Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas...

I mean literally that I'm dreaming of a white Christmas. The other night, I dreamt that it was snowing here in Brazil! But then I woke up to the sound of rain (p.s. it rains here a lot during this time of year); and I quickly realized it was just a dream. :)

It is so hard to believe that Christmas is only 4 days away! Without snow, I'm finding that I have to remind myself that it's the holidays! Even with the decorations, crowded malls, and songs it didn't hit me that Christmas is just around the corner until yesterday when I went to a Christmas concert with my host parents. The concert was in Catedral Nossa Senhora da Boa Viagem, the cathedral of Belo Horizonte; and it was absolutely beautiful. The songs, the acoustics, and the whole atmosphere made for a lovely evening. Sure, listening to the classic Christmas songs made me feel a little homesick, but then the choir sang "The Lord Bless You and Keep You", a song that's pretty significant to me; and then it hit me like a brick wall. The tears started rolling down my cheeks and there was no stopping it. Then, it finally occurred to me that I won't be home for Christmas. But thinking about it now, I think that song was sang for a reason. To remind me that God is keeping watch over me no matter where I am. And you know what? It was exactly what I needed to be reminded of.

Exchange isn't always easy. There are moments when all you feel is defeated. Whether it's the language that's overcoming you or just feeling alone, it can be difficult. But in these past four months, I have learned that through patience, perseverance, and trust in the Lord, it is worth getting through those hard moments to be able to experience the happy ones that will stay with you for the rest of your life. Moments that I wouldn't trade for the world. :) 

Well, I do believe that I will leave on that note. I probably won't put another post up until after the new year; because the day after Christmas, my family and are head to northeast Brazil to ring in 2012 in the state of Bahia. We will be on an island in a town called Boipeba; and I can't imagine spending my New Year's any other way. With beautiful beaches, amazing people, and the excitement of a new year. :)

So to everyone both near and far, a very merry Christmas and a blessed New Year.

The Lord bless you and keep you,
The Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you.
The Lord life his countenance upon you, and give you peace.



Thursday, December 8, 2011

School's out for the summer!!

So I graduated!!...again....On Tuesday, my class had our last day of school and then the graduation later that night. The day and evening were so much fun; and it sure brought back fond memories from my graduation in the U.S.

During the day on Tuesday, there were no classes really; and all we did was eat and talk. Oh! And I made chocolate chip cookies and all my classmates were quite impressed with them. :) But anyway, then during the last hour of school we had a water balloon fight! After all the waterballoons ran out, we resorted to just dumping buckets of water on each other. I would have gotten more involved with the battle, but I had to go to my Rotary meeting right after school; however, that reason didn't stop my classmates from dumping a bucket of water on me with about 20 mintues left in school. Luckily for me, I brought a change of clothes! :) And with about a minute left in the school day, we formed a circle, held hands, counted down the seconds, and then cheered as the clock hit 12:40 (the time that school gets out).

Then the evening came around and it was time for the ceremony. On the invitation, the event was supposed to start at 7:30 p.m., but in true Brazilian style, we didn't start until about 8:20. :) The ceremony was totally different than a graduation in the U.S. But also, this was different for Brazil. Lu and Helio told me that the graduations are more serious, and mine was very happy and light-hearted. I knew I went to a good school. :)
But anyway, there were no graduation gowns or caps, no senior pictures given out, no scootering to school (recent WHS alum know about that one :)), and no marching into "Pomp and Circumstance". But you know what? I was completely okay with not having those things. Those are traditional American things that I have already experienced and I was looking forward to being a part of a Brazilian graduation, or "formatura", in Portuguese.

We did march in to a song however, and then were seated and listened to the principal and vice principal speak. Then, the class elected two teachers as their favorite teachers of the year. The teachers were presented with flowers and then sat in the front, on the stage (it was in an auditorium) along with the pricipal and vice principal for the remainder of the ceremony. After watching a video and thanking the rest of the teachers, it was time to receive the diplomas. Now, my class had 19 students, including myself. So when it came time to distribute the diplomas, the first person was drawn out of the stack, went and got their diploma, and drew the next person's name. And once everyone got their diploma, the mic opened up for people to speak. So why not? I went up there and said a few words, and I mean a few, about how thankful I was to go to this school. But even if I didn't say a alot, it was still in Portuguese, and that's all that matters. :) So after the principal spoke once more, there were cheers and applauses and then it was done! Then it was time for the reception!




Renato, Luiz, Me, Amanda, and Victor!!


So in the end, it was an absolutely enjoyable night. It was definitely different, but definitely awesome. :) And I am so happy that I got to be a part of this celebration. But now I just need to figure out what to do until February....oh, maybe I'll just go to the beach. :)

E as pessoas de Escola da Serra. OBRIGADA!! Voces ajudaram a fazer meus primeiros meses aqui excelente! Se eu nao volto, fui muito prazer para conhecer voces a todos! E vou sentir muitas saudades de voces!! Te amo a todos! :)

Tchau for now,


Friday, December 2, 2011

Just channeling my inner Gaga!

Today was the final dress up day of the year at my school (by the way, I "graduate" next Tuesday; and I start summer vacation!), and we had to dress upas celebrities. So with the help a little eye-liner and a sparkly dress, I was Lady Gaga for the day. Luckily for me, Lady Gaga is an international superstar, so everyone guessed who I was pretty easily. However, the lightning bolt across my eye kind of gave it away too. :)

It's crazy to think that next Tuesday might be my last day at Escola da Serra. And when I say might, it means that we haven't quite figured out what I will be doing school wise next year. I might attend a university or stay at Escola da Serra. Either way, I've really enjoyed my time at this school. It's a great school, with cool classes (like yoga!) and even cooler people. To all the students reading this, thanks for helping make the first few months of my exchange awesome! :)



Monday, November 28, 2011

Goin' to the chapel, and we're gonna get married!

