Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Things I am going to missss

nossasenhora que saudade que eu vou sentir......

I will miss the delicacy of eating pao de queijo and salgados in school between classes,
the way you can walk into a store and drink a cafezinho, and how friendly and helpful the workers are,
the beautiful efficient words and the sound of Portuguese,
the sun on your legs and playing soccer beneath the trees,
the endless little shops of shoes, clothes, and everything you could imagine walking down the street,
the MUSIC! samba, sertanejo, funk, mpb, choro
going out to eat acai or a milkshake with friends,
going to the roca with family,
the sheer dream of being a foreign exchange student and having the world at your fingertips,
dreaming about visiting the beach, Rio, the Amazon,
getting to meet so many new people and tell stories about your coutry and birthplace,
being in contact with friends from all over the world,
sharing dreams, cultures, songs
people calling me "Joellieeee"
Every day a new different delicious food, fruit, vegetable,
fruits and flavors I had never imagined,
the simplicity in life,
watching Brazilian TV,
having time to read books,
capoeira class, when I felt like I met the avatar
and then became one myself,
playing the cavaquinho, violin, guitar
pronouncing correctly and teaching the English
talking and playing with little kids
learning how to dance again,
writing in my journal,
the beautiful trees and creatures eveywhere...
and how beautiful I felt,
staying up late,
Festaaaas! Shows!
Michael Telo, Ivete Sangalo, Joao bosco e Vinicius,
running home in the rain,
running up the stairs on the break of the new year to see the fireworks
always turning around and being amazed by something new,
the deep, true friends and brothers that I have made,
and always having something to look forward to,
realizing what is important in life,
and the excitement of finally coming back home in the end=)

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Year's Resolution

Today is the first day back at home after we went to Sao Carlos for New Year's. It is finally setting in that I have just these 2 weeks left here, but I feel good. I feel like I have done what I needed to do here, and that it is time to go back home, and start studying again to finish what I need to finish back there. I feel like everything is finally coming together, and I am actually getting a little excited to come back!!

I thought hard this year, and came up with some things I want to really keep up and remember for 2011:

-learn from mistakes, don't let them push you back, use them to get forward

-keep in touch with old friends

-don't let activities get in the way of friends and family

-keep up what I learned in Brazil: be more organized and clean,

-go back to my health-consious self, stop drinking soda, and integrate new healthy foods and habits into my routine when I come back

-this is only the very beginning- the whole rest of the world is out there to be discovered/saved

and most of all
-Never forget what I did and learned here in Brazil

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


We traveled to a small tourist town called Lambari, famous for its natural mineral water springs and park of old trees.

 Plus a bunch of cool old bikes to rent and ride around the park!
 AWESOME treeeeees!!!
 sugar cane drink!...

Sunday, October 31, 2010

3 Months!!

I've been in Brazil for exactly 93 days, on the last day of my 3rd complete month here- the 31st of October. I'm at the roca with my brother and grandparents with an old notebook in my hands and I decided it was time to try and start a journal again, and to take a minute to look back at everything I have done and all the things that I have gained so far from this exchange.

3 Months - the time the time when most exchange students are supposed to have finally settled down and adjusted into their new life, family, and language. But for me, it is allready more than halfway through my experience (if I do leave in January) and I am definetely not looking forward to leaving, but I think I was able to (aproveitar) my first few months because of my quick adapting and language abilities. Now the rest of my stay fits on one page in my planner - about 76 days, and I wanted to take some time to look back at what I've done so far.

Looking back at my first blog post about 4 days into my stay, I seemed to have already absorbed so much and been able to communicate without much difficulty in the new language, and I those first feelings of pure adventure and excitement to venture out into the unknown will never be erased from my memory. I love that feeling -I can never get enough of it. I seem to absorb new things so fast, I remember (well it's written here in this notebook which I brought with me on the first day of school) wondering what I was going to write my college essay on; I didn't feel that challeneged at first- haha I guess I just didn't know what to expect.

Since I arrived here, so many things about me have changed, I changed my appearance- I have learned how to take care of my new long hair and I don't think I will ever cut it short again anytime soon- my handwriting has drastically improved, due to the fact of writing in cursive, I have become more disciplined, learned how to respect differences and deal with misunderstandings to fit into a family, how to be more clean and organized, and much much more than I think I even realize. I have learned how to eat again, how much it means to have a good friend, how to take care of myself, and how to live in the moment and make the most of what life gives you. Doing a foreign exchange means putting a lot of yourself out there to be tested and greatly challenged, but I believe that it does a person good, that it does the world good, and I don't regret making the decision to come here one bit.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Ouro Preto

Pictures from reigonal AFS orientation in Ouro Branco
haha wow these are old

first night: bus to the orientation and Ouro Preto

The whole gang;D


I kind of liked playing with the kids better;)

Amaazing restaurant in Ouro Preto that my adorable host family in OB took me to...

mmmmm flaming bananna dessert-

I looove doce de banana- a carmelized flavor, in a dish with vanilla ice cream, and flaming champagne poured over it;D
I am definetely going to learn how to make this one!

pedra de sabao- soap stone- artesian crafts famous to Ouro Preto

Another thing famous to Ouro Preto- beautiful
 antique churches!

and another, partying college students!! haha jk there is also a good college for mining here

Tres CoraçOES (three hearts)

Time for......MORE PICTURES! ahah I think living here in Brazil has made me more expressive in my typing.. hehe more on that later;D

This is a Statue of world famous soccer player Pelé who was born here in neighboring city, Tres Coraçoes. There are always these strange statues along intersections on the road or even inside a city.

