I have been in Brazil for half a month.
It's only when I look at a world map that I can truly understand the distance between where I currently am and where I used to be. I am roughly 7,000 miles away from the state I grew up in.
But I have two homes now. Alaska will forever be the first, but I now consider Brazil my second home.
Time has been flying by and I've been trying to make the most of it. The pressure to live each day to the fulllest and make every moment count feels more real when you're living in a country you only have ten months in.
Everything in my hometown in Alaska is familiar to me. I know the roads, I know the weather, I know the people, I know the language, and I know the schools. I went to the same Elementary school for 5 years, the same middle school for 3 years, and the same high school for 3 years. I've never been the new kid. I've lived on the same street, in the same neighborhood, for my whole life.
Everything is different in Brazil, but similar at the same time. For example, my little host siblings, kids, still play hide-and-go-seek; they just call it a different name. Their face's still light up when they are given candy; it's just Brazilian candy. They still watch kid's movies; they're just in Portuguese. The movie Despicable Me is "Meu Malvado Favorito." The song that Maui sings in Moana is called "De Nada" instead of "You're Welcome." Snow White is "Branca de Neve." Frozen's iconic song "Let it go" is "Livre Estou." There was a movie trailer on TV for a Batman movie and subconsciously I was expecting Batman to speak English. But nope. Portuguese. A Portuguese-speaking Batman. I've watched Baby Boss, Storks, Sing, and Moana in Portuguese with the lil ones and it's the weirdest experience for me because I've seen most of them in English (but it's a great way to learn the language.)
Stores still have signs that say "Smile! You're on camera!" but it's:
I also love how differently words are pronounced. Colgate (toothpaste brand) is "Coal-gatchee." Facebook is "Facebookie." Disney is "Jisney." Red is "Hedge." Even though the alphabets are the same, it's different.
USA is EUA (Estados Unidos da América). New York is "Nova York." The White House is "Casa Blanca." Hot dog is "cachorro quente." To me, "Hot dog" is a phrase that immediately makes me picture a hot dog in a hot dog bun with mustard and ketchup at a baseball game, but "cachorro quente" makes me picture a fluffy poodle panting in the dog park on a sunny day.
The language difference is everywhere, but it's one of my favorite parts about exchange, even though it can make communicating difficult sometimes.
Enough about language.
I have Rotary meetings every Wednesday night at 8 pm, Rotary Interact meetings every Thursday, and school from 7 am to 12:30pm, Monday through Friday.
I have been to 2 birthday parties, out for açaí with friends after an Interact meeting, the João Pinheiro senior center for a Rotary Interact project, a college in João Pinheiro for a school trip, to a Brazilian barbecue with my host dad's extended family, the Catholic Church on Sunday, my host family's farm 3 hours away from João Pinheiro, and I've worked out at my host parents gym.
I'm also going to Brasilía, Brazil with my host family for a couple days starting this Wednesday.
Me Embarrasing Myself:
-Last Friday, I was dropped off at school and went to my classroom like normal. The school start bell rang at 7 am and I noticed there was only a quarter of the class there, so I thought most of them skipped because it was a Friday.
Those of us that had showed up to school started to leave the classroom, and I had no idea why, but I followed them anyways. Gotta go with the flow. We walked to the front of the school and there was a tour bus waiting. My classmates started boarding the bus, and I didn't know what was happening, but I boarded it too. We drove for about 10 minutes and then got off.
After much silent confusion from me, I realized it was the college visit. I had been told about it in my first week of school, but I didn't know we were visiting the João Pinheiro college, FCJP, that day because no one had told me. I didn't know what was happening until we arrived at the college.
-So..... I've been working out every other day, and after the first day I was so sore I couldn't straighten my arms.
I looked it up and it's called DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) which is a fancy way of explaining why I looked like I had T-rex arms for two days after the first workout.
I honestly could not bend my arms past a 90 degree angle. For two days. Hiding that at school was interesting.