Alright, so I went to my "cousins" wedding on Saturday; and it was so much fun! The wedding was supposed to start at 5; which in Brazil, that is incredibly early for a wedding. My host mom was telling me that most weddings usually don't start until 8 p.m. or even later! But in true Brazilian fashion, it actually didn't start until about 5:30. :) It was such a lovely wedding. The bride, Sita, looked stunning; and the groom, Rafael, had a permanent smile on his face. The ceremony took about an hour, and then we headed to the reception around 7:00. And coincidentally enough, the bride was a Rotary exchange student to the U.S. and her host family was there. So I was able to meet some cool Americans too! It was such a fun night! From the dancing to almost catching the bouquet to the family and friends there; it made for a memorable evening! And I wish all the very best to the happy couple! :)
Lakshmi, Me, Husdon, and Teresa (Part of my family)

Helio, Me, Luciana (The other part of my family)

Some "cousins" :)

So, before I tell you what I did yesterday, I did something quite familiar and close to home on Saturday. I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but I was in a play! And for those of you who know me, you know that I was very involved in theatre during high school. So when I found out that my drama class was going to be putting on a play, all the memories of the previous plays and musicals I was in came rushing back; and I got so excited! So the play on Saturday was about a doctor that goes to a city and decides that everyone is crazy and should be put in the hospital; but in the end, it turns out that the doctor is the true crazy one. I played a tourist who had no idea what was going on. I think they may have just added the part for me. ;) But anyway, the play went great and everyone said I did a great job; even though I actually missed some lines, but oh well. Here in Brazil, I have a list of all the things I want to do and see during my year, and being in a play was on that list (and ironically, so was going to a wedding! Who would have thought that I'd do both in the same day!). :)

While embracing my "tourist" role, I took pictures of everything! Here are some of the photos :)

Alright, now for yesterday (Sunday). I was at Teresa and Hudson's this weekend, so yesterday morning, we went to a bazar with my grandparents. We were there for about 4 hours; and as we were leaving, a girl came up to me and asked me if I was an exchange student, and then she told me that she was an exchange student in Belgium last year! See, this is what I love about exchange; when you meet another exchange student, you have an instant connection because you both have this one thing in common and you can pretty much talk about anything. So now, I have a new friend named Izadora, and we're planning to hang out next Sunday!

And after the bazar, we had lunch and watched the soccer game. One of the teams from Minas Gerais was playing. Even though it wasn't the team that I cheer for, it was still pretty fun. I don't know if I have mentioned this either, but the team you cheer for is kind of a big deal here. You can either have life-long friends or enemies depending on which team you are. Ok, I'm kind of joking, but kind of not at the same time. Here in Minas, there are two major teams: Atlético or Cruzeiro. I myself cheer for Atlético, and yesterday Cruzeiro was playing; but I didn't mention that because I didn't want to get "booed" out of the restuarant. Yet again, kind of joking, but kind of not at the same time. :) So after lunch, we went and did some more Christmas shopping! And we didn't get home until about 11:30 p.m.!

So even though yesterday was a very full day, it was such a fun day! I had such a great weekend, filled with so many different things; and I loved every second of it! :)

Happy Monday to everyone! Have a great week! :)



Saturday, November 26, 2011

Woo! Survived my first big holiday!

Alright, for starters, I want to wish everyone a very happy and blessed Thanksgiving (even if it is a couple days late:))! I know for me, I have an endless list of all the things that I am thankful for.

When I went to school, all of my friends that knew it was a holiday eagerly wished me a happy Thanksgiving; and then for a good part of the day we talked about all the food that we eat and the traditions we have in the U.S. on Thanksgiving. It was such a good day at school, and it made me realize how lucky I am to have such awesome friends here in Brazil. :)

Then, after school, to bring a little bit of Thanksgiving culture to Brazil, I made my first ever apple pie! I was kind of nervous about making it, because this was the first thing I made my family. But luckily, after about three hours of chopping, mixing, and baking, I successfully made a delicious apple pie! :) And now, I have been ordered to make one for Christmas too! :)

So while the apple pie was cooling, I skpyed with my family. I knew from the beginning that seeing them would be a little tough, but I was more than willing to shed a few tears just to see my wonderful family for a bit. It started off really great! Seeing everyone at my grandma's house; talking with my aunts, uncles, and cousins was so nice and I loved every second. But then, once it was time for them to go eat dinner, I could feel my chin start to quiver and tears welling up in my eyes. As I said goodbye to my mom and sister, they said, "Know that we are so thankful for you and we love you so much! We'll toast to you at dinner! Don't cry; enjoy the rest of your day and I am sure the apple pie will be delicious!" By this point, the tears were slowly rolling down my cheeks, and after a very quick and cracked "Goodbye. I love you all so much too." I quickly hungup and let it out! It really is amazing how much better you feel after a good cry and some chocolate. Afterwards, I headed downstairs for dinner, even though my eyes were puffy and I couldn't really talk without starting to cry; however, when my host mom, Lu, saw me she gave me a hug and later told me how thankful they were to have me in their house. But really, I think it's pretty obvious that I'm the lucky one here. My family here, both sides I might add, is absolutely amazing; and I can't even begin to describe how fortunate I am to be living with them! So after a delicious dinner and eating the pie, I was ready to call it a night.

Sure, my Thanksgiving this year didn't have a turkey or I didn't go shopping on "Black Friday", but I did have a lovely dinner with my family, and time to really think about what this holiday means and how incredibly thankful I am for all the wonderful things in my lfe.

