A view from a window near my bedroom
With my friend Natalia at my friends 18th Birthday
Celebrating Syble’s 19th birthday
When we made pancakes for Ibis’s family
Syble and I really enjoying pasta
With my family on Christmas Eve
A view from a window near my bedroom
With my friend Natalia at my friends 18th Birthday
Celebrating Syble’s 19th birthday
When we made pancakes for Ibis’s family
Syble and I really enjoying pasta
With my family on Christmas Eve
2018 Northeast Dream Trip BELO BRASIL
When you go on exchange, one of the hardest things you must learn to do is saying goodbye to someone right after you get close with them, and sometimes the goodbyes are forever. This has happened to me twice already, once in November (Pantanal & Bonito), and once earlier this month on Feb. 2nd. This has been my hardest goodbye yet. Leaving 52 exchange students that I had only meet a month before, at the beginning of the Northeast Dream Trip, but wouldn’t change it for the world. People thought that I was crazy to leave and go on a month-long trip through the northeast of Brazil, but I thought otherwise. Not only did I learn about things and went to places in Brazil that I wouldn’t have otherwise; I made life-long friends with people who are now my family.
It all started in a small town named Jericoacara, that only has one main road and surrounded by sand domes. From riding on buggies up and down sand domes white getting hit in the face by sand, to relaxing in a water-submerged hammock, to climbing up a sand dome just to roll down it a minute later, and doing yoga on the beach early in the morning; you knew it was going to be a great trip just after one day. The next day, we relaxed at the beach for a few hours, then we hiked to a different beach, and then we learned a traditional Brazilian fight on the beach, and then we walked up a sand dome to watch the sunset. The next day, we walked up the same sand dome as the day before to watch the sunrise, and then we headed out. Jericoacara was one of my favorite places.
We then headed to the next city, Fortaleza. On the way there, our bus past the next BELO bus that was just starting their trip. They had us stop so we could take a picture with them and talk with them. Little did I know that Taylor was on that bus. She came up to me and it was great to see someone from back home, and we hugged a countless time and we talked a lot. In Fortaleza, we rod buggies again, but this time we had to cut it short because instead of getting hit in the face with sand, we were hit in the face with rain that felt like bullets. Before the rain though, we got to sled down a sand dome; which was one of the best things on the trip. The beaches there were so beautiful, and the waves were giant. Sometimes they were so big that if you didn’t get under them, then they would push you all the way back to shore.
Praia de Pipa was the 3rd city. It was a small town, so we only stayed there for 1 full day. We walked, or should I say, hiked to Praia de Amor (Beach of Love) which was one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen. This beach was set in-between two giant hills (which I first called mountains but then someone corrected me), there were these beautiful sea rocks on the shore, and the water was very blue which made everything better. We stayed there for most of the day, and when it was time to head back, I was prepared to go back the same way we came, but nope… we took the stairs. These weren’t just normal stairs, there were rocks and uneven. One step would be small and the next two would be large, and when you have short legs like me, it’s not easy. We spent the rest of the day at the pool, had dinner, and then we played… UNO. Now, the way that exchange students play, it’s not the same as when you played as a child, it’s a lot more competitive and A LOT of yelling.
Up next, Recife; another beautiful city. Here we meet exchange students from NORBREX, who lived in Recife. Here, if you wanted to, you could go snorkeling and I heard that if you had never gone before then it was amazing but if you had then it was just okay. We spent the whole day at the beach, I also had the best açaí of my life, and we also signed t-shirts that NORBREX gave to us. The next day, in the morning; we had a city tour, and one of the things we got to do was shop in an old prison, which was something I thought I could never say. We then went back to the hotel and got ready for Carnaval! (even though, it wasn’t Carnaval yet, we were by Olinda which has one of the best Carnavals, so we went early) we partied around the city, singing and dancing to music and some locals and tourist even joined in on the fun.
The next city was… Salvador! My second favorite city on the whole trip. The first day we went to a turtle rescue place and walked around a small village for about an hour. After that we had a city tour and we got to tie a famous bracelet on the fence around a famous church. Later that night, we went to a show where the styles of music had to do with the influences of Brazil. The next day we took a 90-minute boat ride to a private island that had a private beach and we had it all to ourselves. We explored the island, jumped off the boat into the ocean, and hung out with our friends and listened to music; somewhere along the line, I got something stuck in my toe and you DO NOT want something taken out of your toe while you are on a moving boat, to save the details it was not fun.
