Swept Away and Finding Comfort – Exploring the Tip of a Very Large Iceberg.

Angus Larsen - Brazil


September 12, 2016

The colours of the buildings in Centro that surround the Feirinha do Largo da Ordem, the location for the small Sunday market that bustles with people every Sunday, and the beautiful street art, bursting with colours, captivates not only my eyes, but stimulates my emotions pulls me out of a reality that I need to be aware of. I am still being sucked into this whirlpool of foreign sounds and smells. Well, this has not been my life every day, but this metaphor somewhat sums up how swept away I have been feeling since the start of this whole ordeal that is a bridge year.

As comfortable as these first days have been, as welcoming as my host family has been and as great as I feel being here, these instances, my short absences from reality, are reminders of the fascination that may still somewhat blind me about Brazil and the things I might be missing. I have yet to come to terms with the reality of the darker side of Brazil's many facades, which is most likely due to the shelter I have experienced from it so far. Nevertheless, for now, as I live in a comfortable security starkly similar to the one I lived in at home, I enjoy the experience that I am just now starting to yield the fruits of.

Nevertheless, I am swept away by the many things that I have yet to learn. Many of these lessons are cultural. My god is there a lot of cultural capital I do not have. However, the language is the aspect that stands out most, both the Portuguese and the physical language. It is one thing having seen this intimate physicality before at an international school, yet now it surrounds me, which puts before me an entirely different experience. Much unlike Denmark, or any other place I have ever called home, this physicality of people still comes as a shock, evident in simple encounters such as greeting a friend of a friend of a friend with a kiss on the cheek, and being approached from behind and grabbed at the waist at the club by a strange guy. One day, I will get it, and hopefully embrace it too.

I am also finding myself intensely focused on reading every word that comes out of my host family’s mouth. The television is screaming “gooooooooooool!!!” in the background, a word I have yet to relate to as I talk with my host family in my broken Portuguese, stained with uhms, ahhs and foreign words. There is a long way to go for that goal. My host family, too, is extremely focused on understanding my fragmented sentences, they too ignore the scream from the TV that is a normality for them. Yet, somehow, we seem to have (somewhat) managed to exchange our passions, however complicated the Portuguese used to convey them might be. My host sister’s boyfriend has just been trying to tell me about MPB (Músicas Popular Brasileira) and how it was used as with implicit meanings against the military dictatorship that gripped Brazil in the 60s, 70s and 80s. Songs like Calicé. The stories I hear here are all fascinating, even though I know that most of the time, I am missing half the story. One day, though, one day….

This example is merely me scraping the surface of my time here, there is a journey that looms ahead. I cannot help but think that this looming unknown is bright and fruitful, not dark. As I write this, I have yet to be informed of where in Brazil I will be spending the next 6 and a half months and what I will be doing. Even then, much remains unclear. Yet, 2-3 weeks ago, I stood before a hall of many eager fellows, much like myself, speaking a language that my tongue felt comfortable in. I made friends rapidly, given the easiness of communication and the fact that we were all pretty stoked for the same thing. Although I might now be in a vividly different situation, I am excited to embrace the unknown. To end on a weak metaphor from my experience here, I will constantly be digging in the pot for ‘rapa’ (the slightly burned rice at the bottom of the pan) to yield the greatest taste from this experience.

Angus Larsen