So thank you to all of my family and friends, both here in Brasil and in the U.S., you've helped make me the person I am today; and I am so fortunate to have you all in my life! And thank you to Rotary! This has been the greatest experience, and I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for all the hard work that you Rotarians do! :)

And now, it's almost one in the morning here. I just got back from a wedding, and I am exhausted! But don't worry, I'll write about the wedding and what I did today after a goodnight's sleep!

Boa noite!


Friday, November 18, 2011

It's November? But I'm still wearing shorts!

Oi gente! :)

I've been here for three months already! It still amazes me how fast this is going! And I realize that I'm not very good at keeping this updated on a weekly basis, but I'm trying my hardest!

Here is what I've been up to for the past couple weeks...

The weekend before last (the 4th-the 6th of November), I helped with a music festival! One of my host fathers, Hudson, has a music school and his music school put on a music festival/competition. The type of music that was played is called "choro". Choro means "cry", so when you listen to this music, you are supposed to be moved to tears of joy. And I can't say that I cried during the weekend due to the music, but I did have an absolutely great time listening to this beautiful style of music. My friend Abi helped with it too; so for the weekend we took pictures of the event, but usually just ended up dancing in the back of the theatre. It was such a fun experience and something I will remember forever, especially because I've got a new genre of music to listen too. :)

During the weekend, I also had my first dream in Portuguese!! Although it was a nightmare, it was still pretty cool that it was in Portuguese. I'm definitely feeling myself improve everyday with the language. My host family pretty much only talks to me in Portuguese now, and I actually understand about 75% of it. After three months, I don't think that's too shabby.

Alright, now fast forward to this most recent weekend. The previous week, I wasn't feeling very good. I won't get into details about that, but it was enough for my host dad, Helio (who is an accupuncturist) to ask me if I wanted to try accupunture to try and solve my problem. "Why not?" I thought. So I had a wild and crazy Friday night filled with accupuncture and sleep! And I actually woke up on Saturday feeling 10 times better and ready for what was next.

On Saturday, I had a Rotary Christmas party! It was so early because some of the exchange students are going to the Northeast part of Brazil for a month long trip next week, and there would have been no other time for it. So Saturday, all of us exchangers (outbounds too) got together at our exchange coordinator's holiday house. It was such a fun day, and I wish I could have spent more time with these amazing people! While there though, I actually met a Rotarian who has been to Wenatchee!! He did an exchange to Seattle and had family in Wenatchee. And for part of the afternoon we talked about all the things at home; like the Apple Blossom Festival, or our favorite parts of Seattle. I definitely never thought that I would meet someone here who not only heard of Wenatchee, but has been there! It got me thinking about no matter how huge our world is, it's still small. :)

Then on Sunday, I went to Michelle's family's farm with Chiara (a girl from Germany) and Michelle's host parents. We had another holiday on Tuesday, and no school on Monday; so we stayed at their farm until Tuesday. We spent the days there relaxing, walking around the farm, and going to the nearby town and getting icecream. My host mom, Luciana likes to tell me that I have quite the spectrum of farms now. Because unlike the other farm I've been too, this farm had electricty and modern appliances. But I like to say that I've had to different experiences that were equally good!

This past week has been really good. I skyped with my parents on Wednesday (it was my dad's birthday on Monday). So I had to wait until Wednesday to tell him "happy birthday". By the way, happy birthday to the best dad any girl could ask for! I love you so much dad! Thank you for everything!

And last night, I went to Luciana's other school that she teaches at to talk to the students. And for many of them, I was the first American they have met and the first native English speaker that they have spoken with. I got some interesting questions though. Things like, "Do you have English classes in the U.S.?", or "Do you eat McDonalds everyday in the U.S.?" And I found it funny that every class asked me if I had a boyfriend. I had a really good time, and I look forward to going back and visiting them again! :)

I can't believe that it is already the middle of November. It most definitely does not feel like November here.
I don't feel quite right wearing shorts and a t-shirt to school; and seeing Christmas decorations on every corner now doesn't feel real either. And although, Brazil won't be celebrating Thanksgiving next week, I plan on baking some apple pies and sharing a bit of American culture with my family and friends here! Now, I just need to learn how to make an apple pie...

Tchau for now!

A vida e boa! :)


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

So not a whole lot of new news, but who cares? I'm still in Brazil! :)

Oi Gente! :)

So last Friday and Monday were dress up days at my school! Halloween isn't very big in Brazil, but it's popular at my school; so they let only my class (the final year) dress up in costumes. Friday we had to dress up as some sort of character. I went as Captain America! Mainly because I needed something last-minute and all I had was an American flag. :) Then on Monday we had to dress up as monsters. About two thirds of my class went as zombies, myself included. We kept with a trick-or-treat theme as my classmates told the other students of the school to bring candy or we would definitley play tricks on them. By the end of the day, we had a lot of candy, but many students were also covered in silly string and their hair was painted (don't worry, it washed out :)). Even though my Halloween this year didn't have jack-o-laterns or candy corn, it was still a really fun day. It did make me miss home a bit as the thought of not being home for the holidays crossed my mind a few times. But it's ok, I'm still in Brazil. :) And I'll be spending my holidays with some pretty great people!

The rest of my weekend was good! On Firday night after hanging out with some friends, I took a taxi home for the first time by myself. I even gave the taxi driver directions! To some that may sound like nothing, but when you are learning a language, it's kind of a big deal. At least for me it was! After only being here about 2 1/2 months, I felt pretty proud about that :) Then on Saturday I went to a friends birthday party; and Sunday I went to a bridal shower. My host father's newphew is getting married in November. It was a nice party, and actually kind of similar to the ones in the U.S.

