um mês

Kristen Lee - Brazil


October 10, 2013

A month can be a lot of things – a compilation of trials and tribulations, yes, but with an acknowledgement of overall progress. A month is a time period long enough to make broader goals, long enough to make lasting friendships, long enough to track progress, long enough to be tricked into thinking we have more time. Yet it, too, is short – too short to predict the next six and a half months, too short to adequately spend time with those that this month has brought me to love.

As of a few days ago, I have been in Brazil for one month.

Just one month has passed, yet a whole month has passed. This leaves me, and every other fellow with only six and half more of these months. Although I complete In-Country Orientation (ICO) with a bitter sadness, I also move forward with fueling excitement.

Landing and living in Florianópolis, Santa Catarina for ICO has been a bit of a fairytale dream. The island, described as the friendliest city on earth, is absolutely magical. The majestic green covered hills and mountains are a permanent background. Strangers grin and blink with acknowledgement of one another. The sunny days seem not only to provide visibility and vitamin D, but also ease and unrestricted spirits.

I have had a relatively steady daily schedule of three-hour Portuguese classes and Global Citizen Year sessions. Yet besides the basic commitment of being physically present throughout each day, there is an endless amount of experience to own. I can choose whether or not to be verbally, emotionally, mentally present. I can choose whether or not to participate in my Portuguese classes, attempt a conversation with a stranger on the bus, and ask my host mother about Brazilian politics and feminism ideals. I can choose my lunchtime juice, reading location, and level of optimism. And each of my decisions has culminated into this month, one I would consider successful, surprising, and preliminary.

Feeling the soul of beauty between my toes in massive sand dunes. Fretting a high fever and a wicked stomachache at 1 AM. Learning crucial patience in gaining fluency in Portuguese. Crying for autumn back at home in the United States. Discovering comfort in an unfamiliar homestay. Re-adapting my diet to remain healthy and culturally appropriate. Working to comprehend the Global Citizen Year program. Practicing self-determination. Spending hours on hours at bus terminals and stops. Missing my Portuguese teachers the moment I say goodbye for the last time. Eating at the Querubim buffet every weekday. Losing parts of our cohort. Communicating genuinely. Complimenting. Caring. Forgiving. Observing. This month of ICO has been perfectly imperfect, bits of struggle, bits joy, bits of intellectual stimulation.

This Saturday, I move permanently to Curitiba, Paraná. A world leader in urban planning, Curitiba not only has one of the country’s most efficient public transport systems but also saves approximately 1,200 trees each day through their recycling program. There will be numerous potential challenges, parks and museums to explore, and an overwhelming sense of smallness. To me, Curitiba is huge at 1.77 million people. HUGE. Yet with another month laying ahead, I have no choice but to grow alongside the population of my environment change.

Next up, October. Outubro. Nothing short of one more month.

*If you would like to follow my journey a little bit more closely, please check out my wordpress blog on which I have posted much more often and with more specifics!

Kristen Lee