introduce yourself in front of a bunch of people while being asked questions that you hardly understand in a language you don’t yet fully speak, feeling nervous and anxious because you don’t want to mess up, and so much more that I have trouble putting into words. Honestly, I’ve never felt such a surge of nervousness, anxiety, and uncertainty than I did yesterday (my fourth day in country). I’m usually the one who is perfectly confident and assertive in any public situation not the one who sits quietly hoping to not be picked on because my nerves will contort the words I’m endeavoring to speak.
Despite the nervousness I faced and the nervousness I can’t yet say I’ve conquered, I wouldn’t trade it for anything because I’ve already had numerous experiences that I hope I never forget. Despite being overwhelmed on that fourth day, I had an absolute blast that night. I had the chance to tour some of Curitiba’s greatest parks with my host brother, see a seemingly out-of-place statue of Nicolaus Copernicus in a park dedicated to Polish immigrants, and discover some awesome running trails (I hope to run there in the next couple of days). After that, I saw a free peça de teatro that I hardly understood but nevertheless enjoyed.
Brazil, thus far, is unlike any other experience I have ever had and although there will be moments where I am struck by nerves and homesickness, I hope that they’ll pass soon. This may be the most difficult endeavor I have undertaken but I’m excited (and a little bit terrified) to continue my adventure and see where it takes me!