Today is another holiday in Brazil. I swear, it seems like there is a holiday almost every week here. Today is Dia de Finados (All Souls Day), so I don't have school today either! And last night, I went to a churassco with Abi and Michelle and some of Abi's school friends. All of her friends are really cool people. :)

Oh, I almost forgot! I met my next host family too! They are very nice and I look forward to living with them. I went to their house to meet them, and it was also my next host dad's birthday. So that was fun being able to celebrate with them. I met new aunts and uncles and cousins too! Yet again, I think I hit the host family jackpot. I'll be moving into their house at the end of January. :)

I think that's all for now. Like I said, not a whole lot has happened, but that it perfectly ok. I feel like I have finally adapted to living here and these past few months have been great!



Thursday, October 13, 2011

No way?!?!

I have been in Brazil for two months!!!!!! It really doesn't seem like that is possible! One minute I am stepping off the plane, and the next I am walking around the city and acutally knowing where I am, speaking fluent Portuguese. (Just kidding about the Portuguese...I'm definitely not fluent yet!) :) I have loved these past few months. And each day I feel so lucky to be here.

Here is my last few months in numbers :)

1.5 journals filled (I think I have enough material to write a book when I get back ;))

2 pairs of Havaianas purchased

2 pairs of new Brazilian high heels

About 2 kilos gained :/...however, my explanation is that in about 9 months I won't be eating this delicious food I need to stock up now :)

716 pictures taken

6 Musuems/art galleries visited (thanks to my wonderful grandparents here. After almost every Rotary meeting, the three of us go to one)

Countless memories made :)


1 extremely happy exchange student who has loved being here and looks forward to the next 9 months. :)

Just a quick update of what I have done these past couple days. On the 11th, I went to a jazz bar with my host parents and sister and some of their friends. It was a lot of fun! As we were walking in, I could hear the song "The Way You Look Tonight" (one of my all time favorites I might add), and from that point on, I knew that I would really like this place. The rest of the evening was filled with Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, and a couple Beatles songs. I think my family was a little surprised as I knew almost all the words to all the songs. I definitley want to go back. :) Then yesterday, more people came over to the house for another "jam session". Yesterday was a holiday (Children's day), so we had the day off, and I have today and tomorrow off of school too! Yet again, it was another fun afternoon filled with good music, good food, and fun people. Later that night, Lakshmi (my sister) let me go out with her to celebrate a friend of her's birthday. And although we didn't get back home at 5 a.m. like the last time I went out (thank God!), I had a really good time!

Life is good :)



Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Indians, Hospitals and Clubbing...just a normal week in Brasil :)

Oi Gente!! (Hey everyone) :)

Alright, so experiencing native Indians, indian Hospitals and going clubbing is the farthest thing from a normal week here, but it is exactly what I encountered this past one.

The Indians...

I went with my school to a native Indian tribe in the state that I am in. We stayed with the Pataxos Indians for four days. We went at the time of their "Festa Das Aguas" (Water Party). It was so cool to be immersed into this tribe and see their way of life and rituals. One of their rituals, I might add, is a "purifying ritual" that all of us students got to experience. It's supposed to represent your spirit being cleansed. Which brings me to the first day...On Wednesday we left Belo Horizonte at 6 in the morning, and got to the tribe around 11, looked around a bit, watched some dances, had lunch, and then the celebration began! It started off with games, a wrestling match to be precise. A person would choose two people to go into the circle and whoever knocked down the bottle that was in the center first, lost. It began with men only and then they were choosing women. And was I chosen? You betcha. I think it's because they could see that I'm not from Brasil. :) I had to wrestle a girl probably about 15 years old; and as embarrassing as it to say, I lost within about a minute.

Then before I knew it, a women had literally jumped on my back, threw mud at me, and then threw me into the mud pit. And thus, this unique "purifying" ritual had begun. Everyone was throwing mud at each other, and getting absolutely filthy. And by this point, it was also pouring down rain. Then, the cleansing began as a guy picked me up and tossed me into a lake. It was freezing!!! It was the first time in Brasil (and I am pretty sure the only time) that I actually was able to see my breath. And once I was in the water, I dared not going out because there was a pretty good chance that I would get covered in mud again, and tossed right back in to the freezing "cleansing pool". So after about a 20 minute mud fight, it was safe to get out of the water. Yet still, I was covered in mud and my legs had some fairly decent cuts on them (I'll elaborate on that one later). Then, after walking 2 kilometers in the rain back to the school we were staying at, I was finally able to shower. But in order to get a semi-hot shower, we had to walk back out into the rain and ask the natives if we could use their showers. They were all really welcoming and more than ready to let us use them. And boy was it worth it! However, I never thought I would see orange water coming out of my hair. And although walking in the rain wasn't the funnest, the day was still so much fun and something I will defnitely not forget! Later that night after dinner, the wife of the chief talked to us, and then we participated in traditional dances, which think were some of the coolest things I saw there.

On Thursday after being woken up my some kids at 6:15 a.m. we started the day! After breakfast, some of us walked to a waterfall and hung out there for a bit; then we went to these lectures about the culture of the tribe. Luckily for me, most of my school friends speak English; so the things I didn't get, they could explain to me. Then came dinner, and afterwards and evening that was defnitely memorable. As most of us were sitting around the dinner tables, there was an old native man (about 70) who was playing the guitar and singing. He then looked at me and made up a song on the spot about my beautiful "blonde" hair (have I mentioned that I'm considered blonde here?!) and how I have captured his heart. Then the following day, he preceeded to ask me to marry him. I politely declined...We then moved to the bonfire where people began to tell horror stories. And here is the prime example of the saying "ignorance is bliss". Because as everyone was scared and couldn't get the stories out of their minds, me and the other exchange student named Benson (from China) just laughed because we had no idea what was going on and were the only ones who weren't terrified. :)

