Readjustment, Perseverance, & Gratefulness

Erica Gonzales - Brazil


June 1, 2016

Before I officially started my year in Brazil, I was confident that the year wouldn’t be that difficult. Yes, there would be challenges, but I wouldn’t cry wanting to go home. In March, I cried every morning, FaceTiming my mom when it’s 4 AM in Las Vegas telling her I wanted to go home. 

During Re-Entry Training, I was again confident that reverse culture shock wouldn’t really be SHOCK. Yeah, I would miss my Brazilian life, such as spending time with my host family or eating coxhinhas and açai anytime I want, but the shock wouldn’t be something I can’t handle. I was wrong. Reverse culture shock is not only missing people or recognizing the differences between the two cultures you lived, it’s also facing the reality of “home” and having to adjust to that reality. And because it’s been a year, you’re not the only one who’s changed. You have to adjust to both the change in you and the changes around you. This adjustment is proving MUCH MORE difficult than expected.

I won’t divulge my current struggles, but there are two things that keep me from feeling overwhelmed as I still readjust: the Global Citizen Year lessons about gratefulness and music. 

Throughout the whole year, Global Citizen Year reminded (and still does) the Fellows to always be grateful every chance they get – trainings, Facebook posts, Abby Falik’s  messages to the cohort, sessions with my Team Leader, etc. 

Here’s an incomplete list of who and what I’m grateful for:

  • My family at home for their constant love and support.
  • My Brazilian family for taking me as their own.
  • Having food to eat.
  • Having a roof over my head.
  • Being able to travel.
  • Global Citizen Year for giving me a scholarship.
  • Abby Falik for constantly motivating me.
  • My acceptance to my dream school: The Minerva Schools at KGI
  • Receiving an education.
  • The taxi driver in Salvador who helped me find the right bus.
  • The woman in Salvador who kept me company as I tried to find my way to the airport.
  • Learning a new language.
  • My Brazil cohort for providing me words of encouragement.
  • My high school teachers and counselor for educating me and writing me letters of recommendation.
  • The friends I made during my solo travels for keeping me company.
  • My Brazilian friends for making me feel welcomed in Paranaguá.
  • The Global Citizen Year cohort for inspiring me.
  • Being healthy.

And so much more.

To end this blog post, I’m also including some of the songs that keep me strong and positive, and their lyrics that resonate with me:

Moments Like This – The Afters

Here we are on top of the stars
Never thought we’d ever get this far
We live for moments like this
We come alive in moments like this

It Is What It Is – Blood Orange

Time will tell if you can figure this and work it out
No one’s waiting for you anyway so don’t be stressed now
Even if it’s something that you’ve had your eye on, it is what it is

Good Life – One Republic

Sometimes there’s airplanes I can’t jump out
Sometimes there’s bullshit that don’t work now
We all got our stories but please tell me-e-e-e
What there is to complain about

I Lived – One Republic

I, I did it all
I, I did it all
I owned every second that this world could give
I saw so many places, the things that I did
With every broken bone, I swear I lived

Novo Amanhã (New Tomorrow) – Adão Negro 

Se a barra anda pesada irmão (If the bar is heavy brother)
Persevere a fé no coração (Persevere the faith in your heart)
Fazemos reggae com alegria (We make reggae with happiness)
Fazemos reggae pra alegrar o seu dia (We make reggae to brighten your day)
Sua vida vai melhorar se você batalhar, vai melhorar (Your life will improve if you battle)
Seus problemas vão acabar (Your problems will end)

*Some of the translations are not direct translations, but I hope it conveys the meaning of the lyrics.

Put Your Records On – Corinne Bailey Rae

Girl, put your records on, tell me your favourite song
You go ahead, let your hair down
Sapphire and faded jeans, I hope you get your dreams,
Just go ahead, let your hair down.

You’re gonna find yourself somewhere, somehow.

Lessons Learned – Jenny O.

So be thankful and speak your mind
Give love to the treasures you find
When you can, try to be on time
And you’ll be happy for the rest of your life

7 Years – Lukas Graham

I only see my goals, I don’t believe in failure
‘Cause I know the smallest voices, they can make it major
I got my boys with me at least those in favor
And if we don’t meet before I leave, I hope I’ll see you later

Vagabond – WILD

Tell me where do I belong
Tell me where to go from here
So I can rewrite all my wrongs
I know there’s a place somewhere
So tell me where do I belong 

Somewhere Over the Rainbow – Israel Kamakawiwo’ole

Someday I’ll wish upon a star
Wake up where the clouds are far behind me
Where trouble melts like lemon drops
High above the chimney top
That’s where you’ll find me

Erica Gonzales