243 days seems like a long time, but on exchange, it’s a blink of an eye. It’s been 243 days of being away from my family, friends, and country; but living in a new country with new family and friends. It has been awhile since my last blog about my life in Brasil, so there’s a lot to talk about.
All the way back to November, I had just gotten back from the Pantanal and Bonito trip (http://emilysworldadventures.com/pantanal-bonito-belo-brasil-trip) on November 9th. The next day, a Friday, I stayed home from school because I was very tired and also the next day I was going to Londrina to celebrate my 19th birthday with the other exchange students. There was swimming, hamburgers, UNO, music, and cake; it was a great party and I really appreciate Syble’s first host family for planning all this. Then on Monday and Tuesday I had school (which turned out to be the only days I had school for the rest of the year), because Wednesday-Friday was a holiday and then the school had tests the next week. On Wednesday, the exchange students hiked up a really big mountain. We were told that it was a short and easy hike, 2 hours max; but in reality, it took triple the time. For awhile, the hike wasn’t difficult, but near the end, it was. We had to use ropes to climb up rocks and they told us to be really careful because it was very dangerous… Well, we made it up and down with only a few cuts and bruises from slipping on the mud. They told our families that we would be back by 5, but it was 5:30 when we finished hiking and we still had to eat dinner and drive 2 hours back.
Then December came along, and for the first two weeks I didn’t really do much because my host family was working. Julia would come over and we would get açaí and go to the store, and I would do things with my other friends every-now-and-then, but thats about it because everyone was out-of-town for the summer break. On December 15th, I switched host families, which was a really strange feeling. I’m not really sure how to explain it. I was at my new house for only 5 days before I left for 6 weeks at the beach, 2 with my family and 4 on the Northeast trip. But, those five days were packed. I met their extended family for the first time which was pretty nerve racking at first, but now we’re like family. The night before we left, I had to pack everything, and its not easy packing for 6 weeks away and I forgot some things. A 9+ hour drive later and we are at the beach. My host aunt and her girlfriend arrived the next day and stayed with us the whole time I was there. Christmas was very different from what I am used to. There was no Christmas tree, no decor, nothing. Christmas Eve was spent at the beach and then we came back for dinner. For dinner, my host mom set up the table and we had sushi for dinner. After dinner, we watched TV together until midnight where we all stood up and hugged each other and said Merry Christmas. A few minutes later, there was a knock at the door and there was one present for my littlest host sister from Santa. On Christmas Day, it was just a normal day. That was my Christmas in Brazil, it was different but I enjoyed Christmas with my host family. The week leading up to New Years, my grandparents and cousin came to the apartment. There were 10 of us in a 2-bedroom apartment, it was cramped but we made it work. The week was filled with the beach and açaí (my two loves). New Years Eve was spent at the beach with my host family and we had a wonderful home-cooked meal for dinner. In Brazil, it is a tradition to wear white on New Years Eve, so that’s what I did. Close to midnight we made our way to the beach. It was a short walk, and we found our spot on the street. When the clock struck midnight, there was cheering, champeign raining down on us from the apartments above, and fireworks that went on for over 30 minutes. This was the best New Year that I have ever had. A few days later, we went to the beach on last time before I left and I met up with Julia. We talked about the adventure that was just 2 days away. The Northeast Dream trip (http://emilysworldadventures.com/2018-belo-brasil-northeast-trip).
Then came February, and I returned from the best trip of my life. The weekend I spent resting and spending time with my family, and then came the dreaded Monday. The first week back at school was not easy, I had to fight to keep my eyes open the whole time. But, luckily I was only in school for a few days because it was CARNAVAL! My Carnaval was different than the norm. I just spent time with my family which I loved because I was gone for a whole month. We went to the beach, hung out with their friends, went to a nature theme park, went to the “Disney World of Brazil”, and we would go to the parade at night. But then, I had to go back to school… again.
It is now March, and the first weekend was crazy. I had 4 birthday parties in 4 days. The first one was for my host cousin who turned 11, and so I spent a lot of time with my extended family. The next day, I went to Londrina to celebrate Syble’s 19th birthday with Julia, and Ibis. We had a party and had the best pasta that I have ever had, we also made an American breakfast for Ibis’s family and I thought the girls how to properly make pancakes. The next day, I went to one of Ibis’s friends 18th birthday party, and that was a lot of fun too. The last party, was on the Monday and it was a small one for my host aunt’s birthday. The next weekend, I went to get açaí with Ana Laura and Julia, we actually got twice in one day… oops. Julia stayed the night at my house and played with my littlest host sister and then we just hung out and talked. This past weekend, I went to my friends 18th birthday party, and it was amazing… if you didn’t know, Brazil has the best parties. Then on Sunday, I had a BBQ with my whole family, and it was great to spend time with everyone.
So, as you can see there has been a lot going on recently. Exchange has gone by so quickly, I now have less than 80 days left in Brazil and I plan on taking full advantage of it. I know I’ll be happy to see my friends and family again, but I’ll be sad to leave my new friends and family. Exchange is not a year in your life, it’s a life in a year.
Thanks for reading,
A view from a window near my bedroom
With my friend Natalia at my friends 18th Birthday