Then by about 12:30, I realized that my foot (the one with the cuts from the lake) was hurting a lot more than I thought. I saw that it was pretty swollen and I couldn't really move my toes (because it was swollen). So I asked the principle for something to help. Before dinner, he put some iodine on, and said he would try to find something to relieve the pain. I found him again, and he still hadn't gotten anything. So, I took a couple Tylenols to try and help with the pain. Once he finally came back with something, I told him that I just took something to help, then he began to yell at me and say that I have no idea what I am doing and neither of us are doctors, and he couldn't believe that I did something like that. And when I told him that I have no problems when I take Tylenol, he just yelled more and said that the pain is just superficial. But then asked if I needed to go to the hospital. (By this point, I was in tears, due to pain, exhaustion, not knowing why he was yelling at me, and just wanting a hug from my parents). So in the end, we went to the hospital at about 2 a.m. Two other students, Sarah and Isabella, came with me. Words can't describe how lucky I was to have them with me. I realized that I've got a couple good friends here :). After having some nurses check it out, they cleaned it, wrapped up the cuts, and sent us on our. We finally got back around 3; and went straight to bed. It was a very strange, eventful evening; but it in no way stopped me from having a good time there!

At the hospital...

In the ambulence back to the school...we were just a wee bit tired ;)

The rest of our time with the indians was very fun! We went to the waterfall place again on Friday and were taught games by the indians, which we played throughout our stay there. And before I knew it, Saturday had come and we were packing up our things. We spent the morning packing and buying things that the indians made, and then it was lunchtime. We had lunch, said our goodbyes, and started our journey back to BH. We got home around 7:30 in the evening. It was such a fun trip and something that I will never forget (mainly because I might actually have a scar to remind me of it), but it's all good. I wouldn't have traded going for anything! :)

This little girl's name was Yadirana. She would come up to me almost daily and say hello and ask how to say things in English. :)

Just a few pictures of what it looked like! :)

The Club....

Then by 9:00 p.m. on Saturday, (after a shower to get all of the dirt out of my hair :)) I was getting in a taxi with a friend named Julia, and a friend of hers named Carolina, and we were headed to the club. My first clubbing expereince! The name of the club we went to was Marriah (pronounced Ma-hee-ah). It was so much fun!! We danced the night away and had a great time! I was quite the dancing fool. But that's not very surprising. :) Before I knew it, it was already 3:45 in the morning and it was time to go. After waiting in the line to pay, we got out of there by 4:45 and I was home by 5 a.m.!!! But here, that's a fairly normal time to get home from a night from going to the club. How they do it, I have no idea. I was absolutely exhausted! I went to bed as soon as I got home, however, I only slept until 11 later that morning! It was still so much fun and I can't wait to go back out dancing again!

So, after waking up on Sunday, Luciana told me to get ready because people would be coming over for churrasco (a barbeque. Which is absolutely delicious!). It was such a fun way to spend my Sunday afternoon! Luciana's sister, Abigail and her family came; along with some of Helio and Luciana's friends. I found out that one of the friends even lived in New York for five years; and had just returned! That afternoon reminded me yet again of how lucky I am when it comes to my host family. They are pretty awesome! So awesome in fact, that on Monday (yesterday) Luciana saw how tired I was, and just let me stay home from school to rest. :)

So, sorry about the novel that I just wrote, but I don't think I left anything out! I still love Brasil, and look forward to all the adventures to come!



p.s. Please feel free to send emails if you have any questions or want to hear any other stories! My email is :)

Monday, September 26, 2011

And they say it goes faster?!

So for starters, I am so sorry that I haven't posted anything for about a month! My time in Brasil has flown by and people tell me that it only goes faster! How this is possible, I don't know. :)

Anyway, I have been in Brasil for a month and a half now! I could easily write a novel about all the things I have done within the past month, but I will just summarize some of the high and low moments that I have experienced while on this adventure!

Here we go! About three weeks ago, Lakshmi, Lorencia, Abigail and I went to a small town called Ouro Preto; which means "black gold". There, we spent the day walking around and seeing what the city had to offer. The day we went was also Brasil's independence day. So when arived, there were marching bands in the town square, playing what sounded like Beatles music, and hundreds of people lining the streets. After a full day of seeing churches, museums, countless shops, a rock fair, and eating a couple bowls of acai, we we're ready to call it a day. I couldn't have imagined celebrating Brasil's independence any other way. :)

Lakshmi, Abigail, Me, Lorencia

The following week, I was in Sete Lagoas. A town about an hour and half away by bus for our inbond orientation. There I met all the other exchange students in the district. We were there for the whole week and took Portuguese classes; however, we still spoke English to eachother ;). We also did other things like going on a tour of cave, meeting the mayor, any many other things as well. It was such a fun week; and I had such a good time getting to know all of these awesome people. If any of the inbounds from 4520 are reading this, thanks for the best week ever! :)

And most recently, I went to Luciana's (my host mom's) family farm this past weekend. The farm or "fazenda", in Portuguese, is over 200 years old, has no electricity, and you get hot water by having a fire heat up water over a stove-like thing. However, being there for the weekend was one of the funnest things I have done in Brasil. With us was Luciana's sister, her sister's husband and their kids, a friend of theirs, and Luciana's English teacher. On Saturday, we took a hike around the farm (it's huge). OH! And on that hike, I saw my first monkey!!! We we're about 20 ft. way from a pair of monkeys! Unfortunately, they got away before I could snap a picture, but it was still really cool! Then, we hiked to a waterfall and hung out there for the afternoon. The evenings were filled with card games, lots of delicious food, and many laughs.

