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! :)