The True Bridge-Year Experience

Malaika Nikiema - Brazil


December 8, 2019

 Coming in Brazil, 3 months ago, I had a lot of goals: become a surfista*, dance samba, interact a lot with Afro-Brazilians and by now I should have been totally fluent in Portuguese. 

This is what actually happened.

September:
I live on a mostly white island so I do not get to see a lot of Afro-Brazilians. I spent a month getting used to my new environment and not communicating with anyone out of my host family, apprenticeship supervisor and global citizen year staff and fellows. I just told myself that it was because of the language barrier. 
October:
I had an epiphany (which really sounded like: "Girl you are in Brazil, after this you are in for 12 years of med-school! You need to do something else than Netflix!" ), so I spent the next month planning and reassessing my goals for this year. I signed up for dance classes, I started writing down a business project, I joined a women-only bloco* for black an indigenous women and trying to actually do something that mattered in my apprenticeship. 

November:
I am still working towards my new goals. I have a great relationship with kids at my school and participate in projects that matter to me.I am going to play for Carnaval, I met new people and made connections, my Portuguese is settling in and I am genuinely happy.  Last week I met a Candomble* priestess who gave me a blessing for my first time eating a sacred dish from the northeast of Brazil. It was my first true interaction with the Afro-Brazilian culture. I still don't know how to surf.
December:
Another epiphany: I thought that I only started living the true bridge year experience in November but the truth is I started since September, I have an amazing relationship with my host mom and sisters and I have an amazing relationship with myself. I laid the foundations to be able to successfully achieve other things. 
There are four months left and I don't really know what I am going to bring home from this experience but I know that I will have achieved goals that I did not even know I had.
* Surfista: surfer 
*Bloco: (in my case) percussion and dance group
* Candomble: Afro-brazilian polytheist religion

Malaika Nikiema