The next day we traveled 9 hours inland to our next city, Lençóis. This was another very small town that we couldn’t take the bus to, so we had to walk up and down hills in flip-flops, and when you do this in the middle of the night when you must use your phone’s flashlight just to see, it’s not fun nor easy. Here we took a break from the beautiful beaches and took a step into nature. The first day, we took a 30-minute hike to a beautiful natural waterslide. Climbing up was a little difficult, as you didn’t want to slip, but once you got to the top and could slide down, you wanted to do it again and again, we also jumped off a rock that was about 6 feet above the water. After that, you could either go hiking again or stay back; at this point I had gotten a cold so I decided to stay back and to get better for the rest of the trip, which turned out to be a good idea. The next day we hiked up a mountain, even though I was dying on the way up; the view was worth it. We then went to this stunning swimming hole and I jumped off a rock that was 12-15 feet in the air and it was one of the best trills of my life.
Another one of my favorite cities was Itacaré, that, in my opinion; had the most beautiful beaches on the trip and that I’ve ever seen in my life, even if it meant walking up and down a giant hill just to get to the beach. The first beach we went to was beautiful, we rented huts for the day and we could hang our flags all around it. The next day, I did something that I have never done in Florida… that is surfing. It was difficult at first, but once you could stand up, then you were good. I had a lot of fun and this is something that I will pick-up in Florida. After surfing, we enjoyed the beach, which was one of my favorites.
The second to last city was Porto Seguro. Here we had a tour of the historic part of the city and we got visit the first church of Brazil. We then went to a place that had little shops and I had the best pastel of my life. We went to the afterwards, and this beach was different, as where there was a dance class going on at the beach and you could join in if you wanted to, and it was also different because right before the water the sand dipped down and so when a wave came it would knock you off your feet, and it also got deep very quickly. Since the trip was almost over, the girls wanted to do something that we would remember the trip. Some of the boys had dyed their hair blonde in Salvador, so we decided to one up them and we decided to dye our hair pink. It was a great bonding activity and it’s something that we’ll always remember. The last day we were there, it was a relaxing day, but in the evening, we had a dance class. We all really enjoyed it, but not because we were good but because we were so bad that we were laughing at each other. One of the funniest moment of the dance class is when I danced with my friend who is 6’2, and it was very difficult for the two of us, but it was very funny for everyone else.
After two full days of traveling, we finally arrived in Rio de Janeiro. Right after we arrived, we went to dinner and then afterwards we went to a market. We weren’t even there for 10 minutes when a group of my friends and I heard two guys behind us speaking English. So, one of my friends asked if they were exchange students and they said yes and they were here with Terra Brasil. They then asked us where we were from and I said Florida and they said that they had a girl from Florida too named Devon and I freaked out telling them that I know her and they helped me trying to find her. Little did I know that two of my friends found Devon and they helped her look for me and when we finally found each other, there was a lot of screaming and it was so loud that people were looking at us like we were crazy. We walked around and talked until it was time to say goodbye. The next morning, we went to the Museum of Tomorrow, which you don’t know what it is, it’s where they talk about the earth since it was created until now, people in their cultures, and how we need to take care of the earth before it’s too late. After that we went to the mall, where I met Kennedy, and we got lunch, Starbucks (my first in 6 months), and went shopping for a little bit. We then went to the football (soccer) stadium where the 2014 World Cup was held. The next day we had a city tour all around Rio, we even got to see one of the most beautiful cafes in the world but everything there was so expensive that we decided to go get coffee at Starbucks. This took all morning, so after we went to Copacabana! Surprisingly, it was not crowded at all, so we had a great time. Then we went to Pão de Açucar (Sugar Loaf Mountain). The ride to the top was fast, it didn’t even take 5 minutes. When you got to the top, you could see all of Rio, even the planes land and take off at the airport, it felt like a dream. The last day, we got up super early to see the Christ statue! We were all very excited to see it and when we got to there, it took our breath away, literally. A group of 20 of us decided to take a picture with the statue and our flags and when someone from our group was taking it, other tourists were taking pictures of us too; it was very strange. We then went to Ipanema Beach, and then we went to dinner, and after we went to funk class; it was then that we realized that we had to say goodbye. We had a party on the bus and when we got back to the hotel, we had journals for everyone to write in. I was leaving in the morning the next day and so the last 20 minutes were full of emotional goodbyes. I love everyone so much and I’ll never forget the memories. <3
This trip was one of the best experiences of my entire life, and I didn’t want it to end. We started out as strangers, but finished as family. Although we didn’t want it to end, it did. All good things must come to an end to enjoy it and to look back on the memories made, and to remember it forever; this is what happened here, and what happens in life.