And now for a more serious note...I had my first bout of homesickness after returning from Sete Lagaos. It was the first time when it really hit me that I won't be going home for a year. I have realized that I won't be able to give my parents a hug (even though skype hugs help a ton, they just aren't quite the same), or I won't be there to celebrate Christmas with my family, or even go catch a movie with my sister. But by not having these things that we take for granted everyday, it has made me see how incredibly blessed I am; and has made me so appreciative of what I do have. And when I think of home here and how I miss it, I take a step outside and see so many people who don't have homes, but merely a carboard box over their head; and then it really hits me. We don't really know how good we've got it.

But during those really hard days last week, right beside me was a new family. Here I have not only two, but four host parents. *Quick sidenote* the mom and dad are seperated, and now remarried; and I live with the dad most of the time. Then with the mom every other weekend. Anyway, I have four host parents and a couple of siblings who were more than ready to give me a hug and let me "cry it out".

So now, that homesick feeling is for the most part gone; and I am as ready as I'll ever be to continue on with this journey. God sure has me in the palm of his hand, and I see that in more ways than one. I have loved being here, and I continue to fall in love with Brasil a little more each day. The past 46 days have been the best, and I look forward to the next 285 days to come.

Sending all my love from Brasil,


p.s. I'll try and have an update sooner than next month ;)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Pinch me, I must be dreaming!

You know when you have a dream that is so good, then you wake up and are a little dissapointed that it wasn't real? Right now, I am feeling like I will be waking up any second from the best dream of my life.

Ever since I have arrived in Brasil, God has never ceased to fill each day with countless blessings and moments that I will never forget. Most recently, moments like waking up at 5:30 in the morning to watch the sunrise with Lorencia and Abigail. Or having an entire conversation with my host brother via Google translate. We felt pretty ridiculous doing that, but it worked; and I learned more about him than what I knew before!

On Friday, Helio, Lorencia, Lakshmi, and I went to Mercado Central. It's a market, very much similar to Pike Place in Seattle; but about 10 times bigger, and they sell animals. Guess who is going back to America with a new puppy? Just kidding. But they were very adorable and quite tempting. As we made our way through only a portion of the market, there was a faint scent of anise and incense in the air that added to the experience. It was a great way to start my weekend.

Then, Saturday was my other host mother, Teresa's birthday, so we went to a party at her sisters. And quite the party it was! I couldn't tell if I was in a movie or not. The apartment was on the top floor which displayed a beautiful view of the city. Yet, again, I felt so incredibly welcomed and was so happy to be there! After, Lorencia and I spent the night at Abigail's house; and like mentioned before, woke up around 5:30 the following morning to watch the sunrise. Soon after seeing the breathtaking sight, we quickly walked back to Abbey's house and went back to bed. Lorencia and I then went and had lunch with a woman named Fatchima, who knows Lorencia and Abigail through their Rotary clubs. With us were here daughters and another American who lives in a small town called Caritinga. We ate at deliciously good pizza place; it was so good in fact that I was kicking myself for not packing tums afterwards.

Yesterday, I was able to watch the sunrise, but for a much different reason. I had to go to the Federal Police to get an identification card for my stay in Brasil. Bless my host dad's heart; he was up by 4:30 a.m. and woke me up at about ten to 5:00 and we left both a little groggy. Once arriving there, we found out that it doesn't open until 8:00...However, it was very smart that we got there when we did. We left around 9:45, but had we gotten there later, we easily could have sat the whole day away and not even been helped. Later that day, I experienced my first BH Shopping trip. BH Shopping is a huge mall here that puts many malls in America to shame. It was a very successful day of shopping to say the least! :)

Of course I have had my few moments of homesickness, but they soon dissappear as I 1). Remember that I am in Brasil on the trip of a lifetime! and 2). I think about how this is exactly where God wants me to be. This is all apart of his great plan that he has for me and He will lead me to where I need to go.

Life is good :)

Sending all my love from Brasil,


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

One week already?!

I can't believe that I have been here for over a week! The days have flown by and my time in Brazil has been amazing so far. The people, the places, and the memories created have been wonderful! Here's what I have been up to within the last few days...

I began school! On Tuesday, I started school at Escola da Serra. The school is great! It is a smaller school, with about 500 students (that includes elementary through high school); but this way I am able to meet more people. And I have been doing just that! My classmates have been so helpful and have made me feel so welcome!! So welcome in fact that one boy even told me that I am "very pretty, and he is newly single". I politely declined in the best Portuguese that I could speak. Luckily for me, all of my classmates are very patient with my Portuguese; however, about 99% of the time we revert back to English (as most of them know it), or I ask them to talk very slowly. I feel like I am catching onto the language fairly quickly; and I don't think I will have a very difficult time learning it. However, it is such a strange feeling not knowing at all what is going on. But this unknowningness makes me want to learn it even more! Throughout the day, I was asked tons of questions. Everything from "what kind of music do you listen to?" to "are you related to Madonna?", or "oh yea, Washington. That's where 'Twilight' was filmed, right?" But I loved every second of it; and I felt so flattered that people seemed genuinely happy to meet me and have me at their school.

So after my first day of school, I went to my first Rotary meeting. And just like school, everyone was so warm and welcoming, which made my hint of nervousness completely dissapear! After Rotary there was a shop conveniently located right across the street from where the meeting was held. So, I learned some Brazilian culture through shopping; this lesson continued the next day couple of days after school as well. Almost everyday since then, Lorencia has been so helpful, and has shown me around the city. My feet are aching by the end of the day, but it is so worth it, and I am loving getting to know more about my new "home".

Fast forward to Thursday; Lakshmi, Lorencia, Teresa (other host mom), Hudson (other host dad), and I went to a modern dance performance at a beautiful theatre. The dancing was quite "artsy", but incredibly impressive; and the music was beautful.