-I went to the bank with minha mãe. The security there reminds me of the airport. To get into the part of the bank with the tellers, you have to drop your phone and keys and anything metal into a drop box and then walk through the revolving doors to go inside. You can retrieve your objects on the other side. The revolving doors have a metal detector that will identify if you have any metal objects with you and it won't let you pass if you do.
I didn't know that.
I had my phone with me when I attempted to pass through, and the revolving doors stopped, and I banged my forehead on the glass.. A security guard and minha mãe watched the whole thing. I don't know how they kept themselves from laughing. Not a peep. Terrific restraint. Very impressive. If I was in their shoes I would have lost it.
On the way out I saw the spot my forehead had hit the glass revolving door. I chuckled.
-I don't remember what day it was but the Brazilian Jui jujitsu people had practice at the gym. I wanted to watch so I went out and sat down to watch. They hadn't started yet, so I went to get a drink of water from the water fountain.
This particular water fountain was special.
I bent to get a drink of water and pressed the button, expecting a weak stream of water to lazily trickle out. Instead a stream of water SHOT out and power washed my eyeball. Just one eye. With one eye streaming mascara, and the other completely normal, I booked it to the bathroom, keeping my back to the Jui Jujitsu people.
I'd like to think they didn't notice what happened, but I bet at least one of them saw.
*slow clap for Tasha*
Food & Drink:
I tried Churrasco (Brazilian Barbecue) for the first time. It. Is. Amazing.
I am jealous of my host siblings.
Because they get to grow up eating this heavenly Churrasco. The flavor is just....and the smell...I can't describe how glorious it is.
I have also tried the Brazilian version of a hot dog, pastels, coxinha, brigadeiro, doce de leite ninho, tapioca, and other things I forget the names of.
Pastels are hard to describe, but they're basically fried pastry pockets with a meat or cheese filling. The pastry is crispy and layered. On my list of favorite Brazilian foods, pastels come in a close second place, second only to Pão de queijo.
Tapioca is unlike anything I've ever tried. It's not a pudding. It's a white starch powder that you pour into a pan and shape into a tortilla-like circle. When it's heated, it binds together and creates a bumpy, white tortilla thing. It can be filled with something savory or something sweet, but I've only had it with cheese and ham. You put the cheese and ham on the tapioca and fold it in half, like you would do with an omelet. I like it.
I stand corrected on the sodas. I have also seen Fanta here. But the most popular sodas by far are Coca Cola and Guaraná. Guaraná is a soda only made in Brazil. My state, Minas Gerais, has a special variant of the soda only available in this state. It's called Guaraná Artemis. The common version of Guaraná is Guaraná Antártica. I prefer Guaraná to Coca Cola.
They also don't drink the soda right from the can or bottle. They either pour it into a plastic cup or use a straw.
I still don't have a uniform or the books for school, but they're working on getting them for me. In class I alternate between learning/studying Portuguese, taking breaks by listening to music on my phone, and trying to understand what the teacher is saying.
Most people, both students and teachers, write in cursive, which is interesting to me. In Alaska I learned how to write both print and cursive and I'm pretty sure they learn it here too, but they lean towards cursive and USA leans toward writing print.
I brought my Colony High School yearbook to class because one of my classmates asked about my school in Alaska. It's so different from here. Colony High is much bigger than the school here and has clubs, sports, and lockers. I showed a picture of the school lockers and a girl said "It's my dream to have one of those!" I like both schools and I don't think one is better than the other. They're just different.
A couple times during class a bird has causally flew in and out of the classroom. No one batted an eyelash. No big deal.
-Minas Gerais has two soccer teams: Cruzeiro and Galo. Almost everyone has a team they cheer for. The rivalry is too real. I haven't picked a team yet. I'm neutral.
-No one here has ever seen a LifeProof Iphone case before.
-They say "boa noite" or good night as a greeting and a farewell. It took me the longest time to figure that out when texting people. In Alaska when we say good night, it means "have a good night, bye." Sometimes we say good evening as a greeting, but that is formal and rare.
-The cars have a feature where the windows automatically roll up when you lock your car.