College Essays

Ok, well it´s about time that I got back to writing posts..haha lazy me=) it has just been so crazy here lately, wow changed families (long story), we went to Ouro Branco, Lambari, and I had to finish 3 shorter essays and 1 longer one and submit it about 2 days ago, for the college of my dreams (Stanford!), and I have had to spend my time with the computer working on those instead of writing posts here.  I think I have just about written my heart out. haha but for me there is always something more to write about! I need to sit down and write more like a journal, except I have never been able to keep up a journal, I am horrible at journals. Or maybe just another month summary and some more juicy stuff.  Let me brainstorm more in school tomorrow and I will come up with an idea. but for now, I will just post the essay about my exchange that I have been working on all this time, for your enjoyment:  (what do you think- Stanford material?)

It had always been a dream of mine to study abroad during high school. My mother used to tell me stories about her exchange to Switzerland back when she was a senior in high school, and I would fantasize about the small, cozy towns, each with their own type of cheese, and the untold adventures she must have had in that far off land. I longed to do the same, to keep the tradition alive, and to venture out into the unknown and face a challenge like I had never known before; it was my calling.

As I stared out the window at the clouds over Texas, I felt the thoughts twirling through my mind like little wispy clouds. It was time. No more taking everything for granted, no more eating cereal and a banana every morning, no more living in a small town where I knew every street and person. I had set out to make something of myself, and to try to understand a little more about this vast world we live in.

We spent a night in Miami, and then we were off again, passports in hand, the five brave souls who had chosen Brazil as their destination. I could never quite put my finger on what it was that drew me towards Brazil opposed to the other countries in Europe and Asia that hundreds of students exchange to each year. Maybe it was my dream of seeing the Amazon rain forest, or maybe it was the music of Brazil´s beautiful language, or it could have been just the sheer idea of Brazil and the adventure that was waiting for me there. As I sat on the plane, surrounded by matching shirts and Disneyland souvenirs between two people who spoke a different language, and listened to the Portuguese greetings over the intercom, the change started to sink in. I braced myself for the big invisible wall of culture shock and stomach aches that I had been prepared for, and sunk into a deep sleep over the rain forest. Then I woke up and I was Brazilian.

I was there, with my new red pepper necklace and skinny jeans, hair blow-dried and wavy, conversing with the other families and eating rice and beans with pieces of barbecued sausage right off the grill. It was incredible. I was already completely immersed in the Brazilian culture. To my surprise, it seemed that my two years of Spanish and 6 months of Portuguese pod-casts had prepared me quite well; I was speaking Portuguese and fitting into the culture so well that no one could believe I had just arrived.

Not to say that I didn’t experience any culture shock at all; I was quite shocked when I first met my teacher at school and was met with a kiss on the cheek. Also when I found a lizard in the shower, when I witnessed the peculiar yet delicious way that Brazilians prepare hot dogs, and when I realized how much Brazilian students have to study to get into college. Opposed to my small difficulties, the real challenges that I saw were those of politics, poverty, and preserving the environment.

However as the days went on, I began to understand and appreciate all of the things I thought were strange before. I learned without a doubt that the best way to learn a language and deal with uncertainty is to talk, it is best to keep your wallet in your purse, it makes sense to be organized, and that you should never make assumptions according to stereotypes. The beauty of Brazil is more than just its common stereotype of beautiful women, big cities, and beaches. The beauty is in the simplicity, in the way that people live, the pure hospitality of a family welcoming you into their house for coffee, and the intense, colorful culture that still exists today and unites this immense developing country. The beauty was in the voices of the clapping, chanting circle of people around a pair lost in the twisting dance of capoeira. It was in the map of Brazil that you could make from just the different types of music famous to each region. It was in the faces of the people walking down the street and greeting each other every morning. It was everywhere.

There was more to the country, and there was more about culture, humanity, and just plain life skills I have learned here that I don’t think I could have learned any other way. I wish high school foreign exchanges weren’t such a thing of the past that nowadays practically only the rich can afford. There is a great deal more that can be learned from understanding the culture of a country and becoming part of its people than by simply visiting as a tourist. I think many people don´t realize that, especially in places like Brazil and Latin America. And for students my age, there is also a great deal of about one´s self and place in the world, knowledge I know I have gained so far, that can be obtained from an experience like this. Perhaps if more people had the chance to study abroad and understood more about different cultures, the world would be a more friendly and peaceful place. When I get back, I hope to spread the word about studying abroad, cultural acceptance, and the aspects of Brazil that shine beneath the stereotypes. Later on in life, I could see myself as a volunteer for a foreign exchange organization, or maybe even hosting an exchange student. Wherever I go, I will always have a piece of Brazil in my heart, and I will do whatever I can to give something back.