Then the weekend began! It started off by going to a flower fair after school, and a much needed night of relaxing. Saturday, we went to lunch at a friend of mine's house; and then I was really exposed to some Brazilian culture as friends of Luciana and Helio's came over for a "jam session" complete with congas, a guitar, shakers, and beautiful voices. The evening was filled with good food, music, conversation, and an attempt at matchmaking; as a friend of Luciana's was telling me about her son, and how I should meet him. They tell me that he is tall, dark, and handsome. Don't worry mom, I haven't fallen in love yet. In true Brazilian fashion, we ended the night with a Samba lesson at around 1:30 in the morning. Then on Sunday, Lorencia, Abigail (an Australian exchanger), and I went to a huge hippie fair that takes place every Sunday. There were easily over two hundred booths, and thousands of peope. It was a little overwhelming at first, but I quickly got used to it. There, I tried coconut water, and some delicious Brazilian barbeque for the first time. Later that night, after a much needed nap, Lorencia, Abigail, and I went out to a birthday party of a friend of theirs. It was pretty fun and I met some more super cool people.

I am learning so much everyday. Not only about the culture and my peers, but about myself. This has been a learning experience since day one; and I have loved every second. I see new and exciting things every time I turn a corner, and at the end of each night, I take a minute or two to thank God for the wonderful day, and I pray that the next will be just a good.

Just a little bit of Brazilian culture... :)



Saturday, August 13, 2011

Where to even begin?!?!

I have been in Brasil for two days now, and I feel like I have stories and memories that I could talk about for days!! I can't even describe how amazing this is, and how lucky I feel to be here! Ok, so I will just start with the landing, and then go on from there...

So, the 10 1/2 hour flight from Detroit to São Paulo wasn't as bad I as I thought, I sat next to a Brazilian man who gave me excellent tips and words of wisdom, and then I sat next to other exchange students and got very little sleep as we talked about how excited we were and almost everything else! Once in São Paulo, I had to pay for my extra luggage, even though I was allowed 70lbs per. bag; but did Delta care to tell me that I had to show a piece of paper stating that to the Brazilian airline? Nope, they wanted my first Brazilan purchase to be a luggage fee...Eh, whatever, I then eased the pain with a keychain that had red peppers and bells to put on my jacket! Flying from Sao Paulo to Belo Horizonte was nervewracking and exciting all at the same time. All I could think about was what my host family was going to think of me, what should I say, how should I say hello, etc. But as soon as I rode down the escolator and saw them with a sign of my name and their big smiles, the biggest sign of relief crashed over me.

Once I was settled, we went out to a bar for dinner. *Sidenote! Bars are pretty much restaraunts. Minors are allowed in, but not served alcohol. You can order food and you have a waiter. They just aren't called restaraunts* In fact, we went to a German bar because my host brother leaves for Germany tomorrow. After, we went home; and at this point, exhaustion was an understatement and I crashed!!

Today is Father's Day in Brazil, so my sister and brothers and I went to our grandparents house for lunch. *Another sidenote! Lunch is the big meal of the day here, and dinner is a light a'uorderve type of meal that you eat around eight.* I felt so welcomed the second I walked in the door! I was greeted with lots of hugs and kisses! The food was delicious and meeting some family was so fun! After lunch, my grandfather, who I might add is one of the sweetest people I have ever met, made a lovely toast. Luckily for me, my host brother's stepfather knows English and was able to translate some of it for me. I didn't get most of it on my own; but there was one word that stuck out that I actually knew. Agape. He talked about the love he has for his family and how lucky he is to be a father and a husband to his beautiful wife. He talked about how his love for his family is unconditional (Agape) and then turned to me and another American exchange student and said that we are forever apart of this family and will always have a place here. Hearing that made me explode with happiness inside. It was for sure the highlight of my day and something that I will remember for the rest of my life.

Lorencia, the other exchange student who has been here for about 11 months, told me that we would be going out at six to another German bar for my brother's going away party. That meant that we didn't leave until a little after seven. :) There, I was able to meet some of his friends and more friends of the family. Most of them even knew English, so I didn't sit in the corner all night! I found that some of them like the same music and movies as I do!

It was such a fun night and these past few days have been wonderful! Everyone from my host family and even complete strangers have been great! And the name of the city, Belo Horizonte has sure lived up to it's meaning. It means "beautiful horizon"; and there have been gorgeous sunsets. I try to take a moment a couple times a day and thank God for this amazing expericnce. It's almost two in the morning now, and I am still pretty exhausted from the trip, so until next time!



Thursday, August 11, 2011

Tchau America!

As I write this, I am on my way to Brazil! Right now, we are flying over Madison, Wisconsin! And it has been nothing but smooth sailing for the last 4 hours. One more hour, and we will land in Detroit, where I will make my departure for Brazil!
To give an update on the past week: I was packed by last Thursday, then I re-packed about 3 times throughout the week. Then Tuesday and Wednesday were days filled with double-checking, triple-checking, and even quadruple-checking to make sure I had everything. By Wednesday afternoon, I came to the conclusion that if I forgot something not to sweat it...I'm sure they have toothpaste and athletic shorts in Brazil. :) By Wednesday around 4:00, all the good-bye's had been said and we we're ready to go to Seattle, so I could leave on Thursday (today). Last night, I was able to talk to my two brothers in Colorado. My brother Aaron gave me some pretty good advice for when I go to the Amazon; he said that if a monkey throws its feces on me then it wants to fight, and to not throw mine back. I am so glad that he is the only one in our family that watches the Discovery Channel. And my other brother, Scott, ironically enough, has a friend who lives in Brazil; and even is from Belo Horizonte! I am finding it amazing how everything is serendipitously lining up perfectly in it's place. God has been blessing with these great connections and moments that will make my exchange even better! Not to mention that one of my flight attendants was an exchange student too! Although his was in the Philippines, I still thought it was pretty cool.
And today, my wonderful parents took me to the airport and we said a teary (yet not ridiculously weepy) goodbye and I was off! Checking in and security were a breeze and I found myself with almost two hours to kill. So what did I do? Got Starbucks (after a night of little sleep due to excitement) and shopped of course! I found perfect Seattle Space Needle keychains for my host family and friends :)
Well, we are 30 minutes away from landing, so I must go! Thank you to everyone who has helped get me here! I can't wait for all that lies ahead!
Goodbye America and Ola to Brazil!!!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape. :)

