Thursday, August 25, 2011

26 Days and Counting

Yes, I know that most of you that have come across this blog are close friends of mine or maybe just interested in my new life; a Brazilian one that is! First, I wanted to say sorry for this long delay. It's partially due to the fact that I have been so busy with the hustle and bustle that Brazil had in store for me, but also the fact that I have found it almost impossible to sum up all of my experiences into one blog, or even multiple blogs. They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, and to tell you the truth, they are lying. It's worth more than a thousand words and what makes it even more difficult is being here for nearly a month and trying to sum up my experiences in a single blog! But, here we go. It's always hard saying good-bye to the ones that you love, but I guess that one could say it's not really a good bye but rather an "I'll see you later." The day before I left for my trip I was trying to replay the thoughts that were flashing through my mind, "Visa (Check), Passport (Check) and so on." But through all of this I was trying to mentally prepare myself for the "Best Year of Your Life!" The best year? Really? Is that quite possible? But, words can't describe my experience here. Memories are perhaps the best evidence of my encounter with this new culture. As, I had mentioned before my flight to Brazil was going to be a long one. I flew from Minneapolis, MN to Houston, TX and from there I was greeted by my father. We explored Houston and the NASA Space Center. It was great to finally see him and have a closer to my good byes. From there I boarded the plane to São Paulo, Brasil. The plane ride was a success! As I landed into the SP Airport, my heart began to race and nearly dropped to the pit of my stomach. I guess this was it. I was officially on my own. Passing through customs was easier than I thought, for me it seemed like a lot of head bobs and confused looks, but nothing out of the ordinary for a foreigner. From there I proceeded into picking up my luggage, checking it in, and finding the my next gate. I don't think that one realizes how much of a minority you are until you are in an unfamiliar place. I didn't understand a lick of Portuguese, other than the BASIC lingo. I finally found my gate, and was able to settle in. I called my mom, it never felt so good to hear english, let alone a familiar voice. Afterwards I proceeded onto my airplane (TAM) and flew off to Campo Grande, the capital of my state (Mato Grosso do Sul) in Brasil. There, I was greeted by my Youth Exchange Officer and close friend of his. It felt great to finally meet someone in Brasil that knew who I was, and there wasn't a need for much explaining. From there we drove home; a a 3 hour drive to Dourados (my city). I was greeted by family instantly with loving hugs, many kisses, and comforting gestures. I can't really explain it, but there's something different about Brasil. The people here are so vibrant, in the sense that every one has a different story to tell you about there way of coming here. They all are so helpful, and are always willing to extend a hand to those who need it. And did I mention, that as soon as you mention the United States, their eyes light up, and questions come pouring out of their mouths about your experience there. I love it. I love sharing with them, but what I think I love the most is there curiosity. They are always willing to hear what you have to say. My family is far beyond great and nothing shy of perfection. My mother, Lilian is teacher of English at Cultura Inglesa, a school that is devoted to helping those with their quest for the English Language. My father, Roberto, is a forest engineer, and spends most of his time farming outside of the city. My brothers, Renato, Daniel, and Lucas are all amazing, funny, and did I mention that they are SO tall? I guess I'll just have to get used to being small again. But the overall warmth that the family gives off is much appreacited, nothing feels more better than a loving family. But, school here is also great! I don't understand a whole lot, but I am trying my best! I've made tons of new friends, and keep making more and more everyday! Well, that about sums up my blog for now. I am going to try SOO hard to keep a blog going twice a month, but if all else fails, I think one will be suffice. I love you all, thanks for reading! And an update will be around the corner.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

28 days; 4 hours; 5 minutes: My New Home

Alright, so yes it is true. I am still at home, that is Owatonna, Minnesota, USA. But holy cow! Time has flown by oh so fast, up to this very point. I've been in preparation for my youth exchange to Brazil for nearly a year, but it feels as though I just received my acceptance letter to the Rotary Program. Since words can't express my excitement for my new escapade, I figure I should start with what I am most excited about, my family! Well, for starters, I am located in the Southern State of Brazil, Mato Grosso do Sul. I will be spending my year in the city of Dourados. It is home to nearly 200,000 people! A big adjustment from my city of Owatonna that is home to only a fraction of that (25,000) but this is what the program is all about, adapting to a new culture and building bridges to new communities and homes. Some brief facts about my city is that I am roughly an hour from the border of Paraguay, agriculture is fairly big in my city, education in my city is considered to be the pole of MS with it being home to 5 universities and over 200 schools. My family! My mother, Sandra, has practiced in veterinarian services, but no longer practices. She enjoys handcrafts! My father, Tomas, is involved with the agriculture of Dourados. He rents out farming machinery, is in seed production, and manages a family farm on the Northeast Coast of Brazil in the State of Bahia. I have an older brother, Gabriel who is 22 and is finishing his last year in college. Carolina, my older sister, who is 19, and she is starting her first year in college. And lastly, but certainly not least! I have a younger brother, João, who is 16 years old. Unfortunately Gabriel and Carolina do not live at home, and João will be leaving for Germany on his youth exchange when I arrive. So, it looks like I am an only child, but there is no harm in that! I will be attending a private school within a college in Dourados! Well, that about sums it up! I am still in awe that I am able to experience an adventure like this! Some call me crazy, but I just say that I am opening my eyes to the world that surrounds me. Well, I am sure that the next time you hear from me, I will be either A.) stuck in an airport and venting about my anxieties or B.) in my city of Dourados! Let's plan for choice B! Tchau!