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Here is Syble and I when we stopped for a picture during our first buggie ride.
I was trying to take a picture with my friend from Poland when everyone joined in.
Here’s me with my friends Polish flag.
After the beach in Jericoacora.
Sunrise yoga on the beach in Jericoacara.
Here’s when we went to see the sunrise in Jericoacara.
My friend Timo and I during the city tour in Recife.
Our Carnaval night in Olinda.
Julia, Syble, and I before we went to see the turtles in Salvador.
Me jumping off the boat in Salvador.
At the natural waterslide in Lençóis with my fellow Americans.
Relaxing after a day of surfing.
We stopped to take pictures during our city tour in Porto Seguro.
Meeting Devon at the market in Rio!
Outside of the Museum of Tomorrow in Rio.
Yes, I was touching the “Do Not Touch” sign.
Here is a picture of the Christ statue that my friend took while we were on a moving bus.
We stopped to take some pictures in front of this amazing painting during the Rio city tour.
Decided to take a picture with me looking for a train and one actually came.
The famous world map painting in Rio.
With my friend Hollie from New Mexico at Copacabana Beach!
Looking at the amazing view from Pão de Açucar
These were also taken at Pão de Açucar.
Our tickets to go see the Christ statue.
One of the things that I always wanted to see, but never thought I would.
This is the picture that random tourists were also taking of us.
Yes, there is a guy holding a towel…
The view from the mountain that we hiked.
During our city tour in Recife.
One of my best friends that I made on the trip.
Here is when we meet Taylor’s group on our way to Fortaleza.
Thanks to my amazing friend Hollie for this awesome idea with the sunglasses.
And just like that the trip was over… this is the view from the plane just after we took off in Rio.
Here is the Youtube video I made about the trip.
First off let me start out by apologizing that it has been awhile since my last post, my computer broke and I had to wait three weeks while it was being fixed.
Time is really flying by, I can’t believe that I left home a month a half ago. It feels like ages ago that I said goodbye to my friends and family, but since arriving here time has gone by so fast. A lot has changed the past few weeks as well. I started out in Year 2, but I asked to change to Year 3, so I could meet more people and to be with people closer to my age, and I will also be with the people from Year 2 in February. I am also understanding a lot more in Portuguese, but speaking is another issue. I also have had a total of three dreams in Portuguese and the first time I did not understand anything, but the last two I was able to understand a lot, so hopefully I will be able to start speaking soon. Some times though, Portuguese sounds like Chinese to me and I just don’t understand anything. There was actually a day last week when I was in class and I look up to the board and I was very confused to why everything was not in English and then I realized that I wasn’t in America, that I was in Brazil, but at the moment I was very confused and had no idea what was going on.
Two weekends ago I had my orientation where I got to meet the other inbounds and the future outbounds were there too for their interviews. It was a lot of fun getting to meet everyone and getting to know them. We also got to learn about the trips that we can take, and my mom surprised me with being able to take all 3 of them! My best friend Julia, from Germany, is also going on all 3 and we are very excited about it! The first one is actually at the end of next month and goes into November.
Last weekend my second host family took me fishing! It was a lot of fun and I haven’t done it for years. It didn’t take long for me to pick it up because out of the 25 fish we caught I caught 16 of them! I also got to meet my host grandma, cousins, and aunt and I love them already. And they are taking me to the beach next month and I am very excited about it!
There’s actually one thing that I accidentally left out of my last post. When I was on the plane from São Paulo to Londrina, my plane just barely made it off the runway. I remember thinking that it was taking a long time to take off and when we finally did, I looked out the window and saw the end of the runway and then trees. To say the least I freaked out the whole way to Londrina. But I’m here and I’m safe so that’s all that really matters.
There is one thing that I have to get off my chest. EXCHANGE IS NOT EASY! Almost every time I talk with someone they will say that, but trust me it’s not. There’s nothing easy about leaving your friends and family, going to a new country with new people and customs, learning a new language, and going to school in a language that you don’t know and trying to make friends.But I did it because I wanted to, and regret is harder to deal with than anything that could happen on exchange. I will grow and become someone that I would not if I didn’t do this.