So, I found out last week that I will be leaving on August 11th! Which means that I only have 10 days left in America!!!!!! AHHHHHHH!! When, I found this out, I will admit that I was pretty disappointed that I wasn't leaving sooner. However, I am realizing that when our Rotary peeps told us to always keep the saying, "Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape" in mind, they even meant before your exchange! Who would have thought?! ;)
Irregardless,  I AM LEAVING IN TEN DAYS!!!!! I can tell you right now, that these next few days will be the longest and the quickest days of my life. Filled with almost every emotion you can think of and a to-do list the size of Brazil ;).
And now for the details. I leave SeaTac airport at 9:30 a.m. on the 11th. I will then fly to Detroit (arriving at 4:45 p.m.) and have a three hour layover there, and then depart for Sao Paulo, Brazil at 7:50 p.m.! Now here comes the biggie...I will arrive in Sao Paulo at 7:20 a.m on the 12th! In other words, I will be a plane for 12 hours at one time!!! Thankfully, a friend gave me a sudoku book, so I'll be pretty content :) After a 5 hour layover in Sao Paulo, I will fly directly into Belo Horizonte arriving 1:15 p.m. on August 12th! After almost 31 hours of traveling (including the 3 hours at SeaTac before I go) I will be ready to start this wonderful journey that I have been waiting for for months!
Thank you to everyone who has helped get me here! To all my family, friends, and Rotarians, you have been so supportive, and that has meant the world to me! And to my dear parents, you two have been the best parents any exchange student could ask for. Words can't describe how incredibly blessed I am to be your daughter. Thanks for everything Mom and Dad. "We're really doing it lil' buddy!"

So, now the good-byes are beginning and the excitement is growing! I am ready to get this show on the road!

Tcahu tchau!


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Visa? Check :)

I just got word that my visa is back from the Brazilian consulate, and my itinerary is being made! After four long week and agonizing weeks, it arrived! I feel pretty lucky because other outbound exchange students to Brazil just had their papers arrive at the consulate. So, it looks like I will be one of the firsts from District 5060 to head to Brazil :)
I am pretty much as excited as a little kid on Christmas morning right now, and I am now just waiting for my itinerary and I will soon be off! My travel agent, said that I would most likely be departing around the first of August! Which means I only have 5 days to get packed!! Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! Ohm y gosh! I can't wait to get this adventure started! More to come soon! :)


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

And the city I am going to is...

Belo Horizonte!Belo Horizonte is the capital of Minas Gerais (the state I will be in) and it's translation is "beautiful horizon"! There are about 2.4 million citizens in the metropolitan area; so you can imagine that will be quite a shock coming from a town of about 70,000 people. I got an email from my first host family too! My host father is Helio Resende and my host mom is Luciana Pereira. Helio is an acupuncturist and Luciana is an English teacher!! They have three kids, and their youngest is going to Germany on an

exchange; while the two older ones are attending college. Talk about hitting the host family jackpot! In the email, they also told me about the school I will be attending; Escola da Serra. Luckily for me, I was able to use a translator on the school's website to start getting a taste of what I am getting myself into. :) I start school the first week of August; so that means I will leave the U.S. between the 25th and 30th of July. I am so excited to meet them and see the beautiful city I will be living in for my year.

Thanks for all the love and support these past few months!
I guess there's no turning back now ;)



Tuesday, February 22, 2011 looks like I will be learning Potuguese....

"It begins with a....BRAZIL!!!!" Those are the exact words from the text message telling me that I would be headed to Brazil for my year abroad! Although I didn't exaclty picture myself finding out where I was going via text, it still gave me the exact feeling I was hoping for. The feeling of EXCITEMENT!!!!! OH MY GOSH!!!! I AM GOING TO BRAZIL!!!!!!!!!!! I found out via text because I was working; and Robin DeRock (the wonderful outbound coordinator who told me this news) gave me the option to wait until I got home, or be excited for the rest of my shift. I couldn't wait; I wanted to know!! So the second I got home, after proclaiming this rad news on Facebook, I googled "Brazil", and spent about 5 hours on the computer looking at this amazing country! And since then, it feels like it's not even real. Honestly, it probably won't hit me until I am on a plane in July or August when I head down there.

Ok, well I think this will be it for the first post; I am just too tired to continue! But I first want to give a HUGE thank you to all the people who have helped me get this far in this amazing journey. Thank you to the Wenatchee Downtown Rotary Club, the DeRocks, and all my family and friends; and of course my mom and dad. From day one, they have been there supporting me; although I am sure that even in their wildest dreams they didn't think that the baby of the family would ever go to live in a foreign country for a year, but no matter what, they still said "Go for it!" And it is just very convienient that I am going some place hot and tropical. Really, mom was already looking at vacation packages the night I found out I was going to Brazil! So thanks mom and dad; I am the person I am today because of you two. I LOVE YOU!! And finally, God. The path that God has lead me on has been a blessing every step of the way. I can't wait to see where He will take me as I begin this wonderful journey.