As my time here in Brazil is starting to come to an end, I have taken time to start to reflect on my experiences here. I still remember the first day I arrived. I was overwhelmed and scared to be in such a new environment in a different country where I don’t speak the primary language well, while not knowing what lies ahead of me. If only I could go back and tell myself that everything will be alright, that I will love the life that I have created in this small amount of time, and to enjoy every minute that I’m here because it goes by way too quick. Now that I’m on the other side and I’m getting ready to leave soon, I am not ready to leave. I have made so many meaningful friendships, have had many amazing opportunities, and overall, I have grown as a person. My life here in Brazil is very different to the life I love in the US. Overall, the pace of life is slower, and people are happier. I have loved and appreciated all that I have gained from my time here in this country.
I think back to when I had a pre-departure orientation. They tell us that when you first get to your host country that everything will be new, exciting, and that you will love it. Then after a few weeks you realize how different the culture and people are and you miss your home and your own culture. Then you’ll get accustomed and feel connected to your host country before you leave. I had a different experience. The only day where I missed home or felt like an outsider was the first day when I arrived. From my second day onward, I have loved it here. I have of course noticed differences and realized that I am different than the people I am around, but I have never felt like an outside. Now, whether that speaks to the amazing community I am surrounded by or that I am half Brazilian and therefore it wasn’t a huge culture shock for me, but either way I have never had such an amazing opportunity. This is an experience that I will remember forever and I’m so grateful to have been apart of a program that allows for these experiences. My one piece of advice to anyone scared of leaving for their study abroad experience is to go in with an open mind and heart, and to take all the opportunities that are presented to you. I promise that you will be so grateful that you did.