Julia and I have gotten very close these past few weeks, and it feels like we’ve known each other for years, but in reality its only been 5 weeks. We are planning on leaving on the same day so we can spend as much time as possible with each other, and we’re not looking forward to when we won’t live a car ride away anymore. I never realized how close you could actually get with someone in a very short amount of time. We have also helped each other out with all the difficulties we’ve had so far. I know that the two of us will be friends forever.
I want to take a moment to thank everyone who has made this exchange possible. To RYE Florida, Julia Babbitt, Rockledge Rotary Club, Monica Wanger, Regina Dutra, Rotary Club of Arapongas, and especially to my friends and family who have supported me throughout this journey and who continues to support me.
It has been 3 weeks since I left home. Up to this point in my life this is the scariest thing I have ever done, but it’s worth it. Everyone is so welcoming here and they go out of their way to make sure that you are okay. Everyone has accepted me with open arms and they want to make this the best year of my life (which it has already been the best 3 weeks of my life). Everything sounds like it has gone smooth so far, but it hasn’t.
It started out before the plane even took off. Everyone had just boarded the plane and we were about to push away from the gate when the pilot comes over the speaker saying that everyone needed to get off the plane immediately. So, everyone took their belongings and rushed off the plane. We were told that there was a mechanical issue and that the fuel from the airplane had leaked all over the ground. Luckily, that was not the case, when they were fueling up the plane, some of the fuel had leaked onto the ground. Everyone boarded the plane again and there was no air conditioning because where the air conditioning was was right where the fuel was and if they were to turn it on then the whole plane would smell like fuel, so we had to wait until we pushed off from the gate to turn it on.
We ended up being about an hour late into São Paulo, even after going 80% of the speed of sound. Everything was fine until after I got through customs. I got lost in the biggest airport in Latin America, but luckily I was able to find the one person who could speak English. After everything that happened I made it to my flight to Londrina on time.
I was welcome at the airport by my host family and some of Ana’s (my host sister) friends, who are now my own, and my host club president and his family. When we got back from the airport we had a little gathering at my house where I got to know everyone a lot better. The next day I went to school, and everyone was so welcoming and people wanted to take my picture and I even caught people looking at my through the classroom window. School was only until 10 that day so after some of us went to try some Brazilian foods, which are amazing expect açaí, which is very different than what we have in America.
On Saturday we had a little party with the friends that I made at school and I even got to meet my second host sister who is very sweet. My host sister had a concert in Londrina on Sunday, so my host parents showed me around, and my favorite place at the moment is the lake that they there and you can walk along the trail which is very beautiful. The rest of my first week was very bust, everyday I was at someone else’s house and I loved it. Then came the day where my host sister left. We had to get up early because we had to take her to São Paulo. It was a very long drive but it was beautiful, there were many hills and great scenery nothing like driving in Florida. The day after we dropped Ana off at the airport my host family took me to the futebol stadium there and it was breathtaking, and they also took me to Avendia 25, I think that’s the name, which is where people from all over the country come to buy things because it is cheaper and take them back home to sell them for a higher price. We then went to visit my host dad’s sister.
School is actually pretty good, I like it better than school in America. But there is something strange, people who I have never even met before come up to me and try to talk to me and it doesn’t work out to well because I don’t speak Portuguese that well and most people don’t speak English that well.
I have also met my third host family and I am actually at their house a lot because I’m really good friends with their current exchange daughter Julia from Germany. Both my 2nd and 3rd host families have already accepted me as one of their own which is amazing and I love them so much. I have been able to go out with a lot of my friends and meet some new people as well. On the 26th and 27th I have an orientation where I will meet the rest of the exchange students in my district and I am very excited to meet them!
Brazil is an amazing country and everyday I fall in love with something new. If these 3 weeks are just a small glimpse of what the rest of my exchange year will be, I am very excited.
Thank you for reading my first blog of my exchange year and I hoped you enjoyed! Stay tune!
It is 8:30 on a Sunday evening and three days before I leave Brazil. I would love to tell you that I am packed and ready to head to the airport, but truth is I’m not, I haven’t started packing yet. Some of my friends think it’s crazy that I haven’t packed yet, but that is just who I am… I always wait for the last minute to do anything. It’s crazy to think that this time next week, I will be in a totally different country with people I’ve never met before. These past few days, I have begun to say goodbye to my friends, and it is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.
Talk to you soon,
PS: sorry for the short post, my posts will be longer when I arrive in Brazil